Oshkosh, B’gosh!

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Fly In at Oshkosh, WI is the largest fly-in event in the world. Held annually, thousands upon thousands of planes fly in to what is otherwise a small, sleepy little airport. Spill will be heading up there later. But right now, thousands are flying in with a bewildering variety of planes. Air Traffic Control there has to stay on their toes. You can listen in here.

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Load HEAT- Gal Gadot

Since Israel is in the news this week, how about one of their nicer exports, the lovely Gal Gadot, soon to be seen portraying Wonder Woman in the Batman vs. Superman film.

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Filed under Load Heat

The Terror Tunnels of Gaza

It’s an indisputable fact that Hamas has spend a fortune building tunnels under the Gaza strip. First they were primarily thought to be storage facilities for the thousands of rockets Hamas has been raining upon Israel. As it turns out, many tunnels actually had their terminus inside Israel, with the intention of smuggling terrorists into Israel.

And some news reports say that a massive campaign of terror had been planned to occur during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Hamas had apparently been preparing a murderous assault on Israeli civilian targets for the coming Jewish New Year Holiday, Rosh Hashanah, which begins on September 24, according anonymous sources in the Israeli security services, as reported today by the Israeli daily Maariv.

The Hamas plan consisted of what was to be a surprise attack in which 200 fighters would be dispatched through each of dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza to Israel, and seize kibbutzim and other communities while killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.

Israeli soldiers already frustrated a surprise assault by Hamas through one tunnel from Gaza into the Eshkol district of Israel on July 19. The Hamas fighters escaped back into the tunnel, but the clash cost the lives of two Israel Defense Force [IDF] troops.

The IDF should consult with the Republic of Korea. ROK troops used to constantly find North Korean efforts to tunnel under the DMZ, and became quite adept at detecting, locating and destroying tunneling efforts.

Or they can continue to simply blow them up.

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Outstanding Engineering in the development of the Apollo Program Lunar Lander

The Apollo program that lead to the landings on the moon was a stunning engineering and program management feat. It simply boggles the mind the complexity of the mission, and the countless details that went into the development of the hardware, the software* and techniques and procedures that lead to Neil Armstrong’s one small step for man.

In some ways, the most complicated piece of equipment on the entire Saturn V/Apollo stack was the Lunar Module, or LM. Designed and built by Grumman, it was America’s first true spacecraft, in that it would never fly through the atmosphere, instead only in space. Without the need for aerodynamics, it had a truly unusual appearance, sometimes leading it to be called “the bug” or “the spider.” It was a two stage rocket that had to be capable of autonomous navigation from lunar orbit to the surface. It also had to serve as a base camp for astronauts for up to 72 hours, and then it had to be capable of ascending from the moon’s surface to lunar orbit and again rendezvousing with the Command Service Module under its own navigation.  It had to have its own power supply, be able to operate both in a shirt sleeve environment for the crew as well as depressurized and open to the vacuum of the moon’s surface. It had not one, but two hatches, to allow both for docking with the CSM, and to allow the astronauts to explore the surface of the moon. It was also the largest manned spacecraft built at the time.

It was, incredibly, designed well before anyone knew if rendezvous in low earth orbit was technically feasible, let alone in lunar orbit.

  Grumman, in close cooperation with North American Aviation and NASA built this incredible craft. I’m sure you’ve all seen the movie Apollo 13 where the LM served as a lifeboat to return the crew safely to home, stressing the LM in ways it was never intended to be used. To say that the engineers of Grumman built an incredible ship is an understatement.  Some of the finest engineering talent in the world focused on getting the LM just right.

Incredibly, well into the development of the LM, with most of the configuration well established, and production ready to begin, no one ever gave serious consideration to how the astronauts were supposed to get down from the LM to the lunar surface, and back inside after hopping around the moon.

Lander no ladder

Yes. That’s an astronaut holding a knotted rope. No ladder. Grumman and NASA actually even looked at a complicated block and tackle system by which astronauts would hoist themselves down and up. It took a while before it occurred to anyone to simply fasten a ladder from which Neil and 11 others could make a great leap for mankind.


*During the development of Apollo, when the engineers spoke of software, they actually generally meant the flight rules, switchology, and cockpit procedures the astronauts would use on the hardware. Software was already coined as a term for computer code in other areas, but doesn’t appear to have been in vogue in the program office for computer programming.


Filed under space

Daily Dose of Splodey- Midway White III

Back in 2012, the Air Force and Navy cooperated on an exercise, Midway White III designed to evaluate the effectiveness of strikes against caves. From the press release:


7/3/2012 – NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Midway White III is designed to quantify and improve cave characterization, standardize attack planning processes, and increase weapons employment consistency and lethality.

And here’s your splodey.

They paint the bombs with bright colors to make them easier to track with cameras.


Filed under Air Force


Your humble scribe is feeling kinda puny today, so posting is light. Maybe I’ll feel better later in the afternoon.

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Details come to light about WWII secret mission in N.C. | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com

It’s almost as if the crash never happened.

There are no old news clippings about it and few recorded interviews with anyone who might have witnessed it.

That’s how secret the operation was.

On Jan. 11, 1945, a seaplane took off in the darkness from a Coast Guard base in Elizabeth City. It was piloted by a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force and carried eight other aviators. The destination: Russia.

Not long after becoming airborne, the plane nosed down and plummeted into the Pasquotank River, killing five people aboard. The pilot and three others survived.

Last month, members of a club from the Ukrainian city of Odessa, who are planning a 70th-anniversary celebration of the end of World War II, wrote Elizabeth City officials to find out more about that night. One of the men who died, Capt. Vladimir M. Levin, was from Odessa.

City officials researched the incident and plan to send a letter with a few details to the Odessites.

via Details come to light about WWII secret mission in N.C. | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com.

Interesting. Elizabeth City was home to a program training Soviet crews to operate a variant of the PBY. They would then fly them to the Soviet Union for anti-sub patrols, presumably along the convoy route to Archangel.

The article notes that they flew the southern route to the Soviet Union to avoid icing. That would generally mean a series of legs down to Venezuela or Brazil before flying to Africa, thence to Iran and finally up into the Soviet Union.

Most of the thousands of planes the US and Britain supplied to the Soviet Union were delivered crated via merchant shipping. But there was also the northern route, where planes would stage out of Montana, flying in legs up to Alaska, then across the Bering Straits to Russia, to begin the very long journey across Siberia to join the forces on the Eastern Front.

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