Friday, October 20, 2017

Flying - Fly By Night To KLAN

After not having flown at night for over a year as my last night flight was in April 2016 it was time to get up again and give it a go.

Considering the long time since I had last flown at night, I decided it would be prudent to take an instructor along for safety reasons and guidance, but I would be pilot in command and sole manipulator of the controls.

I planned a flight from Pontiac to Lansing to get some cross-country time and some more experience in Class C airspace.

The instructor suggested we do some landings at Lansing to get me comfortable with playing in a Class C and to get my night rating back up current. So that is what we did and I had the route prepared. It would prove to be an experience.

I arrived at the airport and started to preflight 88J.

It was a very nice evening with light winds of 5-6 knots out of 260.

Preflight was good and it started fine but during the runup I saw two things:

1. The vacuum system was sucking, or rather not sucking enough and was making both the heading indicator and attitude indicator inoperable.

Ok, you don't need those to fly VFR bit they're certainly nice to have and I'd be happier with them functioning especially on a night flight.

2. Next, the Alternator warning light came on and stayed on.

Losing electrical power and thus all lights, turn coordinator and radios and transponder while flying at night in controlled airspace would really suck.

The instructor based on the other instruments seemed to think the alternator was working and we could try it but he asked "If you were alone, what would you do?"

I stated that two error conditions meant the plane already had two strikes and three would mean we're out, so I would not fly it under those conditions.

He said that showed good judgment and was the right decision so we parked it and got another plane.

By now it was full on dark so the red/white LED flashlight I had brought along was necessary and I used it while flying a fair bit as well, as the instrument panel lighting in the Archer left a bit to be desired at times.

So we got into N8570F and all worked on that plane. Before we took off the instructor noted I could ask Pontiac for flight following so I did cal ground and we got a transponder number and directions to call Detroit departure after we took off. Tower then cleared us for a straight out departure and off we went.

We were soon handed off to Lansing approach and as we were flying a course of 282 they said expect a landing on 28L, which is the really big runway at Lansing.

On the way another plane was also flying at 4,500 in the same general area so Lansing had us descend to 4,000 and instructed the other plane to make no altitude changes without informing them. Flight following can come quite in handy for noise abatement purposes.

As we got closer they then switched us to 28R which is the forlorn little brother to 28L. At 3,600 feet compared to 28L 8,500 it does get lost in the mix, and pilots have apparently sometimes almost landed on 28L'staxiway thinking it was 28L and 28L was 28R, especially as 28R is not as brightly lit as 28L or 24, which would cause an issue later.

So we headed in and landed on 28R. Landing at night was interesting - first off 28R really does seem like the red-headed stepchild of a runway at KLAN, and its not nearly as well nor as brightly lit as the other runways, at all.

But I found it and at night it feels like you're going to land well short of the runway. Adding to the fun is that if you fixate on the numbers during landing at night you will drive the plane right into them, you have to be ready to look down the runway and flare earlier than it feels like you need to. Yes, that first landing was a bit exciting and a little flat-ish but not terrible, but the instructor did mention I would want to flare - NOW. Some people get nervous I guess.

So we did a full stop and did a taxi back along echo and took off again, and then the fun started.

A good takeoff but the lights of 28R were quickly lost in the background as Tower had us really really extend our upwind for traffic, and as we came around I had lost 28R but the instructor saw it and then we turned cross and downwind and then final we saw it nice and lit up and made an excellent approach. Heck it was so beautiful it would be a perfect landing, I mean everything was lined up just right and we were just about to make out the numbers when....

Lansing Tower: "N8570F I show you lined up to land on Runway 24".

Oh family-blog me.

Me: "N8570F is going around". So go around we did. Good thing I'm good at those and have them down pat.

Yep, 24 was lit up brighter than a Christmas tree and drew us like moths to a flame, and with the extended upwind and with 28R by comparison being not readily visible, both the instructor and I thought we were lined up on 28R at the time.

No runway incursion occurred, problem was averted, and it was a good learning experience.

We then did a couple more landings on and takeoffs from 28R and then headed back to Pontiac again with flight following.

