Tuesday

Watch North Korea near July 4th

Watch North Korea on or near the 4th of July- that's when they'll predictably fire their next excuse for an ICBM. I say that not because they pose a current clear and present danger with their rocket launches, but because they're really not good at it.

Frankly, there are high school kids in the Team America Rocketry Challenge who are better at launching rockets than North Korea. You see, these high school kids have to actually achieve results- North Korea has a hard time dealing with a simple bottle rocket. Oh sure, they launched that last one and the second stage failed, and it dropped harmlessly into the ocean- boy there's nothing more intimidating than large chunks of smoldering wreckage splashing into the water. Oh hey... but they learned sooooo much from that flight. Yeah- they learned that if you blow a big white noisemaker some political types may listen- but you have to blow it again every few months. They'd have been better off to contract with Pizza Hut to place their logo up the side of their poor excuse for an ICBM and then gain some cash because the whole world saw the video a zillion times.

Of course Japan is in fear that the North Koreans may fly one over their country. That makes sense! Hell I'd be afraid if North Korea flew a balsawood and paper anything over me. I'd advise the folks in Japan to pass out a bizillion hard hats and little Wile E. Coyote umbrellas to their citizens immediately.

Now "sources say" that the next one may be aimed at Hawaii- President Obama's home state. Gee, that could actually be good- maybe it'll wake him from his Jimmy Carter pacifist stooper and drive home the point that the world could be a dangerous place... that is... prior to the point where the bird breaks up and plops into the ocean.

What would be the best is if the next North Korean rocket goes the wrong way and comes down someplace, any place, in Red China. Wouldn't that be a hoot? Imagine the little North Korean tin horns trying to explain that they meant to point it at Obama... but it just went nuts... like the North Korean leader.

The other close targets that are actually on the US soil are San Fransisco and Alaska. If they're smart the North Koreans will aim for San Fran, home of the beloved Speaker of the House Nancy. She'll immediately move to send a trillion dollars to the North Koreans as reparation for our country getting in the way of their rocket- the obedient House Of Representatives will quickly approve the funds, which we'll have to borrow from China. If they take a shot and hit Alaska, however... big trouble... Alaskans shoot back.

Thursday

Klyde Morris


Wednesday

THERE I WAS: jumpseat weirdness

After going through an aviation career and pretty much done it all from CFI to Airline pilot to Corporate Pilot with a touch of mechanic along the way, I managed to experience a lot of stuff and thus have a ton of "There I Was" stories, just like every other pilot. Having a blog, and never intending to go back into any airline or corporate operation in the future, however, allows me to publish these stories as they happened and not care one bit about who who thinks what about them. So- here is the first of my There I Was tales...

Looking back across my flying career, I believe that one of the tests as to if or not a professional pilot will become a good crewmember is how you handle normal weirdness. This as opposed to general weirdness and deeply weirdness as well as We Are Gonna Die weirdness. Normal weirdness is the stuff that, by my definition, happens with some frequency yet always goes away.

One of the greatest perks, if not the greatest perk that you get as an airline pilot is the jumpseat privilege. This takes place when your company has an agreement with another company to allow pilots to use the normally unused extra seat in the cockpit that is intended for training observation. It is called the "jumpseat" and is the means by which most airline pilots commute to and from work. In fact, much of the time you are not actually in the jumpseat itself, but rather, at the captain's discretion, you are usually told that you can, "just take a seat in the back" and thus you can occupy an unused passenger seat if any are available. Jumpseating is free of cost and allows you to simply go to an airport, find a flight going your direction and, if the jumpseat is available, get on and go. Frankly, it is the only airline thing I've ever missed after getting out of that business.

Getting the jumpseat is a process that depends largely on politeness, respect, pleasantness and following an unwritten series of rules. The old adage of getting more flies with honey is extremely true here. Without revealing any actual procedures here and for security reasons (Yes- there have been fake pilots who tried to jumpseat), I'll cover the basics as I used to do it. I'm sure a lot has changed after 9/11, but back in my day- it went like this... First you have to show ID and get some paperwork. Go to the aircraft door and ask who is the lead flight attendant- respectfully ask that person if you can speak to the captain. Next you have to go to the cockpit and meet the captain. Then you have to very respectfully request his or her permission to occupy the captain's jumpseat- the captain owns the jumpseat. I'd always make a smiling, yet formal statement "Captain, I'd like to request permission to occupy your jumpseat" or if the cockpit appears at first glance to be having a fun trip I'd ask "Request permission to plop my unworthy worthless butt into your jumpseat, Captain." while handing the captain my ID and paperwork. Having a spare set of ALPA wings pinned onto your ID often helps too. If told to "have a seat in the back," you NEVER just go sit down. You're best off to find the lead flight attendant and tell that person that the captain has told you to go sit in the back and then ask "where would you like me in your cabin?" Always keeping in mind you are only a guest... okay... a freeloader, but a polite freeloader at that.

And now the THERE I WAS part...

I'd just finished my first week as a bona fied airline pilot and was about to do my first jumpseat from PBI to BWI and home. I'd been well briefed by some of the other pilots in my company as to how to jumpseat, but I also made sure that everyone along the way knew I was new at it. The captain at first told me to go to the back, but I explained quickly that this was my first jumpseat and he instantly showed me how to deploy the cockpit jumpseat so I could "see the whole show." We blasted out of PBI in the 737 just before dusk and headed up toward BWI on a nearly 3 hour cruise. Before long it was dark and we were humming along at altitude on a smooth ride... a very smooth ride. The FO was doing a word puzzle on his map-board and the old captain was... asleep. I was keeping my mouth shut and my eyes wide open and could care less about the captain's snooze, I was just takin' it all in babe. I'd waited and worked a very long time to get this little free ride- for me it was a victory lap of sorts. Soon, however, the FO put away his word puzzle, turned off his map light and sat there scanning the panel for a while. Bonk... he's asleep too. So there I sit, as rookie as rookie can be, a brand new DHC-7 FO and I'm the only one awake in the nose of this 737...

