Archive for the ‘Flying’ Category
With grateful thanks to Cynthia G. who sent this to me.
(Going to take a break from the serious writing for this long week-end)
The place: The Alaskan Wilderness
The event: A private “fly-in” fishing excursion to that Alaskan wilderness.
The mistake: The pilot and fishermen left a cooler and bait in the plane.
The consequence: The bear went exploring for food!
The smart thinking: The pilot used his radio and had another pilot bring him 2 new tires, 3 cases of duct tape, and a supply of sheet plastic.
The result: The pilot patched the plane together, and they all flew home!
The moral of this story: Duct Tape? Never Leave Home Without It
The power of humour in reflecting life back at us!
It was such fun revisiting John Bird and John Fortune back in July, see That sub-prime crisis, that I found another one for your enjoyment. On the proposal for the privatisation of British Air Traffic Control. Goes back to 1996, I think, but clearly from Rory Bremner: Who else!
Another gem from Capt. Bob.
Many of you will have watched the video of the dolphins being rescued off a Brazilian beach that I published a week ago under the title of Wet eyes warning. That was sent to me by Capt. Bob. Bob, like my son, is a commercial airline captain.
Now Bob has sent me this. Some day, I’ll natter on about my own amateur love affair with flying, both gliding (sailplane in USA speak) and power. But for now just marvel at the skills on display as in the name of fire control these crews quite deliberately do all the things that most would consider suicidal in aviation affairs.
First published on November 8th, 2009.
This makes me proud to be human!
As their website explains:
Operation Migration has played a leading role in the reintroduction of endangered Whooping cranes into eastern North America since 2001. In the 1940s the species was reduced to just 15 birds.
Operation Migration is a founding partner of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP), the coalition of non-profit organizations and government agencies behind the project to safeguard the endangered Whooping crane from extinction.
Want to get involved? Here’s how.
Remember the film ET? Just look at this next picture …
Nature is really starting to speak to mankind!
I started writing this post back on the 25th September. Why so far back? Because that day something came into my in-box that deserved the widest circulation. It’s an event being held just under a month from today, November 14th. But it seemed worthwhile to give this amount of notice. However, the reason why I wanted to start it back in September was because in the last 24 hours of that day, the 25th, the UK offered very good evidence of the significant increase in severe weather.
From the UK’s Met Office blog on the 25th September, 2012, (I have included the inches equivalent of the mm figures)
Rainfall figures: over a month’s worth of rain in two days
Rainfall totals for the past few days – from 1:00 am Sunday morning to 8:00 am this morning [Tuesday] – show some areas have already had more than twice their usual September rainfall. Ravensworth, in North Yorkshire, has seen the highest total, with 107.8 mm [4.24 in] falling, over 200 % of its average September rainfall.
The rainfall has been widespread, with many areas across the United Kingdom receiving large totals. Killylane, in Antrim Northern Ireland saw 98.2 mm [3.87 in], and high totals were also recorded in the south-west, with 72.4 mm [2.85 in] in Filton and 65.2 mm [2.57 in] at Dunkeswell Aerodrome.
Dunkeswell Aerodrome in Devon was where I used to fly our group-owned Piper Super Cub, still in military markings.
Anyway, back to the plot!
Also on that day (September 25th) the website Think Progress released this item,
Markey/Waxman Report: Carbon Pollution Creating A ‘Cocktail Of Heat And Extreme Weather’
By Climate Guest Blogger and Stephen Lacey on Sep 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm
by Katie Valentine and Stephen Lacey
Two House Democrats have released a report that aims to connect the dots on climate change and extreme weather events.
The staff report, issued by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), outlines the past year’s record-setting temperatures, storms, droughts, water levels and wildfires, and is being circulated in an attempt to rebuild congressional momentum to address climate change.
“The evidence is overwhelming — climate change is occurring and it is occurring now,” said Rep. Waxman, a Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement.
The report outlines the stunning array of record-breaking extreme weather events throughout 2012 within five categories:
- July was the hottest month ever recorded in the continental U.S. Some areas were 8 degrees warmer than average, with the average temperature in the lower 48 states at 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average.
- Spring 2012 saw the warmest March, third-warmest April and second-warmest May in history, and was approximately 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average overall.
- Through late June 2011, daily record highs were outnumbering daily record lows by 9-to-1.
- As of September, 64 percent of the continental U.S. is experiencing drought, with August and September 2012 comparable to the worst months of the 1930s Dust Bowl.
