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Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career

The Ready For Takeoff podcast will help you transform your aviation passion into an aviation career. Every week we bring you instruction and interviews with top aviators in their field who reveal their flight path to an exciting career in the skies.
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Aug 15, 2018

This past week there was a dramatic, and tragic, event at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle, Washington. An airport worker stole an empty Horizon Air Q400 aircraft and flew it erratically for over an hour before crashing and killing himself. Rather than the NTSB, the FBI is taking the lead in the investigation into this event, which is rightly being called a crime.

Even for an experienced pilot, stealing an airliner is no small feat. If the airplane is parked at a gate, it must be pushed back with a tow vehicle and then disconnected from the tow vehicle, which must them be driven out of the way. In this case it was parked remotely, at the cargo ramp, and could be taxied forward once the engines were started. And the cargo ramp is located adjacent to the takeoff position on runway 19L, so once the engines were started there was little to prevent the aircraft from initiating a takeoff.

Gaining access to the Q400 aircraft itself is relatively easy, as the main entry door has integral stairs, and there is a YouTube video showing door operation:

https://youtu.be/_ai4L3tb92o

There is very little information regarding how the individual was able to gain access to the aircraft, start the APU, start the engines, taxi and take off without interruption. The facts as they are now known are:

  • He had no prior experience as a pilot
  • He was an airline employee with access to the airport Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA)
  • His normal employment was in the area of baggage loading and airplane marshalling
  • From his conversations with ATC, he intended to kill himself

This is not something that can be accomplished on a whim. I believe the FBI's investigation will reveal that the individual had planned this for some time. He most likely had the Microsoft Flight Simulator X program and had been practicing how to start the engines, adjust the condition levers, take off, raise the landing gear, and fly.

There is an add-on program for Microsoft Flight Simulator X for the Q400, and the flight manual for the Q400 is readily available on the internet.

If this individual had simply wanted to steal the airplane and crash it, he likely would not have engaged in conversation with ATC. He was clearly a troubled individual, and it is really sad that an intervention was apparently not possible.

This is not the first such event. In 1969, Sergeant Paul Meyer, a C-130 aircraft mechanic stationed at Mildenhall Air Base in England, put on an officer's flight suit and stole a C-130, hoping to fly back to the United States. He had been under a lot of emotional pressure and desperately wanted to get back home to his wife of eight weeks. He was drunk when he stole the plane, which vanished after a few hours.

There will undoubtedly be a knee-jerk over-reaction in the industry, which will make it more difficult for legitimate crew members to initiate their flights, and which will likely lead to departure delays. Perhaps it would be more productive to educate the public on the signs of mental illness and how to help someone who seeks a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. This line is available for 24 hours, every day.

Aug 13, 2018

Cynthia and Mike Lisa met while midshipmen at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Mike graduated a year ahead of Cynthia, and attended graduate school to receive his Master of Science Degree in Physics, then attended Navy pilot training at the same time as Cynthia.

Once they were married, they received joint-spouse assignments to Whidby Island Naval Air Station, each flying the EA-6B. During their careers, Mike attended Navy Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, MD, and Cynthia continued flying the EA-6B until her aircraft accident.

Her EA-6B suffered an engine failure, followed by smoke and fire in the cockpit. She ordered a crew ejection, and a long 1.2 seconds transpired before her sequenced ejection as the aircraft commander. Less than a second later, the jet impacted the ground. She got "one swing" of the parachute before landing near the crash site. Cynthia's ejection was featured in the Smithsonian Channel "Survival In The Skies" episode on ejection seats.

In the mean-time, Mike was deployed and not permitted to return to home for another five months.

Aug 11, 2018

From Wikipedia:

Center-of-Gravity Limits
Center of gravity (CG) limits are specified longitudinal (forward and aft) and/or lateral (left and right) limits within which the aircraft's center of gravity must be located during flight. The CG limits are indicated in the airplane flight manual. The area between the limits is called the CG range of the aircraft.
Weight and Balance
When the weight of the aircraft is at or below the allowable limit(s) for its configuration (parked, ground movement, take-off, landing, etc.) and its center of gravity is within the allowable range, and both will remain so for the duration of the flight, the aircraft is said to be within weight and balance. Different maximum weights may be defined for different situations; for example, large aircraft may have maximum landing weights that are lower than maximum take-off weights (because some weight is expected to be lost as fuel is burned during the flight). The center of gravity may change over the duration of the flight as the aircraft's weight changes due to fuel burn or by passengers moving forward or aft in the cabin.
Reference Datum
The reference datum is a reference plane that allows accurate, and uniform, measurements to any point on the aircraft. The location of the reference datum is established by the manufacturer and is defined in the aircraft flight manual. The horizontal reference datum is an imaginary vertical plane or point, placed along the longitudinal axis of the aircraft, from which all horizontal distances are measured for weight and balance purposes. There is no fixed rule for its location, and it may be located forward of the nose of the aircraft. For helicopters, it may be located at the rotor mast, the nose of the helicopter, or even at a point in space ahead of the helicopter. While the horizontal reference datum can be anywhere the manufacturer chooses, most small training helicopters have the horizontal reference datum 100 inches forward of the main rotor shaft centerline. This is to keep all the computed values positive. The lateral reference datum is usually located at the center of the helicopter.
Arm
The arm is the horizontal distance from the reference datum to the center of gravity (CG) of an item. The algebraic sign is plus (+) if measured aft of the datum or to the right side of the center line when considering a lateral calculation. The algebraic sign is minus (-) if measured forward of the datum or the left side of the center line when considering a lateral calculation.[1]
Moment
The moment is the moment of force that results from an object’s weight acting through an arc that is centered on the zero point of the reference datum distance. Moment is also referred to as the tendency of an object to rotate or pivot about a point (the zero point of the datum, in this case). The further an object is from this point, the greater the force it exerts. Moment is calculated by multiplying the weight of an object by its arm.

There's much more information in the FAA Weight And Balance Handbook.

Aug 6, 2018

Dr MacAulay spent 20 years in the US Air Force where she commanded the 400 member joint 305th Operations Support Squadron, was a professionalism and leadership instructor, and served as the Director of Human Performance and Leadership for the 58th Special Operations Wing. In this capacity, she stood up a pilot program launching a human performance effort from the ground up, to create high-performing, mindful, and mission-focused warfighters & families.

Most recently, she serves as a Human Performance consultant for the US Air Force, Department of Justice, and corporate America - sharing her knowledge and lessons for building high-performing organizations and teams. She has a

Masters Degree in Kinesiology (focused in exercise physiology) and a PhD with

work in the field of strategic health & human performance. Dr MacAulay is a

certified wellness educator, yoga instructor, mindfulness researcher, and holds a

certificate in plant based nutrition. She is a mother of two, and a combat veteran

with over 3000 flying hours in the C-21, C-130, & KC-10 aircraft.

Aug 2, 2018

Attempting to crash an aircraft into a building was not an entirely new paradigm.  Despite Secretary Rice stating, “I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile”, there had been numerous prior attempts to utilize aircraft in this manner.  In addition, there had been a significant number of warnings suicide hijackings posed a serious threat.  For example, a 1994 report for the Department of Defense predicted every aspect of the 911 attack. 

In 1972, hijackers of Southern Airways Flight 49 threatened to crash the airliner into Oak Ridge National Laboratory if a $10 million ransom was not paid.  The specific target was the nuclear reactor.  The hijacked airliner began a dive toward Oak Ridge, and was only pulled out at the last minute when Southern Airways agreed to pay $2 million to the hijackers.

In 1974, S. Byck attempted to hijack a Delta Airlines DC-9 aircraft to crash it into the White House.  During the hijacking, Byck killed a security guard and the copilot before committing suicide after being wounded by police.  Also in 1974, Private R. Preston stole an Army helicopter and flew over the White House and hovered for six minutes over the lawn outside the West Wing, raising concerns about a suicide attack.

In 1994, four Algerian terrorists attempted to hijack Air France Flight 8969.  The group, identified as Phalange of the Signers in Blood, killed one of the passengers, planted explosives on the plane, and planned to crash the aircraft into the Eiffel Tower.  French police stormed the aircraft and stopped the hijacking.    


