Posts Tagged ‘aviation’

“Green deck for landing, conditions CAVU.”

John McCain’s son Jack tweeted a tribute to his Dad this morning – conditions are great, “Ceiling and visibility unlimited!” Jack is a Navy lieutenant, a helicopter pilot who graduated from the Naval Academy in 2009. The military is in their blood, and flying into danger was part of their family legacy. Now that the great Senator from Arizona is being laid to rest, his service to our country stands in stark contrast to the current occupant of a gold (whoops, “golf”) course in Bedminster, NJ.

As many of you know, Bob is a private pilot. Although he’s never landed a fighter jet on the prow of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean, I like to think I could trust him to land a passenger plane if needed. He likes to follow our flights around the globe on his iPad. I may be reading my Kindle all scrunched up in coach while he happily points out our descent and predicts what runway our Southwest pilot will land on, depending on the wind of course.

Flying around in his old four-seater Piper Arrow, I would breathe a sigh of relief when I saw those three green lights on the console light up, meaning the wheels were down – a very important part of the approach pattern. Kind of like having a green deck for landing!

Yesterday I asked Bob where he was on July 20, 1969 when the Eagle landed on the Moon. We had broken up in college, and he was planning a trip to Woodstock. I was living in a basement apartment in Cambridge, MA with a roomie named Alicia. His parents were away on a trip, and there were lots of friends crashing at Great Grandma Ada’s house on a hill. I asked him if he remembers calling me then, during the moon landing. It’s strange the memories our brains choose to store and those that fall away.

We were reminiscing because I’d played the first trailer of the Rocker’s new company, TOTEM. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/29/movies/first-man-trailer-ryan-gosling.html

Bob isn’t on social media so I have to keep him up to date with the millennials in our lives. Our son did the sound design and music for the trailer of the film “First Man,” with Ryan Gosling playing Neil Armstrong landing on the Sea of Tranquility, taking that first small step. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/apollo11.html

Flying into the unknown, into clouds or out of earth’s orbit, takes courage and training, knowing a thousand different variables could go wrong. Starting your own business today takes a leap of faith and a lot of talent. And while staying calm under pressure is a reasonable trope for men and women who choose aviation as a career, it could also be said for young entrepreneurs. An image of a Tesla in space comes to mind!

In fact, this morning astronauts on the International Space Station are having to deal with a leak probably caused by a tiny high-speed meteorite. How did they find it? By passing a finger along the wall. How did they fix it temporarily? Using a sealant and duct tape! https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45364155

So big congratulations to my son and his partners in TOTEM. Your parents are over the moon happy and proud of you! https://www.totemmx.com


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When we first heard about the German jet crashing into the French Alps, we were horrified. I asked Pilot Bob what could have happened? No need listening to all the speculation on cable news, when I have my very own pilot across from me at the dinner table.

He told me it must have been a sudden loss of cabin pressure. And when he talks, I listen. When the Piper Arrow gets above 9,000 ft, Bob whips out the oxygen and everything is fine. So I asked him, how long would you have to be sentient (yes that word just popped into my brain last night over Thai food) at 38,000 ft? How many minutes before one would pass out from lack of oxygen? “Fifteen seconds,” he said. The pilot would have fifteen seconds to grab an emergency back-up oxygen mask right next to his head in the cockpit. He added, “At 60,000 ft your blood would boil.” Thanks.

And then the news this morning. I could barely drink my coffee. Somehow it was better to think that Germanwings Airbus flight 4U 9525 dropped out of the sky, one minute after reaching its cruising altitude, due to some mechanical difficulty. But listening to the French Prosecutor, visibly shaken, putting his head in his hands, tell us that this was a deliberate descent by the co-pilot, left me feeling sick. He locked the cockpit door. He manually took over auto-pilot to begin the descent. He continued breathing and never answered his radio or the ramming on the door by his senior pilot.

So naturally, I called Grandma Ada. http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/mar/26/germanwings-plane-crash-investigation-press-conference-live-updates-4u9525

And Ada told me a story. Yesterday she went to her gym, and she spoke with a Hasidic woman about the fire in Brooklyn that took the lives of seven children in an Orthodox Jewish family. This is an ancient question; why do bad things happen to good people? The woman didn’t really answer, she kindly took Ada’s hand, and told her we need to do more mitzvahs – more good deeds, more acts of loving kindness.

Maybe that helps some, but either this co-pilot was psychotic and suicidal or he was a terrorist; either way this is a mass murder. If it turns out that the ‘interruption’ in the co-pilot’s training was due to a trip to Yemen, or some other terrorist training camp, I feel myself turning into a hawk. Forgiveness is not a word in my vocabulary at the moment.

Still, despite the headline-grabbing nature of airline crashes – especially mysterious cases like Flight 4U 9525 that were cruising along at high altitude – flying remains easily the safest form of travel ever created. A professor at MIT last year calculated the risk of a passenger dying in an airliner crash as 1 in 45 million. By way of comparison, the National Safety Council puts your lifetime odds of dying as a pedal cyclist at “merely” 1 in 4,982.   http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielreed/2015/03/24/germanwings-airplanes-flying-at-high-cruising-altitudes-rarely-crash/

If you need to chill out after a morning of bad news, may I suggest you click on to the nest of a bald eagle in PA. Two eggs were  spotted this Valentine’s Day and you can see her feeding her baby hatchlings in live stream!! http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1592549&mode=2

Hanover PA nest

Hanover PA nest

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“There’s Sir Dosser the Convict, Chango the Beast…” If you’re not getting the reference, this is a part of a radio interview done in Britain, gone viral with Mila Kunis. Highly entertaining, we learn they don’t have Blue Moon beer overseas and we Yanks don’t normally “…drop trout” at weddings. Here is the recap, the on-air reaction of the young guy, Chris Stark’s, boss – “Why are you going on about your mates again?”