- By the beginning of August, more than half the counties in the U.S. had been designated disaster zones because of drought.
- As of August, 51 percent of corn and 38 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. were rated as poor or very poor by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some states’ corn fared worse – Indiana had 70 percent of its corn rated as poor or very poor, and Missouri had 84 percent.
- This fire season 8.6 million acres – roughly the size of Connecticut and New Jersey combined – have burned in the U.S., with fires still burning in parts of the West.
- Wildfires in Colorado have killed six people, destroyed 600 homes and caused about $500 million in property damage.
- There has been nearly a four-fold increase in large wildfires in the West in recent decades, with fires burning longer and more intensely and wildfire seasons lasting longer.
- Tropical Storm Debby caused Florida to have its wettest June on record. The storm killed at least seven people and also damaged more than 7,500 homes and businesses.
- In July, the “derecho” storm system killed at least 23 people and left more than 3.7 million people without power.
- In August, Hurricane Isaac caused storm surges of up to 15 feet in some places and contributed to Louisiana and Mississippi experiencing their second-wettest August on record and to Florida experiencing its wettest summer on record.
Extreme water levels and water temperatures
- In July, water in the Great Lakes reached temperatures of 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit – more than 10 degrees warmer than the same time last year.
- In August, water temperatures of up to 97 degrees and low water levels caused tens of thousands of fish to die in Midwestern lakes and rivers.
- Low water levels in the Mississippi watershed have caused some barge companies to reduce their loads by 25 percent and have caused harbor closures in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi.
According to the report, 2012 natural disasters (not including wildfires or drought) have caused $22 billion in insured losses and more than 220 deaths as of August. The full cost of 2012’s extreme weather events isn’t yet known, but it’s expected to rival 2011’s record-breaking $55 billion.
The document outlines what scientists following the link between extreme weather and climate change have been saying for years: more carbon pollution adds extra energy in the atmosphere, thus warming the planet and making extreme weather events more likely.
Read the full report here.
So what came into my in-box? An announcement from The Climate Reality Project: 24 HOURS OF REALITY: The Dirty Weather Report.
NOVEMBER 14-15, 2012
A lot can change in a day. This November 14, we hope you can help us make big change happen.
Join The Climate Reality Project for 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report. This will be our second annual, online event showing how global climate change is connected to the extreme weather we experience in our daily lives. The entire 24-hour event will be broadcast live over the Internet.
We’ll move between our home studio in New York City and into each region of the world, bringing voices, news and multimedia content across all 24 time zones. We’ll feature videos from around the globe, man-on-the-street reports, music, and most importantly, stories from communities moving forward with solutions.
Most of all, we’ll generate new energy and urgency around the fact that we must — and we can — work together to address the climate crisis.
Sign up today to be a part of the global community taking part in 24 Hours of Reality. RSVP on Facebook. Share this event with your friends. Submit your own video about the impacts of climate change where you live. And keep checking this page: We’ll post further details as the event draws closer.
Millions of people around the world know that the weather, their climate is changing. But if you can take some more powerful evidence of just how it’s all changing then go and read a recent report on the Grist website, entitled ‘Deadly connection: New report on extreme weather and climate change’
So one more video to close.
Just one small step for Felix Baumgartner, and some step!
I was speaking with my son, Alex, in England about an hour ago and he brought to my attention a feat that is breath-taking, in the fullest meaning of that expression. I had to share the details with you as I’m sure that many, like me, were not aware of what is happening in a little under twelve hours time, subject to everything being in place.
A free-fall commencing from an altitude of 120,000 feet! (Oh,that’s just about 23 miles up!)
Felix Baumgartner (born 20 April 1969) is an Austrian skydiver and a BASE jumper. He is renowned for the particularly dangerous nature of the stunts he has performed during his career. Baumgartner spent time in the Austrian military where he practiced parachute jumping, including training to land on small target zones.
The Wikipedia entry goes on to explain,
He was born on 20 April 1969 in Salzburg, Austria.
In 1999 he claimed the world record for the highest parachute jump from a building when he jumped from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On 31 July 2003, Baumgartner became the first person to skydive across the English Channel using a specially made carbon fiber wing.
Baumgartner set the world record for the lowest BASE jump ever (95 feet), from the hand of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.
He became the first person to BASE jump from the completed Millau Viaduct in France on 27 June 2004 and the first person to sky dive onto, then BASE jump from, the Turning Torso building in Malmö, Sweden on 18 August 2006.
