Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

To all my friends and readers, Happy New Year!

May 2016 be an even better year for you than 2015, full of health, happiness, and hope that you achieve whatever you set out to accomplish in 2016.

We've finished our traditional feast and now at the stroke of midnight the kids get to open their New Year presents.

Welcome to 2016.

Smoked Trout - An Appetizer for New Year's Eve

Today Natasha requested that I make something different for New Year's and I smoke something different than usual. How could I say no?

Today's ingredient - Whole Rainbow Trout

Begin with a brine of water, salt, sugar, lemon juice, chili pepper and garlic powder, cover and brine overnight.

Get home and fire up the smoker with charcoal, cherry and apple wood, watch it take a lot longer to get up to temperature in this cold.

Place fish on the smoker grills, close it up and walk away (coming back to check on it occasionally).

Wait and voila:

Remove the skin and either eat the goodness right then and there (it's hard not to), or turn it into a salad, a smoked fish spread, or nice pieces ready for the table.

Not a bad special creation for the New Year's table.

Flying Lesson #33 - Ice Isn't Nice

Flying Lesson #33 was quite short.

Good pre-flight of N7355PR, fuel tanks freshly filled and ready to go.

I was flying with Will today.

Good taxi, good run up, good seeing the helicopter on short final and requesting clearance from the tower for departure.

Good takeoff, get up to pattern altitude and turn crosswind we get this:

A nice solid mist, that quickly started to ice up the windshield and the rest of the plane. Visibility was bad in the mist and got worse immediately as the windshield iced over.

At that point it was time to call it, so I continued the pattern and let the tower know this landing would be to termination.

Will's view looked something like this on landing:

He asked me if I wanted him to take the landing and I said I could do it.

I had a very small portion of the windscreen to look out of as the rest was covered in ice but I had enough to see.

I then did the best landing I've ever done to date - perfectly lined up, perfect flare, touchdown as the stall horn went off and landed as smooth as a baby's butt.

Will was very impressed.

Not sure if that means I'm finally getting landings, or lack of visibility gives me a better landing and I really need to skip the Private Pilot rating and go straight to the instrument rating. Really excellent landings in crappy visibility are becoming a solid trend for me.

We told the tower about the icing and visibility conditions on landing, and the other flying lessons scheduled, including one in N757MK in the run-up area pretty quickly and wisely cancelled.

Getting out of the plane, it became readily apparent that the ice wasn't just on the windscreen but a very thin layer was all over the plane including the wings and prop.

That's the last flight of this year for me with .3 and one excellent landing, and my first experience with icing conditions.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

You Would Think People Were Smart Enough That This Could Remain Unsaid

But apparently not: Revelers must know ‘celebratory’ gunfire can be deadly (From: The Detroit News)

It's a continuing saga and Sisyphean task to convince Detroiters and other idiots that no, you do not shoot live ammunition up into the air on New Year's Eve.

This really should not be difficult to understand, but apparently for far to many it is akin to rocket science.

Quite simply, what comes up must come down, and bullets falling down from the sky can still injure or kill the innocent.

Yet another reason to sadly avoid Detroit.

So, Want to Buy An Armory?

So, are you running out of storage space for your arsenal, need more parking, and want to buy your own armory? Now you can:

The Detroit News: National Guard seeking new owner for Manistee Armory

If they throw in the two tanks sitting out front as part of the deal, $350,000 would not be a bad price at all.

Manistee is also a darn nice place to be in western Michigan.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

No, You Can't Start Fires In A Crowded Theater

The Detroit Free Press: Man charged with starting fires in theater

Our stupid criminal of the day, Nicholas Glenn Chelar, managed to get himself charged with two well-deserved felonies for yes, setting fires in a crowded theater. The Freep fails to state what the movie was but in any case, the Stupid is extremely strong with that one.

You should also note that this is one of the few times that you can shout "Fire" in a crowded theater without any penalty.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Winter Hath Come

Some things really aren't better late than never.

Probably shouldn't complain too much as we had one heckuva pleasant December but today royally sucked.

Leaving the office to go to court early this afternoon I found the car encased in a layer of ice. Freezing rain continued throughout the 35 minute drive to the court, turning it into a 50 minute drive. Filing done, and heading back to the office and then the fun really began.

Between people driving too slow for conditions and those driving way too fast for conditions it was a mess.

Got caught in a nice bumper to bumper traffic jam that had a 8 lane road down to one lane in each direction due to a really impressive accident.

The salt truck was stuck behind the accident so finally getting past led to still more slow-to-no moving traffic.

It's still coming down in a mix of snow and freezing rain so it's gonna be a neat trick to get down the Driveway of Doom™ tomorrow.

Ah well, it's been a good run, but winter is now well and truly here.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Funday

Murphy's Law and his nephew the Spud met up with me and Abby and Leah at Zap Zone for some Laser Tag. ML has a good description of the events up as well, including his mauling at the hands of the Spud in Game 3.

Laser tag was a ton of fun.

For Game 1, it was the five of us versus eight other players and they beat us by two points, but for one reason only - Leah's Laser stopped working within one minute of the game starting so the score ended 60,602 for us to 60,604 for them. Leah ran through the game as a human meat shield that game. The staff noted they had never had a closer game, ever. On the upside, the guy gave Leah a ticket to a free Laser Tag game or go cart as compensation for her gun not working.

Game 2, as Murphy describes, he started signing Men of Harlech just before the game began and I almost fell down laughing.
Luckily no one on the other team caught the reference. We didn't do too badly considering we were outnumbered 13 to 5 on that round. We certainly held our own.

Game 3, it was a free-for-all and I ended up in first place - yay me. Even though it was supposedly a free-for-all I had to promise an alliance with Abby and Leah and the three of us swept the floors with the opposition. ML got pasted by us and the Spud, with the Spud doing the most shots on him. Good times and the kids had a blast.

Then Leah got her free go-cart ride. Did I mention Leah had not driven a go-cart completely by herself before?

So she happily got in, started taking the course and then went a bit fast and this happened:

That was one heckuva bang and she ran right into the wall as she was going too fast to make the turn. It was good she was wearing the seat-belt in that go-cart. They apparently didn't tell her that the brakes aren't quite immediately able to slow a go cart.

Impressively enough, after that crash she didn't quit nor cry. Instead, she kept right on going around a few more times until the ride was done but with no more crashes. She did again take that turn at a good clip on her final run, successfully clearing it that time.

After leaving the ride she complained of an ache at that spot by her shoulder where the seatbelt held her in place, and she had quite a mark from the seatbelt. At home she got some ice, some ibuprofen and some heat applied and she's fine. I'm quite proud that she stuck through it even, after the minor heart attack that she gave me from my watching her hit the wall.

The kids all had a great time with ML and his family, as we always do, and they want to do it again.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Detroit Gets Its Own BLM Moment

In a moment that the usual suspects in Detroit have long been waiting for, they've now manufactured a BLM moment out of a criminals assault on a cop. Based on the facts so far, it will be a heckuva reach to get to a "hands up don't shoot" myth, but they're going to try. Their last attempt fizzled after a black cop shot a black man coming at him with a hammer during an attempt to arrest him for a armed robbery, but now they've got a white cop shooting a black man and they mean to work it, and the facts of the situation are irrelevant to the narrative they are building.

The Detroit News: Dearborn cop fatally shoots unarmed suspect in Detroit

Unarmed is a relative term, considering he was shot after struggling with the officer and attempting to take the officer's firearm.

Of course his name is Dindu Nuffin:

The Detroit News: Family of man shot by cop: He was harmless

Looking into the matter, not only was he a paranoid schizophrenic with an outstanding warrant and being sought for a prior larceny that very day, but after first running from police and having an admitted history of running from police, and then struggling with the officer and trying to disarm him he was harmless. This makes the definition of harmless highly relative.

The Detroit News: Craig: Witness saw officer struggling with man he shot

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, with a promise of protests over the death of what was a violent criminal. It will be hard for the community organizer grievance gang to make a hero out of him and bend the facts to fit the narrative, but like in Ferguson and other places, it looks like they're going to try.

Flying Lesson #32 Decent Landings

After the mess of Lesson #31 today was much better.

I had Will as my instructor today and was flying N757Mk as 73455 was in the shop for its 100 hour inspection.