A good landing at Pontiac at 27R with winds calm and that was a nice cross-country night flight.

2.0 and 4 night landings.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Did Michigan Narrowly Dodge a Foxconn Con?

Michigan officials are all sad that Wisconsin got the Foxconn plant.

Now when we see what was offered we might just take a moment and be glad that as taxpayers it was Wisconcin that got it after all.

The Detroit Free Press: Michigan offered Foxconn $3.8 billion for flat screen plant, still lost to Wisconsin's $3 billion bid

The Detroit News: Inside Michigan’s $7.3B pitch to Foxconn

Note that two different news papers, owned by the same management group are about 4 billion dollars apart in their description of the offers Michigan made to Foxconn.

Ah, that's just petty cash among incentive plans, right?

So let's take the lower 3,700,000,000.00 number, noting that is about 7% of the entire state budget - for an incentive to one company.

Reading the articles its rather difficult to say how many proposed jobs were claimed to be created by these moves, nor how would actually be created by this incentive plan, and as such the following calculatiosn may be totally off under the principle of JGIGO - Journalism Garbage In, Garbage Out.

So, reading between the lines The Detroit News says of the 3 Billion portion of the offer that

Wisconsin won the first round of the Foxconn sweepstakes after finalizing a $3 billion incentive plan that will reportedly allow the company to qualify for up to $2.85 million in cash from state. Foxconn plans to build a liquid-crystal display panel plant in Racine County and will qualify for the full state incentives over 15 years if it invests $10 billion in Wisconsin and ultimately adds 13,000 jobs paying an average salary of nearly $54,000.

Basically that portion will cost Wisconsin and not Michigan now $230,769.23 per job or the government is essentially paying the $54,000 annual salary for each of these workers for about 4 years. Putting them all on welfare directly, or heck giving each of them $100,000 in cash upfront rather than having their employing unit on welfare would be cheaper, neh?

But it gets better, and possibly it will become worse for Michigan.

The Freep offers the following gem:

The jobs announcements from Foxconn may not be over, as the offers from Michigan and Wisconsin show.

Both states bid on another potential factory known as Project 868. Little is known about this plant but Michigan expected it to bring a $4.2 billion investment from Foxconn and up to 5,200 jobs. In their June letter to Foxconn, Michigan officials offered the company $3.1 billion in incentives for Project 868.

Well, 3.1 billion by 5,200 jobs is a whopping $596,153.84 subsidy per job, and dividing it at the above claimed average salary of $54,000 would mean the state via the subsidy (in other words, your taxes) would be paying the worker's wages for the company for 11 years.

How anyone thinks that Michigan winning this bid would be an actual win for Michigan taxpayers is beyond me.

Did anyone actually do a cost-benefit analysis or was the shiny lure of a technology company promising jobs in return for massive subsidies overriding any rational thought?

Sure, a ribbon cutting ceremony and a claim that high-tech manufacturing is coming to Michigan is nice and all, but the level of outright bribery involved via these incentives and the costs imposed on all the people in Michigan who are not beneficiaries of this largess is pretty much outrageous.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Unknown World War Two Tales - Frenchmen Flyers In Russia

World War 2 was by its very definition a World War, engulfing the globe and having a cast of millions. While much of the course of it is well known, there are many aspects, units, episodes, and smaller engagements within it that I certainly have not learned about and I suspect others are similarly unaware.

So I've decided to do an occasional post, and perhaps should interest be sufficient make it a regular thing on this blog on some of those lesser known episodes.

So without further ado: Frenchmen Flyers in Russia!

In 1943, at the suggestion of Charles De Gaulle, a group of French pilots was sent to assist the Russians on the Eastern Front.

Groupe de Chasse 3 of the Free French Air Force was sent to the Soviet Union to fight the Nazis, and soon became the most decorated unit in the French Air Force.

The unit was soon named the Normandie-Niemen Regiment, commemorating its contribution to the Battle of The Niemen River.

