Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Recent Archaeological Find Links

There have been quite a few recent interesting archaeological discoveries in the news lately.

1. You know the Greek ship where they found the Antkytheria mechanism? Looks like there's even more artifacts being found there, farther below the sea bed.

2. An impressive sarcophagus, weighing 2 tons and 8.2 feet long, dating to the Roman period was found in Ashkelon, Israel this month.

3. A dig in Jerusalem found a (so far) unique pyramid-stepped staircase and platform from the Second Temple Period.

4. King Tut's tomb may not have contained just his mummy, but also his mummy's mummy: King Tut's Tomb May Hold the Secret Grave of His Mother Nefertiti.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Not Exactly A Flying Lesson - The Pre-Solo Ground Lesson

While a Flying Lesson #13 was scheduled for this afternoon, it was not to be.

Unfortunately, someone had smacked N73445 pretty good last night and it was in the shop getting some repairs done. I don't have the story on what happened but do hope to find out. In addition to N73455 now being out of service, N755PR was getting its 100 hour inspection done so there were too few planes for not enough pilots, and since I had N73455 booked I was one of those that got bumped.

My instructor decided that since there was no aircraft available but we were both present that it would be an opportune time to do some pre-solo ground work.

So we headed off into a room and we went over requirements for flight in terms of what I and the aircraft needed to have to be legal for a flight, what I could do with a student certificate, requirements for solo, airspace requirements, and requirements for an aircraft to be deemed airworthy.

Aviation is chock full of acronyms, and I got tested on quite a few.

For example an aircraft needs its ARROW documents to be legal to fly:

A - Airworthiness Certificate
R - Registration certificate
R - Radio Operating certificate (if you're going outside the US)
O - Operating Handbook
W - Weight and Balance

If you get ramp-checked and you don't have those in the plane, then Lucy, you have some 'splaining to do.

Another fun list is what the aircraft needs to be legal for day time VFR flight - TOMATO FLAMES

Oil pressure gauge
Manifold pressure gauge (for each altitude engine)
Airspeed indicator
Temperature gauge (for each liquid-cooled engine)
Oil temperature gauge (for each air-cooled engine)

Fuel gauge (for each tank)
Landing gear position indicator
Magnetic compass
Seat belts

While I had the ARROW acronym memorized I did stumble around in regards to the flaming tomato but got it worked out. I was also pretty decent on airspace requirements. He seemed quite satisfied with my answers and could tell I had been studying. After I bring him a few more written test practice exams with the scores Ive been getting, he's going to endorse my written so I can get it done and out of the way.

A lot of learning to fly takes place not in the air but on the ground, and this was a very necessary lesson to check my readiness for the written test and fulfill a pre-solo requirement.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Putin Plays Middle East Chess As Obama Struggles To Figure Out Checkers

Get a load of this headline in the Detroit Free Press: Obama offers to work with Putin, Iran on Syria; Putin says work with Assad

Obama declared:

"The United States is willing to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran," Obama said. "But we must agree that after so much carnage there cannot be a return to the previous status quo.”

Any solution must not include continued support for "a tyrant" like Syrian President Bashar Assad, who Obama said has killed his own people in a war that began with a violent crackdown on peaceful protests.

Putin's response was a firm "Nyet" to Obama's words-without-deeds insistence that Assad must go.

In sharp contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin later called for a global response to fight Islamic extremism akin to a third World War and should be fought alongside Assad's government forces.

“We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to work with the Syrian government and its armed forces,” Putin told the U.N. “No one but the Syrian forces and Kurdish militia is seriously fighting against Islamic state.”

That sound you hear is generations worth of US dominance and influence in the Middle East being continuously piddled away by the current administration whether negligently or deliberately to create a Multi-polar world with diminished US capabilities and power to influence the course of events.

US doctrine used to have a stated goal of keeping the Russians OUT of the Middle East. Now the Russians have got the initiative and the US seems to be the one being diminished in stature and being shut out of the region.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


After massive cloud cover, we finally got a bit of a wind so I was able to get a couple shots of the lunar eclipse in progress.

The blood moon, while very beautiful to the eye, is completely beyond the capabilities of my camera to capture.

Sunday Volunteering To E-Race Hunger

So this morning the family volunteered at the 5k Race/Family Fun Run To eRace Hunger to raise funds for a local food bank.

We ran the water station at the farthest end of the race course that was setup on the streets of Southfield, and handed out water to runners and directed them to make sure they stayed on the course.

We had motivational signs drawn up by the kids.

Sadly, my proposed sign - "Run Faster! The Zombies Are Catching Up!" - was vetoed.

So we worked the station, handing out water to runners and walkers passing by - some were very fast indeed and took the cups of water on the run without breaking their strides. Some took it as a fun family stroll and meandered by getting water on the way, which was more than fine too.

After all the racers and walkers had passed our point, we cleaned up the area and walked back to the starting point.

The race was a success and raised well over $7,000 for the food bank.

After the race, there was a family fun time going to various events setup on the Synagogue grounds and a nice picnic-type lunch.

