Category Archives: Neptunus Lex

“Overwhelmingly White”

By lex, on August 30th, 2010

I didn’t have much to say (obviously) about this weekend’s Glenn Beck rally on the Mall. I spent Saturday afternoon on the golf course (shooting a 77 on the par 72 Miramar golf course, with an inexcusable double bogey 6 on the par 4 eighteenth), and flew three flights on Friday on one of the sweetest days of the summer. The air itself being like fine white wine, if white wine were actually blue and maybe just a little bit turbulent on the coastal transition. Two-thirds of my guest pilots were overwhelmingly female, as a consequence of the fact that I briefed two of the three events, and briefers get to pick.

Almost entirely on weight and balance considerations, I assure you. Former USAF F-16 jock Pokey being a wee, slip of a thing, and your host remaining a man of a certain, shall we say, consequence. When it comes to weight and balance. (Pokey’s call sign being very well earned, I might point out. Deliberation in his pre-start routine far exceeding the normal requirements of key in, mixture rich, fuel selectors on, carb heat off, prime and crank.)

Which, anyway.

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Helldiver Up

By lex, on August 21st, 2010

A US Navy Curtis Helldiver that has been at the bottom of Sandy Eggo’s Otay Reservoir since 1945 has been salvaged, and the son of the pilot manning the aircraft when it when down was on hand to see the old girl out:

With a crowd of hundreds on shore, many applauding the sight, the SB2C-4 World War II Helldiver, which crashed into Lower Otay on May 28, 1945, finally was lifted from its muddy grave. Hundreds of people had gathered at the lake all week as the long and tedious process of raising the plane took longer than expected and involved more equipment. The plane was known as “The Beast” because pilots struggled to control it, and it was a monster to retrieve from Otay’s mud…

“Oh man, look at that big old engine and tail; now there’s a plane that hasn’t been in the air in 65 years,” said Richard Frazar, whose father, E.D. Frazar, of Richmond, Tx., was forced to ditch the Helldiver into Lower Otay when the engine on the plane failed. He and Army Sgt. Joseph Metz of Youngstown, Ohio, survived the crash, swam to shore and hitchhiked back to their base at Ream Field in the South Bay. Both have since passed away, but some members of their family enjoyed the day of remembrance that came with the sight of the men’s plane.

A pair of FA-18′s buzzed the lake as the aiprlane was pulled ashore, and had your humble scribe been aware, an American Champion Citabria might well have joined them.

On hand and speaking in the video was the Naval Aviation’ Museum’s CAPT Bob Rasmussen, who was commanding officer at Naval Aviation Schools Command back when your host was an ensign.

 

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There and Back Again

By lex, on June 13th, 2010

If Tailspin Tom was in politics, his name would be Kennedy and he’d live in Boston – yer man is that connected. But he’s into aviation instead, and it’s fortunate for me that he lives in Sandy Eggo. How else, I ask you, does a poor bugger like your host accustomed to renting aged Cessnas and even ageder Citabrias get to fly to Portland in a lovely Beech E33 Bonanza sporting an IO-550 engine upgrade yielding 300 HP after accessories just for the price of putting 100LL in it?

He doesn’t, is how.

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IFR

By lex, on April 20th, 2010

I have a confession to make to you, gentle reader. I enjoyed the challenge of hurling 20 tons of titanium ribbed graphite epoxy upon the moving deck of 100,000 tons of cold, pitching steel. I loved me the opportunity to wrestle and wrangle with opposing air forces numbering from one to many through the footless halls of air. I even took a kind of perverse pleasure into going into bad guy country and busting up their gear as they reached and probed to bring me down with surface to air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery.

But I never much cared for flying in bad weather.

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Precautionary Landing

By lex, on February 14th, 2010

The reciprocating piston engine that powers the vast majority of the general aviation fleet is a marvelous design, achieving acceptable power at minimum weight and maximum reliability. It is also, as a mentor of mine recently reminded me when I was being a trifle inconsiderate in my rate of throttle adjustments, a delicately whirring and clanking mass of mechanical parts and their associated dependencies striving in fierce opposition to each other. There is any number of things trivial and otherwise that can upset that delicate balance, and when it does, well: Things can get interesting.

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Wrapping it Up

By lex, on February 7th, 2010

Last month, after much experimentation with hand-crafted Excel workbooks and casting about for freeware options, I somewhat resentfully purchased an electronic log book, in an admittedly Quixotic attempt to make some sense of my past life and combine its DNA with that of my recent endeavors. There are inconsistencies between the way that the Navy tracks flight experience and that of the general aviation world that require some creative thinking: Navy doesn’t track “Dual Received” or “Dual Given,” cross-country flights receive no special column of their own flying fast jets, instrument approaches are divided into precision and non-precision categories, further subdivided in to actual or simulated, and daylight hours are inferred from an absence of night time rather than explicitly called out.

On the other hand, civilian log books are wholly innocent of NVG hours and combat time, mission types (air-to-air or air-to-ground?) catapult launches and arrested landings, day or night.

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Going Boldly

By lex, on December 31st, 2009

Weapons system acquisitions are fraught with danger generally, both from a programmatic perspective and professionally. I successfully dodged Pentagon duty for three decades, but when I was growing up, I often heard from grizzled veterans wearing Navy blue “inside the building,” that the Air Force had a tendency to beat the pants off the Navy in Congress by putting up slick marketeers to pitch their programs – professional acquisition corps folks who really knew how to deliver a pitch.

The Navy, on the other hand, had a tendency to advance bespectacled flag officers with engineering backgrounds who couldn’t quite come up with the same flash and dazzle as their brothers in bus driver blue, and who never quite seemed to understand why they would have to explain the intricacies of the nuclear steam cycle (just for one example) to the wet-behind-the-ears staffers who were the real power behind the congressional throne.

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