Also in 1994, Flight Engineer A. Calloway boarded Federal Express Flight 705 as an additional jump seat crewmember, intending to overpower the crew and crash the DC-10 aircraft into the Federal Express corporate headquarters in Memphis.  Calloway attacked the flight deck crew with a hammer, inflicting serious, permanent, disabling injuries to all three pilots.  Additionally in 1994, F. Corder attempted to crash an aircraft into the White House. 

The planned 1995 Bojinka attack targeted the Pentagon, an unidentified nuclear power plant, the Transamerica Building in San Francisco, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the World Trade Center, John Hancock Tower in Boston, U.S. Congress, and the White House.  In 1996, hijackers attempted to crash Ethiopian Airlines flight 961 into a resort in the Comoros Islands, ditching into the Indian Ocean near the coast. 

Another 1996 event occurred when M. Udugov, a Chechen leader, threatened to hijack a Russian airliner and crash it into the Kremlin. 

In 1998 the Kaplancilar terrorist organization planned to crash an explosives-laden plane into the tomb of M. Ataturk, Turkey’s founder.  The entire Turkish government had gathered at the mausoleum for a ceremony on the day scheduled for the attack.  Police foiled the plot and arrested the conspirators shortly before execution of the plan.

In addition to actual aircraft suicide attacks, there were numerous predictions of these types of attacks.  One prediction was in the March 2001 pilot episode of the Fox series The Lone Gunmen, featuring a hijacked Boeing 727 used as a missile to crash into the World Trade Center.  In 1999, the British Secret Service MI6 provided the U.S. Embassy in London with a secret report on al Qaeda activities.  The report indicated al Qaeda was planning to use commercial aircraft to attack the United States.  The report stated the aircraft would be used in “unconventional ways”.

The 1993 attack on the World Trade Center prompted an exhaustive threat analysis for the World Trade Center.  The study concluded an aerial attack by crashing an aircraft into the Center was a remote possibility requiring consideration.  Reports indicated Iran was training pilots to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings: “Trained aircrews from among the terrorists would crash the airliner into a selected objective”. 

A report on terrorist threats prepared for the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress specifically named bin Laden and al Qaeda: “Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House”.  A 1999 keynote address at the National Defense University warned terrorists might attempt to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to attack buildings.  In 2000, security consultant C. Schnabolk had remarked, the most serious threat to the World Trade Center was someone flying a plane into it.

Jul 30, 2018

From Doc Weaver's website:

Upon graduation from college, Weaver pursued a flying career as a pilot in the United States Air Force. In addition to flying, painting gave him an outlet that added much to his life. His last assignment prior to retirement brought him to New Mexico in 1974. He retired from active duty in 1976 and from that time on he has painted full time.

In 1974 Doc Weaver joined the New Mexico Watercolor Society. He was awarded Charter Signature Membership in this society.

From 1972 through 1976 Weaver was employed as a workshop director with Tony Van Hassalt's Painting Holidays Workshops. Van Hasssalt's workshops always had a stable of top-notch artists teaching painting. He directed many workshops, principally for John Pike, Tom Hill, George Cheropov, Jack Pellew, Tony Van Hassalt and Charles Reid. Over the past 30 years he also conducted his own watercolor workshops throughout the West. In 1977 Doc moved from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, where he has remained active in the arts community. During the next several years he served on the Santa Fe City Arts Council, the Board of Directors and Master Selection Committee of the Santa Fe Institute of Fine Arts, and has been an Officer and Trustee, Museum of New Mexico Foundation.

Weaver splits his time between painting outdoors and painting in the studio. Sketches completed on location are a valuable resource for his larger studio work. In addition to watercolor he also paints in oil and acrylic mediums. Many of his paintings are in private collections and in the collections of museums throughout the country. He is a member of the United States Air Force Artist Program and his paintings are represented in the United States Air Force Art Collection.

Exhibitions:
New Mexico Watercolor Society: 2004 Spring Show, Canson Award winner.
American Watercolor Society: Selected for exhibition in the 134th show, New York, NY, April 2001
Watermedia 2000: Signature Member Group, New Mexico Watercolor Society Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June, 2000
The Taos National Exhibition of American Watercolor II: Stables Gallery, Taos, New Mexico, November, 1996

Jul 26, 2018

Funding for the Bojinka Plot came from Osama bin Laden and Hambali, and from front organizations operated by Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden's brother-in-law.

Wali Khan Amin Shah, an Afghan, was the financier of the plot. He funded the plot by laundering money through his girlfriend and other Manila women, several of whom were bar hostesses and one of whom was an employee at a KFC restaurant. They were bribed with gifts and holiday trips so that they would open bank accounts to stash funds.

The transfers were small, equivalent to about 12,000 to 24,000 Philippine pesos ($500 to $1,000 US), and would be handed over each night at a Wendy's or a karaoke bar. The funds went to "Adam Sali", an alias used by Ramzi Yousef. The money came through a Filipino bank account owned by Jordanian Omar Abu Omar, who worked at International Relations and Information Centre, an Islamic organization run by Mohammed Jamal Khalifa.

A company called Konsojaya also provided financial assistance to the Manila cell by laundering money to it. Konsojaya was a front company that was started by the head of the group Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesian named Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali. Wali Khan Amin Shah was on the board of directors of the company.

As soon as Yousef arrived in Manila along with other "Arab Afghans" who were making cells in Manila, he started to work on making bombs. Yousef had shown up in Singapore with Shah earlier in the fall of 1994. The two got their Philippine visas in Singapore.

He left Manila for several days, but was met by Islamist emissaries upon his return to Metro Manila. They asked him to attack United States President Bill Clinton, who was due to arrive in the Philippines on November 12, 1994 as part of a five-day tour of Asia. Yousef thought of several ways to kill the president, including placing nuclear bombs on Clinton's motorcade route, firing a Stinger missile at Air Force One or the presidential limousine, launching theater ballistic missiles at Manila and or killing him with phosgene, a chemical weapon. He abandoned the idea, as it would be too difficult to kill the President. However, he incorporated his plan to kill the Pope into the Bojinka plot.

In 1994, Yousef and Khalid Sheik Mohammed started testing airport security. Yousef booked a flight between Kai Tak International Airport in Hong Kong and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei. Mohammed booked a flight between Ninoy Aquino International Airport near Manila and Kimpo International Airport near Seoul. The two had already converted fourteen bottles of contact lens solution into bottles containing nitroglycerin, which was readily available in the Philippines. Yousef had taped a metal rod to the arch of his foot, which would serve as a detonator. The two wore jewelry and clothing with metal to confuse airport security. To support their claim that they were meeting women, they packed condoms in their bags.

On December 8, Yousef moved into the Doña Josefa Apartments under the alias "Najy Awaita Haddad" and purported himself to be a Moroccan. Edith Guerrera, the manager, laughed with the receptionist after the two men asked for new registration forms. "Perhaps they have forgotten their names", she said as the first ones were torn up. Yousef had accidentally put his "real name" on the first form. He did not want to get discovered too early.

Yousef had booked Room 603 in advance. He had made an Php 80,000 (Philippine peso) deposit, and added Php 40,000 more up front before taking the elevator to Room 603.

A conspirator named Abdul Hakim Murad came to Manila with Yousef and stayed at the same apartment.

The apartments are located in the Malate district, 200 meters away from the embassy of the Holy See in the Philippines, and 500 meters down the street from Manila Police Station No. 9 on Quirino Avenue. One of the windows of Room 603 looks down on the path that the Papal motorcade was to take.

People were suspicious of the men in Room 603. The men renting the apartment were very secretive. According to Guerrera, "They gave me the impression that they were here to study", said Mrs. Guerrera. "They looked like students. They double locked the door when they were inside or out. They didn't ask the room boy to clear up the room." The men, who had chemical burns on their hands, were carrying boxes and never hired other people to carry them up. The boxes contained chemicals bought from suppliers in Manila and Quezon City in Metro Manila. Yousef would use these to make his bombs.

Mohammed purported himself to be a Saudi or Qatari plywood exporter named "Abdul Majid." Yousef and Mohammed had already started planning Operation Bojinka.

According to Abdul Hakim Murad, Yousef got an idea for crashing a plane into the CIA from Murad while at the apartments. According to Murad, Yousef replied, "OK, we will think about it", before heading off with Mohammed to Puerto Galera for scuba diving.

Yousef's first operational test of his bomb was inside a mall in Cebu City. The bomb detonated several hours after he put it in a generator room. It caused minor damage, but it proved to Yousef that his bomb was workable.