Oooooookay.... weird.

What do ya' do?

Every cockpit crewmember is taught that everything you say and often every move you make that produces sound will be captured and recorded on the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and you don't want anything goin' in there that you don't want goin' in there. So the CVR is always in the back of your mind- at least it was always in the back of mine. In this case, with that in mind, I pondered what to do and shortly came up with the perfect solution. I took the toe of my shoe and gave the FO's seat a sharp whack down by the base. It was enough to wake him up as he'd only been out for a minute or two. His head popped up straight and he looked at the instruments instinctively, then he turned and looked silently at me. I just raised an eyebrow and shrugged. Then he turned his map light back on and looked over at the captain who could have easily been mistaken for being in a coma. The FO looked back at me with a big open mouth smile and his finger pointing happily at the sleeping captain in a "get a load of this guy" motion. Then he mimed me a "Shush keep quiet" with his finger and lipped "Watch this!" A moment later in a loud voice the FO blurted out "HEY BILL!" The captain snapped back awake. "Didn't you used to have a place down there?" the FO asked in the blind. "Uh, yeah..." the captain responded as if he's been awake the whole time, "right on the water, had a terrific dock." As the captain panned his vision around he saw the two of us silently laughing in tears. We all stayed awake to BWI and I learned a lot about being an airline pilot that evening.

Anyone who tells you readers who are non-airline pilots that events such as this never happen, is feeding you a line of total bullshit. Airline pilots are professional, able, competent, conscientious, and HUMAN. Airline pilots out there who are reading this, you know the way it is- stuff like this does not happen` all the time, and does not happen on a regular basis, but it happens. You all have a bag full of similar stories. It's just one of those normal weirdness events.

Tuesday

The cartoons that got me in the most trouble... so far.

In the fall of 1982, an event took place on the other side of the planet that would result in the greatest amount of ruckus made by the Klyde Morris cartoon. In the Middle East region of the world a group of radical Christians took it upon themselves to slaughter Palestinians in a refugee camp. Later, the AVION editor, a French national by the name of Julian Oleon took it upon himself to write an editorial piece in the student newspaper that was sympathetic to the Christians. I never read the editorial because, like everything that Editor Oleon wrote, it was fairly long-winded and highly boring. The Palestinian students on the Embry-Riddle campus, however, DID read the piece and were sent into a well deserved outrage. Suddenly, Mr. Oleon was receiving death threats and lots of other heat.

Who can blame these foreign students from Palestine, their people have been the targets of such outrages for endless years, and so they were rightfully set off. Where they come from, when someone publishes something that outrages you, the way that they are often dealt with is by of some sort of retaliation. However, the Palistinenan students, in their rightful rage, neglected the fact that they were now residing in the United States where our ways of dealing with such things is a bit different.

Seeing all of this banter, commotion and outright threats was just too much for a good editorial cartoonist to resist. Thus in the October 6th edition of the Avion, I ran two of the three strips showing Oleon being pursued by campus killers because of his editorial. Expectedly, this raised the level of rage. Unexpectedly, it turned almost every Palistinenan student toward me! One advantage that the cartoonist has is that almost no one knows your face, and in classes, the role was always called using my proper first name, “Walter” rather than my preferred middle name “Wes”, and the teachers always murdered the last name so badly that I almost always sat in class in complete anonymity. Thus I was a difficult target to zero in upon. Still, for the days following the strip’s publication, I was under threat. Outraged Palestinian students would storm into the Avion office demanding to speak to that cartoonist guy, and getting the standard line from the staff, “We hardly ever see the guy, he just stops in and drops off the next week’s strip...” Of course I would be sitting right there quietly watching the now really outraged foreign student spit additional venom. They were now not only going to kill Oleon, but were going to find my house and drag me into the street, they were going to catch me on campus and beat me, they were even going to blow up my car!

“He makes us look like terrorists! We are not terrorists! Just wait ‘till he tries to go to his car tonight!” Was the exclaimation of one such outraged Palestinian student.

Bombing my car would have been a neat task, seeing that I did not have a car and actually rode a bicycle to school every day... I suppose that had they known that, they would have bike-bombed me. Under such pressure, I did exactly what I am best known for... I wrote another series of three strips and this time all three were dedicated to making their heads explode.

Taking off on the famed terror group, the P.L.O., I concocted the P.F.L.O. or “Palestinians For Liquidating Oleon”. Then I had them raising money for their holy cause by having a bake sale. That series appeared on October 13th, 1982, and reaction was HIGHLY predictable. This time the group of Palestinian students went to the Student Government Association or “S.G.A”., who held the budget for the newspaper, and demanded that all Avion publication be stopped. Like any organization which has the word “Government” in its title, the S.G.A. was spring-loaded to tread upon the liberty of the masses in answer to the vocalizations of any minority group, and indeed threatened to pull the Avion’s funding unless I was stopped. The Avion staff responded by telling the S.G.A. that we had enough ad revenue to publish without S.G.A. funding and then pointed out that the S.G.A. itself would actually lose revenue without the paper. But, like good politicians, the S.G.A. idiots were not so easily put off and demanded a meeting with the Avion staff to discuss and settle the issue.