A good time was had by all.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Seriously, Stopping At A Detroit Gas Station is Bad For Your Health

Yet another car jacking at a Detroit gas station.

This one happened at three in the morning, and quite simply nothing good is going to happen at three in the morning in Detroit. Heck, in general rarely does anything much good happens at three in the morning anywhere, and that's especially the case in the D.

The Detroit News: Man shot, carjacked at Detroit gas station

Methinks all those mad at Brooks Patterson for pointing out the truth about avoiding stopping at Detroit gas stations, owe him yet another apology.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

WGN TV Watchers, The Gell-Man Amnesia Effect On Line 1 For You

This post could also be titled "Really WGN, WTF?".

WGN TV ran a story about Yom Kippur with the following image in the background:

That's a pretty big gaffe right there, using a Nazi image to mark the Holiest Day in the Jewish year. It ranks highly on the WTF scale and has garnered national attention. WGN TV has apologized for the rather epic screw-up. Part of the apology was that they were too dumb to recognize that the symbol selected might be just a tad inappropriate.

Is it a Type 1 error, the typical error committed by journalists, where the image was chosen because the journalists/station crew involved really are that dumb and lack any historical understanding of what that image means or the subject they are addressing? That seems to be the basis of the apology.

Is it a Type 2 error where someone on staff decided to play a joke and no one removed it in time or figured it was a problem, reinforcing the stupidity of the Type 1?

Or is it a Type 3 intentional foul where some ass-hat decided to run it to be offensive and it slipped by everybody else, due to either the historical ignorance of a Type 1, or it really was quickly slipped past unbeknownst to everyone else?

In any case it hardly boosts confidence in the station to be accurate with any story they may carry if they can't get some very basic image issues right on what should be a complete puff-piece.

In any case, no worries dear watchers of WGN TV, you can be assured that all the other stories you may watch on the station are accurate, factual, and free of any bias, ignorance, or such blatant errors.

Flying Lesson #12 - Landings, Landings, Landings.

This morning was a perfect one for flying.

My normal craft of choice was in the shop due to blowing a tire on landing last night so it was time to try for the first time, N757MK, another one of the flight school's Cessna 172s.

Mike Kilo pre-flighted just fine, and was no problem at all to fly except for a nose gear shimmy that was more annoying the instructor than it did me. Quite a nice plane, though the instrument panel is setup a little differently from N73445 so finding stuff was not as automatic but it was no big deal at all.

Today was more pattern work after our instrument interlude of last Saturday, and many more landings ensued.

We were doing left patterns to Runway 9L as the wind was blowing right down the runway for the most part from 90 degrees.

We had some fun taking off with a line up of aircraft waiting to go, so it was a case of "Follow that Cessna!"

On occasion, we had to length our downwind due to aircraft approaching or taking off, and I got to see a King Air and a Dassault Falcon jet come in for a landing on the parallel runway as we were landing which was kinda neat.

We did touch and goes for each landing and I've pretty much gotten down flying out a nice straight takeoff aligned with the cent of the runway, which is a good thing. I even managed that in some crosswind that came up on occasion.

A bit of an off day for landings for me overall. The landings weren't great, though a few were quite decent and no go-arounds were needed. Mainly, I was typically coming in too high and wasn't quite getting the glide path right. I thus need more practice in getting the right sight picture, which I already knew. I did get in one approach that was absolutely perfect on the glide path which was nice, leading to a perfect landings, now to do more like that.

On the last landing, the tower let us remain on the runway all the way down as the flight school is at the other end, so we carried on down. The nosewheel shimmy annoyed the instructor so he took over and demonstrated how to do a wheelie all the way down the runway, which was a fun way to end the lesson. Then we taxied on back and tied the pane down and Lesson 12 was done.

That's 10 more landings and 1.4 more hours in the log book.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Don't Bring A Crowbar To A Gunfight

Happily, some car-jackers never learned not to bring a crowbar to a gun fight.

The Detroit news: Victim opens fire on carjacking suspect in Detroit.

In the story we see the car-jacker initially threatened the owner of the car and then jumped into the car to drive away. The car owner took umbrage with that and fired multiple rounds at the car-jacker, who then crashed the car and tried to attack the car owner with a crow bar.

No reports yet as to if the car-jacker properly earned a Darwin award, but police did find a blood trail.

There's also no confirmation as to whether the driver of the car was legally carrying or not, and we'll see if there are further reports as to how it all works out, or not as the media may wish to relate.

It's also yet another reminder not to stop and get gas at a Detroit gas station.

Windows 10 Upgrade - A Flashing Error Experience

So last night I decided to do the Windows 10 upgrade on the home computer.

All seemed to be going well, so I let it chug along upgrading overnight.

This morning it was ready and I logged in, turned off the reporting features that sends Microsoft all your activity data during the setup, hit continue, and drat.

The screen started flashing the desktop then black and continued to repeat the pattern and nothing would work nor could anything be done except ctrl-alt-delete.

I tried a reset and the same thing happened - once past the login screen the desktop would start and then continue flashing.

I tried a full power off and the same thing happened - once past the login screen the desktop would start and then continue flashing.