On December 1, Shah placed a bomb under a seat in the Greenbelt Theatre in Manila to test what would happen if a bomb exploded under an airline seat. The bomb went off, injuring several patrons.

On December 11, 1994, Yousef built another bomb, which had one tenth of the power that his final bombs were planned to have, in the lavatory of an aircraft. He left it inside the life jacket under his seat (26 K) and got off the plane when it arrived in Cebu. Yousef had boarded the flight under the assumed name of Arnaldo Forlani, using a false Italian passport. The aircraft was Philippine Airlines Flight 434 on a Manila to Narita route, stopping partway at Cebu. Yousef had set the timer for four hours after he got off the aircraft.

The bomb exploded while the aircraft was over Japan's Minamidaitō Island, part of Okinawa Prefecture. A Japanese businessman named Haruki Ikegami occupying the seat was killed and an additional 10 passengers were injured. The flight was carrying 273 passengers in total. The blast blew a hole in the floor and the cabin's rapid expansion severed several control cables in the ceiling, cutting off control of the plane's right aileron, as well as both the pilot and first officer's steering controls. Usually, 26K, the seat that Yousef chose to plant the bomb, would be positioned directly over the centre fuel tank, and the detonation of the bomb would have caused a crippling explosion, but on this particular airframe, a former Scandinavian Airlines aircraft, the seat was two rows forward from normal. The flight crew kept control of the Boeing 747-200 and brought it into an emergency landing at Okinawa's Naha Airport. Satisfied with the deadly results of the attack, Yousef then planned which flights to attack for "Phase II" of the plot.

The first plan was to assassinate Pope John Paul II when he visited the Philippines during the World Youth Day 1995 celebrations. On January 15, 1995, a suicide bomber would dress up as a priest, while John Paul II passed in his motorcade on his way to the San Carlos Seminary in Makati City. The assassin planned to get close to the Pope, and detonate the bomb. The planned assassination of the Pope was intended to divert attention from the next phase of the operation. About 20 men had been trained by Yousef to carry out this act prior to January 1995.

The details of Phase I were found in the evidence discovered in the investigation into Room 603 in the Doña Josefa.

The next plan would have involved at least five terrorists, including Yousef, Shah, Murad and two more unknown operatives. Beginning on January 21, 1995, and ending on January 22, 1995, they would have placed bombs on 11 United States-bound airliners which had stopovers scattered throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. All of the flights had two legs. The bombs would be planted inside life jackets under seats on the first leg, and each bomber would then disembark. He would then board one or two more flights and repeat. After all of the bombers had planted bombs on all of the flights, each man would then catch flights to Lahore, Pakistan. The men never needed U.S. visas, as they only would have been on the planes for their first legs in Asia.

United States airlines had been chosen instead of Asian airlines so as to maximize the shock toward Americans. The flights targeted were listed under operatives with codenames: "Zyed", "Majbos", "Markoa", "Mirqas" and "Obaid". Obaid, who was really Abdul Hakim Murad, was to hit United Flight 80, and then he was to go back to Singapore on another United flight which he would bomb.

Zyed, probably Ramzi Yousef, was to target Northwest Flight 30, a United Flight going from Taipei to Honolulu, and a United Flight going from Bangkok to Taipei to San Francisco.

The explosions were to be timed by the operatives before they disembarked from the plane. The aircraft would have exploded over the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea almost simultaneously. If this plan worked, several thousand passengers would have perished, and air travel would likely have been shut down worldwide. The U.S. government estimated the prospective death toll to be about 4,000 if the plot had been executed. (For comparison, about 3,000 were killed during the September 11 attacks in the United States.)

If Phase II of the plot had been successful, it would have been, in terms of casualties, the most devastating terrorist attack in recent history.

The "Mark II" "microbombs" had Casio digital watches as the timers, stabilizers that looked like cotton wool balls, and an undetectable quantity of nitroglycerin as the explosive. Other ingredients included glycerin, nitrate, sulfuric acid, and minute concentrations of nitrobenzene, silver azide(silver trinitride), and liquid acetone. Two 9-volt batteries in each bomb were used as a power source. The batteries would be connected to light bulb filaments that would detonate the bomb. Murad and Yousef wired an SCR (silicon controlled rectifier) as the switch to trigger the filaments to detonate the bomb. There was an external socket hidden when the wires were pushed under the watch base as the bomber would wear it. The alteration was so small that the watch could still be worn in a normal manner.

Yousef got batteries past airport security during his December 11 test bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434 by hiding them in hollowed-out heels of his shoes. Yousef smuggled the nitroglycerin on board by putting it inside a small container, reputedly containing contact lens cleaning solution.

Abdul Hakim Murad's confession detailed Phase III in his interrogation by the Manila police after his capture.

Phase three would have involved Murad either renting, buying, or hijacking a small airplane, preferably a Cessna. The airplane would be filled with explosives. He would then crash it into the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in the Langley area in Fairfax County, Virginia. Murad had been trained as a pilot in North Carolina, and was slated to be a suicide pilot.

There were alternate plans to hijack a 12th commercial airliner and use that instead of the small aircraft, probably due to the Manila cell's growing frustration with explosives. Testing explosives in a house or apartment is dangerous, and it can easily give away a terrorist plot. Khalid Sheik Mohammed probably made the alternate plan.

A report from the Philippines to the United States on January 20, 1995 stated, "What the subject has in his mind is that he will board any American commercial aircraft pretending to be an ordinary passenger. Then he will hijack said aircraft, control its cockpit and dive it at the CIA headquarters."

Another plot that was considered would have involved the hijacking of more airplanes. The World Trade Center (New York City, New York), The Pentagon (Arlington, Virginia), the United States Capitol (Washington, D.C.), the White House (Washington, D.C.), the Sears Tower (Chicago, Illinois), and the U.S Bank Tower (Los Angeles, California), would have been the likely targets. In his confession to Filipino investigators, prior to the foiling of Operation Bojinka, Abdul Hakim Murad said that this part of the plot was dropped since the Manila cell could not recruit enough people to implement other hijackings. This plot would eventually be the base plot for the September 11 attacks which involved hijacking commercial airliners, as opposed to small aircraft loaded with explosives, and crashing them into their intended targets. However, only the World Trade Center (which was destroyed) and The Pentagon (which suffered partial damage) were hit.

The plot was abandoned after an apartment fire at the six-story Doña Josefa apartments occurred in Manila, Philippines, on the evening of Friday, January 6, 1995. The fire occurred before Pope John Paul II was scheduled to visit the Philippines on January 12.

According to the initial accounts of the Philippine authorities, Abdul Hakim Murad started a chemical fire in the kitchen sink in Room 603 in the 6th floor of the Doña Josefa apartment by pouring water on a substance. The fire was spotted at about 11 pm after residents complained about a strange odour. Edith Guerrera, the owner of the apartments, called the fire brigade, but the fire went out unassisted. Yousef and Murad had told the firefighters to stay away before they fled. Police Major Francisco F. Bautista and his men, including watch commander Aida D. Fariscal, decided to investigate the situation and saw four hot plates in their packing crates, what looked like cotton batting soaked in a beige solution, and loops of green, red, blue, and yellow electrical wiring. The telephone rang, and the police ran downstairs, thinking that it was a trap.Fa riscal had been suspicious of the men in Room 603 due to the recent wave of bombings (committed by Yousef) that hit Metro Manila and Philippine Airlines Flight 434. Seeking a search warrant, they left and asked 11 judges before finding one that would grant a warrant.

After police discovered the evidence, they arrested a man who called himself "Ahmed Saeed." "Saeed", who later proved to be Murad, claimed that he was a commercial pilot who was on his way to the precinct house to explain that what he claimed to be firecrackers had gone off. Murad initially tried to run away, but he was arrested after he tripped over a tree root. The arresting officer, having lost his handcuffs, improvised a solution by tying Murad's hands with the elastic cord taken from the officer's raincoat. Murad was hauled to the precinct in a taxi van with the help of two other people. He offered 110,740 Philippine pesos (US$2,000) to the policemen if they would agree to let him go, but the officers refused. At the precinct, Murad signed a statement saying that he was innocent and that he was a tourist visiting his friend in his chemical import/export business. He then mumbled about "two Satans that must be destroyed: the Pope and America."