Before the meeting took place, I sat down with a fellow Avion staff member by the name of Ali, who is a Palestinian-born New Jersey resident, and asked him about the recent cartoons. He said they were “...funny as hell...” and advised me to “...keep ‘em coming...” Shortly thereafter the meeting of the Avion staff and the S.G.A. as well as a representative of the Palestinian students took place as Ali and I sat quietly and listened. S.G.A. demanded that all Avion material be read and approved by them prior to publication- this went over like the Stalinest demand that it was, with Holly Vath- an Avion staff member and future editor nearly taking to physical violence. Next there was the token black S.G.A. member chosen to stand up and call me a “racist”, which I saw as a form of racism in itself, and lastly the Palestinian representative got to spout of as to how “All” of the Palestinian students on campus [25 in number] were offended by my cartoons. At that point Ali spoke up and the following dialogue took place...

“I’m Palestinian, and I’m not offended at all...”

“You are not Palestinian! Where are you from?”

“I’m from New Jersey, but I was born in Palestine.”

“You are not Palestinian... you do not come to the meetings!”

It was at this point that the cartoonist felt the need to speak and, of course make matters worse...

“Will the real Palestinian please stand up?” I said.

It was much like throwing a bucket of aviation gas into a campfire.

In the week that followed that series of cartoons and that meeting, I had the P.F.L.O. in the library thumbing through “Janes All The World’s Terrorism”, but that one was too much for even Editor Oleon, and he pulled it to show the Palestinians that he would actually edit the outrageous stuff and that is how the system works in this country. The S.G.A. faded away, because they did not have a financial lever to use, and the Palestinian students, with the exception of Ali, never did quite manage to figure out who that cartoonist guy was. To this day, however, I always check my bicycle for bombs.


Oddly, the saga of the cartoons that got me in the most trouble does not end with the editing of that last cartoon back in 1982. Nearly 18 years later, I was visiting my parents in Michigan and my mom was attempting to empty assorted drawers and closets of family memorabilia by pawning it off on each of us kids every time that we visited. She suggested that I should root through her cedar chest and see if there was anything in there that I would like to take home.

In the process of digging for tid-bits from my past I discovered a packet containing some 400 Klyde Morris originals. Among them were 137 strips that I had thought to be totally lost, and among that group was the October 26th, 1982 “P.F.L.O.- Jane’s all the world’s terrorism” cartoon that I had thought was thrown away when it was edited.

In reality, the cartoon was far less inflammatory than those that ran before it, and when read it becomes clear that it was pulled simply to symbolize that the editor had the will to do so.

Thus, thanks to my mom, who never throws ANYTHING away, here is the cartoon that was never run in the Avion, just to make the P.F.L.O. go away...

Most Trouble Part1




Most Trouble Part2



Most Trouble Part3



Most Trouble Part4



Most Trouble Part5



Most Trouble Part6



Monday

Taggies of TERROR!

Among the TSA's "secret" list of threats, apparently lurks the horror of a two-year-old kid with a "taggie" blanket. I'm sure of this now following my latest trip with the family to Florida. My little two-year-old daughter, who freaks at the sound of thunder, jets, lawn mowers, moronic adults driving cars with loud mufflers and is generally highly apprehensive at the airport, was clinging to "daddy" gnawing at high frequency on her "passy" and gripping her trusty taggie as we approached the security check points at the airport. Although she's flown a lot- and even has her own SWA Rapid Rewards card, the check points still spook her. Still, she told daddy "shoes off" and pointed toward her little feet, wanting to comply with one of TSA's most pointless exercises just like the rest of us. Yet what came next was even more pointless as the TSA person pointed to her taggie and said

"That's gotta go through the X-Ray too."

"NO!" said the little one with a growl and a frown that could actually be considered a weapon.

"It has to go through too" the TSA officer repeated- this time addressing me and not my kid.

Of course not wanting to be charged with one of those TSA "Disorderly Conduct" crimes, I obediently took hold of the well-worn one foot square piece of felt and ripped it from the death-grip that my little girl had upon it and tossed it into the bin on the belt.

"NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOO!" my little girl cried as the big machine seemed to eat her little one foot square of felt security. Apparently she wasn't thinking of the disorderly conduct charges or the tiny orange jumpsuit they'd likely put her in as they ship her off to one of the now empty cells at Gitmo. Screaming and clawing she melted down as her taggie was "screened" and I noticed that the TSA officer seemed to get some sort of a sadistic glee from the process. Of course taggie came through and her favorite blue silk tag, the one she titoes her nose with when she wants to go to sleep, was still attached.

Whew- I feel a lot safer knowing that TSA was watching out for toddlers with taggies. I mean, what is the point here, other than terrorizing a little kid by a demonstration of TSA's ultimate power at the airport? Did TSA get some sort of alert that Al-Qaeda is recruiting midgets to make a coordinated attack on an airliner headed for Disney World and they would use little felt taggie blankets as their primary weapon?

When TSA was formed a lot of people thought that the days of morons screening people at the airport would be gone because the rent-a-screener contract security was gone. Yep- the Federal Government can do it better and smarter... right? Well things did get better, but the TSA has squeezed out one of the most important ingredients on good working security- the ability of the screener to use common sense. Like the common sense that says a one foot square kids taggie blanke held by a child isn't a weapon! It cannot be formed into a weapon, it cannot conceal a weapon- at least not one that will make it through the arch.