So with that computer out of action I searched for answers online using another machine.

It turns out the cure is to disable the Windows Error Reporting Service.

Yes, the irony is to be appreciated here - the Windows Error Reporting Service is itself the cause of a fatal error.

I followed the helpful instructions on that site, disabled the service and lo and behold, the computer now works 100%.

Overall, Windows 10 is very similar to Windows 7 so far, with some improvements, and it appears to be a bit faster booting up than Windows 7 which is a surprise.

Now that I'm past the error it seems to have been a worthy upgrade. We'll see as we test it more over the next while.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Michigan CPL Holder - 1 Bank Robber - 0

In Warren, Michigan, a Bank Robber chose the wrong bank to rob when a CPL holder stopped the robbery after the Robber pointed his gun at him.

The Detroit News: Customer shoots suspected bank robber in Warren

A suspected bank robber was injured Monday afternoon in Warren after he was shot by a customer carrying a concealed weapon.

The incident happened around 4:30 p.m. at the Citizen’s Bank on Timken near Van Dyke, said Warren Mayor Jim Fouts.

During the bank robbery, the 43-year-old male suspect pointed a gun at a 63-year-old male customer, Fouts said. The customer, who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, then shot the suspect in both arms and one leg, injuring him.

“That caused him to drop the money,” Fouts said. “Police were able to retrieve it.”

From the description of events so far, it appears the CPL holder did everything right.

Nicely done.

Not Quite Getting The Idea

Marketers mean well, but they do miss the point on occasion.

Take this advertisement for bagels as an example:

For those who may not know, Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement. The day is marked by Prayer and Fasting - and definitely not by eating bagels.

Bagels might come into play after sunset Wednesday after the fast is over, but you wouldn't want to buy them on Tuesday so they can sit around and get stale while you can't eat them until Wednesday night (not to mention how bagels add to the fun of fasting with one being able to look at them but not eat them) nor are they for Yom Kippur itself but for breaking the fast after Yom Kippur has ended.

I'd call the campaign close, but the phrasing was just off by enough to raise an eyebrow and a grin.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Flying Lesson #11 - Can You Play Your Instruments?

Lesson 11 started out interesting and got more so very quickly.

The Terminal Area Forecast I checked called for lots of rain and cloud cover but it was still VFR. I got up and it was raining, the clouds were low but since there was no emailed cancellation and the METAR was still VFR with good ceiling and visibility I headed to the airport. It stopped raining by the time I arrived but the winds were up and the clouds were definitely overcast and moving around but again thousands of feet above minimums.

I got there at 7:40 for an 8:00 am lesson, and was the first person to arrive, so I did the preflight on the plane. Even if it turns out you're not going, it's always good to get a thorough preflight in for practice.

Sure enough N73455 needed some more oil, which after they opened the office up I went in and got some and filled her up. Other than that the preflight was a-ok.

Sean arrived and noted that the winds were pretty bad so it would be a constitutional violation (cruel and unusual punishment, doncha know?) to have me practice landings in it at this stage, so he said we would do some instrument work.

Oh boy did we.

Engine start complete, pre-takeoff checks complete, and cleared to takeoff and the weather comes rolling in, and hard.

Rain and clouds came in right as we takeoff. I got in a good takeoff with a lot of crosswind compensation and proceeded to get pushed around the sky a bit.

Conditions started dropping fast, with tower advising us and another Cessna Skyhawk that had entered Pontiac's airspace and trying to route us to clearer air. Let's put it this way, the airport completely disappeared under the weather with clouds coming in fast from the south. So we started heading northeast with the other Skyhawk a few miles away at our 3 o'clock to get out of the path of the storm.

We were getting lots of bumps and rain and were considering heading back but decided not to as the bad weather was now solidly over the field and the field had fully disappeared from view.

As we were flying along the Tower noted that he had two Skyhawks with ground-speeds of 140 and 160 knots which was pretty darn respectable. Think "Real Big Tailwind" giving us a push. The Pontiac controller more than earned his pay routing us around the worst of the thin storm line and giving lots of good advisories and advice. Pontiac tower rocks.

Overall the viz was marginal VFR creeping into IFR so Sean had me put on some Foggles and do some instrument work.

Foggles restrict your vision to the instrument panel and you have to rely on your six-pack to fly the plane.

Not this kind of six pack:

This six pack:

I did quite well under the foggles, flying and compensating for the wind that kept pushing us around using the instruments to maintain our altitude, heading and attitude.

The weather kept getting worse, and the tiny ship was tossed, so Sean decided to demonstrate an IFR flight and to let me get some experience in complete instrument conditions. No more need for the foggles - it was real instrument conditions now. We contacted Detroit and got an IFR heading back to Pontiac with a climb to 3,000 feet and a heading of 240.

We climbed to 3,000 and were truly in the clouds. Forget about any outside references, there were none, it was all instruments all the time, period.

I did a good job keeping the plane steady on 240 even with the wind pushing us around. I quickly learned that in instrument conditions it's all about a light touch - no excessive angles of bank, rely on the instruments and ignore the feeling in your head if it conflicts with what the instruments are telling you. Especially ignore it if your head says you're turning left and the instruments say you're flying straight.