55-year-old Fariscal was later depicted (although by a much younger actress) in the 2006 docudrama The Path to 9/11, in which US agencies in the script gave her much credit. An actress portrays her in the Mayday episode "Bomb on Board." The widow of a slain police officer, she had spent seventeen years as a homemaker before enrolling in the police department in 1977. She became well known in her home nation, which awarded her the equivalent of 33,222 pesos ($700) and a trip to Taiwan. The CIA awarded her a certificate reading "in recognition of your personal outstanding efforts and co-operation." Her decision to investigate the fire was key to disrupting the plot and forcing Yousef to flee.

When the officers returned to Suite 603 at 2:30 am on January 7, they found: street maps of Manila with routes plotting the papal motorcade, a rosary, a photograph of the pontiff, bibles, crucifixes, papal confessions, and priest clothing, including robes and collars. This collection of objects, and a phone message from a tailor reminding the occupant that "the cassock was ready to be tried on", along with the fact of the Pope's impending visit, was enough for Police Major Francisco F. Bautista to infer that an assassination plot had been interrupted. A search warrant was granted by 4 am on January 7.

The most conclusive piece of evidence found was a manual written in Arabic on how to build a liquid bomb.

Stacks of 12 false passports, including Norwegian, Afghan, Saudi, and Pakistani were also found in the apartment. Investigators found a business card from Mohammed Jamal Khalifa; Saeed apparently possessed five telephone numbers from Khalifa. Investigators also found phone numbers for Rose Masquera, Mohammed's girlfriend.

Yousef's project was discovered on four floppy disks and an off-white Toshiba laptop inside his apartment, two weeks before the plot would have been implemented. Several encrypted files on the hard drive contained flight schedules, calculations of detonation times, and other items. The first string of text in one of the files states, "All people who support the U.S. government are our targets in our future plans and that is because all those people are responsible for their government's actions and they support the U.S. foreign policy and are satisfied with it. We will hit all U.S. nuclear targets. If the U.S. government keeps supporting Israel, then we will continue to carry out operations inside and outside the United States to include..." and the text ends.

A file named "Bojinka" lists the 11 flights between Asia and the United States, which were grouped under five codenames. Strings were found, such as "SETTING: 9:30 pm to 10:30 pm TIMER: 23HR. BOJINKA: 20:30-21:30 NRT Date 5" (for United flight 80), and "SETTING: 8:30-9:00. TIMER: 10HR. BOJINKA: 19:30-20:00 NRT Date 4" (for Northwest Flight 30).[7]

The laptop had names of dozens of associates, including some photographs of a few of them and including contact information for Mohammed Jamal Khalifa. They contained records of information about five-star hotels, dealings with a London trading corporation, a meat market owner in Malaysia, and an Islamic center in Tucson, Arizona. Information about how money moved through an Abu Dhabi banking firm was found.

A communication signed "Khalid Shaikh + Bojinka" was also found on Yousef's computer that threatened to attack targets "in response to the financial, political and military assistance given to the Jewish state in the occupied land of Palestine by the United States Government." The letter also said that the bombers claimed to have "ability to make and use chemicals and poisonous gas... for use against vital institutions and populations and the sources of drinking water."

The letter also threatened to assassinate Fidel V. Ramos, the President of the Philippines at the time, as well as attack aircraft if the United States did not meet the group's demands. The letter said that the group claiming responsibility was the "Fifth Division of the Liberation Army".[7]

The evidence found at the Doña Josefa filled three police vans.

U.S. investigators did not find the connection with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to al-Qaeda until several years later.

The 9/11 attacks evolved from the original Bojinka plot

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed decided that explosives were too risky to use in his next plot, and chose instead to use airplanes. The plot was later revised and executed during the September 11 attacks. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in 2003.

Yousef filed a motion for a new trial in 2001. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard the case on May 3, 2002, and announced on April 3, 2003 the decision that Yousef and his partners were to remain incarcerated.

 

Jul 23, 2018

From John's website:

John O. Graybill has been an active aviator for more than fifty years. He holds a commercial pilot certificate (single- and multiengine rating), glider rating, is a certified flight instructor, is an instrument pilot, has been designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as a master pilot, and has flown private airplanes all over the United States, Mexico, and Central America. He holds an MBA with studies in operations research and statistics. Mr. Graybill is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Road to Business Success and Personal Freedom.

John has owned numerous aircraft, both powered and gliders.

John's newest book, Private Airplane Passenger Safety, is now available at Amazon.

Jul 19, 2018

From the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge:

Density Altitude

SDP is a theoretical pressure altitude, but aircraft operate in a nonstandard atmosphere and the term density altitude is used for correlating aerodynamic performance in the nonstandard atmosphere. Density altitude is the vertical distance above sea level in the standard atmosphere at which a given density is to be found. The density of air has significant effects on the aircraft’s performance because as air becomes less dense, it reduces:

  • Power because the engine takes in less air
  • Thrust because a propeller is less efficient in thin air
  • Lift because the thin air exerts less force on the airfoils

Density altitude is pressure altitude corrected for nonstandard temperature. As the density of the air increases (lower density altitude), aircraft performance increases; conversely as air density decreases (higher density altitude), aircraft performance decreases. A decrease in air density means a high density altitude; an increase in air density means a lower density altitude. Density altitude is used in calculating aircraft performance because under standard atmospheric conditions, air at each level in the atmosphere not only has a specific density, its pressure altitude and density altitude identify the same level.

The computation of density altitude involves consideration of pressure (pressure altitude) and temperature. Since aircraft performance data at any level is based upon air density under standard day conditions, such performance data apply to air density levels that may not be identical with altimeter indications. Under conditions higher or lower than standard, these levels cannot be determined directly from the altimeter.

Density altitude is determined by first finding pressure altitude, and then correcting this altitude for nonstandard temperature variations. Since density varies directly with pressure and inversely with temperature, a given pressure altitude may exist for a wide range of temperatures by allowing the density to vary. However, a known density occurs for any one temperature and pressure altitude. The density of the air has a pronounced effect on aircraft and engine performance. Regardless of the actual altitude of the aircraft, it will perform as though it were operating at an altitude equal to the existing density altitude.

Air density is affected by changes in altitude, temperature, and humidity. High density altitude refers to thin air, while low density altitude refers to dense air. The conditions that result in a high density altitude are high elevations, low atmospheric pressures, high temperatures, high humidity, or some combination of these factors. Lower elevations, high atmospheric pressure, low temperatures, and low humidity are more indicative of low density altitude.

Effect of Pressure on Density

Since air is a gas, it can be compressed or expanded. When air is compressed, a greater amount of air can occupy a given volume. Conversely, when pressure on a given volume of air is decreased, the air expands and occupies a greater space. At a lower pressure, the original column of air contains a smaller mass of air. The density is decreased because density is directly proportional to pressure. If the pressure is doubled, the density is doubled; if the pressure is lowered, the density is lowered. This statement is true only at a constant temperature.

Effect of Temperature on Density

Increasing the temperature of a substance decreases its density. Conversely, decreasing the temperature increases the density. Thus, the density of air varies inversely with temperature. This statement is true only at a constant pressure.

In the atmosphere, both temperature and pressure decrease with altitude and have conflicting effects upon density. However, a fairly rapid drop in pressure as altitude increases usually has a dominating effect. Hence, pilots can expect the density to decrease with altitude.

Effect of Humidity (Moisture) on Density

The preceding paragraphs refer to air that is perfectly dry. In reality, it is never completely dry. The small amount of water vapor suspended in the atmosphere may be almost negligible under certain conditions, but in other conditions humidity may become an important factor in the performance of an aircraft. Water vapor is lighter than air; consequently, moist air is lighter than dry air. Therefore, as the water content of the air increases, the air becomes less dense, increasing density altitude and decreasing performance. It is lightest or least dense when, in a given set of conditions, it contains the maximum amount of water vapor.

Humidity, also called relative humidity, refers to the amount of water vapor contained in the atmosphere and is expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold. This amount varies with temperature. Warm air holds more water vapor, while cold air holds less. Perfectly dry air that contains no water vapor has a relative humidity of zero percent, while saturated air, which cannot hold any more water vapor, has a relative humidity of 100 percent. Humidity alone is usually not considered an important factor in calculating density altitude and aircraft performance, but it is a contributing factor.