I did the preflight and the plane was covered in a light layer of frost, which I scraped off the windshield and leading edge of the wings.

It's funny how planes of the same type and model handle differently. Among other things N757MK has a very pronounced break when you reduce the throttle to 1500, unlike 73455.

So with the wind coming from 070 we were using runway 9L today, with a left pattern for a nice change of pace.

We also got diverted on a pattern to Runway 9R, the nice huge runway, when another plane seemed to be having radio issues and the tower wanted us out of the way in case he tried to land without clearance. Then we got to head back to 9L, and the controller had the occasional instruction to us for modification of the pattern for other traffics, so it was good and kept things interesting.

Overall the landings were markedly better than my last lesson, so I'm either being more assertive, getting better at this, or something.

The flares were good this time, but on occasion I still pulled up a little early for some float, but no major bounces. Overall the touchdowns were pretty darn nice complete with stall horn on landing.

I got some good feedback from Will on some ideas to fix my latest error of having too low an approach.  It seems I'm diving down too much on turning downwind to base, probably from misunderstanding something Sean had said, so with that fixed its much better now but more back pressure in the turn. He also gave me some very good things to look for and some indicators to help with the landings that I had not known about before so that was very good. Ended up doing some nice stable approaches and good landings.

Either I'm getting better or being really inconsistent. Let's hope for the former over the latter. 

That's 1.3 more hours and 11 more landings.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Today, A Glorious Walk In The Woods

Today was a beautiful day in Southeastern Michgian. Sunny, mostly clear skies and temps in the high 40s.

So we went for a good long walk on the local rails-to-trails for a couple hours to enjoy the rare late December warm weather.

Jett enjoyed the privilege of being off leash when no one else was about and he minded well the whole time and thoroughly enjoyed himself.

He was always happy to return when called back, even if he sometimes sat and then yawned as if to say "Hurry up guys, daylight's a-wasting!"

Just a nice relaxing day today, and hope all of you had a great one as well.

Somehow I expect this beautiful weather is not going to last for much longer, so might as well enjoy every moment of it.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Very Merry Christmas To All My Christian Friends

In a few short hours, I and the family will be joining with Murphy's Law's family and partaking of a fine Christmas eve gathering. This tradition has been going on for years and we wouldn't miss it.

And to all of you who observe and celebrate, I echo the same sentiment from the excellent Dry Bones:

May all of you have a very Merry Christmas indeed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's Just Like A Real M&P Pistol, Only Smaller

The gun I brought to the range is the new (to me) M&P Compact 22.

It looks like an M&P, but it is smaller and lighter in every way. This will be important for its intended purpose.

It comes in a cardboard box, not quite as nice a presentation as their center-fire caliber pistols with their plastic carry cases.

Nicely small and lightweight, it's quite an ideal kit gun and in my case, kids' gun.

The kids can easily get a grip around the thin grip and it's smaller and much lighter than the Ruger MKII bull barrel I have. Soon I shall take the kids to the range with it and see what we can see.

It comes with two magazines, both of which are markedly easier to load than the Ruger MK II's magazines, which again makes it attractive for the kids.

I put 50 rounds through it after first cleaning and lubricating it as it arrived bone-gratingly dry in the box. The bore had a bit of gunk in it which I got out with a patch and am glad I did so before firing it.

All 50 rounds of Remington Golden Bullet fired through it flawlessly, recoil is nil, and keeping it on target is a cinch.

I expect this will be a real kid-pleaser at the range, once I scrounge up some more 22 LR that is and take them to shoot it.

Range Trip!

Murphy's Law is in town so I met up him and his sister after I finished up some work at the office and then we headed to the range.

ML's sister is still a novice shooter, complete with a new M&P Shield 9mm. We went over safety and handling procedures and then went on to loading and firing.

With a bit of instruction from me and ML, after a few runs she started settling down and knocking down some steel plates with aplomb.

She did quite well with the Shield, using both FMJ ammo as practice and some Speer Gold Dot which will be her carry ammo. You can say the pistol is now well and truly broken in and should serve her well.

I took the opportunity to put another 150 rounds through the P30, making it 950 rounds so far with no cleaning and no issues of any kind.

I shot the M&P 40c as well, putting another 100 rounds through it with no issues, including some Winchester Ranger ammunition, and the TRUGLO TFX Sights sights are dead on and ridiculously easy to pickup quickly. I really like these sights.

I then brought out my Glock 17 which I haven't shot for awhile. The grip angle on it was distinctly different from that of the P30 and M&Pc and took a bit of getting used to, but after shooting the M&P40c, the by contrast low-to-no perceived recoil of the 17 made it very easy to shoot quickly and accurately. I had also brought along another gun which will be the subject of my next post.

ML had brought along quite a few nice handguns, including his Walther PPK.

On drawing it, you could hear him say: "My name is Law, Murphy's Law".

I can guarantee that he's a better shot than Daniel Craig.

It was a darn good range trip.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Good Thing The JV Team Is Contained, Right?

Apparently the word "contained" is open to multiple alternative definitions.

NBC: ISIS Takes to Airwaves, Transmits Fatwas in Jalalabad, Afghanistan and Beheadings, Video Raise Specter of ISIS on March in Afghanistan

ISIS - so contained by Obama that they're spreading into Afghanistan.

Obama in the face of such containment is continuing to withdraw US Forces from Afghanistan: U.S. Troops to Leave Afghanistan by End of 2016.

However "containment" will likely be the best we'll get while this President is in office, as read via Instapundit: Obama Promises Not To Defeat ISIS Before Leaving Office.

Remember the good ol' days when we had Presidents that believed in America, and wanted America to defeat it's enemies, and to win?

Flying Lesson #31 - SSLDD

Flying Lesson 31 had a low cloud base providing a marginal VFR kinda day with the wind blowing 9-12 knots typically shifting somewhere from 250 - 300 degrees. On the upside it was warm and rather pleasant so more pattern work it was.

Can't say I did too good today. One landing of 13 was right on and the rest were again with not enough flare and landing pretty flat as usual. Approaches were a little low and not as stable as I or Sean would like.

Apparently I need to be more assertive and constantly show that I'm flying the airplane and it's not flying me. I happen to think I'm already doing that but I need to be more extroverted about it I guess. Yelling "Banzai" on landing is back on the table as an option. FMFL.

That's 1.4 more hours and 13 more landings.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Force Awakens: Non-Spoiler Review

It did not suck, instead it was great and worthy successor to the original three and well worth seeing in theater.

Harrison Ford made the movie (Yes, you knew he would).

The Empire is 0-3 for gigantic super-weapons with fatal and readily attack-able flaws (Yes, you knew that would happen).

There are no Ewoks nor Jar-Jar Binks (You may breathe a sigh of relief accordingly).

Go forth and see it. Suspend your disbelief. Prepare to be entertained and . . . . .

May the Force Be With You.

Awoken And Now Off To See The Force

Heading out to a theater not so far away for a morning matinee showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I hope it's as good as it strikes out to be, and that I return with a positive report.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Flying Lesson #30 - Stable Landings In Unstable Winds

Today we had winds gusting from 20-30 knots from 250 to 310 degrees. There was also a wind shear warning with a report of a 10 knot drop on final for runway 27.

So it was gonna be a very fun pattern flying kind of day.

Sean had thought we might take a break from patterns and do some unusual attitudes and other stuff, but there was reports of icing at regular flying altitudes and a lowish ceiling, so pattern work it was.

Right as we got clearance to take off we got a wind shear warning via the tower from another aircraft that had just landed and he had noted the wind had just dropped out 10 knots on short final.

The first time around it was kinda fun with a decent crosswind and a real fast downwind. I had a good pattern and kept the airspeed up 5 knots higher than usual on final to account for the potential 10 knot drop.

Sure enough, there it was, but I still landed ok.

Next time around I had a fun time with the wind really whipping us around, but I still got it on a stabilized approach and landed fine with an aileron into the wind and the rudder keeping the nose on the runway as I adjusted the throttle for the wind that was coming and going.

I said to Sean "That one was kinda sporty wasn't it?" He said "Yeah, but you handled it well."

Ah, now that was happy-making, At this point he's not touching the controls much if at all and only occasionally advising me to add or take out some power, and I progressed to figure out pretty much all of those adjustments on my own out on this hop today.