Poor Mila, you can tell she has a cold and she’s enjoying this break from the ordinary slew of questions about her new movie with James Franco, a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. It’s a Sam Raimi production, who sounds like a reincarnation of Hitchcock. Animation mixed with live action is normally not my cup of tea (though I did enjoy Jessica Rabbit, she’s just drawn that way). But one of my Kindle downloads on this last trip was a mixture of fantasy and fiction, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Le Cirque des Rêves appears without warning and only opens at night. It too is about a charlatan, an illusionist, or two. And so I’m intrigued by the new Oz and just may dig my way out of this snow to see it!

From wanting to drink Yager Bombs with Mila, to the real world of droning on about bombs in a Senate filibuster. I thought you might like to know that our little city, Charlottesville, VA is the first in the nation to outright ban drones from roaming all over our backyards. Yes, for two years we can’t buy, borrow or test any drones and the ultrasound Governor is now considering a bill on his desk to make this a state-wide condition. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/02/05/city-in-virginia-becomes-first-to-pass-anti-drone-legislation-

City Councilor, my Facebook buddy and former Mayor Dave Norris says, :…the city has a “long tradition of promoting civil liberties – ‘It’s just part of our culture here.'”

It’s a bit scary to me to think that we have been giving up so many of our civil liberties so freely. The right to vote, the right to govern our own bodies without government interference, the right of privacy, etc. The question about drones speaks to a much larger issue. It’s not so much catching the marijuana grower in his backyard, as it is:
When is it OK to kill anyone?
American or not?
With or without a drone? since this is just another instrument of death…a flying, remote-control-game-like tool of destruction. Let’s not stay up all night talking about whether its target is a US citizen on this soil or that. When do we as a nation say that this is OK?

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We’re not hibernating exactly. It’s just that a weird warm front – the thing we used to call a January thaw – is approaching from the South. Temperatures are supposed to climb into the mid-70s today and continue through the weekend. There is zero visibility here on the mountain, it’s as if we’ve been enveloped by a huge marshmallow, or wrapped up in cotton. Birds won’t fly in these conditions.

Every now and then I’ve thought I might want to write a science fiction story. More Atwood and less Bradbury, who once said , “Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science, the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.” Of course the best stuff is just ever so slightly removed from reality, one step beyond the norm so that we can easily imagine this dystopia. Hunger Games was just a reality show gone horribly wrong in the future.

I would create a world that is the direct result of Climate Change; one in which the sun delivers 3rd degree burns to our skin in just 3 minutes of direct sun exposure, so that we all become night creatures. If some of us had to go outside during daylight hours, we’d be dressed like an astronaut. Think how we would have to adapt to becoming nocturnal. It would be like the boy in the bubble, only it would be a universal Severe Combined Immune Deficiency Syndrome and planet earth would have to figure out a way to survive.

Warm January days and the news of another asteroid nearly missing us, these will always kick me into fantasy mode, but this story on BBC put me over the edge:” US Shoots Down Death Star Superlaser Petition.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20997144 Did you know that The White House must respond to any and all petitions that contain more than 25,000 signatures? I guess whoever made that rule didn’t fantasize about the internet? “In a playful response, a senior US government official said the Obama administration ‘does not support blowing up planets.’ The official also said the cost – about $850 quadrillion – was too high.”

Bob just came in from the hot tub. He will often tell me he’s spotted 4 or 5 floating satellites in the early morning or early evening sky; “Space junk” we call it. Without Northeast light pollution, sky gazing in VA can be amazing. Obviously not today. Would you be surprised to hear that NASA tracks about 100,000 objects, some as large as dead satellites in the sky. This “orbital debris” is threatening to make our atmosphere a junkyard. After almost every mission, the space shuttle had to have windows repaired or replaced from collisions with orbital debris.http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/what-is-orbital-debris-58.html

Space Junk

Space Junk

I told Bob that Bean was chasing a red fox and that he needn’t worry about the Death Star. He said, “OH, good she didn’t catch it did she?”

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It’s turning out to be a very slow day. First I woke up to Ms Bean barking on the back deck, and looked out to see another hot air ballon coming our way through the morning fog. Can you see the mountains starting to turn orange?

Then I started researching New Zealand. http://www.newzealand.com/us/Places/?cid=p:con:us:specialinterest
Why? Because we had a lovely dinner last night on the mall with a new Emergency Physician Bob is recruiting from Richmond and her husband and some friends, and we talked about New Zealand. They were lucky enough to have been there and have me convinced it is the next place to see! Of course, it’s the last place on earth where an ancient nearly extinct lizard can be found, so…

And then, I started making a new Shutterfly book. How the hours just whiz by when you’re combing through baby pictures. Shhh, it’s a secret, but a certain Great Grandmother believes that pictures need to be held in one’s hands, and not viewed in small phones or on computer screens! I love Shutterfly, even though their constant barrage of emails can be off-putting. http://www.shutterfly.com/photo-books

So don’t hate me because I’m procrastinating. Yesterday I showed up at the Albemarle County Office Building and voted early for the first time in my life. I’ll be in Nashville when our nation goes to the polls. It’s an important election! We women want our grand daughters in Brag Books – not binders after all!

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