I personally think that TSA is "profiling" taggie carriers. The kid's rapid sucking on that passie shows nervousness. Those rapidly darting eyes are suspicious too and what about those diapers... what is really in there? Is it really pee pee? or is it some liquid chemical that the kid will take into the aircraft's LAV, squeeze from the diaper and mix with the chemical smuggled aboard by a baby accomplice and then formed into a mixture that they will then use to... well... smear all over the walls. Gad Zooks! what a threat!! Yep- you gotta profile those kids... you never know.

Now you may think that this is an isolated and recent incident. The fact is I went through the same nonsense with our first child and her taggie three years ago. Now, three years later we go through the same thing every time we fly with the younger one. For a while I pondered if it may not be easier to sneak the taggie away from her and just put it into my checked bag. Then the image flashed into my brain of the TSA officer who rummages through your checked luggage suddenly being confronted with A TAGGIE! AKKK! Next thing ya' know one of my bags is being trucked to an isolated part of the airport by a SWAT team and blown up... just to be safe.

Sunday

klyde morris


Thursday

klyde morris


CAL Captain Dies in flight- news media goes nuts

Aviation made the major news outlets today with a sad event in flight. On board a trans-Atlantic CAL 777 the captain passed away in flight. This sorrow full event, of course, ignited the swamp gas in the 24 hour news networks and let slip the leashes of their on-call "aviation experts." I, however, now had to watch the coverage in order to attempt to get a few insane tid-bits that may be used in a future cartoon.

Along the twisted path of the news coverage of this event, where the newscasters try to cover in detail things to which they have no access to ANY details, my TV's "Dumb" meter tends to peg. Although FOX News managed to get a real airline pilot on the phone, they get credit for the least dumb, yet dumb anyway, question:

"Do you think they informed the people in the back (passengers) that the captain had died?"

As a former airline captain myself, as well as a long-time FO (First Officer), I could not help but answer that one aloud to my TV...

"Are you f#%kin' nuts?!"

Although I cannot speak for other airline pilots, in a situation like that I personally would turn into Captain Over from the movie "Airplane" calmly pointing out sights of interest out the passenger's windows as other crew members drop like flies. What did the reporter want to hear anyhow? "Oh sure I'd tell the PAX, after all, you can never have enough panic on board." Although there are times when you want to keep your passengers fully informed, when the pilot sitting next to you drops dead probably isn't one of them.

Then there was the CNN reporter who babbled in front of a screen showing Newark and drooled out some nonsense about how the aircraft may have been diverted if there had been a crosswind of over 30 knots because the FO may not have been able to land in any sort of crosswind. He then went on to say that the 777 got to the airport and found "... just 3 miles of visibility." Wooooo... 3 miles viz in a 777... wooooo scary.... much drama.... Shoot, I can recall days when I looked at the destination weather and said "500 and a mile? COOL! It's about time we caught a break." The fact is, for those non-career pilots reading this, that to a professional airline pilot all of those numbers describing ceiling and visibility and winds are simply a part of your day's work. The weather is what it is when you get there and the odds are that if it's good enough to start the approach that's all that really matters. We do not sit in the cockpit and fret about it- we just go in and do our job. The weather reports just give you a heads up before you get there and the odds are that no matter how bad it is, you've probably made approaches in a lot worse. That reporter's never been in a professional pilot's seat, otherwise he'd have known that "3 miles of visibility" is duck soup. Of course he's also probably sweating it out in the hope that he doesn't sound too technical or correct, otherwise CNN management may can him for actually knowing what he's talking about... like they did Miles O'Brien.

Dumbest of the questions came from one of the networks whose acronym name starts with a "C" when the meat puppet looking into the camera asked their expert on-call if he'd ever had a captain die on him. Of course the poor slob on the other end of the phone answered "no" but I wished that question had been asked of me- because I would have gone a bit farther.

Q: "Have you ever had a captain die on you?"

My A: "No, but I've flown with a few that I wished would die sitting next to me."

Then I'd proceed to elaborate until they took me off the air.

You would be amazed at how many people out there actually think that airline FOs (or as it was put over and over again in news reports "co-pilots") cannot fly the freaking airplane. I've had neighbors come up and ask me "How on earth did the "co-pilot" land that thing?" From watching the news networks, it is easy to see why regular people are so ill-informed... okay... stupid. It's because their only source of information is the stupid news media. Thank goodness my neighbors have me to turn to. I simply tell them that the blow-up autopilot in the movie "Airplane" really exists. In fact, it is FAA certified and every 90 days a mechanic has to inflate it and check for leaks. In case of a water landing it can even be used as a flotation device for the captain... just ask Sully.

The bottom line is that the surviving crew of CAL Flight 61 did exactly what they've been trained to do. In every training cycle you fly the sim dozens of times and almost never do an uneventful flight. You are always dealing with multiple and often odd-ball failures- including the death of the other pilot. Sure, the crew did a great job, but professional aviation demands that you do a great job every time you do your job. I was once told that it is the only job in the world where you are expected to do it perfectly every single time, and no one notices- from my experience, that is true.

Tuesday

Babbitt's "Call to a Sound Bite"

Recently the FAA and some of the "Major" airlines (in quotes because many of the majors are hardly major anymore) decided, in the wake of last winter's ConEx crash outside of Buffalo, they were going to take steps to improve "safety." On the cutting edge of this contrail to nowhere is the new FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.