So we continued to do patterns and the wind shear started to ease up, but the shifting winds did not, and I kept on going.

I had one particularly crappy pattern but then made an excellent landing even so and then the subsequent patterns were pretty much on.

There were a few more planes coming by and in the pattern but traffic was pretty light for a Saturday morning. I guess the snow and icing from last night kept most people away.

Of the 10 landings, 2 were great, 6 were really good, one was good, and one was with a main wheel bounce. I still need to flare a bit more on average but it's really getting there.

That's 10 more landings, and one more hour in flight. It's also now me with a heckuva lot more confidence that I can really land, do a stable approach, and handle the plane even in some variable wind conditions.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Don't Bring A Knife To A Gunfight

In what may likely be determined to be a "Suicide-by-Cop" scenario, a fellow decided to pull a large knife and charge a court security guard at the Dearborn Heights District Court.

As a result, he was quite properly shot multiple times.

The Detroit News: Security officer fatally shoots man armed with knife

The Detroit Free Press: Police ID man killed at Dearborn Heights courthouse

Pulling a knife and charging at an armed individual is not going to end well. Happily, the guard was not injured nor were any innocents harmed.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Flying Lesson #29 - I Can Actually Consistently Land This Thing

I seem to be getting better at this.

Going up in trusty N73455 it was pattern work day.

A light wind, oftentimes blowing straight down the pipe, at other times giving a little crosswind, and a little thin layer of mist at pattern altitude made it only slightly less than perfect flying conditions. Nothing to complain about there.

Good patterns, most were excellent patterns with everything going just right, and I flew nice stable approaches on final.

Of 13 landings, 3 were really great with very nice flares, 9 were decent with sufficient round-out and flare but could have used a bit more, and one was a bit sucky from rounding out a touch too high resulting in a little bounce but no nose wheel bounce.

It was a very busy day today with multiple jets and twins coming and going and multiple planes flying the pattern. It got so busy they opened up the second tower frequency and moved all of us using 27R to it on the fly. It was kinda fun as everyone switched over and then checked in in series - "N757MK on base", "N73455 on downwind", XXXX on crosswind".

In short, it was a darn good lesson and I may just be coming along nicely with this whole landing thing.

That's 1.5 more hours and 13 more landings.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

F-15s - Mighty Eagles With Power To Spare

This post is for Juvat.

Juvat, for those of you who don't know, is one of those awesome pilots that got to fly one of the hottest and best jets in the world - the F-15.

If you're not regularly reading him and the other contributors at Chant Du Depart, you darn well should,

So, how good is the F-15 as an aircraft?

So good that it doesn't even need both wings to fly and safely land, seriously:

On that day there was a combination of an awesome aircraft and an awesome pilot. Hopefully Juvat never got close to having to replicate that particular scenario.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Stupid Criminal Of The Day Asks Police For Directions While Driving Drunk

It really does make law enforcement officers' lives easier when impaired individuals decide to approach them for directions.

The Detroit Free Press: Intoxicated W. Bloomfield man arrested at Selfridge gate

In addition to being drunk while operating a vehicle to the point of blowing .15, Marcus Eugene Russell-Taylor was also found to have methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in his possession after he stopped at Selfridge ANGB and asked the Security Police manning the gate for directions.

Unsurprisingly, he's a slow learner, with a prior DUI conviction.

Stopping to ask police for directions while drunk and in possession of no less than three illegal substances at the same time earns him today's Stupid Criminal award.

Flying Lesson #28 - Getting There Slowly And Hopefully Surely

Lesson 28 had some overcast and light rain with about 10-14 knots coming shifting from 280-300 degrees but it was clear enough for some pattern work.

Patterns weren't quite perfect today but it's coming along and getting more stable overall, but with a bit of more adjustments on final than I and especially my instructor would like.

Overall, I'm getting better in the landings, not quite as good as the two from the last lesson but one was very nice and and a couple were good and the rest were average. Still had some float and a couple bounces in some of them, but no nose wheel bonking this time which is a good improvement so it is coming along. I'm certainly feeling better about it.

That's 1 hour and 10 more landings.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Flying Lesson #27 - With Your Head In The Clouds

Today was a really good flying day for many reasons.

I arrived at the field this morning and the tower's beacon was on and it was IFR conditions

So I did the preflight and Sean told me he was filing an IFR flight plan for us to Lansing and we'd be doing actual IFR conditions. This also promised to be a break from pattern work, got me all the required IFR training hours for the Private Pilot requirements, and would be my first official dual cross country. Lots of boxes were getting checked off with this one flight.

So we got clearance to taxi, and I taxi'ed all the way down to Runway 9L, did the run up and held short and awaited IFR and departure clearance.

Then I did the takeoff after getting instructions to fly the runway heading and climb to 3,000 feet.

Immediately after takeoff we were in the clouds, and it was fun as all get out.

We were then instructed to contact Detroit Approach and they had us immediately climb to 4,000 and they gave us a direct heading to Lansing.

So I climbed through the soup to 4,000, then leaned the engine and kept it level and on course by instruments alone.

This was lots of fun. It then got better as we approached Lansing and got an ASR approach with no gyro.

Basically if you're a VFR pilot and you get stuck in IMC conditions and you can't get out, it's best to communicate and declare an emergency if need be, and you'll get an ASR approach to an airport. So this was to simulate such a situation.

Lansing control was very cool with it. Basically with an ASR approach they initially give you course and speed to follow and as you get closer to the field then they just tell you not to acknowledge and they give you instructions like "Turn left.", "Stop", Turn right", "Stop", Turn right", "Stop" and such.

The controller did pretty good getting us there, but had us break out of the clouds a fair bit off to the right of the runway and practically on top of it.

Sean got us lined up and then said "You've got the landing!"

I then did the absolutely smoothest landing I've done up to that point. Go figure, maybe I just had to get all the crappy landings out of my system yesterday, or I can land better in IFR than VFR.

We then immediately took off back to KPTK and we climbed to 5,000 feet for the return trip.

Detroit had us do it as an ILS approach which is beyond my ken. I got to fly it up past waypoint Spartan and to do the initial descent at waypoint WAKL and then Sean took over.

Again we popped out of the clouds and Sean had us lined up and then he said again "You've got the landing!"

And I proceeded to do an even better landing than before. It was so nice you could barely feel us touching down on the runway.

Go figure. Yesterday my landings were so consistently bad I figured I was never gonna get them and it was time to start reconsidering this whole flying thing. I was pretty much fed up. I had even received inquiries after that flight from both the Imperial Japanese Navy and some Arabic-sounding guy who were both excitedly looking to recruit pilots that could fly but for whom landings were optional.

Then today I make two of the best landings ever.

Let's hope it means I'm finally past that slump and back on an upswing. Either that or I need to skip the Private Pilot cert and go straight to an instrument rating.

That's 1.6 more hours, 2 landings, 1.6 hours of actual instrument time and 1.6 hours of dual cross country time, and a completed log book page.

That was also some of the most fun I've had flying so far.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Flying Lesson #26 - Bouncy, Bouncy, Bouncy

So today we had a nice wind of 16-20 knots gusting. Luckily it was typically from 260 to 290 degrees and with Runway 27 being in use it wasn't all that bad, but it was there.

Of course I had been continually asking for a clear day with 4 miles minimum visibility, ceilings over 2000 and winds clam. Not asking for much, really, but I certainly didn't get all that I'd asked for.

So, pattern work and landings again.

They were doing some training in the tower so they had us cross runways 36 and 25R and then hold short of 27L. This was fun as I'd never received those taxi instructions before, normally they put small planes on 27R.

Then I got to line up and wait and then at takeoff was instructed to do a right pattern and setup for landing on 27R.

With the wind gusting 20 knots, I had a darn short takeoff run before we were airborne.

I was trying to change my sight picture and really try to see the runway expand at landing and then do the round-out. Didn't work.

I'm still having trouble with the round-out and flare. First I was rounding out to early. Then I wasn't rounding out enough. Then I was rounding out too much and did the floaty thing complete with a nice flat bounce. Can't win for losing. On top of that, I'm not flaring enough and not keeping it off the runway long enough, but when I try to flare or keep it off then it's too much and we frickin' bounce again.

All the fargin' while he's going "keep holding it off, don't let it touch", and of course it then touches or goes up too high and then bounces down.

