August 27, 2010

Christie Just Lost My Vote. (If I had one)

Sorry for the lack of posting lately but me and the little salmon have spent the last week getting back to the school.

In the video below Governor Christie of New Jersey, who in my book was begining to look like a conservative Superman, comes off today looking like a whiney little snot nose, stomping his foot and saying "thats not fair."

An inadvertent one page error in a grant application to the Department of Education cost the good citizens of New Jersey $400 Million dollars in the Obama Race to the Top Education Lottery. You never saw Superman play the victim card but essentially Christie complains that some faceless Washington bureaucrat finds a mistake made by some faceless New Jersey bureaucrat in a 1000 page  grant application and doesn't have the heart or common sense to pick up the phone and ask for a correction. That, states Christie "is the problem with Washington."

Had anyone tugged on the real Superman's cape he would have been screaming about the asininity of creating a $4.3 Billion slush fund at the Department of Education which pits state against state for the largesse of the Obama adminsitration.

Did Christie truly believe that New Jersey had any any chance to win this compitition. From Obama's perspective he is an acerbic Republican Governor from a solidly blue state. The fact is, this money is earmarked for battleground states like Penn, Fla, and Ohio.

Here is the list of the  19 finalists: Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

August 19, 2010

The Warthog

Fairchild-Republic A10 Thunderbolt
Every pilot has a list of favorite aircraft and if  money were no object we would fill our hangers with them. Now I haven't seen any A10s for sale on Ebay but If I had to do it all over again I may have reenlisted for the chance to fly one of these puppies.

 You start with one 20 foot long Gatling gun and then you simply build a plane around it. Details Here

August 18, 2010

From the Desk of CS Lewis

Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

CS Lewis

August 17, 2010

How's that Pragmatism Working Out For Ya?

I wish I could say that I’m beginning to feel a little sorry for this President who has begun to morph into a Kerry-esque Muppet character that’s not quite ready to report for duty, “I was against the mosque before I was for the mosque before let me be clear it’s a local matter.”

Bob Beckel wrote in 2008 at the beginning of the Age of Obama (it seems likes eons ago doesn’t it) that Obama is Larry the Cable Guy that will do anything to get ’er done.
What the Republicans and many in the political chattering class are calling flip flopping by Obama is nothing more than political pragmatics, and Obama is very good at it.
Perhaps being pragmatic is essential when you are trying to ram through a piece of  legislation like healthcare. “Constitution be damned, legislative process be damned, public opinion be damned this it the right thing to do for the American people.” The pragmatist will take whatever twisting turning path it takes to get her done!

To us outsiders that kind if political sausage making can take on an usavory immoral aroma but Beckel assures us Obama’s pragmatism  does not "lack a moral compass." I disagree, pragmatism itself requires that you don’t hold too tightly to convictions because you need the flexibility to achieve your goal and convictions can be just sooo restricting. For example the Constitution can be useful if you want to argue for building a mosque but on the other hand  if you want the government to buy a bankrupt car company, not so much. The beauty of Pragmatism is that it lets you cherry pick your convictions.

Being president however is more than legislation, fundraising, and golf; people look to you for leadership in times of crisis and crisis generally requires that you make decisions that draw on your moral/philosophical base. Each and every time that Obama has been confronted with just such a crisis (The Gulf Oil Spill, the Fort Hood Shooter, The Iranian Uprising, The Christmas Day Bomber and now the Ground Zero Mosque) he has come up looking aloof, disconnected, professorial, cold, heartless, etc, etc, etc.

That’s the problem with being the Pragmatist President, it gives you the means to do whatever you damn well please but it also makes you look like a soulless ass.

August 15, 2010

On Toleration

Washington Post September 2009:
President Obama is distancing himself from the National Day of Prayer by nixing a formal early morning service and not attending a large Catholic prayer breakfast the next morning.
All Mr. Obama will do for the National Day of Prayer, which is Thursday, is sign a proclamation honoring the day, which originated in 1952 when Congress set aside the first Thursday in May for the observance.
Jump ahead to August 2010 and we find the President wasn’t satisfied sitting at his desk issuing Ramadan proclamations but was hosting a White House dinner with distinguished members of the Muslim community celebrating the Islamic holiday of Ishtar and proclaiming his support for the construction of the controversial mosque/cultural center near Ground Zero. This hypocrisy really should come as no surprise; Obama has always displayed a not so subtle Occidentalism which probably played a part in his decision to change his name from Barry to Barack.

It also comes as no surprise that those supporting the mosque think that tolerance for the mosque should be a one way street. Certainly as the President pointed out we have a history of tolerance in this country which says that any religion can build a place of worship whenever and wherever it's heart desires without intervention by the government. On the surface this argument tugs at the heartstrings of any red blooded American but it ignores the fact that liberalism (like Christianity from which is sprang) has the obligation to speak out, to fight if necessary, to preserve those ideals which it holds dear.

That is the paradox of liberalism that the Left would have us ignore. The liberal should be tolerant of other cultures to the extent that they operate in the private sphere (in this case the church) but that does not mean that every difference, particularly ones that are illiberal or are in this case a deliberate blow to the sensibilities of those still grappling with the horrors of 9-11, should be tolerated without question. The presidents demand for tolerance without reciprocity from the other side of this controversy is really just multiculturalism at its very worst.