As temperature increases, the air can hold greater amounts of water vapor. When comparing two separate air masses, the first warm and moist (both qualities tending to lighten the air) and the second cold and dry (both qualities making it heavier), the first must be less dense than the second. Pressure, temperature, and humidity have a great influence on aircraft performance because of their effect upon density. There are no rules of thumb that can be easily applied, but the affect of humidity can be determined using several online formulas. In the first example, the pressure is needed at the altitude for which density altitude is being sought. Using Figure 4-2, select the barometric pressure closest to the associated altitude. As an example, the pressure at 8,000 feet is 22.22 "Hg. Using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website (www.srh.noaa.gov/ epz/?n=wxcalc_densityaltitude) for density altitude, enter the 22.22 for 8,000 feet in the station pressure window. Enter a temperature of 80° and a dew point of 75°. The result is a density altitude of 11,564 feet. With no humidity, the density altitude would be almost 500 feet lower.

 

Jul 16, 2018

Official Air Force Biography:

Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria is the Superintendent, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. He directs a four-year regimen of military training, academics, athletic and character development programs leading to a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant.

Prior to assuming his current position, General Silveria served as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and Deputy Commander, Combined Air Force Air Component, U.S. Central Command, Southwest Asia. As Deputy Commander, he was responsible for the command and control of air operations in a 20-nation area of responsibility covering Central and Southwest Asia, to include operations Resolute Support in Afghanistan, and Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria. He has previously served as Commander, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and Vice Commander, 14th Air Force, Air Forces Strategic at Vandenberg AFB, California, as well as Director, Security Assistance in the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq.

General Silveria grew up in an Air Force family and is a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He completed undergraduate pilot training in 1986. He is a command pilot with more than 3,900 hours in the T-37, T-38, F-15C/E, HH-60 and F-35A aircraft. He has flown combat sorties over the Balkans and Iraq and served as Vice Commander at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Jul 12, 2018

United Airlines Flight 173 was the watershed event that launched the establishment of Crew Resource Management (CRM) throughout the airline industry. That accident occurred thirty years ago. With the widespread acceptance of CRM in airline operations, one would surmise that crew communication issues would be a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it has worked out. We have no way to determine how many times a Captain has disregarded a First Officer’s suggestions or comments and there is no adverse effect, but we do   numerous accidents where this has been a causal factor.

Take, for example, the case of Air Florida Flight 90, three years after Flight 173. During the takeoff roll, the First Officer expressed concern about the airplane’s performance. Three times the former F-15 pilot First Officer expressed concern. “That don't seem right, does it? Ah, that's not right.” The Captain answered, “Yes it is, there's eighty.”. Then, twelve seconds later, the First Officer said “Naw, I don't think that's right. Ah, maybe it is.”. Twelve more seconds and the First Officer said: “I don't know.”.

So was this simply a case of the pre-CRM philosophy that “the Captain is God”, early in the use of CRM? After all, in the old days, the Captain WAS God! Consider Ernest Gann’s book Fate Is The Hunter, in which he recounts his Captain holding lit matches in front of his face as he flew a challenging instrument approach to minimums - with passengers aboard! But that was then, this is now, right?

I wish that were true, but I believe there are still far too many of “Captain-God’s” out there. When I was flying for a major airline in Asia, on  several occasions I made errors (thankfully, all minor) and never heard a word from my First Officers. During our post-flight debriefing, I inquired why they had not advised me of a potential problem, especially since I had specifically briefed them to do so. (“I’d rather be embarrassed in the cockpit than on the evening news”). In EVERY case the response was, roughly, “Captain, I did not want to disagree with you”! I suspect there is a cultural aspect to this, wherein First Officers are used to being disregarded.

In 2007 Garuda Indonesia Airways Flight 200 crashed following an unstable approach in which the First Officer repeatedly advised the Captain that the approach was unstabilized and to go around. The Captain ignored him, attempting to salvage a landing by descending at 4000 feet per minute, and crashed. In 2010 India Air Express Flight 812 also crashed on landing. The Captain was the pilot flying, and the first Officer had said “Go around” three times, the first being on two-mile final. Of the 160 passengers and crew, only 8 passengers survived.

And, it apears to be a problem world-wide. First Air Flight 6560 crashed in 2011 attempting an ILS in Canada. The First Officer specifically advised the Captain that the GPS showed them off course to the right, and that the localizer was showing full-scale deflection. He also said “Go around”. Altogether, the First Offficer expressed clear concern THIRTEEN TIMES. Yet the Captain continued the approach. Everyone onboard died.

Psychologists will tell us there are valid reasons for the pilot flying not wanting to go around when another crew member who has less professional image at stake has no problem abandoning the approach. Let me posit a concept that should appeal to EVERY pilot - money. When you go around, the flight lasts longer, and you get more flight pay! Depending on your operation, you may be required to submit some sort of report. So be it. Here’s a suggestion for First Officers: if you EVER experience a Captain ignoring your suggestion to go around, visit your chief pilot or Professional Standards Committee immediately!

Let’s not lose sight of the requirement that common carriers, such as scheduled airlines, are REQUIRED to exercise the HIGHEST degree of safety in performing their duties. Unless you are operating in an emergency fuel situation, continuing an unstabilized approach does not satisfy that requirement.

Bottom line: it’s not WHO is right, it’s WHAT is right!

Jul 9, 2018

Dr. Davidson grew up in a Navy family in California and Virginia and was commissioned as an Air Force second lieutenant in 1988. She flew combat support, airdrop, and humanitarian air mobility missions in the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East in both the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and the Boeing C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft, and also served as an instructor pilot at the United States Air Force Academy. She was a Distinguished Graduate of Air Force Squadron Officers’ School and was the first woman to fly the Air Force’s tactical C-130. 

Dr.  Davidson became president of Metropolitan State University of Denver on July 24, 2017. Her primary focus is on student retention and graduation – better serving the nearly 20,000 current students that call the University home and preparing them to launch into the workforce. While MSU Denver is a leader in educating Coloradans through programs relevant to the state’s economy, Davidson aims to build the institution’s reputation both nationally and internationally. She served as Under Secretary of the United States Navy from 2016 to 2017. She is the author of Lifting the Fog of Peace: How Americans Learned to Fight Modern War, a study of organizational learning and institutional change within the U.S. military.

Lifting the Fog of Peace: How Americans Learned to Fight Modern War by [Davidson, Janine]

Following the conclusion of her Air Force career in 1998, Davidson pursued doctoral studies in international affairs at the University of South Carolina. From 2006 to 2008, she served as Director of Stability Operations Capabilities within the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict). She was founding director of the Consortium for Complex Operations, later renamed the Center for Complex Operations (CCO), a research center within the National Defense University that studies military and civilian coordination in stability operations.

From 2009 to 2012, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans, where she oversaw the formulation and review of military war plans and global force posture policy. She was recognized with the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Following her service in the Pentagon, Dr. Davidson became an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Public Policy at George Mason University, where she taught courses on national security policy and civil-military relations.

On January 17, 2014, Dr. Davidson accepted the position of Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. During this time, Davidson also served as a presidentially appointed member of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, which recommended changes to service structure and management policies, as well as a member of the Reserve Forces Policy Board.

On September 18, 2015, it was announced that she had been nominated by President Barack Obama to become Under Secretary of the United States Navy.She was confirmed by the United States Congress and assumed her post on March 17, 2016.

On February 14, 2017, Metropolitan State University of Denver announced that Dr. Davidson would become the next president of the university.

 

Jul 6, 2018

From Wikipedia:

The choice of material used to construct the runway depends on the use and the local ground conditions. For a major airport, where the ground conditions permit, the most satisfactory type of pavement for long-term minimum maintenance is concrete. Although certain airports have used reinforcement in concrete pavements, this is generally found to be unnecessary, with the exception of expansion joints across the runway where a dowel assembly, which permits relative movement of the concrete slabs, is placed in the concrete. Where it can be anticipated that major settlements of the runway will occur over the years because of unstable ground conditions, it is preferable to install asphaltic concrete surface, as it is easier to patch on a periodic basis. For fields with very low traffic of light planes, it is possible to use a sod surface. Some runways also make use of salt flat runways.

For pavement designs, borings are taken to determine the subgrade condition, and based on the relative bearing capacity of the subgrade, the specifications are established. For heavy-duty commercial aircraft, the pavement thickness, no matter what the top surface, varies from 10 in (250 mm) to 4 ft (1 m), including subgrade.