I had all of one decent landing with a good flare. Yipee you-know-what. At least my approaches and pattern is getting more stable, except for a little too much climb and airspeed on the downwind this time, but there had to be just enough of a crosswind pushing me to make me have to fight it as well as land. Did I mention I had requested a calm day?

That's 11 more landings, 10 (1 good and 9 bouncy sucky ones) by me, and 1.2 more hours.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Takeoff, Eh?

Outside Air Temperature and altitude of the airfield above sea level combine to create density altitude, and density altitude can have drastic effects on the performance of aircraft.

It can also have drastic effects on your written test scores if you don't know how to calculate it -- sadly my written test didn't have a single density altitude question even though I studied it intensively. I was almost going to complain and demand some density altitude questions from the exam proctor....well, almost. But I digress.

Density altitude basically mean that you're on the ground but the aircraft acts like it's already at high altitude with all the decrease in performance that entails. With light aircraft at airports located at certain levels above sea level such as in mountainous terrain with high outside temperatures, you likely will not be able to safely takeoff.

This Russian pilot demonstrates the fun involved with density altitude with a heavily-laden IL-76 jet on a hot day in Australia, complete with some very Australian color commentary.

Well, since he's paying for the use of the runway, he might as well use all of it, right?

An Experiment In Trust Bombs

Trust has a definite expiry date:

The Daily Express: Muslim convert who held up 'hug trust' sign now faces jail over MP bomb threat

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Flying Lesson #25 - Romeo, Romeo, Oh! There Thou Art Romeo!

Today finally the weather was decent enough to get airborne.

Today the task was to fly and navigate to Romeo airfield (D98) and do some uncontrolled pattern work.

I had just for practice previously written out a navigation checkpoint list for Romeo and it came in handy. I had the course already laid out, all the checkpoints identified and had already drawn a diagram of the airfield from the online airfield directory,so it was all close to hand.

This made it very easy to navigate there, and I hit my checkpoints pretty nicely, getting a little off by the shape of a couple lakes, which are some of the main checkpoints in the area but it was ok. Not the best naviguessing and pilotage in the world, as I didn't know exactly where I was all the time, but I knew where I was going and was quite sure I knew where I was not and I got there.

So I got to Romeo, announced on the CTAF that I was there, overflew the field and setup to a left pattern downwind for runway 18. Pattern entry is something I need to work on, but I'm figuring it out.

Romeo's runway is 4,000 feet long but only 75 feet wide so it seems kinda small when you come up on it. This results in you thinking you're higher than you actually are on approach.

So I did the first landing which was not great, and then we went to a full stop and taxied back to do it again.

Overall my approached are getting much more stabilized but my roundout and flare still suck - I either pull back too early and float up and then have a nice bounce, or I don't do enough and do not pull back long and hard enough and we come in rather flat. No frickin' clue how to fix it as I've been trying and it all just seems to suck either way with no in between. I'll just keep at it I guess.

Overall, the uncontrolled field was kinda fun - we were the only ones around for most of it, with all of one other aircraft entering the airspace only to fly on by after announcing he was overflying the field. There was no PAPI so getting the height right on the approach was all eyeball and I did ok.

Then we flew back to KPTK and while I sucked navigating back especially due to some haze that had rolled in, once I found the airport I had to setup for a right base entry as directed by the tower which was a bit of a head-scratcher until I diagrammed it out. In short, I then came in way too fast, didn't get the picture early enough to do a good setup for a landing so I didn't bleed off nearly enough speed or get setup right. As a result, I announced to Sean I was doing a go around as it wasn't feeling good at all. He said ok, I told the tower I was going around and then went around. Apparently my decision to do a go-around was an exercise in good judgment, so yay me.

Then I settled into the pattern, went around and got it landed flatish yet again, and again not enough roundout and holding it off, but I was landed - so there. Then I taxied on back following a large turboprop and that was the end of lesson 25.

Also this lesson I experimented with Foreflight - It's a preflight planner and moving map/navigation tool for your iPad/iPhone what have you. To say that it is all that and a bag of chips would be an understatement.

Not only will it give you a course and heading and a moving map to show your position as you fly, it adjusts your suggested course for wind effect on the fly, and calculates your groundspeed. It even warns you when you're approaching a runway to prevent runway incursions when you're on the ground. Awesome that it knows where you are that precisely. It worked perfectly with my Ipad Air 2 and its onboard GPS.

I deliberately didn't look at it during the navigation excercises to and from Romeo until after I already had a fix using just the paper map and visual cues outside the plane, but wow is it awesome! Given that the plane has a built in Garmin GPS and I'd have Foreflight along, getting lost would be next to impossible - so of course you can't use them and still have to know how to use ye olde paper map and outside references. I understand and appreciate that, but the GPS tools are so much easier and safer to use it's not even funny.

That's 2 more hours and 6 more landings. Some fun, some frustration, and Lesson 25 was done.

Feminism Has Lost Out To Islamism In The UK, And It Wasn't Even Close.

The Express: Police forces deemed NOT prepared to deal with 'honour-based violence' in damning report

It's a pity the British no longer have the fortitude to say: You may kill a woman according to the dictates of your culture, but we will then hang you according to the dictates of our culture. You may follow your custom and we will follow ours.

Instead of that, in today's Britain we get Rotherham.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

If Obama and Today's Democrats Were Running Things In 1944...

After Massacre At Malmedy, Democrats Gather At Virginia Bund Hall

Declaring not all Nazis are responsible for the massacre at Malmedy, Democrats gathered at a local Bund hall in Virginia to express support.

Democrat AG Lynch promises to take swift action against anyone uttering anti-Nazi rhetoric.

Continuing to claim the act was most likely just an act of "battlefield violence", the President continued his demand for unilateral disarmament and an immediate withdrawal of all American forces from Europe.

"These types of massacres don't happen in other countries." said the President, speaking from Katyn, Poland.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

The Implications From The San Bernardino Terrorist Attack Are Rather Worrisome

The really frightening implication from the San Bernardino terrorist attack isn’t so much that they chose to leave their 6 month-old baby behind and give up what seemed to be a rather nice American lifestyle with good secure government jobs and instead go forth and get themselves killed in the name of jihad.

Instead, the far more disturbing implication is that this guy described as a "devout Muslim but not outwardly radical" just up and mowed down co-workers that he had happily worked beside and known for years without warning and with happy abandon for the simple reason that they were not of his religion and ideology.

The last bunch we got serious about dealing with that went around killing with abandon their neighbors who had religions differing from them, we had to intern lots of those that lived here, bomb their cities to rubble, outlaw their ideology, and occupy them for about 70 years. Haven't had serious trouble from them since.

It also shows the absolute fallacy that strict gun control laws, gun free zones and unarmed security guards are going to keep anyone safe, but we already knew that.

Oh and Democrats - Prayers are not enough at a time like this, right?

Friday, December 04, 2015

Well, It's Not Exactly "Workplace Violence" Now Is It?

The Detroit News: Wife in shooting pledged allegiance to IS

Of course, the Obama administration even after learning this latest tidbit is still going on the "sudden workplace rage" theory:

At the same time, law enforcement officials from local police to Attorney General Loretta Lynch cautioned it could have been work-related rage. Or a twisted hybrid of religion and personal vendetta.

The narrative blaming white males and the NRA sure fell apart quickly and quite conveniently only after it was caterwauled from every proggy news outlet, now didn't it?

Not Flying Again

This has been a week of absolutely no joy for flying lessons.

I had scheduled 4 different time slots this week, figuring the weather might bag one but that I'd get some serious time in to fix my landings and get them competent. It was not to be. First, the weather was bad Tuesday with LIFR visibility at the airport so it was a scrub, then the plane was down on Wednesday, then yesterday the weather was a total bust yesterday, with LIFR at the airport. LIFR, Low IFR conditions that even IFR pilots avoid, are conditions that are certainly not to be messed with by a student VFR pilot and I rightly wouldn't get a take-off clearance anyhow.

Now tomorrow, when I'm scheduled to go and the weather looks reasonable, it's not happening. It's for a good reason and a good cause, but it's still not happening because per the FAA, Operation Good Cheer is shutting down all morning flight school ops at KPTK.

Delivering presents via aircraft to those kids in need for the holidays throughout the state is a very good thing indeed and a noble effort, so I have no issues with that.

