Crotch Bomber

So, yer' on a one-way ticket, paid in cash, no bags, coming out of Yemen bound for Detroit... and no one's suspicious?

Of course the politically correct security unicks in Amsterdam would never suspect such a person- especially when that passenger is headed for Detroit where most Euro. persons figure little civilization still exists anyhow (They're obviously mistaking Detroit for my native town of Saginaw in such cases). So they simply look the other way and let the one-way, no bags, paid with cash walking pile of excrement board the aircraft.


Here's my low down on the whole thing. ANYONE coming out of Yemen should be equipped with a bomb-sniffing dog's nose inserted up their butt in order to board a United States bound Aircraft... period.




I'm happy to recall that, when I was a kid, Christmas around the Oleszewski household were terrific. The photo here shows Christmas morning 1969 and it was great. Now, I know that some folks out there had unhappy childhoods and really sad Christmas memories- my dad was one such person. When he was a kid, all of his family were heavy boozers and they all went out on Christmas eve and drank themselves into a stooper while he was left home alone with a single toy that he had been allowed to open in order to keep him entertained. On Christmas morning, all of his family were too hung-over to be at all festive, or for that matter- to cook breakfast. When dad had his own family, he made sure that such a Christmas would never be a part of it.

On Christmas eve, normally, everything happened at our house and dad spent ever dime he had and some that he did not have making sure that fun was had. Since we lived in mid-Michigan, we normally had a white Christmas. My memory is of friends and family blowing in through the front door at or Lexington Street house followed by bursts of snow. Normally, my maternal Grandma stayed over at our house so she could be there for Christmas morning- this was because out of her 8 kids, only my mom was willing to host her for Christmas, that act would pay off later for my mom.

Christmas morning was a real hoot. We three kids would be up before dawn, not knowing that Santa had just completed work an hour or so earlier. The first glance at the tree revealed what still seems like a mountain of gifts. In fact, most of the boxes contained stuff in the 49 cent range with only a couple of higher priced (in the $10 range) items. It did not matter at all, as it all made up a huge pile which is likely not much more than a huge memory. My best gifts were space models- anything rocket or Apollo related, but I was always a sucker for a 29 cent bag of "Army men." The folks sat back and watched as we ripped away at the paper that Santa had applied just a few hours earlier. Then, after the gift frenzy, mom would cook a huge breakfast and we'd eat as fast as we could in order to get back to the new toys. For some reason, mom and dad always looked exhausted.
We did our best to keep up the traditions after we kids went way to college, but it wasn't easy. Soon I had a wife and a flying career, which does not know holidays and the other members of the family were equally on their own. Mom and dad only spent one Christmas alone, which was 2003. Dad passed away in early December of 2004 and I took it upon myself to see to it that mom, by then a granny herself would be at my house for every Christmas morning. Now she get to see my kids dig into the mountain of cheap gifts that are well wrapped by Santa plus the few high value items.
Now- I wish you all a merry Christmas as I excuse myself to be with my family. My dad's here too... trust me.


Balloon Boy verdict

As I write this some judge is reading the verdict in the trial of the two doinks who faked the Balloon Boy event a few months ago. You know... the one where they pretended that their kid was accidentally launched in a balloon that most of us looked at and said it could only loft about 20 pounds. Yet the 24/7 cable TV media picked it us as a real event and were totally suckered in. That Balloon Boy spoof is what I'm talking about here.
Turns out the parents are a pair of con-artists looking to audition in order to land a reality TV show.
If I were the judge, I'd give them a dose of their own medicine and my verdict reading would go like this...
Judge: Okay... I find you both guilty, and I sentence you to death by hanging, the sentence to be carried out immediately- bailiff... get a rope.
Defense attorney: Your honor, this is highly irregular!
Judge: So is the crime- the punishment there by fits the crime... bailiff, where's that rope?
Bailiff: Ummm *hurumph*
Judge: Don't hurumph me, I'm the Fu$%ing judge here, get a rope! Come on now, chop, chop... we have a lot of cases on the docket and a lot more idiots to hang, let's move along- take 'em out and swing 'em both, it's almost time to break for lunch.
Defense: Your honor- who will raise the children?
Judge: Turn the little nippers loose in the desert and let 'em raise themselves- they'll have a better chance than with these two.
Now you know why I'm not a judge.