August 12, 2010

Glacier Drama

For the last several days I have been following the story of another Alaska plane crash. On Sunday a PA 32 with five flightseers on board crashed at the 8000 foot level of Knik Glacier north of Anchorage. By the time the rescue was over 12 people were stranded on the ice and the army was out one Blackhawk helicopter. Fortunately no one was killed and all were safely back home today. Story here.

August 10, 2010

RIP Senator Ted Stevens

The Anchorage Daily News snidely referred to Ted Stevens as Senator for Life and if not for a corruption charge in 2008 that might have come true. Prosecutorial misconduct resulted in an acquittal but it also cost Stevens his seat in the US Senate. It was a sad ending for a man that had spent his entire life in the service of the people of Alaska.

Today Stevens and a group of friends returning from a fishing trip in south west Alaska crashed into a mountainside during poor weather conditions.

Fly around the backcountry of Alaska long enough and eventually you will be involved in an accident but Stevens was no stranger to the dangers of aviation. He was a decorated pilot in WW II and he survived a crash at Anchorage (now Ted Stevens) International Airport that took the life of his first wife in 1978.

A few reactions from the next generation of Alaska public servants.
"Last night, Alaska lost a hero and I lost a dear friend. The thought of losing Ted Stevens, a man who was known to business and community leaders, Native chiefs and everyday Alaskans as 'Uncle Ted,' is too difficult to fathom. His entire life was dedicated to public service, from his days as a pilot in World War II to his four decades of service in the United States Senate." — Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
 "Alaska has lost one of its greatest statesmen and a true pioneer of our state with the passing of Sen. Ted Sevens. Over his four decades of public service in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Stevens was a forceful advocate for Alaska who helped transform our state in the challenging years after Statehood." — Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.
"In our land of towering mountains and larger than life characters, none were larger than the man who in 2000 was voted 'Alaskan of the Century.' This decorated World War II pilot was a warrior and a true champion of Alaska." — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Our prayers and condolences to those involved in todays accident.

Being a pilot in Alaska ranks up there with lumberjack and crab fisherman in fatality rates. The following is from the National Institute of Occupational Health.
Alaska is uniquely dependent upon air transportation. Commuter and air taxi operators serve as the main link to much of Alaska, transporting people, cargo, and mail to more than 250 villages located off of the road system. This critical mode of transportation can be hazardous.

A disproportionate number of commuter and air taxi crashes occur in Alaska (Table 1). During 1990-2008 there were 1,566 commuter and air taxi crashes in the United States. Commuter and air taxi crashes in Alaska accounted for more than one-third of all commuter and air taxi crashes in the U.S., and approximately 20% of the fatal crashes and deaths.

Working as a pilot in Alaska continues to be a risky occupation. During 1990-2008, aviation crashes in Alaska caused 147 occupational pilot deaths (does not include military), an average of 8 pilot fatalities per year. These 147 fatalities over 19 years from a commercial pilot workforce of approximately 2,600 result in an annual pilot fatality rate of 298 per 100,000 pilots.

In recent years the pilot occupational fatality rate in Alaska has decreased to less than twice the rate for all U.S. pilots during 2003-2008. During this time there were 23 occupational pilot deaths (does not include military), resulting in an annual pilot fatality rate of 148 per 100,000 pilots. While this is an improvement, it is still approximately 41 times the mortality rate for all U.S. workers during the same time period.

August 09, 2010

Hiroshima Spin

On the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing we were once again bombarded by those commentators that feel that the bombing was a mistake. But what if those in power at the time didn't know what they were unleashing? What if Truman who was kept in the dark about the Manhattan Project until after the death of Roosevelt wasn't fully informed about the effects of the bomb? What if General Groves who was in charge of the project was  under the impression that the bomb was merely a larger version of a conventional explosive device?
George Washington University has the archives of the Manhattan Project and several years ago I had the opportunity to wade through some of this material and what I discovered tends to support the proposition that those at the top just didn't know about the radiological after effects and as a results were forced to spin the grizzly realities of the bomb into a narrative that the public could more easily digest.

A little humor to start the week.

To my deaf friends, sorry.

August 08, 2010


Today a couple thousand family and friends gathered at the Cedar Rapids Cellular Center to say our final goodbyes to our sons and daughters who are part of the recent Iowa National Guard deployment to Afghanistan.

This is Justin’s second trip to that God forsaken spot on the globe and although I am still overflowing with pride in my sons commitment to the Guard and his dedication to his fellow soldiers this time I am also angry.

I’m angry that in the four years since he was last there conditions have deteriorated, casualties are increasing, and the rules of engagement may be getting our soldiers killed.

I’m angry that we haven’t thrown the full force of the nation behind the task of killing these bastards so our loved ones can come home. We have a wavering President apparently more concerned with the sensibilities of the region than the nation he leads, who is being played by “friends” (I use the term loosely) and foes alike.