I can feel those skills that I've acquired, limited as they are, fading away already.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

An Interesting Juxtaposition Regarding Police Armored Vehicles

On the one hand, in the wake of the Sudden Jihad Syndrome attack yesterday in San Bernardino we have images of Police armored vehicles being used to protect both police and citizens in the aftermath.

Now this today in the Detroit Free Press: Michigan cops fume over loss of U.S. military vehicles

The Obama administration may want to rethink that generalized recall of such vehicles that was an attempt to show they were "doing something" after Ferguson. After all, the vehicles may indeed be needed for their intended lawful and proper purpose.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Not Flying? - Then It's Time For Learning Cross-Country Planning

This was supposed to be a day for a flying lesson. I had 757MK all reserved and everything.

I arrived and it was not to be. N757MK had just had an engine failure on takeoff with the previous student and instructor for no known reason. Not carb icing, Not the mixture or fuel tank or throttle setting or other readily apparent issues, and it was not reproducible. The plane started up again just fine, but out of a very sensible burst of caution, it was taken into the mechanics for a thorough check-over.

Since I would have been the next to fly it, I heartily approved that decision. Practicing engine failures is one thing, rolling the dice with a known problem with an unknown cause is quite another.

So we went over my pre-solo written test. I did very well with my answers and passed with flying colors - yay me!.

Then I got an intro to cross-country planning today instead.

While planning is much easier today with products like Foreflight and other internet-based resources, we started old school. A sectional, a Plotter and an E6B Flight "Computer" was what I was allowed to use to plan the flight.

The mission: Plan a trip from KPTK to KLAN.

Yes, I'm going to get to play in Class C airspace once this is all planned out.

We'll see if I get to fly the planned cross-country soon.

A Turkish Court Asks The Important Questions

Ah, when you think of Turkish justice, you think of quality Turkish prison.

Now the Turkish justice system, instead of worrying about little details like questions of free speech, is asking the important questions: Turkish court asks: Is Gollum good or bad?

A Turk has allegedly committed the offense of majestas, insulting the image of the head of state, with a potential two-year sentence in the aforementioned Turkish prison, by daring to juxtapose Turkish Prime Minister Ergodan to Gollum in a Facebook posting.

Since free speech is not a defense to the crime, his attorney has been stuck arguing that Gollum isn't bad so it should not be an offense to make such a comparative image.

So the court is actually going to have a hearing as to whether Gollum is a bad or good figure.

Whatever you do, don't suggest to the court that Gollum is Jewish, ok?

King Hezekiah 's Seal Stamp Impression Found In Jerusalem Dig

An interesting historical find indeed has turned up in a dig near the Old City of Jerusalem.

The item, a 3,000 year-old seal impression, used to seal a papyrus scroll, bears the name of King Hezekiah.

The Times of Israel: Seal bearing name of Judean king found in Jerusalem

An amazing find of an historically valuable artifact from 3,000 years ago.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

George Lucas And The Rewriting Of Star Wars History

George Lucas is unrepentant in his editing of the original Star Wars to make Han not fire the first shot.

The Detroit Free Press: George Lucas explains why Han Solo did NOT shoot first

Of course Han shot first and we all darn well saw it in the original. It wasn't until Lucas re-edited the film that the controversy arose, and the reason for the editing is rather laughable as can be seen in the article.

As to why Han Shot first, this explains it in terms even Lucas can understand:

Now That's A Police Chief Who Gets It!

Detroit's Police Chief is not afraid to counter conventional "wisdom" when it clashes with reality: The Detroit News: Police Chief Craig: Armed Detroiters cut terror risk

Yes, the Chief actually pointed out that having armed civilians instead of helpless innocents can help thwart terrorist attacks.

There's the usual PSH hand-waving and pearl clutching from Josh Horowitz, director of Washington, D.C.-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence with the usual canard that merely having a gun puts you in danger.

Impressively, aside form that aside, the article was favorable to the Chief's comments and included quotes from other experts supporting such a statement.

Certainly Detroit has undergone a sea-change in attitude towards lawful firearms since Chief Craig has come to town, and we're all the better for it.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Stupid, It Burns

As one might expect, criminals manufacturing illegal drugs at their homes aren't the brightest of the bunch.

Manufacturing illegal drugs tends to be a rather dangerous business even apart from the likelihood of a negative interaction with the criminal justice system. Manufacturing illegal drugs generally involves chemicals or substances that may very well go "boom" before you can make them get you high.

So today's example for others, identity not yet released, manages to badly burn himself and his apartment as well as damage other apartments by trying to manufacture hash oil.

Apparently you do this with butane. Butane, as most people happen to know, is a "highly flammable, colorless, easily liquefied gas".

The Detroit Free Press: Man severely burned in fire tied to hash oil production

An initial investigation by the Rockford Department of Public Safety indicates butane was likely being used to extract hash oil from marijuana.

Here's the extra stupid part that will enshrine this fellow as a prime example to others and potential Darwin Award winner if he doesn't pull through:

"The butane ignited when he lit a cigarette,'' Rockford DPS Director David Jones said.

The victim suffered burns to nearly half of his body, including his mouth. Rockford police were not releasing the man's name because of pending criminal charges, Jones said.

So, you're working with a highly flammable gas, in an enclosed space, manufacturing illegal drugs, and you decide to light up a cigarette?

There's a reason it's called dope.

He's Not Exactly Inviting Them Over To His House, Now Is He?

The Detroit News: Rev. Jackson: Welcome Syrian refugees to Mich.

I'll note that the Reverend, and I use that term loosely in this case, is not a resident of Michigan, nor with a net worth of $10 million has he so far allocated any funds nor any room in his mansion for Syrian refugees.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Michigan's County Gun Boards Go Bye-Bye

A holdover from the rather racist past of Michigan's gun control laws, the County Gun Boards are finally on their way out.

The Detroit News: County gun boards abolished in Mich. starting Tuesday

The Gun Boards were originally composed of the county prosecutor, a state police representative and a sheriff's office representative and you needed two out of three "yes" votes to get a permit. For some time prior to Shall issue, the Michigan State Police had a policy of an automatic "no" vote on applications.

The board's original purpose was, to put it mildly, to ensure that none but the "right sort of people" get a carry permit. The right sort of course always included the connected and those who made the appropriate contribution to the appropriate politician's coffers to buy the required yes votes. An ordinary decent citizen in most counties had little to no chance of getting a carry permit.

Since shall-issue passed, the gun boards have had very little raison d'etre.

Some accepted this with good grace, some with mild go-slow obstructionism, and others decided to be petulant and require every single applicant to spend time before them during a working day even when the board had no valid reason to question, much less deny, their permit application.

That this anachronism is finally being done away with is a very good thing.

Weight And Balance Are Not Optional

Cessna 172s while having 4 seats, are really 3 seat aircraft when it comes to adults.

Overloading it, as is the case with any airplane, leads to some very bad consequences.

The Detroit News: NTSB: Plane overweight in crash that killed 4

According to the report, the Cessna 172 had a maximum gross weight of 2,457 pounds. Using weights from the medical examiner’s report, plus 10 pounds of baggage and 35 gallons of fuel, the NTSB found the plane had a gross weight of 2,550.6 pounds but would have been within center of gravity limits.

A second calculation, adding 10 percent to the body weights to account for thermal injuries and increasing the baggage weight to 15 pounds, determined a gross weight of 2,622.6 pounds, or 165 pounds overweight, with a center of gravity outside the plane’s operating limits.

Being overweight and outside the center of gravity limits is a very bad thing. Compounding the error, after realizing he was low and slow, the pilot made a left hand turn back to the airport, more than likely stalled in the turn and crashed with fatal results.

Unfortunately, the pilot did the weight and balance calculation in his head and was off by quite a bit, and not in a safe direction. A very sad and completely avoidable accident.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

The house is cleaned, the turkey is in the oven, and my parents are now on their way driving towards us for a festive meal.

The quintessential American holiday, it's a fine time to sit around a table with family and/or friends and enjoy a fine meal together.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your families.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

She Went To Bed At 11 And She Woke Up At 12

Abby turned 12 today.

The kid is growing up fast.

This morning we had our traditional cherry cheesecake for birthdays, with hers having 12 candles, sang her happy birthday, and gave her some presents.