The most pointless call

Every person has a list of pet peeves and that is especially so for pilots. Last Sunday while riding aboard SWA as they made the approach into BWI in IMC at 300 and 1, I was casually reminded of one of my pet peeves- that its the most useless call that any crew member can make in a cockpit.

For those who have not flown in, or aspire to fly in an airline cockpit, the rhythm for both takeoff and approach/landing consists of "calls." This is commonly known as the "Challenge and Response" method of cockpit operations. That is- the pilots are required to say very specific things and respond to those said things in a highly specified manner and wording. As an example, when flying an approach toward minimums, many air carriers will specify in their procedures that the non-flying pilot call certain altitudes as the aircraft nears decision height- such as "500 above" to which the flying pilot must respond, simply and exactly, "500 above." This strict system of calls keeps the cockpit clean and focused. On occasion, crews will pre-brief calls not in the procedures manual to meet safety needs. An example being an approach into weather that can produce wind-sheer. In that case the flying pilot can ask that if the airspeed begins to increase over five knots the non-flying pilot will call "airspeed increasing" and the flying pilot will respond "airspeed increasing" then if the airspeed increase hits 10 knots the non-flying pilot will call "wind-sheer" and the flying pilot will then execute the missed approach and respond "missed approach." Other than situations such as that, extraneous or non-standard calls during these critical times are not only unsafe, because they are distracting, but are also highly unprofessional- and for me, simply annoying.

Most of the non-standard calls that I've experienced have come from very new airline pilots who still think they're working as CFIIs and cannot resist the urge to teach instruments while going down the approach, and old-timer pilots who simply need to be placed into a nursing home, given a recliner with a yoke attached and told that they're still flying.

For me, the most annoying non-standard call always comes while you're making an approach down to, or near minimums. That call is "Intermittent Ground Contact." What makes this utterance so dangerous and annoying is the time at which it is spoken, which is normally when you are close in on the approach. It always tells me that the non-flying pilot is looking out the wrong window and in the wrong direction at the worst time. Frankly I'd rather have 'em looking at their laptop and talking about the current Preferential Bidding System- at least that way I'd actually know I was flying the approach alone all the way in.

In order to see this intermittent ground contacts through the clouds, the non-flying pilot has to be looking out the side window and usually straight down. I need their eyes looking toward the runway and on a slant equal to the approach path. I want them to call those runway lights so I can get that extra 100 feet of descent. Worst of all, I'm too low on the approach to reach over and slap the idiot.

What makes the intermittent ground contact call totally pointless is that while you are on an instrument approach, what you can see straight down means absolutely nothing. What you can see on the approach path slant in the direction of the runway at decision height is what matters... PERIOD.

I once flew a God-awful bid with an idiot who, among other annoyances, called "intermittent ground contact" on several of my approaches. I asked the old fart why he kept making that call, because it was not in our procedures. He replied that he was trying to reassure me. Say What?! If you wanna reassure me, put on on neck brace and look straight ahead- that way if your head turns you'll let out a scream like Greg Neidermeyer in Animal House and I'll know your not doing your job.

On another occasion I was on a low approach with the first officer flying and that person asked me to call intermittent ground contact. Not wanting to argue the point during the approach I simply stuck to company procedures and conveniently forgot to make the extraneous call. Later on the way to the hotel I asked why the FO wanted me to call ground contact. The answer was "Because I want to know it's down there." SAY WHAT!? The ground is always there! You run into it on every landing... why do you wanna be reassured that it is where it always is? This is just like the person who says they don't wear a seatbelt in their car because if the car was overturned and on fire in a wreck and they were knocked out- how would they get out? Ever seen a knocked out person get out of a car, or anything else?