Airport pavements have been designed by two methods. The first, Westergaard, is based on the assumption that the pavement is an elastic plate supported on a heavy fluid base with a uniform reaction coefficient known as the K value. Experience has shown that the K values on which the formula was developed are not applicable for newer aircraft with very large footprint pressures.

The second method is called the California bearing ratio and was developed in the late 1940s. It is an extrapolation of the original test results, which are not applicable to modern aircraft pavements or to modern aircraft landing gear. Some designs were made by a mixture of these two design theories. A more recent method is an analytical system based on the introduction of vehicle response as an important design parameter. Essentially it takes into account all factors, including the traffic conditions, service life, materials used in the construction, and, especially important, the dynamic response of the vehicles using the landing area.

Because airport pavement construction is so expensive, manufacturers aim to minimize aircraft stresses on the pavement. Manufacturers of the larger planes design landing gear so that the weight of the plane is supported on larger and more numerous tires. Attention is also paid to the characteristics of the landing gear itself, so that adverse effects on the pavement are minimized. Sometimes it is possible to reinforce a pavement for higher loading by applying an overlay of asphaltic concrete or portland cement concrete that is bonded to the original slab. Post-tensioning concrete has been developed for the runway surface. This permits the use of thinner pavements and should result in longer concrete pavement life. Because of the susceptibility of thinner pavements to frost heave, this process is generally applicable only where there is no appreciable frost action.

Runway descriptions

Macadam is a type of road construction, pioneered by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam around 1820, in which single-sized crushed stone layers of small angular stones are placed in shallow lifts and compacted thoroughly. A binding layer of stone dust (crushed stone from the original material) may form; it may also, after rolling, be covered with a binder to keep dust and stones together. The method simplified what had been considered state of the art at that point. Tarmac is tar on top of macadam, initially called tarmacadam, patented in 1902. Tarmac is now used as a generic term.

Jul 2, 2018

Vincent Aiello (aka "Jell-O") took his first airplane flight when he was 11 years old, and was smitten. He attended UCLA, majoring in Mathematics, and then entered the Navy. He was initially assigned as a life guard while waiting for flight training, then finally started his flying. He flew the T-34, the T-2 and the TA-4 while in training.

After his initial training, he flew the FA-18 at El Toro, then flew at Cecil Field. His first deployment was on the USS George Washington. He later attended TOPGUN and remained on staff as an instructor.

Following 25 years of service, he retired from the Navy and, somewhat reluctantly, became n airline pilot.

Jell-O is the host of the Fighter Pilot Podcast, where he interviews fighter pilots from all branches of the service in captivating episodes.

Jun 29, 2018

From Wikipedia:

The Berlin Blockade (24 June 1948–12 May 1949) was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. During the multinational occupation of post–World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Western control. The Soviets offered to drop the blockade if the Western Allies withdrew the newly introduced Deutsche mark from West Berlin.

The Western Allies organized the Berlin airlift (26 June 1948–30 September 1949) to carry supplies to the people of West Berlin, a difficult feat given the size of the city's population. Aircrews from the United States Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the South African Air Force flew over 200,000 flights in one year, providing to the West Berliners up to 8,893 tons of necessities each day, such as fuel and food. The Soviets did not disrupt the airlift for fear this might lead to open conflict.`

By the spring of 1949, the airlift was clearly succeeding, and by April it was delivering more cargo than had previously been transported into the city by rail. On 12 May 1949, the USSR lifted the blockade of West Berlin. The Berlin Blockade served to highlight the competing ideological and economic visions for postwar Europe.

Jun 25, 2018

Leland Stolberg volunteered for military duty immediately after graduating high school, right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was trained as a Radio Operator, and flew in that position on the C-46 aircraft on missions flying over the "Hump", resupply missions flown from Assam, India to China in support of American and Chinese forces. The mission was extremely hazardous because of enroute weather challenges and poor single-engine performance. Altogether almost 1700 American crewmembers were lost in this operation.

Leland once had a very close call when his plane lost an engine. He went to the cargo area and dropped all of the 55-gallon fuel drums of cargo to lighten the plane enough for it to maintain altitude.

From Wikipedia:

The Hump was the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew military transport aircraft from India to China to resupply the Chinese war effort of Chiang Kai-shek and the units of the United States Army Air Forces (AAF) based in China. Creating an airlift presented the AAF a considerable challenge in 1942: it had no units trained or equipped for moving cargo, and no airfields existed in the China Burma India Theater (CBI) for basing the large number of transports that would be needed. Flying over the Himalayas was extremely dangerous and made more difficult by a lack of reliable charts, an absence of radio navigation aids, and a dearth of information about the weather.

The task was initially given to the AAF's Tenth Air Force, and then to its Air Transport Command(ATC). Because the AAF had no previous airlift experience as a basis for planning, it assigned commanders who had been key figures in founding the ATC in 1941–1942 to build and direct the operation, which included former civilians with extensive executive experience operating civil air carriers.

Originally referred to as the "India–China Ferry", the successive organizations responsible for carrying out the airlift were the Assam–Burma–China Command. (April–July 1942) and the India-China Ferry Command (July–December 1942) of the Tenth Air Force; and the Air Transport Command's India-China Wing (December 1942 – June 1944) and India-China Division (July 1944 – November 1945).

The operation began in April 1942, after the Japanese blocked the Burma Road, and continued daily to August 1945, when the effort began to scale down. It procured most of its officers, men, and equipment from the AAF, augmented by British, British-Indian Army, Commonwealth forces, Burmese labor gangs and an air transport section of the Chinese National Aviation Corporation(CNAC). Final operations were flown in November 1945 to return personnel from China.

The India–China airlift delivered approximately 650,000 tons of materiel to China at great cost in men and aircraft during its 42-month history. For its efforts and sacrifices, the India–China Wing of the ATC was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation on 29 January 1944 at the personal direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first such award made to a non-combat organization.

Jun 23, 2018

From the Washington Post, 20 June 2018:

The FBI in Maryland is warning travelers taking to the skies this summer to be cautious as airlines nationwide have seen a recent spike in the number of sexual assaults reported on commercial flights.

The assaults, which typically occur on long overnight flights, are “increasing every year . . . at an alarming rate,” said David Rodski, an FBI special agent assigned to investigate crimes out of Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport.

“This is statistically still very rare; however, it is very good ­advice for people traveling to have situational awareness,” said Rodski, one of several law enforcement officials who gathered at the airport Wednesday to warn travelers about the disturbing trend.

In 2014, airline passengers ­reported 38 instances of sexual assault on flights, compared with 63 reports in 2017, according to the FBI.

Rodski said the reports are coming from airports across the country and urged passengers to flag assaults immediately so law enforcement officials can effectively investigate and prosecute the cases.

“What we’re finding is a lot of people do not report the act” or report long after the incident occurs, Rodski said. “Hit that call button . . . notify the flight crew immediately.”

Brian Nadeau, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Division, said sexual assault on an airplane falls within the FBI’s jurisdiction and is a federal crime that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Nadeau said assaults range from strangers grazing other passengers to explicit acts. The assaults typically involve alcohol, a passenger who is asleep, or someone who is sitting in a middle or window seat when the cabin lights are darkened. Nadeau warned passengers on red-eye flights to be particularly careful if they’ve taken medication or sleep aids.

“We find offenders will often test their victims, sometimes brushing up against them to see how they will react or if they will wake up,” Nadeau said. “Do not give these offenders the benefit of the doubt.”

Renee Murrell, an FBI victim specialist in Baltimore, said many sexual assaults on airplanes go unreported because victims are ashamed or blame themselves.

“They are very scared and they don’t know what to expect,” Murrell said. In some cases of passengers assaulted while they’re asleep, “you wake up and you really don’t know what happened.”

Paul Hudson, president of the airline consumer organization Flyers Rights, said victims may not be reporting assaults on airplanes because the process can be onerous and flight attendants do not always have clear guidelines for how to handle complaints.

Hudson and others have called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would create standards for enforcement and reporting.

“If you’re a victim of a crime on the ground, what do you do?” said Hudson, who is an attorney and represented rape victims in New York. “You call 911 and report it to a police officer. But if you’re in an airplane, you can’t do that. You have to report through a flight attendant, and they have to report it to the captain, and the captain has to report it to a ground supervisor for the airline. . . . In many cases, too much time has passed.”