Since it is a half-day at her school, she's invited her friends for a lunchtime party today, so she's going to have a great birthday indeed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Now That's How You Do A Trailer

The crew of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) did a US Navy-style recut of the trailer from The Force Awakens, and it's rather epic:

I'd watch that film.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Flying Lesson #24 - Landing In A Winter Wonderland

I got my first experience flying in winter today.

The storm last night dropped in 10+ inches of global warming.

This made for some fun, including taxiing on ice.

Happily, they had moved N757MK into the hanger and cleaned the snow off of it before I got there this morning.

I pre-flighted it in the hanger and it was then moved outside.

Unfortunately it had no usable fuel in the right tank and about 8 gallons in the left. That's not enough. The fueling trucks were actually stuck at the fueling depot by the snow.

So we started MK up and I got a taxi clearance to the fuel depot. We then were asked to go past and turn back so a plow could come through and clear the way into the depot for us, and we were happy to oblige as we would not have been able to get through the ridge from the taxiway to the depot without it being cleared.

We got in, got the fuel and then the engine wouldn't start. Finally we got it working and then the heading indicator decided it liked to spin around. Since its not required equipment as we had a compass we went flying. Funnily enough it stopped spinning after we were airborne and righted itself.

Only Runway 27L, which I had never used before, was open, and winds were 10-15 knots from 250-300 shifting.

I got to do some fun patterns today. It was busy as only one runway was in service, so the controller had his hands full with spacing and at times we were asked to expedite turning crosswind, extend our downwind, or tighten and shorten our base, and on one occasion to do a go-round so he could clear some traffic just after we had turned base.

We did both right and left patterns.

As usual my cross-wind takeoffs were really nice.

As to landing, I'm starting to get a bit more stable in my approaches, but now that I sorta have that I'm now not flaring enough. Actually, I flare enough to float up but then not enough at the point of landing itself so I'm landing flat. When asked, Sean has said I shouldn't be frustrated as I'm getting there and just need to put it all together.

I swear I should just yell "Banzai!" on my next final.

That's 1.5 more hours, 7 landings and one go-round more.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Karate Test Day

Today was a Shinsa day for the North American Beikoku Shido-Kan Shorin-Ryu Association.

To translate that, it was a black belt test. All black belt tests for karate practitioners of the association are held in Lansing three times a year. There are pre-tests you need to pass before you can proceed to the test, and test-takers from all over North America attend - we had people from Canada, New Jersey, New York, St. Louis, and Michigan there today.

I had passed the pre-tests and was permitted to test today.

The test began at 9 am. I drove through blowing snow to get to Lansing and arrived at 8:15. I checked in, changed, and started stretching out. The judges assembled, all seventh degree, or higher black belts and the test began.

Each person was called in order of rank (ie everyone testing for 1st degree went first, then those testing for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th) and then alphabetically to do their kata alone in front of the judges and the spectators.

The katas were announced as Passai Sho, Kusanku Dai and Chinto. You will always do Chinto, but you do not know which two of the four katas: Passai Sho, Passai Dai, Kusanku Sho, and Kusanku Dai you will do until they blind draw them on the day of the test.

You do all three in a row, starting with the Sho, then the Dai, then Chinto.

Kusanku Dai is also unofficially known by the names "You Count And I'll Die" and "No Kata For Old Men".

Here's why:

Interestingly enough, the sensei in this video was present today for his 5th degree test. He looked even better today.

Kusanku Dai lived up to its reputation today as "You Count and I'll Die", almost killing a few test-takers' hopes.

After each of the 16 testers individually came forward and did their kata, four testers had to redo Kusanku Dai due to mistakes. You're allowed to blow one kata and redo it after everyone else has finished, and if you blow it again you're done. Luckily they all settled in and redeemed themselves with really good retakes.

Happily for me, I had no mistakes in any of the kata and felt pretty good doing them. Feedback I received later was they were some of my best demonstrated efforts yet.

Then we all went to the basement of the dojo to continue the test.

We had to hit the Makiwara (striking post) with three punches from each arm, then we had to kick a bag with 3 front, 3 side and three roundhouse kicks with each leg.

Then we had to try and break a board.

The boards were one-inch thick pine, hanging unsupported by a clip from a string from the ceiling.

You had one punch to try and break the board. If you hit it wrong it wouldn't break and then it would swing and fly off the clip at rather high speed.

Of the 16 testers, only 7 were able to break the board.

I was one of them:

You get to keep the board as a souvenir if you break it.

Then we all headed back upstairs.

We did kumite (2-person drills) involving kicks, punches and throws in set combinations, both right and left sides.

Then we did Bunkai. Bunkai are set interpretations of the various kata and involve a defender in the middle surrounded by three or four attackers. Again the attacks are set and the proper response is set and typically involves a block and counter-attack which can be a strike, kick, throw or combination thereof. There were four bunkai and you were expected to not only be able to properly do all the actions in the middle as the defender but also be a proper attacker from each angle as well, including knowing how to fall properly and be thrown head first in one bunkai.

The test ended at 12:30 and the results were announced.

I'm pleased to report that I passed the test and am now a Nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt).

Friday, November 20, 2015

Flying Lesson #23 - How To Get Really Winded

Today I had the pleasure of flying the pattern and doing landings in a cross wind with gusts from 15-30 knots and low level wind shear warnings. I was flying N7455PR for this particular lesson.

Today, that the flying did not go particularly well would be putting it delicately.

I was fighting the plane all over the damn place and the gusts and shear was doing their level best to kick my butt, including some impressively frightening moments that were really not happy-making. Lots of trouble making anything close to a stable approach today.

I actually called a go-round on one landing and did so as the approach was not working well at all. Meanwhile, before and during the go-round an idiot was chatting with the tower about whether the tower has seen any security changes since 9/11, cause that's important for flying operations now, right? He kept right on chatting away. Will this guy ever shut up? Apparently not.

So, go round completed with no way to notify the tower, rejoin the pattern and he's still chatting away. We get on approach to final and finally dip in at the first pause of blessed silence asking if we have clearance for the option, which we get on very short final. Not a terrible landing on that one - crab into the wind and at the last moment get the nose aligned with the runway.

We did some landings with less than 30 degrees of flaps and more speed due to the wind gusts and then Sean had me try a flap-less landing - which really sucked but I got it down and for a first time it's supposed to suck, right?

Certainly not my finest bit of flying and to say I was not having fun in those conditions would be an understatement. Some days you think you're ready to finally solo and you're getting it, and then a day like today comes along and slaps you around nicely.

That's 1.3 Hours, 9 landings with 8 by me including one flap-less, and 1 go-round.

Not Exactly The Definition Of Being Tactically Ambiguous

Saw this on the drive home last night:

Hard to be carrying concealed when you're announcing to all and sundry that you're doing so. Also, leaving the car in a public parking lot in Detroit and expecting it to not get broken into if it's near a CPL-No-Go-Zone venue may be a forlorn hope.

Any bets the first question he gets asked when he's pulled over is: "Where's the gun?".

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The New York Daily News' Diversionary Hack At The NRA

The New York Daily News, in a mad attempt to divert attention from (Islamist) terrorism and the threat posed by all these incoming "refugees" as potential terrorist actors, decided to print "Hey Look, Squirrel!" on the paper's front cover.

It's a rather transparent and desperate attempt to get attention back to the left's favorite bugbear, gun control, and to defame the NRA.

National Review: The NRA Is Absolutely Right to Fear the ‘Terrorism Watch List’

The real question is, if there really are 700,000 people in America on the terrorist watch list, is anyone actually watching them? If they're suspected of terrorism or support for terrorism sufficient to get themselves placed on the list, why isn't some serious interdiction occurring rather than just putting them on a list and letting them walk freely about in society save for an occasional and only possible extra experience of being felt up at the airport?

After all, if they're allowed to walk around freely without any real attempt to apprehend them as terrorists that means they can acquire materials to make bombs and such, so perhaps this list is not really being taken seriously by the authorities.

When 280,000 people are on the list with no known terrorist affiliation, that's a cause for concern.

That there are thousands with actual listed affiliations to terrorist groups like Hamas, Al Qaeda, Hezballah, and the Taliban, and they're allowed to just wander around this country while the only thing done after identifying them is putting them on the list shows the government is rather fundamentally unserious about this whole counter-terrorism thing.