Detroit then had us turn to 180, which I did and I flew us along all the way to the approach point. Our ground-speed was now 55 knots due to the strong headwind so it took awhile to get back to the airport.

Sean thought I did quite well on instruments. Apparently all those hours as a youth flying MS Flight Simulator were not wasted after all.

Sean then took over as we were directed to descend and handed over from Detroit back to Pontiac. As we descended, we passed through the cloud layer and could see the ground again. The ceiling was 1,800 feet and we let Pontiac Tower know that as they had requested us to give them a cloud base report. We could also see the airport again which was very happy-making. We did a circle approach for a landing first on 9R but then with the very high tailwind wind on 9, we shifted to 27R for the circle approach landing with a circle in. Sean handled it amazingly smoothly and with a very smooth landing with one heckuva gusting crosswind. Great instructors are good to have.

I then got to taxi the plane back in under heavy tailwind conditions, So I got to do a quality crosswind taxi. I had the elevator full down and the aileron down on the tailwind side - always dive away from a tailwind. It worked fine and I taxied her right into the parking space with no trouble at all.

It was a great lesson, despite, or in truth, because of the conditions.

Again, the importance of a VFR pilot staying out of those kind of conditions were aptly demonstrated. Better to be on the ground than up in that soup if you're not qualified to handle it and no kidding, I'm not. It was good to learn how to handle the conditions and fly even in such crosswinds winds and turbulence, how to handle instrument flying, and how to handle communications if you get caught in those kinds of conditions. It was a challenging lesson with some not-nice conditions and a little nervous-making at first to experience that kind of weather, but I think I handled it well and learned a lot.

That's 1.2 more hours with .4 of simulated instrument flight and .5 of actual instrument flight with an instrument approach.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Flying Lesson #10 - More Landings And No It's Not A Jar, It's A Door

Another beautiful morning for flying.

Winds calm, skies clear, couldn't ask for a better morning.

So I do the preflight on N73445 and I notice the fuel is either half empty if you're a pessimist or half full if you're an optimist, and the oil is low.

So I get the tanks filled up as the fuel truck is coming by, I add a quart of oil and the preflight is completed.

The instructor arrives and it's to pattern work I go.

Good startup, excellent taxi and pre-takeoff checks are all good. I get first a hold short and then a line up and wait instruction and I comply with both.

Then cleared for takeoff with a right pattern, I confirm and then throttle smoothly in full, heels on the floor, holding right rudder, air speed's alive, and we're off. A nice smooth takeoff.

Climb to 1,500 do a right turn for the crosswind, up to 1,800 and then turn to the downwind.

I got a little behind the airplane the first couple landings - creeping above 1,800 on the downwind, then doing the carb heat, power back and flaps all abeam the runway. Sean indicated I can do some of that earlier and should reduce power more and earlier on the downwind leg.

I did manage to worry myself nicely on a turn from base to final which was too tightly banked and sucked, but I retrieved it and I made the landing ok. That one I did not enjoy.

Sean then did a pattern and pointed out some areas for improvement and we kept going and I did improve.

The next touch and go I proceeded to takeoff and during the climb to pattern altitude I felt a bit of pressure at my left arm, which is kinda strange. I do a quick look over and down, and I see the door handle is coming up. This is not supposed to happen.

I hold it down with my elbow and keep flying the plane.

It keeps wanting to come up.

I hand the controls over to Sean and then press down firmly on it and it still wants to come up.

So I do the next landing to a full stop and we go to the run-up area and check the door. It is still latched firmly closed, testing it from the outside shows the movement of the handle isn't causing it to open, but the inside handle doesn't seem to have any tension when it is in the closed position and it wants to keep coming up and not remain in the fully closed position. It's not a serious issue as the door remains happily shut and I just keep my elbow on it for the rest of the lesson. The door does not become ajar at any time in the flight.

Then we start doing a few more patterns and more landings and my last two are the best ones yet. On those I'm effectively ahead of, rather than behind, the airplane and much smoother during the entire process.

That's 1.2 more flying hours and 8 more landings with some good improvement and more responsibility transferred over to me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Criminal Gets The Short End Of The Stick-Shift

Another crime foiled by that most humble of devices, the manual transmission.

The Detroit Free Press: Carjacking, robbery incident rattles Canton Walmart

A Westland man is accused of aiming two stolen airguns at employees and customers inside a Canton Walmart and attempting two carjackings outside the store, before police arrived and captured him.

Authorities say Faheem Tamir-Saul Nance, 25, also claimed he had a bomb in the backseat of a Honda Accord he allegedly tried to steal, but his claims were unfounded.

The car Faheem finally managed to car-jack had a stick shift that stumped him, leading to his capture.

Nance was arraigned Monday in 35th District Court on one count of armed robbery; two counts of carjacking; one count of making a false report or threat of a bomb; one count of felony firearm; and six counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.