Bottom line is the team that makes the approach must have the proper mindset before entering the approach. And I'm not talking about just having your charts in order, bugs set and briefing complete. I'm talking about considering every approach to turn into a missed. Thus, it will be what it will be when you get there- no sweat. You make your calls, you follow your procedures and you do not stray- then everyone goes home. That formula always works. Most professional pilots know this, but you'd be surprised at how many don't get it. So, if your non-flying pilot calls "intermittent ground contact" do me a favor and after you're at the gate dump their flight bag into their lap and then stretch it over their head and shoulders and beat on it like a bongo... I would.


Report cards

My daughter just go her first report card- ALL good grades... she takes after her mom.

In grade school, my own report cards were always a jumble of assorted good grades intermixed with a healthy garnish of below average and unsatisfactory marks. Keep in mind that this was the 1960s and teachers were not inclined to care about how any sort of grade may scar a kid's ego. My parents always focused on the "citizenship" grade- If I kept that one up in the good range, the rest did not really matter. Of course there was always that one place in the report card where your teacher got to write-in a comment at the end of the year... mine must have troubled my folks a bit...

Grade K: "Wes is very nice to everyone and has only had one disciplinary event- That was when we were pretending to have the room set up like an airliner. The girls took turns playing stewardess boys took turns wearing the ear-muffs and playing the pilots. Wes was very upset when the game ended and he had not gotten to be the pilot and wear the ear-muffs. I explained to him that not everyone can be an airline pilot. I mean- it is not as if that incident would effect his whole life- what are the odds that he'll grow up to be an airline pilot?

First Grade: Not only does Wes not make good use of his time in class, but he is in a constant state of daydream. His presence in the class could easily be substituted with a common paperclip.

Second Grade: Wes cannot read aloud. I strongly suggest he be taken to the reading specialist and find out why he cannot read. (BTW- I did indeed go the the "reading specialist" who explained to my folks the difference between "Can't read aloud" and "Won't read aloud" as well as my being bored to death with "Dick and Jane" and "see spot run." Today I'm the author of 14, make that 15, books, and I still refuse to read ANYTHING aloud in public. It's a choice, not a disability.)

Third Grade (the first time): Wes never completes an assignment. He is continually drawing and doodling in class- in some cases has even drawn uncomplimentary images of me. He must repeat the third grade. (Insert maniacal laughter)

Third Grade (the second time) I have often considered moving the blackboard to a position outside the classroom window- that way perhaps Wes may actually spend some time looking at it.

Fourth Grade: There is an observation tower and a high powered rifle in Wes' future- I'm just not sure which end of the scope he will be on.

Fifth Grade: When I first learned that Wes had been selected as Captain of the school safety patrol I said to myself "My God! They've given him a badge! And now he's in charge!"

Sixth Grade: Wes cannot read. He also knows far too much about project Apollo than he should. He leads the class astray with unending NASA analogies. We have a classroom, we are not NASA- please try and make this clear to him before he enters Junior High School next fall.


11/26/09 klyde morris


Human factors

Although airlines are unwilling to invest in flight crew comprehensive training in human factors in order to improve safety, and are not willing to apply human factors to operations, there is one area where they have the human factors lesson well applies- passenger's wallets.

Back in 2008, as the price of fuel began to rise and the mismanagement of airline assets began to really show, someone in airline management used the volumes of information on human factors to find a great way to grub a lot of money. The formula involved simply charging a fee for every bag that every slob who was dumb enough to still buy a ticket decided to check. One after another the airlines implemented this little scam and factored that the other airlines would, for the most part, follow suit. They did. The calculation also involved the human factor that once these fees were in place across most of the"legacy carriers" passengers would soon hate the fees, but would also get used to being used in this manner. They did.

A year and a half later, the airlines are no longer facing the steep fuel costs, the pensions of their employees have been erased in the bankruptcy courts, capacity has been slashed and the airlines are raising the checked bag fees. The passengers- in a predictable human factors response- are grumbling, but still pay the higher fees.

In this coming holiday season, my mom will be flying out east here to be with us for Christmas. Northworst Airlines wants to charge her $20, each way, for her one bag. I refuse to pay- instead, I told ma to get a nice cardboard box. She will drive a block two days before her flight and take her box, containing her travel clothing, plus some winter and summer clothing, and she will go to FedEx and, using my FedEx account, ship her stuff by FedEx Ground to my house. When her visit is over we'll store some of her clothing here and what she wants to send back to her home we will FedEx back to her. That process will cost just over $8 each way and will screw Northworst Airlines out of their fee.