Initially flying the Yak-1 fighter that they used to good effect, and then transitioning to the superlative Yak-3 fighter, the Regiment racked up 273 enemy aircraft shot down, 37 probables, for a loss of 87 aircraft and 52 pilots.

The Yak 3 out turn and out run the Germans' Bf-109 and FW 190 fighters. German pilots were warned not to engage a Yak-3 in a dogfight below 14,000 ft, as it could roll with the Focke-Wulf Fw-190, and its turn radius was superior. With an excellent plane the excellent pilots of Normandie-Niemen made their presence felt.

Picture of a Yak 3 in Normandie-Niemen colors

Apparently the unit annoyed the Nazis so much that Field Marshall Keitel had issued an order that any French pilot captured on the eastern front would be executed rather than treated as a Prisoner of War.

4 of the French pilots were awarded the decoration of Hero of The Soviet Union, the Soviet's highest honor.

A surviving Yak 3 fighter from the Normandie-Niemen Regiment is on display at Le Bourget in France. There is a Yak 3 in flying condition at the Planes of Fame Museum in California sporting Normandie-Niemen colors.

To learn more about the story of the Normandie-Niemen Regiment, there's a book by John D. Clarke titled French Eagles, Soviet Heroes: The Normandie-Niemen Squadrons on the Eastern Front that looks rather good.

The Normandie-Niemen Squadron name lives on in active squadrons in both the French and Russian Air Forces today.

In the French Air Force as the Escadron de chasse 2/30 Normandie-Niemen, flying the Rafale, and in Russian air forces today s the "8-й гвардейский Витебский дважды Краснознаменный ордена Суворова второй степени истребительный полк ВВС России "Нормандия – Неман" of the 11th Air Army flying Mig-29s.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

No Flying Today

I had planned out a nice cross-country flight to KJXN to meet a friend who also planed to fly in for lunch at the airport.

Over the week the prog chart started looking progressively worse.

Sure enough, I cancelled last night after it was predicting low clouds and winds from 230-250 degrees at 18-30 knots (This makes for a crosswind in excess of the Archer's crosswind limits at times), and I'm glad I did.

Winds today are gusting 18-32 and there's a broken cloud layer hanging out around 1,500 feet. Either factor would be more than enough to weather cancel a flight and both make it a complete no-brainer.

Ah well, I'll get out again and hopefully soon if the weather will ever cooperate with a planned flight.

All The Ones

Yesterday consisted of a lot of running around town in the pouring rain, chauffeuring kids and doing multiple errands.

During that time, the Odometer decided to hit a numerically interesting number. Picture was taken by sidekick that I was chauffeuring around at the time while I was driving.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

More Stupid Criminal Tricks

There's a reason they're called dumb criminals folks.

Probably this is one of Livingston County Sheriff's easiest catches to date, and yet another reminder to not do drugs as they sure do make you all sorts of stupid:

The Detroit Free Press: Sheriff: Man brings heroin to girlfriend's release from jail

Yes, the idiot actually went to the Livingston County Sheriff's Office and Jail parking lot, in broad daylight, passed out in his car, likely from drug use, and had plenty of heroin in his car. They only thing he didn't provide was posting a sign in the car window stating "Idiot and drugs inside, come and get 'em".

One has to wonder if he really just wanted to give them an excuse to get him put in jail because his girlfriend was getting out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Singapore Day 6 - To The Beach

So at my birthday party the day before, Jonathan suggested we go to Changi beach as we wanted to swim in the Pacific Ocean on our trip.

So bright and early we got on the bus to head for Changi Village.

It was a nice double-decker air-conditioned bus, figuring out the fare was interesting as the driver had limited English, and we had no Chinese and limited varieties of banknotes, and the fare is based on distance and age, but we got it figured out.

Taking the bus was rather enjoyable and we got to see quite a bit of the city. We passed by the Malabar Mosque on the way:

And the famous Gay World Hotel:

Gay in the original and very English sense of the word. That hotel has been in Singapore with that name for a very long time which might disappoint certain travelers who might book there expecting the more modern meaning.

Then we passed by the infamous Changi prison.