Waving air guns around pretending they're real, armed robbery, and two attempted car-jackings should get him a nice long time making license plates, if not time to bone up on how to use a clutch.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

August Trial Result: Victory

I've just received the opinion and order for the Bench Trial I did back in mid-August.

In short, I won and the judge has entered an order in favor of my client.

It's always nice when the court quotes extensively from your Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law brief to come to its conclusion that based on the evidence presented at trial we should win.

The court also kindly pointed out in its opinion that an issue I brought up and pointed out on cross examination (which I mentioned in the blog posting on the trial) to the defendant was very dispositive, so yay me.

The court found in our favor and ordered a memorialized easement to be recorded, so there's likely some amount of finagling ahead as the exact dimensions are worked out as the court got a little cryptic when it came to that.

So I shall bask in the glory of a court victory.....

Ok, basking is now over, time to get back to work.

My perfect trial win record remains intact.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Spirit of 5776 - Happy Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts today and marks the beginning of the year 5776 of the Hebrew calendar.

The Jewish New Year, while celebrated with joy, is also a time for reflection and repentance for transgressions and regrets for what was done or undone in past years.

A happy and sweet new year of health and happiness is wished by me for all my readers!

Let us hope the upcoming year will be a good and sweet one for all.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Aviation Ice Falling From The Sky

The Detroit News: Mystery chunk of ice crashes onto California home

A loud crash startled a California family at home Wednesday morning when a chunk of ice the size of a basketball hurtled from the sky and smashed through the roof, likely the result of frozen moisture breaking loose from an airplane flying high overhead.

Not only was it lucky no one was hurt, but it wasn't "blue water" (frozen toilet waste) falling from a jet plane.

After all, no one wants their house hit nor targeted by an Icy BM.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Flying Lesson #9 - More Landings

Today was a beautiful day for a flying lesson.

Sky clear, winds calm and everything nice.

So I did the pre-flight, and the tanks had been thoughtfully topped off just prior to my arrival. Everything was good but the oil read a quart low, so I added a quart to get it up to the appropriate level and we were ready to fly.

A good start up, and I took down the ATIS info and it turned out Runway 27R was off limits today, so we would be using 27L, which is a much wider and longer runway. First time for that.

I called Ground, got permission to cross Runway 18 and 27R, and taxi to 27L.

Yes, it was going to be a play with lots of traffic kind of day.

So I pulled up to the run up area, did a good run-up and moved to the hold short line and called Tower that we were ready to depart for pattern work as it was going to be a work on landings kind of day.

First we were told to hold short, which I confirmed.

Then I was told to line up and wait, which was my first time for that command (this used to be known as position and hold), so I confirmed, then I lined up on the runway and held. Then we got clearance to takeoff and to fly a right pattern.

Good takeoff with a little creep left that I need to work on, and work on it I did as It got better and more straight out with each takeoff.

Then a right pattern which was feeling a bit elongated compared to 27R, but not a problem. I again did too tight a base which ended up on a high approach but I got it in and landed. Then a touch and go and off again. Sean then demonstrated a pattern and landing for me to work on some of the spacing issues and to see how to properly elongate the turn from downwind to the base leg so I didn't cut it so short. And I then did the go part of that touch n go.

We did this a bit more and then the wind shifted so we landed on 27L and turned around and took off from 9R (same runway, opposite side).

Talk about a different point of view. 9R with a left pattern gives you a nice final over a lake which felt very weird considering I was used to the 27 side, and the lake apparently makes every first time pilot think they are too low and I was no exception.

And for fun the tower after first a right pattern on 9R then made it a left pattern for 9R and would on occasion have us lengthen the downwind or tighten the base due to traffic. There was lots of traffic today from helicopters, Pipers, Cessnas and a cool-looking Velocity airplane out and flying around. On one occasion Tower had us do a left outbound turn from final instead of landing as a plane had dallied and not taken off in time so we curved back to a long final for that landing.

There was lots of traffic and lots of practice spotting traffic.

These were all good things as I can now do a left pattern, a right pattern, and land on both ends of the runways as directed and as needs be.

I got plenty of radio work in talking with the tower and all went pretty well.

We did the left patterns with landings and touch and gos a few more times and got some very annoying crosswinds which I really need to learn to figure out as I was tending to crab my landings due to them.

Overall, I did some pretty good landings with a couple "Oh, heck!" moments thrown in. No need to worry about me getting overconfident at this point, that's for sure.

That's 8 more Landings, with 7 made mainly or completely by me, and 1.1 more hours in the book.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

A Port Authority Building To Nowhere

With great fanfare, and with over $22,000,000.00 in public funds spent on a Port Authority public dock and terminal building designed for international cruise ships and acting as a customs point of entry on the Detroit River, there's just a small problem.

It is not suitable for US Customs to use and it failed to meet their requirements so they refuse to use it, so it cannot be used as designed. You would think a building designed for US Customs to use would not have overlooked that minor detail.

Instead the Port Authority building is currently being used for catering and holding wedding parties in a portion of the building.

Instead of spending an additional $170,000 to make it suitable for use, the plan now seems to be to sell it at a loss, likely to some politically connected developer.