On 12 December 2007 he became the first person to jump from the 91st floor observation deck, then went to the 90th floor (about 390 m (1,280 ft)) of the then tallest completed building in the world, Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan.
But to my mind, none of those previous jumps compare to this mission,
Red Bull Stratos, a mission to the edge of space, will attempt to transcend human limits that have existed for 50 years. Supported by a team of experts Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend to 120,000 feet in a stratospheric balloon and make a freefall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground. His attempt to dare atmospheric limits holds the potential to provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers.
The Red Bull Stratos team brings together the world’s leading minds in aerospace medicine, engineering, pressure suit development, capsule creation and balloon fabrication. It includes retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who holds three of the records Felix will strive to break.
Joe’s record jump from 102,800 ft in 1960 was during a time when no one knew if a human could survive a jump from the edge of space. Joe was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and had already taken a balloon to 97,000 feet in Project ManHigh and survived a drogue mishap during a jump from 76,400 feet in Excelsior I. The Excelsior III mission was his 33rd parachute jump.
Although researching extremes was part of the program’s goals, setting records wasn’t the mission’s purpose. Joe ascended in helium balloon launched from the back of a truck. He wore a pressurized suit on the way up in an open, unpressurized gondola. Scientific data captured from Joe’s jump was shared with U.S. research personnel for development of the space program. Today Felix and his specialized team hope to take what was learned from Joe’s jumps more than 50 years ago and press forward to test the edge of the human envelope.
So if you are able and would like to watch the event live then this is the appropriate link.
Good luck to all involved. What an amazing feat!
A short pencil is better than a long memory.
The origins of this saying seem to have disappeared in the mists of time but it’s a rare person that doesn’t write a list from time to time. But when it comes to critical processes, having a list, or better known as a ‘checklist’ is essential to completing the process correctly.
With that in mind, then let me introduce you to a story recently sent to me by old friend Dan Gomez.
I’ve always done it this way!
This is an example of what happens when we do not pay attention to detail, and do not follow instructions and checklists!
A KC-135 Aircraft was being pressurized at ground level. The outflow valves which are used to regulate the pressure of the aircraft were capped off during a 5-year overhaul and never re-opened. The post-investigation revealed that a civilian depot technician who “had always done it that way” was using a homemade gauge, and no procedure.
Apparently, the technician’s gauge didn’t even have a max “peg” for the needle, so it was no surprise he missed it when the needle went around the gauge the first time.
As the technician continued to pressurize the aircraft with the needle on its second trip around the gauge there was a “boom”. One KC-135 went bang! Indeed, the rear hatch was blown over 70 yards away, through a blast fence!
An incident like this is never funny and is further regrettable when we consider that this mistake is one that we taxpayers will end up paying for. Fortunately, no one was reported as being injured.
This was a good “Lessons Learned” for making sure we have trained people, with the correct tools, and who are following detailed procedures. It should serve as a reminder that just because you’ve always done it that way, it does not make it the “right” way!
Now where did I leave that pencil!
Written by Paul Handover
October 7, 2012 at 00:00
There will only ever be one Neil Armstrong.
Like millions of others on this planet, I was held spellbound by the historic and epic moment of man placing his mark on another heavenly body, the Moon. I had been so wrapped up in NASA’s space missions that I took a holiday from work (I was working at the time for ICIANZ in Sydney, Australia) for the week of July 16th, 1969.
It was, of course, July 16th when the Apollo 11 Mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center culminating at precisely 20:17:39 UTC on July 20, 1969, the moment when the Lunar Module made lunar contact.
But in terms of me writing my own obituary for Neil, what could I offer?
Then a couple of items changed my mind.
The first was reading the obituary printed in The Economist. I have long admired the many, many beautiful obituaries that have been published by this newspaper and this one was no exception. Take this extract from the Neil Armstrong obituary,
He had an engineer’s reserve, mixed with a natural shyness. Even among the other astronauts, not renowned for their excitability, he was known as the “Ice Commander”. Mike Collins, one of his crew-mates on the moon mission, mused that “Neil never transmits anything but the surface layer, and that only sparingly.” He once lost control of an unwieldy contraption nicknamed the Flying Bedstead that was designed to help astronauts train for the lunar landing. Ejecting only seconds before his craft hit the ground and exploded, he dusted himself off and coolly went back to his office for the rest of the day. There was work to be done.