Indeed, since the criteria to be placed on it seems rather vague, and that people can be added to the list at whim, there is darn well a reasons to be concerned to add a new disqualification from owning firearms at the whimsy of some faceless official.

One can certainly see the Obama administration expanding such a list very quickly to do some "gun control under the radar" should it become a disqualifying condition. After all, he seems more rather obsessed with his "Republican enemies" rather than enemies of a foreign ideology and origin.

In short the New York Daily News should save the bile it is flinging at the NRA and instead direct it at the administration that has us fighting a phony war rather than a real war on terrorism while humming "I've got a little list".

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Antiochus IV's Fortress Of Acra In Jerusalem Discovered

A very cool archaeological discovery:

The Detroit Free Press: Ancient Greek fortress may solve archaeological mystery in Jerusalem

Archaeologists believe they have unearthed the ancient remains of the Greek fortress of Acra.

The discovery solves one of the city's “greatest archaeological mysteries,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said Tuesday. The 2,000-year-old remains were found under a parking lot in the City of David in the Jerusalem Walls National Park.

For the past 100 years, archaeologists have puzzled over the location of the ancient fortress, which was used by Antiochus IV Epiphanes to monitor activity on Template Mount and subdue the Jewish population.

The fortress was finally retaken from the Greeks by the Hasmoneans in 141 BC, and its discovery before Hannukah is rather timely.

Flying Lesson #22 - More Happier And Crosswind Landings

Lesson 22 had me using runway 9L for takeoffs and landings, with a left pattern as the wind was from 130 degrees at 10-15 knots. I had Sean as my instructor today.

Overall the landings went pretty well, even with a gusting crosswind, with my last three out of four being very nice indeed. I had decent roll-outs and flares that got better as the lesson went on.

I think I'm getting the hang of it, finally.

Sean demonstrated an engine out emergency landing with a short base turn and then I got to try it.

Wouldn't you know it? My engine out glide-it-in-at-idle landing was perfect - a nice turn to base and then final, pitched for 65 knots the whole way through, then lined up with the runway and I was perfectly on the glide path and had one of my best landings.

But to keep me humble, my last landing of the day sucked - approach was too low so it wasn't stabilized, and while I landed ok it was really not great by any means.

Apparently, I'm making sufficient progress that I was given a take-home pre-solo written test to complete. So, we'll see how it goes from here.

That's 1.3 more hours and 11 landings.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Governerd Begins To Get A Clue

Suddenly, 10,000 unvetted Syrian "refugees" settling in Michigan doesn't seem like such a good idea.

WXYZ: Gov. Snyder puts Syrian refugee efforts on hold following Paris attacks

Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement Sunday that the state is postponing efforts to accept refugees until federal officials fully review security clearances and procedures.

"Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration," Snyder said. "But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.

"Given the terrible situation in Paris, I've directed that we put on hold our efforts to accept new refugees until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security completes a full review of security clearances and procedures," he added.

That he thought it was a good idea in the first place shows rather terrible judgment on his part, but he at least seems to be waking up to reality. Hillary still clearly has not.

Not to mention the plan to resettle them in Pontiac was just plain nuts.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Europe Is In Deep Trouble

Newsweek: 16% of French Citizens Support ISIS, Poll Finds, while only 18% support Hollande. The poll doesn't seem to include the non-citizen Islamist immigrants, so it's quite likely that more people in France do back ISIS than Hollande.

And in Britain, the same article notes that 1,500 British Muslims have gone off to fight for ISIS - twice the number of Muslims in the British armed forces. To put this in perspective, the estimated number of full-time, active IRA terrorists at full strength was all of 200 - and they tied the United Kingdom's security forces in knots for decades.

Well, Europe's leaders now have the Eurabia they have arranged for, but they are unlikely to enjoy that which they have wrought.

Flying Lesson #22 - Happier Landings

So this morning I had a lesson booked with Will so I headed to the airport, did the pre-flight and got the plane ready to go.

Winds were 8-10 knots,most of the time straight down the runway but occasionally were fickle and shifting to give a nice crosswind.

More pattern practice was the order of the day.

I had a cunning plan. A plan so cunning it had graduated from Oxford with an advanced degree in cunning.

I explained to Will that I was having problems getting a stabilized approach down, and I asked him to let me do pretty much everything on the first pattern around as he watched and let me know what I was doing wrong and to critique the hell out of it.

So off we went.

I did a nice taxi and takeoff as always so that part is nice and consistent.

The I turned crosswind and reduced power as we got near pattern altitude, which is an improvement for me so it was nice and we ended up right on the altitude instead of going over as I tended to do.

Then abeam the runway I added carb heat, reduced power to 1500 RPM and then added flaps - all much smother than before.

I had a bit too much of a downward pitch in my turn from downwind to base, and then made the turn from base to final a bit to early (which I tend to do - I may be subconsciously trying to really avoid runway 27L's flight path as I line up on 27R), so I had to fight to shift over to the left as the winds had also just shifted, so it was not a stable approach. Got it down with a decent slow flight over the runway with increasing pitch to flare and not a terrible landing. Then go and do it again.

Will pointed out two things that made a huge difference - 1. Keep each turn to 20 degrees, and pitch up the nose a bit before entering the turn, I was pitching up after entering the turn which just made for a sharper angle and causing the diving down problem from downwind to base, and 2. Don't turn so early from base to final but again keep it 20 degrees and get lined up on the runway so I don't have to fight my way over while landing.

Huge difference following that advice. I wasn't fighting the plane nearly as much on final and could have a nice stable approach and adjust as needed with the minute adjustments that should be used rather than all over the place as I was doing.

The pattern and approaches got much better after that and even with the fickle crosswind the landings started becoming pretty nice and right on the glide slope.

It was a busier day with lots of traffic in the pattern and wake turbulence advisories from numerous jets taking off, including a good wake turbulence one for a falcon jet that took off in tandem with us - we started and rotated first, but he passed us in the air and climbed away like we were standing still.

We also had a tower ordered go-round when a plane dawdled on the runway when we were on short final. I put the throttle all the way in, carb heat off, brought the flaps up as the airspeed rose and sidestepped to the right of the runway where we were then directed to do an early crosswind about mid-field, and back to the downwind we went and around for a landing. Kinda neat.

That's 1.1 more hours and 10 more landings.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Paris Burning

With over 140 reported dead (now 150) and probably more sadly to come, this is a bad one.

My nephew, who lives in Paris, has just reported in to the family that he's safe and that's a relief.

At least one terrorist has stated he's with ISIS, so that makes them quite uncontained, contrary to Obama's rather ill-timed statement today.

It'll be interesting to see if the French go Charles Martel or Henri Petain in response to this outrage.

In other but related news. The Russian passenger jet downed over the Sinai has been confirmed to have been brought down by a bomb and not mechanical reasons, with ISIS again claiming credit for it.

You May Not Always Have Paris

The Religion of Peace strikes again.

Fox News: At least 35 reported dead, 100 hostages taken in Paris attacks

YNET news by contrast reports 60 dead, and states the gunmen did indeed yell "Allahu Akbar", and notes this is the deadliest attack on France since the Second World War.

This isn't looking good for the City of Lights.

Here's to hoping the French anti-terrorist units are better at hostage rescue from theaters than the Russians.

Flying Lesson #21 - The Winds Of November

Flying Lesson 21 turned out to be a short but instructive lesson.

While skies were clear, winds were 20 gusting to 30 knots but pretty much along the runway. Sean figured it would be a good experience for me to handle the winds and since they were generally blowing around 270 degrees there wouldn't be a huge crosswind issue.

So I showed up, pre-flighted the aircraft, had it fueled up and added oil as usual. The plane was rocking a bit in the wind as I did so, and a slight bit of snow started falling.

We got clearance to taxi and went to the run-up area where I did the run up without any issues as I held the aileron into the crosswind as we taxied to the area.

Then we got clearance to takeoff with a right pattern.

The takeoff was fast to say the least, with a 30 knot wind blowing right down the runway we were up in a flash. So much so that I was at pattern altitude before even getting over the runway threshold. The crosswind turn was fun, and the downwind went by fast. Even with the throttle way low were were still zipping along. Then the turn base and the wind shifted a bit and started pushing us right so I had to compensate left. Not a bad landing and then flaps up, carb heat in, check trim, throttle all the way and we were up again in a jiffy.