Then again, all of one cruise ship docked there in the past two years. So it was a great investment of $22 million in public funds. On the upside 80% of the money came from the federal government so the building could be named after Senator Carl Levin with the remaining 20% from local boundless fonts of money - the City Detroit (now out of bankruptcy) and Wayne County (teetering on the verge of bankruptcy).

Yet another edifice and result of Democrat deficit spending, profligate waste, and incompetency in action.

The Detroit News: Port Authority open to selling $22M terminal building

Not A Recommended Carry Method

Forget about the debate over appendix carry. At least one stupid criminal has now gone far beyond that with internal cavity carry, and I don't even want to think about the steps needed for a draw from that particular "holster":

The Detroit News: Cops: Cavity search reveals loaded gun in woman’s body

Police in Texas say they removed a loaded handgun from a woman’s body during a cavity search.

Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton tells the Waco Tribune-Herald officers stopped an SUV for a traffic violation late Monday and found methamphetamine inside. A man and woman were arrested.

This is why doing drugs is bad folks, not only is it illegal but it makes you do some very dumb things.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Along Came A Spider And Learned Helplessness

Often times the authorities have said "Don't do X yourself but leave it to the authorities to handle it."

This often leads to absurd results, such as this one: Troy woman: I found poisonous spider in Walmart grapes

So this lady finds a black widow spider in a package of grapes she brought home.

So yes, she actually called 911 to get the authorities involved:

Ariel Jackson said she was washing grapes purchased at a Walmart Supercenter in Troy when she discovered a black widow spider inside the packaging.

Jackson told WWJ 950 that she quickly shut the package and called 911.

But when she told a dispatcher that she had found a poisonous arachnid in her fruit, Jackson said the dispatcher told her to kill the insect herself.

"He kind of just paused and was like, ‘kill it’ and I was like ‘you want me to kill it? You’re not going to send anyone over?’ This is a poisonous spider and he’s like, ‘yeah, just kill it and throw it away," CBS Radio reported.

Her boyfriend and brother eventually killed the spider,

I'm sorry but it really shouldn't take a call to the police for someone to kill a spider.

Ye old shoe should suffice, a shovel if you need more distance, or if situation and distance permits, and if it's a really big spider, a flamethrower should do nicely (just not in and around the house, Ok?).

It's a very sad state of affairs when people have been so conditioned that they would expect they need a police response to kill a spider.

Indeed, in chewing this over a little more, a police response is probably the very opposite of what is needed these days given the negative climate that has been drummed up regarding police. You can imagine the protests if an officer killed the spider. After all, Black Widows' Lives Matter.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Sunday Paintball Funday

Jason had called me up yesterday and asked if I wanted to go play some paintball today. His son was coming along.

I said yes, and it turned out that Abby was also interested in trying paintball for the first time. Leah was under the age limit so it was Abby and I off to the fields.

We played at Futureball Paintball, which was a great choice. They're pretty much the nicest run and most friendly staff of the three paintball fields I've been too here in Michigan. The players tended to be friendlier as well and it was a great place for a first timer to learn the paintball game.

With a variety of playing fields we signed up for the 9-1 playing time.

We got there, got our rental gear and signed the waivers, had or safety and rules orientation, and then we geared up and started playing.

Here's Abby all geared up and ready to go.

The day was sunny with barely a cloud in the sky and the temps in the high 80s, so we certainly felt the heat running around.

Abby soon got the idea of the game and quickly learned about taking cover, fire and movement, and covering fire as well as bounding forward. She was devilishly hard for the other team to hit and had a good habit of hiding and then popping up when least expected.

The best field we played on was the Urban field. First we had to defend the house and a cone in front of it from being touched by the opposing team, and on the next game we had to attack it.

We lost the first game even as we were doing pretty well in defending the area when one of their team pulled a trick and stayed by our side before the game started and then moved in to the area under the house, making everyone think he was on our team, and then he suddenly popped forward to grab the cone. Tricky, but a great sense of daring and style.

On the next game however we then got to attack. Jason, Jack, Abby and I worked our way around the back of the house, advancing in bounds and getting closer and closer in. We were pinned a few times by a guy using a full auto paintball marker but we were able to keep going.

Along with others we managed to take the house but the other team still had the area under the porch and would hit anyone coming out to grab the cone which happened to the first couple players that tried it.

I advanced edging along the wall outside of the house out of their sight and then telling the people in the house to cover me I dashed to the cone and got it, winning the game.

A few more games with the last two at the Futureball City field which was a lot of fun, and over a 1000 paintballs shot between Abby and myself, and we were done.

We then went to lunch and came home quite exhausted from running around in the heat all day. Abby handled her first paintball game like a champ and wants to do it again.

If we do this again, we're at least buying our own face shields as the rentals were very scratched up and crazed making vision not nearly as good as it could have been.

The after a shower and cleaning of the gear, we headed over to Jason's place with the family and two other families we know in common for a pool party and ended the day having a most excellent time with friends.

A great Sunday indeed.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Yet Another Detroit CPL Happy Ending

The Detroit News: Victim strikes back at would-be robbers in Detroit

Two robbers suffer from bad target selection trying to rob a man outside a bank who turned out to have a CPL.