Then the beautiful words that bring the obituary to a close,
Over half a century, the man who never admitted surprise was surprised to observe the fading of America’s space programme. The Apollo project was one of the mightiest achievements of the potent combination of big government and big science, but such enterprises came to seem alien as well as unaffordable. Mr Armstrong, who after his flight imagined bases all over the moon, sadly supposed that the public had lost interest when there was no more cold-war competition.
Yet the flights had one huge unintended consequence: they transformed attitudes towards Earth itself. He too had been astonished to see his own planet, “quite beautiful”, remote and very blue, covered with a white lace of clouds. His reserve, after all, was not limitless. One photograph showed him in the module after he and Buzz Aldrin had completed their moon-walk, kicking and jumping their way across the vast, sandy, silver surface towards the strangely close horizon. He is dressed in his spacesuit, sports a three-day beard, and is clearly exhausted. On his face is a grin of purest exhilaration.
“ … they transformed attitudes towards Earth itself. He too had been astonished to see his own planet, “quite beautiful”, remote and very blue, covered with a white lace of clouds.” For that reason alone, we need to celebrate the achievement of the Apollo 11 mission for putting our own planet into perspective within the enormity of the universe.
The second item that persuaded me to write this was a wonderful historic insight into how a potential catastrophy on the surface of the Moon would have been handled by President Nixon. This historic item was published on Carl Milner’s blog the other day, the specific item being What if the Moon Landing Failed? Republished with the very kind permission of Carl.
When Richard Nixon was the President of the United States, they had a speech ready for him to deliver to the world just in case the 1969 moon landing had ended in disaster. In fact many experts believed there was a big chance that Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin could have really gotten stuck on the moon. It’s something we don’t really think about now because we all know it was such a success. American Archives have unearthed the speech that would have been delivered if the late great Armstrong and Aldrin had never made it back to earth. This is such a great piece of history that I thought I might never see.
Give it a read, It’s such a moving and well prepared speech, and such a good thing that President Nixon never had to delivered it.
So, as with millions of others, I am delighted that this speech remained unspoken and instead we experienced: “At 5:35 p.m. (US EDT), Armstrong and Aldrin successfully docked and rejoined Collins, and at 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:50 p.m. on July 24.“
Neil Armstrong’s legacy is not only being part of the wonderful team that allowed man to make the first footprint on the Moon but also bringing into our human consciousness that this blue, wonderful planet we all live on is the only home we have.
Strikes me that celebrating July 20th each year as Blue Planet Day might not be a bad idea! Any takers? Now that would be a legacy for Neil!
Written by Paul Handover
September 4, 2012 at 00:00
A stirring set of pictures from the Queen’s Jubilee
At the end of June, pilot friend Bob Derham sent me an email which contained all of what follows. I ‘filed’ it away and then forgot I had received it! My apologies. But as Europe was the subject of yesterday’s post, then maybe this can be seen as remaining on theme. Enjoy.
One last look back at those amazing Jubilee celebrations . . . as seen by the ‘Tail-end Charlie’ in Britain’s last airworthy Lancaster
Incredible footage has been released showing the bird’s eye view enjoyed by the crew aboard a Lancaster bomber flying over London for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The aeroplane, which is part of the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), flew in formation with aircraft including a Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota transport aircraft down The Mall, followed by the Red Arrows aerobatic team – to the delight of crowds and the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace below.
As well as preserving a fleet of priceless aircraft and keeping them in tip-top flying condition, the BBMF reminds the nation of the sacrifices made during World War Two.
The BBMF is based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire with many of its personnel, including pilots, acting as volunteers; the flight costs about £3m a year to run.
Squadron Leader Ian Smith, who is in charge of the BBMF, is the only permanent member, with all of the remaining pilots, navigators, air engineers and other crew coming from different airbases and ordinarily flying several different types of aircraft; from Typhoon fighters to the huge Hercules transport plane.
The aircrew give up three out of every four weekends from May to the end of September in order to fly and display the historic aircraft.
The footage, released by the Ministry of Defence, shows just how tight a fit it can be aboard a vintage aircraft, with the crew – clearly eager to catch a glimpse of the Queen – taking up most of the available space.
The historic flight includes the Lancaster, which first saw service in 1942. The ‘Lanc’ was the most famous of the Second World War bombers and gained renown for its starring role in the momentous ‘Dambuster’ raid on Germany’s Ruhr Valley in 1943.
Carrying a payload of 22,000lb and with a 1,500-mile range, the RAF bomber wreaked havoc on Germany. Some 3,500 were lost in action during the war.