The union representing flight attendants recently conducted a survey asking about reports of passenger-on-passenger sexual assaults.

About 20 percent of 2,000 flight attendants who responded said they had received a report of a passenger-on-passenger assault while working, but law enforcement got involved only half the time. They complained that airlines often do not offer written guidance or training on how to handle such reports, the union said, with flight attendants relying on their own “resourcefulness” to intervene.

Jun 18, 2018

Pam Mannon was transfixed by aviation ever since she was a child. When she told her parents she wanted to be a pilot, they were not too happy. In fact, since they were both college professors, they wanted Pam to avail herself of the free tuition at their school rather than attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). Pam created a win-win solution by attending their school until attaining all the credits that could be transferred to ERAU, then completed her education at ERAU. She later earned a dual Master's Degree from ERAU in Aerospace Operations and Human Factors.

Once she graduated with all the ratings, she worked at numerous aviation jobs, from managing an FBO front desk to flying as copilot in various jets. She eventually became a flight Instructor at FlightSafety International, and subsequently became a pilot and instructor for Continental Express.

For the past 15 years Pam has been a pilot for Honeywell Aerospace, and as the Lead Program Pilot she travels internationally to conduct training, and also flies operational missions.

Jun 14, 2018

Dynamic Hydroplaning: Water on the runways reduces the friction between the tires and the ground and can reduce braking effectiveness. The ability to brake can be completely lost when the tires are hydroplaning because a layer of water separates the tires from the runway surface. This is also true of braking effectiveness when runways are covered in ice. When the runway is wet, the pilot may be confronted with dynamic hydroplaning. Dynamic hydroplaning is a condition in which the aircraft tires ride on a thin sheet of water rather than on the runway’s surface. Because hydroplaning wheels are not touching the runway, braking and directional control are almost nil. To help minimize dynamic hydroplaning, some runways are grooved to help drain off water; most runways are not.

Tire pressure is a factor in dynamic hydroplaning. Using the simple formula of 8.6 times the square root of the tire pressure in p.s.i., a pilot can calculate the minimum speed, in knots, at which hydroplaning begins. In plain language, the minimum hydroplaning speed is determined by multiplying the square root of the main gear tire pressure in psi by nine. For example, if the main gear tire pressure is at 36 psi, the aircraft would begin hydroplaning at 54 knots. Landing at higher than recommended touchdown speeds exposes the aircraft to a greater potential for hydroplaning. And once hydroplaning starts, it can continue well below the minimum initial hydroplaning speed. On wet runways, directional control can be maximized by landing into the wind. Abrupt control inputs should be avoided. When the runway is wet, anticipate braking problems well before landing and be prepared for hydroplaning. Opt for a suitable runway most aligned with the wind. Mechanical braking may be ineffective, so aerodynamic braking should be used to its fullest advantage.

Viscous Hydroplaning: Slippery surfaces can cause tires to slip. One of the most common factors is rubber build-up on the runway, generally in the touchdown zone.

From Wikipedia: Viscous aquaplaning is due to the viscous properties of water. A thin film of fluid no more than 0.025 mm in depth is all that is needed. The tire cannot penetrate the fluid and the tire rolls on top of the film. This can occur at a much lower speed than dynamic aquaplane, but requires a smooth or smooth-acting surface such as asphalt or a touchdown area coated with the accumulated rubber of past landings. Such a surface can have the same friction coefficient as wet ice.

From Wikipedia:

Reverted Rubber Hydroplaning:

Reverted rubber (steam) aquaplaning occurs during heavy braking that results in a prolonged locked-wheel skid. Only a thin film of water on the runway is required to facilitate this type of aquaplaning. The tire skidding generates enough heat to change the water film into a cushion of steam which keeps the tire off the runway. A side effect of the heat is it causes the rubber in contact with the runway to revert to its original uncured state. Indications of an aircraft having experienced reverted rubber aquaplaning, are distinctive 'steam-cleaned' marks on the runway surface and a patch of reverted rubber on the tire.

Reverted rubber aquaplaning frequently follows an encounter with dynamic aquaplaning, during which time the pilot may have the brakes locked in an attempt to slow the aircraft. Eventually the aircraft slows enough to where the tires make contact with the runway surface and the aircraft begins to skid. The remedy for this type of aquaplane is for the pilot to release the brakes and allow the wheels to spin up and apply moderate braking. Reverted rubber aquaplaning is insidious in that the pilot may not know when it begins, and it can persist to very slow groundspeeds (20 knots or less).

Jun 11, 2018

Scott Weaver hails from a long line of pilots, starting with his grandfather, Leo Purington, who had a 4-digit pilot certificate number. Scott was immersed in aviation from a young age, but had initially aspired to a career as a professional baseball player.

Finally, the flying bug bit him, and he entered the Air Force and attended Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT). Following UPT, he stayed in Air Training Command as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot (FAIP), instructing student pilots. Then it was time for him to get his fighter assignment, and he selected the F-16. Scott continued to fly the F-16 for the rest of his career, including his time in the DC Air Guard. He retired from the Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel.

After leaving active duty, Scott hired on with a major airline, and currently flies B777's on international routes.

Scott also wrote a book that chronicles the history of Thunderbird Field and his family's role in that history.

As part of his research, he met Jerry Yellin, the pilot who flew the last combat mission of World War II, who trained at Thunderbird Field.

Jun 6, 2018

From Flying Magazine: "In all, an estimated 13,000 Allied aircraft participated in the D-Day operations. It remains the single largest aerial operation in history. As it was an unprecedented action, it was a learning process, and there were fundamental misunderstandings about how aircraft would operate and interact. The operation was so critical and so complex that commanders made clear early on that they were willing to accept great losses in order to establish a beachhead."

From History on the Net: "However, success was not achieved without cost. During June 1944 the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces lost 904 aircraft: 284 in aerial combat, 400 to flak, and 220 operationally. The total included 320 Eighth Air Force B-17s and B-24s plus 44 B-26s and A-20s of the Ninth Air Force. Combined Eighth and Ninth fighter losses amounted to 540 Thunderbolts, Lightnings, and Mustangs."

From Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: "The planners feared friendly fire - anti-aircraft fire from Allied naval vessels and Allied troops - against their own air flotilla, and pilots mistakenly engaging in dogfights against their own comrades in arms. The existing system for identifying friendly aircraft, Identification Friend or Foe, would in all probability be overwhelmed by the sheer number of aircraft over the beaches. To avoid fratricidal incidents, the D-Day planners called for paint and brushes, and ordered that the aircraft of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force and supporting units be painted with alternating black and white stripes on wings and fuselage - 18 inches wide on single-engine aircraft, and 24 inches wide for twin-engined craft. They were called invasion stripes." D-Day stripes article https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/stripes-d-day

From Wikipedia: "CG-4As went into operation in July 1943 during the Allied invasion of Sicily. They were flown 450 miles across the Mediterranean from North Africa for the night-time assaults such as Operation Ladbroke. Inexperience and poor conditions contributed to the heavy losses. They participated in the American airborne landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944, and in other important airborne operations in Europe and in the China Burma India Theater. Although not the intention of the Army Air Forces, gliders were generally considered expendable by high-ranking European theater officers and combat personnel and were abandoned or destroyed after landing. While equipment and methods for extracting flyable gliders were developed and delivered to Europe, half of that equipment was rendered unavailable by certain higher-ranked officers. Despite this lack of support for the recovery system, several gliders were recovered from Normandy and even more from Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands and Wesel, Germany."

Jun 4, 2018

Kathleen (Kay) Hilbrandt started taking flying lessons in 1942, and in 1943 was accepted into the Womens Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) program. She attend Army Air Corps flight training (the same course as male pilots) in 1944, flying PT-17s, BT-13s and AT-6s. Then she served as a safety pilot in Eagle Pass, Texas, for aviation cadets performing instrument flights "under the hood".

After the war, when the WASP was disbanded, she joined the Ninety Nines and returned to New Jersey to work for Bendix Aviation Corporation. Following that, she was a flight instructor, training veterans who were using their GI Bill to obtain flight training.

In 1960 she flew in the All Women Transcontinental Air Race ("Powder Puff Derby") in a Cessna 172.

In 2010 the WASP were awarred the Congressional gold Medal for their service during WWII.

In 2013 Kay received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. She continues to fly for pleasure.