The administrator and the Sec. of Transportation held a "Call to Action" which would be more properly titled a "Call to a cheap news sound-bite" because in the long run that is all it will end up being. Of course the prime whipping boy for these federal blow-hards and their boot-licking ineffectual suck-ups is going to be those dangerous, under trained and inexperienced Regional Airline Pilots. You know, the same Regional Airline Pilots who do more takeoffs and landings in a week than their "senior pilot" counter-parts at the major airlines do in a month.



I have nothing personal against Administrator Babbitt, but since part of his "Call to Action" involves records- let us look at part of his for a moment. Keep in mind here that we're talking about the same Randy Babbitt who, when he headed the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), stood firmly at the controls as ALPA treated the Regional Pilots like bastard step children. I know, I there working for a regional airline at the time, wearing gold double ALPA wings on my uniform tie as ALPA National allowed our MEC to sell us out and we lost all 16 strike issues with the stroke of a pen. You see, at the time ALPA was far too busy organizing FedEx pilots to pay much attention to our little pilot group. So, of course, now he's well qualified to look into regional pilots and their work environment- isn't he?



As for the FAA itself, well they are mostly a good group of hard working honest individuals, however they, like any other big organization, have their share of clinkers- who sometimes get assigned authority beyond the power of the mush between their ears. For example, at my last regional airline our FAA POI (Primary Operations Inspector) was such a dolt that he could not even pass a type ride for the primary aircraft that we flew! That's right folks, he was watching over our entire operation, but could not pass the FAA's own flight check on the aircraft that we flew. Now- some of you may want to quip "...well there's really no reason for any POI to typed in the aircraft he oversees- there are so many other operational aspects he needs to be proficient in..." This idiot's lack of understanding of our aircraft was highlighted the day that he passed down a "revised" checklist to be effective immediately. The entire checklist was ass backward, the flows were broken and random and in one case, during the pre-start, you had to activate systems, then shut them down, then start and re-activate the same system. The best part was that the clown issued the change on a Friday morning and the left his office for the weekend! This nightmare would have continued if not for the happenstance of his boss asking for the jump seat on my flight in order to get to Oshkosh. Of course no sooner did he stick his head through the door than the captain and I showed him his employee's new handy work. He was cool and asked us to demonstrate the flows. We ran through that single flow and he'd seen enough. "Okay you guys, get out your old checklists and I'll take care of this" he said. He told us that on his authority we were to immediately abandon the new checklist and go back to our old one.When we got to Appleton he went inside, called our operations and universally negated the recent amendment to our checklists. That folks is the same FAA that Administrator Babbitt "called to action" in targeting regional airlines



Yet let us go farther in our examination of this new "call to action" mentality. One of the things it will focus on will be "Testing." Oh boy- there's an FAA snakepit for the administrator to leap in to. I'd like to see him start with the very foundation of FAA testing, the FAA writtens. You know those nice little tests where the only thing really sampled is one's ability to memorize and then select an answer from the four choices offered. Multiple choice testing- in educational science it is considered one of the worst forms that can be used to sample actual learning. Yet is one of the easiest and least time consuming to score and grade and aviation is addicted to it. If you want to see a normally cool and calm professional pilot go into a panic attack- tell 'em that tomorrow they're going to have a written test on procedures, systems and aerodynamic fundamentals- and the answers must be in essay form!



Now, what about the material in those multiple guess tests- does it largely reflect actual science and the latest in aeronautical knowledge? No- in fact often the content dates back to methods and commonly held myths that date back to World War II. The best example being- "lift." Wanna learn a few dozen myths about lift and how it is produced? Simple- study for any FAA written test. Hell, I was an airline captain with a BS Degree in Aeronautical Science when I strayed into a NASA Glenn web site on Flat Plate lift and discovered, to my personal shock, that almost everything I had learned about liftand how it is generated , and I personally had taught people when I was a CFI, was a myth! Yet, if you go into an FAA written test and provide the answers that current NASA science shows to be correct, you will FAIL in the area of aerodynamics. Administrator Babbitt would do well to take a hard look at the foundation of his own glass house before calling folks to action. The FAA is largely populated by people doing their very best yet often chained to some who are not. Likewise, some of its tools are very rusty.



There are areas where regional airlines can be improved. In the area of pilot ground training for example, there are deficiencies, yet since the FAA does not conduct that training and it is left to the airlines or their training contractors the stupidity is normally kept to a minimum. Still there are issues and to help illustrate I'll give one big example that involves the greatest myth in weather flying and my pet peeve- "Ice Bridging." In every single aeronautics ground school that I have taken, where the subject of airframe icing was come up, the huge and potentially deadly hazard of Ice Bridging, where the ice is said to be forming so quickly that when the deicing boots inflate, the ice forms over the inflated boot and thus can no longer be shed, was stressed. There's just one problem... Ice Bridging DOESN'T EXIST! The subject came to a head in the mid 1990s when an ATR-42 iced up and made a crater in a bean field taking everyone aboard with it. Not that "bridging" was a root cause- more that the subject just got more focus due to that accident. Thus, the FAA, NTSB and NASA as well as aircraft manufacturers started looking into it and applying actual scientific test flying. And guess what... no matter how hard they tried to make the dreaded Ice Bridging happen, they could not produce it. Then it was detective time and the folks who actually know how to dig into a subject went looking for the truth. Oddly, there were no accident or incident reports where ice bridging took place, and so they dug farther. That was when they found that the first mention of Ice Bridging was in novelist Ernest K. Gann's fictional aviation book "The High and The Mighty." Gann was still alive and well and when he was asked by the researchers where "Ice Bridging" came from and his answer was very simple- he made it up. You see, that's what you can do in a novel, it's perfectly fine. Of course when that fiction finds its way into aeronautical science, those who placed it there are to blame and those who keep it there as if it were fact are even more to blame. When I first learned of this myth in 1996, it appeared as a story in a very trusted aviation publication. I took the piece, cut it out and tacked it to the board in my airline's operations room. The next day it was gone. One of the other pilots told me that one of the "old heads" in the pilot group read it, called it bullshit, tore it down, crumpled it up and stuck in his flightbag so no one else would read it. Wanna address safety Administrator Babbitt? You could start right there. I'll bet that at this moment, in a ground school or airline training course somewhere, an instructor is persuasively teaching the fiction made up by Ernest Gann right after World War II... Ice Bridging. It is that culture of "it's always been that way and so it must be right" that needs to be broken.



