Inbound to the Airshow

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That’s Grumman TBM and a Douglass SBD

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Record Setting Supersonic Parachute Jump

- A Google executive has broken the sound barrier and set several skydiving records over the southern New Mexico desert after taking a leap from the edge of space.

Alan Eustace’s supersonic jump early Friday from a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon is part of a project by Paragon Space Development Corp. and its Stratospheric Explorer team. The goal is to develop a self-contained commercial spacesuit that would allow people to explore the stratosphere.

Eustace started his dive at 135,908 feet. He remained in freefall for about 4.5 minutes, hitting a top speed of 822 mph.

via News from The Associated Press.

It’s interesting that, unlike the previous record setting jump by Felix Baumgartner, there was virtually no publicity of this. What was once extraordinary is now, if not routine, hardly worth more than a few paragraphs.

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Mystery Lady buys military lunch.

At Oak Harbor’s The BBQ Joint, military members are getting a heaping helping of respect.

For the past four years, a Mystery Lady has been quietly giving the restaurant money to randomly pay for military meals.

Hundreds of them.

“If someone comes in and they look like they could use a little boost, we let her buy them their lunch,” said Sonna Ryan, a Texas transplant who owns the restaurant with her husband Tim.

It’s a small gesture that’s making a big impact.

“It means a lot to us,” said NAS Whidbey sailor Ryan Bradley. “My sincere thanks to whoever this Mystery Lady is.”

All we know about the Mystery Lady is that her husband of 29 years died from Agent Orange exposure after serving in Vietnam. She is on a fixed income and can’t get out to volunteer like she used to, so filling the bellies of local sailors is her way of giving back.

via KING 5.

Oak Harbor isn’t exactly where one thinks of quality BBQ, but the joint is run by Texans and I’m hearing good stuff about it.

And Oak Harbor has long had a very supportive relationship with the military.

For a long time, many sailors called NAS Whidbey the best kept secret in the Navy, because it is set in a stunningly beautiful locale, and because it was, and still is, a fantastic place to raise a family.

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Run Silent, Run Scared: ‘A Crucial Year’ For Navy’s New Nuke Sub « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

“No one should be sleeping comfortably at night,” Rear Adm. Dave Johnson warned Navy submariners and contractors today. For the fleet’s top priority program, the replacement for the aging Ohio-class nuclear missile submarine, fiscal 2015 “is a crucial year,” the Program Executive Officer for all submarine programs said this morning.

Adm. John Richardson

Adm. John Richardson

“If we in this room don’t have butterflies in our stomachs each day… we’re kidding ourselves,” said Adm. John Richardson, who as head of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Systems, aka Naval Reactors, is responsible for the most complex (and literally radioactive) component of the new sub. “I just don’t want anybody to relax a moment,” he told the Naval Submarine League conference here. “I’ve got to admit I see all the ingredients for failure, and I’ll tell you why[:] The program is on track, [but saying] ‘green’ as opposed to ‘yellow’ or ‘red’ [is] too optimistic, and it gives rise potentially to a complacency that’s poisonous.”

No less a figure than the Chief of Naval Operations, a submariner himself, said he had hard work ahead to sell the expensive program on Capitol Hill. Outside the New England delegation, for whom submarine-builder Electric Boat is a major employer, “we don’t have [enough] people who are our advocates that will say, ‘Listen, we’ve got to get this thing going,’” Adm. Jonathan Greenert said. “So I’ve got some work when they reconvene, I’ve got some folks that are helping me gather some members together.”

via Run Silent, Run Scared: ‘A Crucial Year’ For Navy’s New Nuke Sub « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary.

As the article notes later, the Ohio’s were designed for a 30 year service life, but we’re extending them to a 42 year life. Of course, that doesn’t come free. As we saw with USS Enterprise, squeezing a few more years out of a ship comes at extraordinary maintenance cost, which eats the money otherwise used for building new ships.

What I don’t understand, and maybe one of you can help me out here, is just why the replacement program is so complex. The very first SSBN was literally an attack sub cut in half on the ways with the missile compartment stuffed in. What challenges are there for adapting the Virginia class SSN to an SSBN design that I’m just not seeing?

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Instapundit » Blog Archive » BILL MCMORRIS: How The Supreme Court Created The Student Loan Bubble: It all starts with Griggs v….

The lie that props up our Big Education regime is that the GI Bill, which paid for World War II veterans to attend college, produced the upward mobility and economic boom of the postwar period. It’s a heartwarming story, the veteran who would have been a dust farmer but for the grace of government generosity. But it just isn’t true. Only one out of every eight returning veterans attended college. The rest, the vast majority, benefited from something even more egalitarian: aptitude testing. The format favors raw talent above all else, allowing companies to hire high-potential candidates from any background and groom them to fit the company’s needs.

These tactics came to commerce from a familiar source.The armed services were forced to process hundreds of thousands of recruits during the war, and in order to filter and assign soldiers, the government developed aptitude tests. Businesses witnessed the U.S. defeat the two most efficient peoples known to man, thought there must be something to this whole testing thing, and followed suit. The chief hiring metric in the postwar era was not whether someone had a degree, but whether he had the aptitude that would enable him to succeed. Every industry from blue-blooded high finance to immigrant-heavy manufacturing employed testing to determine who would rise through the ranks, regardless of lineage, heritage, or education. Testing enabled men who set out to be blue-collar workers to ascend based solely on their ability. . . .

via Instapundit » Blog Archive » BILL MCMORRIS: How The Supreme Court Created The Student Loan Bubble: It all starts with Griggs v…..

Of course, the government is still allowed to use aptitude testing. That’s what the ASVAB test is. It’s right there in the title- Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

But because hiring by aptitude could, and sometimes did, have a disparate impact on minorities, particularly African Americans, the Supreme Court ruled it an unconstitutional infringement on civil rights. That’s a case I’d really like to see the court revisit and correct.

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The US airdropped some more arms to ISIS forces just outside Kobane.

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The Army is looking to replace its Mike boats.

You do know the Army still operates a fleet of about 38 LCM-8 class medium landing craft? Well, they do. And they’ve been in service almost as long as I’ve been alive. They were intended to have a service life of 25 years, and retire in 1992. Yet they’re still plugging along. They’ve only marginally improved over the LCMs of World War II.

DoDBuzz tells us the Army is looking to buy a replacement for them as the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light).

As it rethinks its global posture for a possible shift to the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Army wants to buy a new fleet of small boats and upgrade existing watercraft, an official said.

The land force and largest branch of the U.S. military has more than 100 vessels in its inventory — including the Cold War-era Landing Craft Mechanized-8 “Mike” boat, as well as the larger Logistics Support Vessel, LSV, and Landing Craft Utility, or LCU-2000 — to support combat and humanitarian missions.

The Army is gearing up to solicit proposals to replace the so-called Mike boats as part of a new acquisition program to buy three dozen craft called the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light), or MSV(L), according to Scott Davis, who heads the service’s Combat Support and Combat Service Support office in Warren, Michigan.

I took a look at the RFI, and it’s pretty damn ambitious. MushDogs? You’re our small craft expert. What say you?

What’s interesting is that, while the Army has almost exclusively used its landing craft in a lighterage and intratheater transport role, the RFI envisions using the MSV(L) additionally as a maneuver asset for Brigade Combat Teams in the littoral or inland waterways. That’s not quite poaching on the Marines forcible entry/over the shore assault role, but I’m pretty sure it is something a BCT staff hasn’t planned for a while.

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