Figuring a way around their fees is a human factor too.


Your airline management resume

If you want to get a job in airline management you would do well to simply put on your resume that you are experienced in dry wall hanging.

The reason why dry wall hangers are well qualified to become airline managers is because they have grerat experience in screwing. Screwing one thing to another, screwing up(ward), screwing around (corners), screwing and then covering the screws so no one can see them, screwing their customers (walls) and knowing that when you've screwed as much as you can screw things at work- it's time to get out of the house and move on to another house and do more screwing.


Where are those Internet forum space experts now?

It has been HIGHLY amusing watching the Ares I haters after the launch. The silence has been quite loud. A few of them have tried the "re-contact" route, but that was rapidly shot down. There were some "yeah but" butts out there doing the "Yeah but, the 5 segment SRB will burn differently and may still TO" but no one is listening anymore.

The fact is that there are a lot of self-proclaimed "experts" out there as well as a crowd of their faithful followers who are now standing around with a lot of egg on their faces. NOT ONE of the critic's predicted horrors appeared- in fact, not even a hint of ANY of the predicted faults actually existed.

All of those cyber blow-hards with their blackberry-generated quips, their posts with tag lines saying things such as "Cancel the shaft now" or "Kill the stick" and so on have not had a lot to say- the screaming has gotten very quite and the arm waving has degenerated into a shrug or two. Even those "Kill the stick" sort of sub-tags have either vanished from forum posts or have been changed in many cases.

And so, the lesson here is that most of those critics who spoke the loudest, waved their arms the hardest and had the most toxic stuff to say about the Ares I-X did not really know what they were talking about- they only knew how to make it sound good and thus make themselves feel really important. Now, I'm sorry to say- their thrill is gone. But hey- perhaps the I-X Prime may come along and they can once again play in the mud puddle that is their own ego. They'll be back- trust me.


Swine Flu U

On Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 11:30 I was walking down the stairs at home and suddenly realized that my arms felt a bit achy. By noon, I was curled into a ball on the couch with 3 shirts on, a hood over my head and several blankets- shivering, cramped to the point where my hands were in fists and I had a temperature of 102.2. That's right- I was turned into a meatball in just 30 minutes!

Within 2 and one half hours I was in the doctor's office and he took a brief look at me and after hearing about the on-set he told me I, without any doubt, had the H1N1 Swine Flu. He then told me that mine, although a textbook case, was nothing compared to the guy who'd just been in ahead of me. That guy was a US Naval Academy football player. Described by the doctor as being "The most muscle-bound human I've even seen." He too was turned into a large pile of shivering meat with a temperature of more than 102. The doctor said that he asked the big, peak of health guy how long ago this had hit him. The giant midshipman raised his wrist watch with difficulty, looked at it and replied "22 minutes ago... sir." If it can take a guy like that down, one can imagine what it can do to dweeby, five decade old doofus like me.

I had my first dose of TamaFlu in me within 4 hours of being stricken and with a surgical mask stretched across my face, went directly into isolation in our guestroom. That is where I remained, with a pile of DVDs and a portable player... for the next 7 days. To protect everyone I had to remain isolated until I could go 24 hours, unmediated, without fever. Upon reaching that goal you're considered non-contagious.

The worst part about this flu is the non-productive cough. It does not allow you to sleep, because it never quits. The result is that I was awake, coughing, for 3 nights straight. Thankfully, for the past several years I've been collecting DVD boxed sets of old TV shows such as, Barney Miller 1976-77 season, WKRP- first season, Saturday Night Live 1977-78 season as well as the full Mel Brooks movie collection etc. I also have every DVD ever produced by Spacecraft Films. I needed all of these- just to keep me sane. I could not get into my work area, because my wife was using my machine to tele-commute to work while she took care of me, and my daughters use my laptop... besides I was too vegged out to do any computer work anyhow!