Likewise, the culture of "I went through it so you gotta go through it too" is one that needs to be broken and banished from the regional airlines. It is one of the areas where the regional airlines hold the greatest degree of guilt because they are the places where most new airline pilots break into the profession. A few captains seem to still believe that a near hazing is required for a new hire to become a "real" part of the pilot group- because that is what they, themselves went through. The fact that contradicts the lunacy, which sometimes approaches being sadistic, is that the aircraft these people are flying are certified for two pilots operating as required crew members, not one upper classmen preforming a hazing on some plebe. Now some captains may say, the new hire is supposed to "come out of training fully able to act in the total capacity as a first officer" and if the person cannot do that in full then the company isn't training them properly- but from a simple human factor's perspective, that is total bullshit. No new hire FO who came from flight instructing or single pilot cargo hauling can fully develop the aeronautical decision making (ADM) instincts required to operate in a crew environment, in the time allotted in any airline new hire training. It just cannot be done. The fact is that when you first come to a regional airline it's like drinking from a firehose for a few months... yes... months. Admitting that dirty little human factor would go a long way toward aiding in the development of advanced ADM skills in new hires. I'm not saying that captains need to nurse-maid new hire FOs, but they must consider new-hire matriculation into the ways of the operation to be a part of their duties and teaching regional captains that consideration should be a part of captain's up-grade training.



In short, the real issues that need to be addressed in training will likely never be fully weeded out. The problems in training have about the same linage as the banjo kid is "Deliverance" and the question is largely one of in-breeding. Each new director of training adding stuff in based on his or her own personal background while rarely taking anything out. Training is sometimes focused on memorizing numbers that you cannot read anywhere, nor have any control over, yet someone decided you have to know that usless piece of information. I was once in a class being bombarded with temperatures of air in assorted areas of an A/C plenum when I asked "Where can I read that number in the cockpit?" Answer- No place. "Well, can I control it anywhere?" Answer- No. "What about all of these others?" Answer- Same thing... "Then why do I have to know them?" Answer... because they're on the test. "Why are they on the test?" Answer-Because they've always been on the test. So it goes in many training departments. Such nonsense becomes critical while tasks that could be used to develop better skills in aeronautical decision making are left out of the program.



If Administrator Babbitt really wanted to do more than release a sound bite he would take immediate steps to see to it that the myths and nonsense are weeded out of training and testing and that focus is directed far more toward ADM skill development at all levels of flight training and, perhaps most importantly, an emphasis on CRM (Crew Resource Management) at all levels. And just to add some shock value on my part, in my opinion, the FAA written tests serve little or no value when the Glime books can easily be obtained, or a one-day computer cram can be bought, the correct answers to the test can be memorized, applied to the test and forgotten shortly there after. A number of years ago I, personally, took a one day cram for the 727FE Written during a two day lay-over at DFW. I went back the next morning and took the FEW, scored a 98% and on the third day I was in the Falcon 10 on the next leg of my trip and could not remember a dammed thing about that test. The captain I was flying with did the same thing the next week, scored a 99% and on the trip back told me he couldn't remember a damned thing about the test either. That is what those tests are worth. Why not save the work and tax payer dollars?



Of course another "focus" in this Babbitt Call to Action is on- you guessed it "Records." Yes Randy wants to "...make sure we're not just checking boxes." Give me a frigging break... in a time when every pilot's entire life is under a microscope the likes of which no political appointee could likely survive, these "Call to action'eers" are looking to add another convex lens! Sure let's generate more paperwork where it isn't actually needed. Le'me ask this, were any of the last few accidents caused by falsified or missing records? Is there a pandemic of falsified or missing records in United States aviation? No... then why are we looking there?! Perhaps this is a good jobs program for FAA bureaucrats- more pointless papers to shuffle = job security. This "records" strawman is a perfect non-problem that will enable the new FAA Administrator to create another sound bite saying he is taking steps to solve it.



Still, what will come of this "Call to action" is exactly what we've come to expect from these sorts of sound bites. Some directives will be directed, and then turn into memos and then fizzle into nothing at all but a few minor hassles for some poor slobs trying to get a start with their first airline.
Bottom line is this Call To Action is nothing more than fluff. I'll be holding my breath waiting for results... here I go... huuumpppp.......

Monday

klyde morris


To Blog or not to Blog?

Okay, so... this may be the Klyde Morris Project, but the rants read here will be written by me... Wes... Klyde's creator. Of course, handing someone like me a blog of my very own is much like handing a fully loaded AK-47 to some guy who stands on a corner and screams at traffic. You simply have to hope that you can get out of range before he figures out how to turn off the safety. And my reaction is much the same- first I look at it with a confused wonder while handling it adoringly... then begin firing with glee at any target that suits my eye and laughing maniacally at the results.