It ends with two robbers shot and in custody, and with the defender injured in a non-life-threatening manner.

Yet another in a string of law abiding citizens with CPLs stopping criminals in Detroit.

Flying Lesson #8 - Landing And Flying In SVFR

This morning the visibility was bad and getting worse. My aviation weather app first reported it as MVFR and then IFR for Pontiac.

I went to the airport anyways in the hopes it might clear, after all, until they cancel the lesson I should be there.

I arrived, did the pre-flight of the plane and talked with the instructors. Conditions around the airport weren't great but it seemed to be getting better, even though the clouds were below VFR minimums.

Will figured there was enough visibility to see the runway and pattern, the overcast layer was above pattern altitude while below VFR minimums, and since we were doing pattern work we could ask for SVFR clearance.

SVFR, or special visual flight rules, is a clearance designed for just such an occasion - when the weather won't permit VFR but you have enough to see what you need to see to do what you need to do.

I started up the plane, did the call to ground and requested SVFR for the pattern.

We got the clearance along with detailed SVFR instructions, taxied to the runway (my taxiing keeps getting better) and checked in with tower. We had to hold for some planes doing IFR landings, then were were cleared for Runway 27R with a right hand pattern. This was my first experience with SVFR conditions.

We were then cleared for takeoff.

I did a nice smooth takeoff and we were off.

And SVFR gives quite a different view up there from VFR (photo snapped by Will as I was flying the plane around the pattern):

We were flying among the clouds and it was hard to make out the ground below at times.

I flew the first pattern, lined up on final and then Will did the final portion of the landing itself just to give me a refresher from the last lesson. Finding the landmarks in the mist was quite hard but I was still able to see the airport and runways and flew a good pattern.

Then, after another hold and a good takeoff the tower said they were going VFR and did we want to maintain SVFR? We said we wanted to stay SVFR as it sure didn't look VFR. Some clouds had moved in so I got a bonus instrument lesson, and I turned in a little too tight on base as I couldn't see the landmarks nor the field for a moment so I was too high on this approach. I noted that to Will who seemed pleased I had picked up on that, and we decided to make this approach a go-around. Will talked me through it - carb heat off, full throttle, and flaps out by increments as the airspeed rises, once all that is done and you're flying the plane, then call tower and let them know you're going around. Simple and a very important skill to have, as is developing the judgment to reject the landing and do the go-around.

Then we went around the pattern again, and I then did a good landing, had a good taxi back, another hold and then an even better takeoff - smooth and perfectly lined up along the runway with no left drift at all after takeoff.

I had just turned cross-wind and we were about to do a PIREP (pilot report) that it was not VFR when the tower then called us that it had changed its mind and as conditions were worsening they were declaring the conditions IFR and we would do the next landing to a full stop with an end to the SVFR clearance. We agreed completely, because it was really starting to suck up there.

We completed the pattern which I did much better at and I did the landing with Will talking me through it. Will noted I did that entire landing by myself and it was very nice indeed, especially given the conditions, but I should add just a bit more back-pressure.

That's 3 takeoffs, 3 more landings and a go-round.

This was a very instructive lesson indeed. The landing practice was great and I'm happy with how my taxi and takeoffs keep getting better and my landings are starting to come along. I'm sure as heck not quite ready to land the plane all by myself without any guidance, but I can see getting there.

More importantly, it reinforced the lesson that VFR-only pilots such as myself are drilled to stay out of IFR conditions, and there's a darn good reason for that.

Even in SVFR, finding the horizon was hard most of the time, as was seeing the ground some of the time. I was really using the instruments to keep the plane level, maintain proper bank and altitude. Under solid IFR conditions that would have been worse and the risk for spatial disorientation or indeed not even being able to see well enough to land would have drastic consequences.

As a VFR pilot remember: Stay clear of clouds and if the conditions blow, then don't go.

A very short lesson with .7 in the logbook, but a very good and important one.

Friday, September 04, 2015

The Not-So-Mythical Single Death Punch

When someone decries the shooting of someone who was unarmed, it needs to be remembered that "mere" fists can kill. Indeed, a single punch can be fatal.

In 2014, in Livonia, a soccer player sucker-punched a ref, and killed him with one blow.

The player is now in jail with an eight year sentence for his unjustified attack.

So now we have yet another case of a one-hit kill: Lyon man dies after New Hudson mobile home park assault

The story so far is that after drunkenly trying to proposition and assault a 17 year old girl, the 43-year-old drunken man in question leaves, then comes back to the home again the next day in a drunken state when he is punched by the girl's brother after he refuses to leave the premises and after police were called.

90 minutes after the single punch, he complained to police about trouble breathing and died.

Now the brother is facing charges for the punch: Man charged with manslaughter following fatal punch

But the next day, police said, Markiewicz returned to her residence highly intoxicated again and apologized for his behavior the night before. When he wouldn’t leave, Markiewicz was punched by Myers, police said.

Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies interviewed Markiewicz and asked if he wanted to press charges. He declined.