Yes it is the same site as the Changi prison of World War 2. The Changi World War 2 prison museum is now at a different location. The prison today still looks very imposing indeed.

The bus drops you off at a station in Changi village and it's a short walk from the bus station to the beach.

On the way you cross a bridge by the docks lined with small boats.

Then you reach the beach.

It is a nice sandy beach with trees farther back for shade. It's also quite near a shipping lane so large freighters come by while you're swimming.

The water was warm and the beach was nice and sandy, and there were nice clean changing rooms and shower facilities, and restaurants close by so we had a nice picnic lunch on the beach.

The day was full of swimming and watching the boats go by.

Not only did boats go by, as Changi Beach is, luckily for an aviation buff like myself, in the flight path to Singapore's Changi International Airport.

I may have gone a little plane crazy, with so many planes from so many different Asian airlines in liveries that I've never seen in person before (click 'em to embiggen as they say and see the liveries, quite a few of which are rather ornate):

Air Asia has a cheerful slogan: "Now Everyone Can Fly", so carry on flying Mr. B.

There was Lion Air:

There was Tiger Air:

There was no Bear Air, Oh My.

But there was Royal Brunei:

EVA Air:

Vietnam Airlines:

China Airlines:

Malaysia:

Garuda Indonesia:

Thai:

Myanmar:

The venerable Cathay Pacific airline:

Heck, just when you get over Fox cancelling Firefly, you find out it's still flying -- in Asia:

That was quite a nice day at the beach.

After getting our fill of swimming, lunch, swimming some more, walking along the beach and sightseeing, we then took the bus back into town and had to stop for Starbucks.

However, we decided to have drinks there that you could only get in Singapore:

We got a Shiok-ah-ccino, and two more drinks that I don't remember the names of, but one was rather memorable as it had oatmeal in it which was rather interesting, but I really wouldn't recommend it. However, the Shiok-ah-ccino was very tasty as was the special iced tea drink.

Then we headed back to our abode, rested for a bit, and prepared for the next event of the day.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Thugs' Veto Strikes Again

Daily Nous: “Credible Threats Of Personal Violence” Lead To Retraction of Colonialism Paper

Following a number of complaints, Taylor & Francis conducted a thorough investigation into the peer review process on this article. Whilst this clearly demonstrated the essay had undergone double-blind peer review, in line with the journal’s editorial policy, the journal editor has subsequently received serious and credible threats of personal violence. These threats are linked to the publication of this essay. As the publisher, we must take this seriously. Taylor & Francis has a strong and supportive duty of care to all our academic editorial teams, and this is why we are withdrawing this essay.

So a scholarly article is fast going down the memory hole, not because it was false or lacked academic merit, but because people didn't like it enough to threaten violence over it.

Why did it work? Because people know the Left will in fact do violence when they make these kinds of threats.

The paper itself was pretty darned innocuous, arguing that colonialism had some benefits to the colonized, but of course its now rather hard to find a copy of it extant to argue for or against the author's claims in the paper and to see if its detractors had anything to substantiate their violence-inducing butt-hurt beyond having the word colonialism associated with some positive benefits.

After all, what did the Romans ever do for us?

Of course the thugs' veto, with its threat of violence is being justified by those on the left with the very peculiar theory that "speech is violence". Yes, his detractors actually claim his paper is "violence against their [the colonized] respective communities and cultures." Thus, once the Left has decided that speech, in this case written speech in a scholarly peer-reviewed article no less, is violence, the Left uses this leap of logic to justify threats of violence and actual violence as an appropriate response.

So far, as seen by the cringe-worthy and cowering retraction of the paper, it is working.

This can backfire on the Left rather badly, especially if the Right takes up this "speech is violence" idea and climbs onto the thugs' veto bandwagon.

Just imagine Universities being told:

Look, Communism has killed over 100 million people, Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto is therefore clearly violent speech and violence against "its victims respective communities and cultures", so any professor teaching it is clearly enabling and inspiring mass murder. If you continue to teach this violence at your university . . . . . .

Well, that's a lovely university you got here, too bad if something were to happen to it.