I was just thankful all the while that those wonderful folks at our Federal Government... you know the same ones who want to take over all of our healthcare... made sure that all of the Gitmo terrorists and all of the suits at the bailed-out banks got their swine flu shots before I did.


All because of that dumb little ant

As I stood in the dark at the KSC Press Site and gazed out at the Ares I-X, in the distance, poised on Pad 39B, bathed in crossed spotlights, and then looked behind me to see the big observation building marked "CBS" and "NBC" as well as the satellite dished broadcast trucks, one thought haunted me...

"How is it that I get to be here, and get to do this?"

How does someone who grew up as a rabid spacebuff witnessing spaceflight history only through the living room TV as it was broadcast from those same buildings end up here? How is it that the person who was the weirdest kid on his block and used to stuff ants into balsa spacecraft and launch their helpless butts atop model rockets end up here, now, a first hand observer of spaceflight history? Certainly it is not by way of formal journalistic training- because I have none. Surely it is not because of my career as a professional aviator, because there are lots of them out there- and none of them are here with me. And definitely it is not because I have any skill or technical training that NASA could use in this event- because I absolutely have nothing in that portfolio.

Additionally, I'm far from being a veteran space reporter. In fact, when I attended the roll-out of the Ares I-X a week earlier, I got my badge and lanyard and I asked the lady when the buses were going to take us out to the press site. "What buses?" she replied looking a bit puzzled. After I explained that I'd not been to the press site since I was on my college newspaper, the lady snickered and told me that all I had to do was to put on that badge and drive to the gate, show the guard the badge and then drive my car to the press site. Drive my car into KSC!?! Ooooookay. As the guard waved me through the gate and I headed toward the VAB, I began to giggle out loud... Suddenly I was 15 years old again.... "This is soooooo cool." Most teenage boys have fantasies about naked girls and winning the big game, space buffs, however, have fantasies about driving into KSC. Thus I was living out one of my wildest dreams (besides, I'd experienced the naked girls in my college days- so what's left? I don't think that winning "the big game" is in the cards for me). Of course this dream come true was tempered by the thought of accidentaly making the wrong turn and getting machine gunned by the KSC Security SWAT Team.

So how is it that a slob like me, gets to be here?

The short answer is, of course, that I wrote some articles on the Ares I-X for the Aero-News Network and because of them I asked to be credentialed for the roll-out and the launch. Yet, the short answer is not good enough- if I looked a bit deeper into my life I found that a common thread runs through a lot of the cool stuff I've done. It is all because of that dumb little ant that I draw.

From the time that the Klyde Morris cartoon began appearing in the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Avion newspaper, my entire path in life has been altered by that simple bit of artwork. I went from being the generic freshman that no one noticed to the person that every frat. wanted to pledge and every person throwing aparty tossed an invitation to- all in just one trimester. I was lucky enough to realize very early on that it was not me that was popular, it was not me that they wanted to hang out with- it was the cartoon character.

Way back in 1982 my dad suggested that I should consider being a cartoonist who can fly rather than a pilot who draws cartoons- but I thought flying would be more fun. Dad was actually right- it just took 3 airlines, one corporate gig and 3 furloughs for me to figure that out. I'm amazed that the popularity of that little cartoon ant is a sort of "E ticket" to all sorts of things from free trips to airshows, to witnessing stuff like X-Prize and the Ares I-X. Likewise, I'm also amazed when stuff like that comes along and I stand there feeling very much like a 15 year old again, grinning and saying to myself "Not bad for the weirdest kid on Lexington Dr." and it is all because of that little cartoon ant.


Ares I-X... an arrow pointing toward the future

As the Ares I-X lifted majestically from Pad 39B, it became the world's largest eraser. What it effectively erased were all of the outlandish claims made by the nutcake Ares I haters that have been splashed all over the Internet.