May 31, 2018

As part of ATC modernization (NextGen), the FAA will be shutting down 308 VORs of the roughly 1000 in use right now in the United States. They will continue to operate VORs that provide coverage above 5000 feet over the entire continental United States (CONUS). This will provide Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) continuity. They will also retain VORs that are used with VOR, localizer and ILS approaches, and those in mountainous terrain and those used by the military. This will leave what is called the Minimum Operational Network (MON) for use in the event of GPS interruption.

Phase I: From 2016 to 2020, the FAA will decommission 74 VORs. Phase II: Between 2021 and 2025, the remaining 234 VORs will be decommissioned.

If a VOR is shut down, it SHOULD be shown with a cross-hatch on aeronautical charts.

It will continue to be REALLY IMPORTANT for pilots to always check NOTAMS that pertain to their route of flight!

The FAA plan is shown here.

General Aviation pilots should continue to hone their map-reading skills!

May 28, 2018

George E. Hardy in March 1943, at the age of 17, passed the written and physical examinations for the US Army Aviation Cadet program.  In July 1943 he was called to active duty and sent to Keesler Army Air Field, Biloxi, Mississippi, for basic training.  In September 1943 he was assigned to the 320th College Training Detachment at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.  His group was scheduled to take college-level courses, at Tuskegee Institute, for a period of five months. This training was cut short in the beginning of December, as his group was transferred to Tuskegee Army Air Field (TAAF) for Aviation Cadet training, as part of Class 44-H.  In September 1944 he graduated as a single-engine pilot and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. In November he was transferred to Walterboro AAF in South Carolina for combat flying training in P-47 aircraft.  This combat flying training was completed in early February 1945, and he was shipped overseas to Italy.  In Italy, he was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, where he flew 21 combat missions over Germany in P-51 aircraft.  Those missions were mainly high-altitude escort missions of heavy bombers, but many of the missions also included strafing of ground targets.  He returned from Italy in August 1945 and served at TAAF, until it closed in the summer of 1946.  In July 1946 he was transferred to Lockbourne AAF, Ohio where he was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron, flying P-47 aircraft. He was discharged from active duty in November 1946.

He attended New York University, School of Engineering, in the Bronx, from September 1947 to May 1948. He was recalled to active duty at Lockbourne Air Force Base (LAFB), Ohio, in June 1948.  He was assigned to the 301st Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, flying P-47 aircraft.  In September 1948 he was reassigned as a student in the Airborne Electronics Maintenance Officers Course at Keesler AFB, Mississippi.  The course of study covered radar and long-range navigational equipment on fighter and bomber aircraft.  He graduated in August 1949.  In July 1949 the USAF instituted racial integration and personnel at Lockbourne AFB were reassigned to Air Force bases worldwide.  After graduation in August 1949, he was transferred to the 19th Bomb Group (B-29 Aircraft) on the island of Guam. He was further assigned to the 28th Bomb Squadron as a maintenance officer. His primary job was supervising about 25 airmen in maintenance of electronic equipment on the assigned aircraft.  As a pilot he was also required to fly and was assigned as a copilot on a B-29 aircrew.  The Korean War started 25 June 1950, and the 19th Bomb Group was transferred to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. He flew 45 combat missions over Korea in the B-29 aircraft.

In March 1951 he returned to the states and was assigned to 6th Bomb Wing, at Walker AFB in New Mexico, as a maintenance officer. In June 1951 he was transferred to Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado for seven months training as an Armament Systems maintenance officer, specifically on B-36 aircraft.  The B-36 aircraft was the largest aircraft in the Air Force, capable of intercontinental bombing missions without refueling.  The armament systems field included not only the electronic navigational and bombing systems but also included the retractable gun turrets and maintenance and loading of the bomb bays.  After the training at Lowry he was transferred back to Walker AFB and in December 1952 he was transferred to Carswell AFB, Ft Worth, Texas. He became part of the 42nd Bomb Wing (B-36 aircraft) and in March 1953 the wing was transferred to Limestone AFB, Maine. He served as a maintenance officer in the 42nd Armament and Electronics Maintenance Squadron (AEMS), until August 1955.

In August 1955 he transferred to the United States Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton Ohio.  He entered the undergraduate engineering program and in August 1957, received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering.

In September 1957 he was assigned to the 3rd AEMS, 3rd Bomb Wing (B- 57, Canberra aircraft) at Johnson Air Base, Japan.  He was soon assigned as Maintenance Supervisor, a position he held for almost 3 years. The 3rd Bomb Wing  areas of operations were in Japan, Korea and Okinawa. He became jet-qualified as a pilot and in 1959 he received the aerial rating of Command Pilot. In June 1960 he was promoted to the grade of Major.

In November 1960 he transferred to Plattsburgh AFB, New York.  He was assigned as Squadron Commander of the 4108th AEMS, in the 4108th Air Refueling Wing (KC–97aircraft).  In the second half of 1962 his squadron held the 8th Air Force trophy for best AEMS squadron.  In November 1962 he was notified by the Air Force Institute of Technology of his eligibility to apply for a new graduate level systems engineering course specializing in reliability engineering.  He applied for the course and was reassigned, in January 1963, to the USAF Institute of Technology, at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton Ohio.  In August 1964 he graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Systems Engineering - Reliability.

In September 1964 he was assigned to the Electronic Systems Division of Air Force Systems Command, at  Hanscom  AFB, Massachusetts.  In 1965 he received his promotion to the grade of Lt. Col.  In August 1966 he was assigned as Chief of Engineering and Program Manager, for the Development, Installation and Cutover of the 490L Overseas AUTOVON (AUTOmatic VOice Network) Communications Switches, part of the Department of Defense first worldwide direct dial telephone system.  The AUTOVON services within the continental United States was provided by the various telephone companies.  With completion of the overseas switches, the Department of Defense and other government agencies would have almost worldwide, direct dial telephone access.  The initial sites in Europe, Panama and the Pacific were successfully cut over in 1969.

At the end of 1969 he received notice of a flying assignment in Vietnam and was provided with refresher flight training as an AC-119K Gunship Aircraft Commander. He was assigned to the 18th Special Operations Squadron at Phan Rang Air Base in Vietnam in April 1970.  Although the squadron headquarters was at Phan Rang Air Base, the aircraft were located at two operating locations, one at Udorn Air Base, in Thailand, and the other at DaNang Air Base in Vietnam.  He was assigned as the Operating Location Commander at Udorn Air Base, Thailand through August 1970.  Missions were flown at night over northern Laos searching for truck traffic from North Vietnam.  In September 1970 he was transferred to DaNang Air Base in Vietnam as Operating Location Commander.  Missions were flown at night over central portions of Laos looking for truck traffic from North Vietnam.  He flew 70 combat missions before returning to the states in April 1971.

In May of 1971 he  was assigned to the Inspector General's office at Air Force Systems Command,  Andrews AFB in Maryland.  He served in the IG's office until November 1971 when he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, the Air Medal with eleven (11) Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster.

 

May 24, 2018

This past weekend I attend an outstanding workshop in Los Angles. Forty-eight veterans were selected to participate. The selection process was fairly intense - I had applied last year and was not selected, so I felt very honored to participate. I was there to see if I could develop a theatrical treatment of my Hamfist series.

The workshop was held at the Writers Guild Foundation. The Foundation describes itself as "a non-profit organization that serves as the premier resource for emerging writers and movie and TV lovers in Hollywood. boasting a vast toolbox for writers, the Foundation is unmatched in its mission to promote and preserve the craft, history and voices of screen storytelling through its Library, Archives, Programs and Events".

The Veterans Writing Project receives funding from donors and sponsors, including Final Draft, a software program that each participant received.

Attendees were divided into eight groups of six participants, all veterans. On the first day, in our individualized groups, we worked on Premise/Concept and Story/Structure. On the second day, we worked on Character and Dialog/Scene. We were guided by Mentors, all experienced, working, script-writers, and had an awesome two-hour presentation by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Billy Ray (Hunger Games, Captain Phillips).

I really enjoyed the workshop, and realize I have a lot of work to do to turn my novel series into a movie. Fortunately, the Foundation will be holding our hands for the next year, with monthly workshops in L.A. and video conferencing for those of us who don't live nearby. Altogether, this was a fantastic experience, and I would encourage any veterans who have a story to tell to consider applying. You can get more information on the Project's website.

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