On the second pattern we started getting some really heavy gusts and shifting winds. So much so that on final I was getting pushed up and then dropping really fast which was not good. I added power and Sean then took over as it was getting a bit much and we decided to call it at that point.

Overall a good experience in high winds and I did well getting the aircraft where it should be for the most part, but I still need to work on a stabilized approach. The experience should make a calm wind landing much easier by comparison - assuming we get some calm winds here any time soon.

The taxi back was fun - even with throttle fully out the wind was pushing the plane faster than having it throttled up so there was a fair bit of braking involved, as well as holding the ailerons away from the wind and the elevators all the way forward to keep the plane on the ground. Excellent and fun taxi, and I got the plane perfectly placed in its parking spot.

That's .4 hours - my shortest flying lesson so far - and 2 more landings in the book, and the end of a log book page.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Uh Oh, Proposed Michigan Senate Bill Requires Voters To Think Before They Vote

The bill, which will eliminate straight-ticket voting in Michigan, is accused of being a hardship to Democrat voters.

Don't believe me? Ask the Democrats themselves: The Detroit News: Senate votes to end straight-party voting

[State Senator Morris] Hood [D-Detroit] said eliminating straight party voting would make it more difficult to vote and add confusion and wait times at the polls in November general elections.

Yep, not being able to just fill in the box marked Democrat but instead having to go through the entire ballot and make choices is just too darn hard for the average Democrat voter.

Let's hope this bill becomes a law and people become better informed about who they are voting for as a result.

Armistice Day / Veteran's Day

In the eleventh month on the eleventh day at the eleventh hour, the guns of World War One fell silent. The Great War had ended.

It was not to be, as had been hoped, the war to end all wars. Armistice Day was changed to Veteran's Day to memorialize and honor all those who served before and since.

Perhaps one of the most moving and poignant reenactments of the futility of going "over the top" is from the comedy series Blackadder:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Edmund Fitzgerald, 40 Years Gone.

Thanks to Gordon Lightfoot, the Edmund Fitzgerald is the most well-known Great Lakes freighter, and the most famous wreck on the lakes.

40 years ago, she sank in a gale, taking all 29 of her crew with her. The exact cause of her sinking is still not known, though a few theories provide likely answers, with either water coming in through the cargo hatches, or grounding the bottom on a shoal or a combination of the two being the most likely reason for the sinking.

The wreck lies on the bottom of Lake Superior in two main pieces,

In 500 feet of water, she's a greater than Mt. Everest level dive, and less than a handful of divers have visited the wreck using SCUBA gear. Now, with the Canadian government banning diving on the wreck, it's unlikely that more will visit the famous site.

Here's to the Edmund Fitzgerald and her crew, 40 years gone.

Monday, November 09, 2015

After 102 Years, The Wreck of The Hydrus Is Found

One of the ships that went missing during the Great Storm of 1913, the freighter Hydrus had eluded discovery as to its final resting place.

Until now.

The Detroit Free Press: Man discovers Lake Huron shipwreck missing since 1913

Dave Trotter has found another one. The legendary shipwreck hunter of the Great Lakes has done it again.

I know some of the divers that found her: Keith, Fred, and Chad are all part of the Union Lake diving group and the pics they've brought back of the Hydrus are nice indeed, and the video they took of thee wreck is fantastic, as can be seen at the Free Press. At 200 foot depth, it's not a recreational dive by any means but it looks like the wreck is in great shape.

Nice find guys.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Fall Fix-Up 2015

We had such a good time volunteering last year we did it again today. 400 volunteers headed out to help.

The annual Fall Fix-Up is where you volunteer and go out in the community and help elderly residents by raking their leaves and cleaning their exterior windows. This helps them keep up their homes and so stay in their homes even after they can't be expected to be out doing all of that.

This year we had two houses, and the same two other families from last year joined us as a volunteer crew to make it happen.

As always, Abby and Leah were excellent workers and very dedicated to getting the job done.

Many bags of leaves were raked, windows were cleaned until they sparkled, and a good time was had by all the volunteers.

Afterwards, the team went out to lunch together and it was a great way to spend a morning to help others.

Friday, November 06, 2015

It's National Love Your Lawyer Day Today

Clearly destined to be a new Hallmark holiday celebrated by all today is National Love Your Lawyer Day.

Certainly long overdue recognition of the unsung heroes representing the unjustly (and justly) accused, the wronged and those trying to wade through the faceless bureaucracies of life.

Remember folks, if you can't afford the lawyer you love, love the lawyer you can afford.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Flying Lesson #20 - Landings At Livingston

So this morning's flight lesson began with IFR weather at Pontiac due to low ceilings and fog that turned in marginal VFR as we were taking off.

We headed west towards Livingston airfield to go somewhere different and get more practice at pilot controlled fields and some naviguessing along the way. We did have to go off course as requested by Pontiac control for a bit to get out of the way of a King Air coming in IFR to Pontiac, but once that was done we settled back on course.

Overall naviguessing was easy - just follow highway M59 west until you see the airport.

Of course, Sean then asked me where I was at a certain point, so I had to say in an airplane.

The ground reference he pointed to was of course at the fold of the map which made it fun to find. I need to work on navigation some more.

Livingston has its own AWOS station so I turned that in on COM 2 and listened to the report. Based on the winds we would be using runway 13. It was a bit of a pain figuring out where I had to go to line up for the downwind for 13 based on where I was, but I got it entered the pattern and announced my presence.

I then did a touch and go which had a bit of a lousy setup due to being disoriented as to where the fargin' runway was during the pattern so it was an ok landing but nothing great.

Then for the second pattern which was better, when I had announced on final and was set for what promised to be a darn good landing, a twin Cessna came in IFR announcing that he was on final and that he didn't have us in sight. Discretion being the best part of noise abatement, we did a go-around to get out of his way. Since he was clearly behind us and faster it made sense to get out of his way and avoid any issues. Then we did three more landings and overall they weren't great but ok.

Then we headed back to Pontiac and the controller originally put us on 27L, changing us to 27R when we were abeam of the tower with a left pattern which was kinda weird but I did it and landed ok even though my final approach was kinda low and from too far out. Taxi on back and done.

I need to fly more of a stabilized approach, not get behind the aircraft, and make very tiny adjustments on final. This is all easier typed than done.

At least my flares are getting better, and my takeoffs are still excellent so I've got that going for me.

That's 1.4 more hours and 5 more landings, and now contemplating collecting bottle caps.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

No, Weight And Balance Checks Are Not Optional

Over at Bayou Renaissance Man, you can watch a video where having an airplane being overweight on takeoff had some bad but not fatal consequences.

Now we get another reminder that weight and balance is not optional, this time fatally so.

The Detroit News: Cargo plane crashes along Nile River in South Sudan

A cargo plane that was reportedly overloaded crashed along the banks of the Nile River after taking off from the South Sudan’s capital, killing at least 25 people.

Given the plane was built in the Soviet Union in 1971 and the likely shoddy maintenance and lackadaisical compliance with checklists and regulations in that part of the world since, weight and balance probably wasn't done or was ignored with a shrug.

Denial of basic pre-flight requirements and maximum takeoff weight limits results in you crash landing on the banks of de Nile.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Seriously? They Needed A Study For This?

The Detroit Free Press: Study: Frequent sex may raise chances for conception

Who knew?

It's About The Small Things: An Accurate Inventory Matters

Knowing what you have, and what you've done away with, can prevent embarrassing situations.

Situations like this one:

The Detroit News: Report: Guns, radios missing from police department

Apparently the state of accounting for the inventory in the Michigan town of Memphis police department is a bit of a mess right now, and considering they went through 4 chiefs in 5 years it's likely that the important but not urgent stuff got overlooked without consistent management.

A police-issued shotgun, two handguns, at least three police radios and a long list of evidence are unaccounted for at a small Michigan police department, according to a report from an outside agency.

It's highly likely no crimes of commission occurred, but instead crimes of omission led to the items becoming missing. Most likely the items that are missing were either surplussed out or destroyed and not properly removed from the department's books.

It's always possible that someone took them home with them, but that tends to be pretty rare, and the most likely explanation is that they were not keeping up with the unglamorous but necessary job of keeping their records accurate, or they thought someone else was doing it when they weren't.

So, when's the last time you inventoried your important items?