About 90 minutes later, authorities received a 911 call reporting that Markiewicz was struggling to breathe. He reportedly stopped breathing on the way to Providence Hospital in Novi and CPR was administered. He had been on life support at the hospital.

The brother may have a good claim of defense of others defense or of himself depending on the circumstances. Or, he may be well and truly hammered if he hit him not for reasons of defense but to eject Markiewicz from the property or if he did so aggressively to "defend" his sister's honor. It may also be that his death was not from the punch but from other factors altogether. Time will tell.

Even a single punch can kill, so avoiding situations where you may have to throw a punch, or be on the receiving end of a punch is always good advice as the consequences may be far greater than you might otherwise anticipated. Similarly, avoiding situations and scenarios where you might throw a punch in anything other than clear and explainable self-defense or defense of others is highly advisable.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Flying Lesson #7 - Happy Landings!

So to the airfield I went for my next lesson.

I was back to N73455 (following Old NFO's and Juvat's advice)and I pre-flighted her and all looked good.

I had a new instructor today as the flight school likes to have us try a few instructors to see what clicks. So I met Will for the first time, who is a new CFI there. He reviewed my log book and we set forth the plan for the lesson. A very nice guy, lots of enthusiasm, and a very nice teaching manner.

Today was landing day and it was my first time to experience the pattern as before the tower always had us go straight in on landings.

"Traffic patterns depicted in FAA-H-8083-25" by Federal Aviation Administration - Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons"

Ground cleared us to taxi to Runway 27R, and my taxiing was very good today, with both brakes a'workin. Will was quite impressed at how smooth I was at it for only having 6 lessons in. I was quite happy myself. I certainly felt more comfortable taxiing.

After the runup I called the tower for permission to depart for pattern work. The tower approved with a right hand pattern as runway 27L was getting all sorts of busy, I mean seriously busy with all sorts of jets landing and taking off. I confirmed and started rolling. Airspeed alive, rotation speed, and rotate!

Just like taxiing, my takeoff was apparently really nice as Will complimented me on it, this was happy-making. Everything was feeling really good this lesson.

First I flew the pattern with Will talking me through, pointing out landmarks for the turns, and the procedures as he did them - what altitude, what degree of bank for the turns, what speed, flap setting, when carb heat goes on and so on at each point. He did the first landing.

We came to a full stop, taxied on back to the start of the runway with me doing the taxi, and then got clearance to do it again and I did the takeoff.

This time I did the pattern and the carb heat, flap settings and pitch angle with Will adjusting the throttle. I lined her up on the runway and Will landed with me shadowing him on the controls to get a feel for it.

Another taxi, and we were off again. Lots of takeoff practice today. Now I did it all with Will shadowing me on the controls and I brought it in for a landing!

We did it again, and again, each time with me doing more of it and Will doing less until I was landing on my own as he talked me through it. Each time as we progressed I would be telling him more and him telling me less on the pattern and then on to final, where he still did a lot of coaching and I surely needed it.

Then we started some touch and goes, which are fun as heck. Do the pattern, do the landing, then keep it moving, get the carb heat off, flaps up, throttle smoothly all the way open and then watch the speed build and rotate.

Then the last landing of the lesson - I did it all, having a darn good landing except for a sudden crosswind that made it a bit bumpy.

10 Takeoffs and 10 Landings, with 6 to a full stop and 4 touch and goes.

1.4 more flying hours, a now full first logbook page, and an absolutely awesome lesson in the books!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Temco Super Pinto

The Temco Super Pinto is one of the rarest existing jet trainers.

All of 14 were produced, compare that to the 3,600 L-29 Delfins of similar age.

Used by the Navy for pilot training, The Pinto was the first jet aircraft in US Navy history where, in 1959, a pilot soloed an aircraft without any piston engine time at all.

In upgraded form with a lengthened fuselage and a hotter performing engine, it's known as the Super Pinto.

Only 8 Pinto aircraft of which 4 are Super Pintos are known to still exist, with one of them on display in the Philippines.

This one still flies around Oakland County, and I've seen it do some neat maneuvers by the airport.

Here's some video of it flying in 2012:

And now, for a shooting/aviation crossover, here's a video of Dillon Precision's Super Pinto in action, among many other cool Dillon things in the video.

The Super Pinto doesn't offer a lot of range, but it sure is fun to watch it go through its paces.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

A Plane With A Porpoise - The L-29 Delfin

Another Jet trainer on display was the Czech Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin.

Czechoslovakia's first jet design, the L-29 Delfin (dolphin in Czech) was the primary Warsaw Pact jet trainer of the 1960s. A very successful design, with very docile flight characteristics, 3,600 were built over 11 years, which is quite an impressive number for jet production.

With 2 seats, powered with a single turbojet engine, it's got a maximum speed of 353 knots and a 480 nautical mile range.

Here's Abster czeching out the cockpit:

It's again a tight fit but very functional.

Quite a few Delfins are for sale on the civilian market these days, for much less than it's successor, the higher performance and much more aerobatic L-39 Albatross. Another historic warbird from the early jet age.