To blog or not to blog... is that even a question these days? When we have news networks so wrapped up in fluff that they tend to put some half witt Hollyweird celeb coming out of rehab ahead of a Space Shuttle landing in their news priorities simply due to the fact that their ratings surveys show better numbers- it's time for the people living outside of the pop-culture box to take over. The Blog is the best tool for that- it is the proverbial cyber suppository that needs to be shoved up rectal passage of those addicted to pop culture.

Of course after reading this, my first blog posting, you'll likely scroll back in time to read more stuff ripped from my web site and used to fatten the blog. Hey, you gotta have content... besides... I get paid by the page-view.

Sunday

Klyde saga Part 5

The Klyde Saga continues...Part 5

Still, Wes never strayed far from topical events that would shake up the powers that be. Although he was “edited” on three occasions, Wes never had to print a single retraction for any of his cartoons. It was said that as an administrator, “...You haven’t made it ‘till you’ve been in Klyde Morris” and there were actual cases of several employees being fired due to the cartoon strip. One source even says that the reason for the university changing food service contractors was due to Klyde Morris alone. As a student, Wes was asked to pledge every fraternity on campus- some more than once. He declined, reasoning that he may one day have to turn his strip against such an organization, and he did not wish to have the conflict of interest. It got to the point where the cartoonist could not go into the administration building and sign up to receive an un-official transcript without drawing three administrators to the scene in a defensive posture in fear that they were being set up to be the next to appear on the editorial page.

The oddest, yet somehow the most flattering occurrence was the day that one of Wes’ friends, Russ Severino, came up to the Avion office and informed the cartoonist that some freshman kid was down in the University Center dining room telling everyone the he was Wes Oleszewski the cartoonist! Of course Wes went down and casually sat at the table where the boasting kid had drawn a fair crowd- most of whom were Wes’ friends and who were listening intently to the kid’s line of crap.

“Wow,’ Wes said, “that’s so cool, can ya’ draw one for us?”

“No,” the impostor scoffed, “I only draw when I’m gonna’ put them in the paper.”

The impostor was not going to get off so easily as Wes’ buddies got hip to the challenge and began to chide the kid into a drawing.

“Go ahead,” Wes urged sliding a pen and paper toward the kid, “do one for us right here.”

“Well okay,” the kid surrendered as he began to draw a very bad image of the ant, “but this usually takes hours.”

When finished, the drawing looked nothing like Wes’ work, but the crowd faked approval.

“Can ya sign it for me?” Wes baited.

“Sure.” The kid scribbled a signature that was no where near that of the real author.

“Gee,” Wes went on, “I think it goes more like this...” With that he quickly drew the ant that he had been doing for so many years, and attached his signature. Passing it to the kid he told him, “Keep that one to remind you not to go around telling all of my friends that you are me.”

In August of 1987, just a few days short of exactly a full decade from the time he had first stepped onto the Embry-Riddle campus, Wes walked across the stage in the graduation ceremony, and the following May he finished his last flight course thus earning a Bachelors degree in Aeronautical Science. With that, Klyde Morris was officially retired after the publication of more than 1,200 strips. Just prior to graduation, Wes was awarded special recognition for 10 years of outstanding service to the university through Klyde Morris.

Demand was heavy to have the strip continue and Wes was talked into running it in the alumni newsletter, “The Update”. Unfortunately, this publication lived up to its nick-name, “The Out-date” by hitting the public several months after it had been written. As a result, the timely nature of the strip was greatly reduced. Additionally, the publication had to clear several layers of administrators, most of whom were already nervous about Klyde Morris anyhow. Wes felt his work was heavily watered down, and no longer timely, and after just a few “Outdates” he stopped submitting the cartoon.
Later, the idea was put forward to run Klyde on the university web site on the alumni page. This required Wes to draw the strip and sent it by mail to Jim Cieplak, a highly over-worked alumnus who then would clean the piece for computer transmission and post it on the web site. Again, the delay was often several weeks, and the timely nature of the cartoon was lost, so the strip was discontinued. Finally, in the summer of 1998, Wes’ sixth book, which was on Great Lakes lighthouses, hit the market and turned a terrific profit. With that he went out and purchased the state-of-the-art computer hardware which allowed him to scan and clean the cartoons himself thus paving the way for posting the strip in a timely manner. With the idea of returning the cartoon to the web site, Wes approached the alumni relations webmaster. Several weeks later Wes was informed that the alumni “council”, a university selected puppet group, had decided that Klyde Morris was too, “...negative... and did not represent the alumni as a whole...” and thus they had decided that it would not be allowed to appear on the university web site.

Like all self-important blow-hards who have tried to smite the little ant, these idiots drew exactly the opposite reaction from that which they had intended. You see, Wes had only been “partially motivated” to re-start the strip prior to the “council” decision. Now they had gone and pissed him off- so he elected to return Klyde Morris at full strength in a forum that such self-important blow-hards could neither control nor stop- and he assured his readers that all of the blow-hards are not going to like it, they are not going to like it A LOT! Thus, on the fifteenth day of March, 1999, Klyde Morris came to the Internet at www.klydemorris.com with no editors, no administrators, no strings and only Wes in control.

Today more than 9 million readers world wide read Klyde Morris on the internet... if only Wes could get each one to send a dollar to his PayPal account...