Hurricane single-seater fighters played a crucial role in the Battle of Britain. Heavier and slower than the Spitfire, it was considered the RAF’s ‘workhorse’ against the Luftwaffe.
A remarkable total of 14,533 Hurricanes were built and served operationally on every day and in every theatre during the war. Only 12 are still airworthy worldwide.
The Spitfire is the iconic fighter that won legendary status against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. It possessed a top speed of 378mph, an altitude of 35,000ft and armed with two 20mm cannons, four Browning machine guns and two 250lb bombs.
One of the four that flew yesterday was P7350 – the oldest airworthy Spitfire in the world and the only one which actually fought in the Battle of Britain. It was shot up by a Messerschmitt 109 during combat in October 1940 but its wounded Polish pilot Ludwik Martel managed to crash-land it, wheels up, near Hastings.
A wonderful and incredibly nostalgic set of photographs. Finally, let me close with a short piece of video of that Lancaster Bomber in flight.
Written by Paul Handover
September 2, 2012 at 00:00
A wonderful investment in studying America’s ecology is just starting.
It was then an easy step to locate the main website for the National Ecological Observatory Network, or NEON. (Just an aside that I can’t resist – NEON is such a fabulous acronym that one wonders how much push and shove there was to come up with the full name that also fitted the word ‘NEON’! Sorry, it’s just me!)
Anyway, back to the plot. The following video gives a very good idea of the projects aims. When I watched it, I found it inspiring because it seemed a solid example of how the nation, that is the USA, is starting to recognise that evolving to a new, sustainable way of life has to be built on good science. NEON strikes me as excellent science. You watch the video and see if you come to the same conclusion.
There’s also a comprehensive introduction to the project from which I will republish this,
In an era of dramatic changes in land use and other human activities, we must understand how the biosphere – the living part of earth – is changing in response to human activities. Humans depend on a diverse set of biosphere services and products, including air, water, food, fiber, and fuel. Enhancements or disruptions of these services could alter the quality of human life in many parts of the world.
To help us understand how we can maintain our quality of life on this planet, we must develop a more holistic understanding of how biosphere services and products are interlinked with human impacts. This cannot be investigated using disconnected studies on individual sites or over short periods of observation. Further, existing monitoring programs that collect data to meet natural resource management objectives are not designed to address climate change and other new, complex environmental challenges.
NEON, the first continental-scale ecological observatory, will provide comprehensive data that will allow scientists to address these issues.
Later on there’s more detail, as follows,
NEON has partitioned the U. S. into 20 eco-climatic domains, each of which represents different regions of vegetation, landforms, climate, and ecosystem performance. In those domains, NEON will collect site-based data about climate and atmosphere, soils and streams and ponds, and a variety of organisms. Additionally, NEON will provide a wealth of regional and national-scale data from airborne observationsand geographical data collected by Federal agencies and processed by NEON to be accessible and useful to the ecological research community. NEON will also manage a long-term multi-site stream experiment and provide a platform for future observations and experiments proposed by the scientific community.
The data collected and generated across NEON’s network – all day, every day, over a period of 30 years — will be synthesized into information products that can be used to describe changes in the nation’s ecosystem through space and time. It will be readily available in many formats to scientists, educators, students, decision makers and the general public.
For some reason I couldn’t find on the NEON website the informative map that was included in The Economist so I grabbed that one, and offer it below:
These eco-climatic domains are fully described here on the NEON website.
The benefits of this fabulous project are described thus, “The data NEON collects and provides will focus on how land use change, climate change and invasive species affect the structure and function of our ecosystems. Obtaining this kind of data over a long-term period is crucial to improving ecological forecast models. The Observatory will enable a virtual network of researchers and environmental managers to collaborate, coordinate research, and address ecological challenges at regional, national and continental scales by providing comparable information across sites and regions.“
As they say in business, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it! So reading in the above the sentence, ‘Obtaining this kind of data over a long-term period is crucial to improving ecological forecast models.‘ is cheering to the soul.
The United States quite rightly gets a huge bashing over it CO2 emissions but to condemn the USA for that and not to applaud this sort of wonderful research is utterly unjustified. As I have hinted before, America has, more than any other country in the world, the energy to make things better over the coming years.
As Professor Sir Robert Watson highlighted here recently said, ‘… deep cuts in CO2 emissions are possible using innovative technologies without harming economic recovery.’
Amen to that!