Meanwhile we prop up the corrupt government of a brutal, backwards, tribal people that are incapable of pulling themselves out of the second century. When my son deployed five long years ago I thought we could make a difference, now I’m beginning to the see the futility of the mission and I’m angry.

More Plane Porn

Our friend Fred from the flatlands of western Iowa, upon returing from eight glorious days (except for the mosquito infested campground) was kind enough to pass along this Oshkosh video for your viewing pleasure. Fred writes, "...I spent about 10-12 hours a day on the grounds doing a lot of forums and talking to total strangers about airplanes and life in general. All 3 concerts were great. (Chicago, Lt Dan Band, and Asleep at the Wheel) The night airshow wall of flame and fireworks were spectacular. It gets better for me every year and like all other years I still don't get to see everything."

Thx Fred.

An Airplane Sunday Morning

At the controls of a LSA
How long does it take to polish one of these babies? Beautiful!
From the deck of an Air Force KC 135
Did I mention it was hot there?

Above is a few shots of our Oshkosh outing. We purchased a new camera before vacation thinking we would retire our bruised and battered Olympus Camedia which we purchased at the dawn of the digital photography age. We ended up with a compact Sony Cybershot that takes great pictures but it lacks a viewfinder which makes capturing fast moving targets nearly impossible. Plus, at an event such as an airshow it lacks the zoom capabilities of the Olympus which is an issue. One thing I didn't consider is the resolution setting which makes uploading nearly impossible. I have to resize and crop every shot or Blogger chokes. Live and learn.

Loss of a legend: Atlee Dodge
Alaska aviation legend F. Atlee Dodge passed away on July 23 in the Anchorage Pioneer Home.

The passing of Dodge marks the end of an era of improvements to the Piper Super Cub and other aircraft types. Dodge, 88 passed away in his sleep after a long battle with leg ailments.

Atlee Dodge was known as the guru of Super Cub modifications approved as Federal Aviation Administration Supplemental Type Certifications or (STCs). Most would call them mods or accessories but all needed to be approved before legally being used on a standard category aircraft.

His modifications and accessories include control surfaces, engine cowlings, exhaust systems, fuel systems parts, landing gear, steps, pre-heaters, seats, seat rails, float fittings, ski fittings, wing lift struts, wing tanks, filler necks for fuel tanks, etc. etc. the list is three pages long and includes the J-3, PA-11, PA-12, PA-14-PA-18, PA-19, and PA-22 Piper aircraft.

Dodge’s ingenious ideas that became realities for pilots and aircraft owners were also included on Cessna and Dehavilland aircraft as well. In short if there was a good idea that made an aircraft better for working and flying in Alaska’s bush, Atlee Dodge was already on top of it.
Supercub Flyby at the Atlee Dodge Memorial
Lake Hood, Anchorage, Ak

Photos Gallery: Arctic Thunder Air Show
F22 Raptor at Arctic Thunder, Elmendorf Airforce Base

August 02, 2010

The Salmon Family Vacation

Tuesday afternoon we arrived in Madison, Wisconsin, the Midwest's Bastion of Socialism, the place my brother in law affectionately calls "45 square miles surrounded by reality."

That night we were treated to a dinner cruise on Lake Mendota which abuts downtown and the University of Wisconsin. Above, the little Salmon takes a turn at the helm.

Wednesday we visited the Vilas Zoo in Madison. In keeping with the socialist theme a friend noted that admission is free and all the animals are fed equally and are not required to work. While the residents seemed healthy due to their government supplied medical care and rations they were, with the exception of those industrious little prairie dogs, unproductive and generally lethargic. Seriously, it is a nice little zoo, the price is right, and was a good way to spend a few hours.

The highlight of the week, from my perspective, was the pilgrimage to the  airplane Mecca of Oshkosh. The day dawned clear and warm and enthusiasm was high upon our arrival. We spent the morning in the Kidventure area but we were disappointed by the length of the line at the helicopter ride and had to skip that activity.

Then it was back to the main field to look at planes and see the afternoon airshow.
While Oshkosh was impressive as always there are a couple inescapable facts. Its going to be hot and you are going to walk...alot. That can be tough when you are seven.

Friday we hung out with family and ended the week at the Saturday Capital Square Farmers Market before heading home. Wisconsin has an awesome capital building which we intend to check out next time.

We had one incident that I would like to share. The day we went to Oshkosh we returned to our hotel late that evening to find that the housekeepers had propped open our door all day but failed to clean our room. Fortunately I had stuck my laptop and misc valuables in the car trunk when we left and surprisingly nothing was missing from the room. The poor gal at the desk recieved an ear full from the wife and when I finally tracked down the manager the following morning  he was apologetic and offered us a free future stay (like I'm ever going to stay there again) and then he stated, "I would love to comp you for your entire stay but because you registered through I cant give you a refund." Really... was that a gauntlet or what? Now I didn't want the moon but I also don't like having my chain pulled by a disingenuous manager type that offers me a full comp with one hand and takes it away with the other. If you should find yourself in a similar situation rest assured, it may take several phone calls and you may have to corner the little liar in his office for a conference call but with a little persistence has the means to give you a refund;)