Friday

Klyde Saga part 4


Now all he needed to do was sneak the strip past Ray Katz and his cartoons would be read... this time by the entire university. As planned the strip was delivered to the Avion staff, and as promised, they sneaked it into the newspaper without Katz’s knowing. On February 15th, the first Klyde Morris appeared on the bottom left corner of the editorial page, a spot that the strip would occupy for the more than a decade.

Wes's personal note: The day that the first cartoon appeared, in fact the hour that the newspapers went out, I went into my first class of the day- and everyone had a paper and had it open reading... I watched the guy in the row in front of me as he read the front page, then turn to my page... and he read right past my cartoon with zero reaction and went on to the frat. page! So I looked at the guy down the row from me... same thing... read right past my cartoon. In fact it was like everyone did not even notice the cartoon at all! After class I returned to my room and proceeded to get dejected. That evening I got on the bus and headed to campus for dinner... it was raining and gloomy. As I stepped off the bus, there in the wet gutter was a soaked Avion open to my cartoon. It was not a happy evening- as I mistakenly thought that no one liked my work. I was more than a little surprised that the Avion asked for more cartoons, and oddly, never really thought of the cartoon strip as something that a lot of people liked.

The strip was an instant hit. The university’s students, administrators, employees and most importantly, President Hunt all loved it and Ray Katz could never again entertain a thought of touching Wes’ work.

Over the next few years, Wes began to hit a remarkable series of editorial home runs with Klyde Morris. Targets were hit in their most sensitive locations and Wes’ sharp wit caused a great deal of deflation among the self-important blow-hards. Student gripes were worked into the strips, administrative misconduct was placed in the spotlight and just good old fun was made of the entire university system. Additionally, Wes found the discipline in grammar and spelling that he had never had impressed upon him in public school, and his English dysfunction was repaired through Klyde Morris. In fact, looking at his transcript will show nearly straight “A”s his English courses... he only wishes he could have done that well in all of the other classes. In the fall of 1979, unfortunately, Wes ran short of money and was forced for the first of many times to forgo his return to campus in order to remain home and work to earn enough money to return to school. This was the beginning of a pattern that would see the cartoonist in and out of school for the next nine years as he worked his way toward a degree. In that autumn of ‘79’ hiatus, an odd thing happened with the Klyde Morris cartoon- the Avion editors did not want the strip to be absent from the paper even though the author was not on campus, so they demanded that Wes write and send in his cartoons while he was not in school. For that reason, although Wes was sometimes out of school for as long as two years at a stretch, Klyde Morris continued to appear in the Avion. Through the years, the character matured and evolved. Features such as the “late night, part-time switchboard operator”, Klyde Morris’ own disc-jockey like alter-ego, became a recurring standard in the strip.

Monday

klyde morris


Friday

Klyde Saga part 3


Meanwhile, Dan “the man”, who was working part-time on the university’s student newspaper, “The Avion”, had approached the newspaper’s staff with the idea of their taking a look at Wes’ work. A meeting was set up and the cartoonist, scrapbook under arm, was reluctantly dragged into the newspaper office. As the book was passed around among the staff their reaction was pure delight and loud laughter, with the exception of one single individual- Ray Katz, the Avion editor. Katz, read the entire scrapbook and never cracked a smile, then stroked his beard pensively and said to Wes, “Here’s what “we’ll” do... you draw your ant life size, and “we’ll” call it the adventures of Empty Ripple...”

Wes had always thought that the frames of a cartoonist belonged to the artist alone, and that person would rise or fall based on their work alone. Having some slob telling him how the cartoon would be written, what it would be called plus having the idea be a work of pure crap was more than Wes wanted to deal with. Closing his scrapbook, Wes began polite, but a swift departure from the Avion office. Fortunately, the other members of the staff realized what a boner Katz had just pulled, and as Wes was passing through the door, Jean Snyder, the Avion secretary, and Keith Kollarik, who would later succeed Katz as editor, grabbed him by the arm.

“You just do it any way you want sweety,” Jean whispered while giving a glance toward Katz, “and I’ll see to it that it goes in.”

“Right,” Keith added, “draw it your way, and bring it up here Monday afternoon, I’ll hold a spot for it and slip it in when the paper goes out. Katz will never know it’s in until it’s too late.”

That kind of scheming and scamming staff were exactly the kind of people that Wes wanted to be associated with, so he went back to his room and over the next weekend drew the first cartoon. In the three strips, Wes went directly for the throat introducing his ant as a real ant that had been accepted into the university by mistake after filling out the application form using metric figures for height and weight which the admission people had mis-read. In 1977, when new students were approved for admission to the university they were sent a free T-shirt, and the ant had gotten one that was actually his correct size. Wes lampooned and named both the director of admissions and the university president in that first strip- quite a risk for second semester freshman! In those days, Jack Hunt, the long-time university president ruled the world of Embry-Riddle and could have swept Wes away with less than a wish. Additionally, Wes found that he could use a smattering of “adult language” in the student newspaper, which he knew would add a note of additional controversy and draw needed attention to the new strip. On Monday afternoon, February 13th, 1978, Wes boarded the bus for campus with his first cartoon, which was not yet finished. He had the ant character, the setting, the jokes and even had his roommate Jeff Barrow proof read the strip to correct Wes’ spelling errors, but he had not yet thought up a name for the ant! For the entire weekend he had been working on names, but none of them worked and Wes was certainly not about to use “Empty Ripple”. As the bus made the turn onto Clyde Morris Bvd, where the university is located, Wes saw the street sign, and that name “clicked”. Changing the “C” to a “K” Wes penned the name “Klyde Morris” into the blank space that had been left in the sixth frame where the name needed to go.

Thursday

Monday