Some of the more outlandish claims were that the Ares I-X would hit the Fixed Service Structure on liftoff, or that it would become uncontrolled and cartwheel, or that it would buckle in half and explode, or that it would have to be destroyed by Range Safety shortly after liftoff and would cause heavy damage to to the space shuttle sitting on Pad 39A. It did none of that. Perhaps the most tasteless came from the paranoid camp of the "Direct"proponents when one of their lead guys claimed, shortly after roll out, that he'd "heard" that officers at the Range Safety Office were refusing to sign off on the vehicle so the launch would not go. Considering that these "Direct" guys already made fools of themselves in front of the Augustine commission by stating that dark forces within NASA were somehow out to get them- this new claim, posted without sourcing, put them solidly into the tinfoil hat/alien abduction crowd. All of these claims were argued on the Internet with near religious vigor and far beyond the point of sensibility.

On October 28, 2009 at 11:30 a.m. the Ares I-X lifted off of the pad and in just over 2 minutes, it erased the soapbox upon which all of the Ares I haters were standing and shouting their nonsense. The flight has been successful and the Ares I haters are left attempting to rebuild their snowfort of nonsense.

Like an arrow pointing toward the future, the Ares I-X demonstrated that the vehicle configuration is completely sound. It did not hit the tower, it did not cartwheel out of control, it did not fold in half and explode, it did not damage the nearby space shuttle and very obviously- the range safety officers did indeed sign off on the launch.

People who were sucked in to the nonsense presented by the fanatical Ares I haters should learn a lesson from this mission. Be careful what you read and believe that has come from the Internet. Think for yourself and use hard engineering facts instead of buying into hysterics.


Dealing with aviation management

As a pilot- when dealing with management I always used a simple formula- which is probably why every company that ever hired me regretted it shortly there after...

When it comes to management, you can either spend your time kissing their ass or kicking their ass- in the end they're always gonna screw you anyhow- so at least if you spent your time kicking their ass, you got your shots in while you had the chance.


How to get hired by an airline

When up-start pilots find out you've been hired by several airlines and corporate operations, they always ask "Well how do you get hired by an airline anyhow?"

I always take that as "Well how'd (some jerk like) you get hired by an airline?" In that context it's a fair question and it deserves an honest answer. Before giving that, however, I'm obligated to tell you, the readers and airline pilot wannabes, what it is really like to get hired by an airline.

Most wide-eyed up-starts see airlines as big, clean aircraft, the smell of jet exhaust, your ID clipped to your pocket, a uniform on and walking around out there on the ramp pre-flighting. Here's a dose of reality... often the only good part about walking out on that ramp is the fact that there is so much noise that you can fart as loud as you want and no one can possibly hear it.

Cold truth be said, getting hired by most airlines is a lot like (from a guy's perspective mind you...) hooking up with a girlfriend who has supermodel looks and the mind of a psychopathic killer. Everyone thinks you've got it made, but after a few months she's trying to kill you over and over. Within a year your life is in shambles, she's constantly hounding you on the phone demanding to know your every move, treating you like property and you can't leave because if you do all of your relatives will think you're gay. In the end she sends you off to the funny farm, drooling but comforted in the fact that you'll soon be drown in Thorazine and lost in remembrance of the good old days when you were a flight instructor new-hire at some tiny FBO.

That said... actually getting hired is, in my own experience, largely a matter of luck (good or bad- depending on your perspective). In my case, it seemed as if the harder I tried to get hired, the more I got passed over, or... "got The Letter" that says "thanks but no thanks." Yet. when I wasn't really trying was when I got hired. Take my career disaster at TWA for example. I didn't want to go there, but I got the interview and decided to go through it just for practice. I actually wore an Alfred E. Newman, Mad Magazine tie to the interview (HONEST!). That's how much I did not want to get hired there... the bastards hired me anyway... at the end of the interview they told me they liked my tie.

Back in 1992 as I was trying to escape the CFI, bug-smasher role, I did my very first airline interview. It was a point in time when pilot hiring was actually somewhat worse than it is today and Continental Express announced they were actually hiring and- to everyone's amazement- was not requiring Pay-for-Training! I sent in my paperwork and I got invited for an interview! I spent 2 weeks flying the flight school's Frasca multi engine simulator as I intensely prepared for the interview- I studied the AIM and FARs- especially part 121. I was gonna be as ready as I could be. Finally, I took the ticket they sent me and non-rev'ed out to Texas, took my room in the crew hotel and spent the evening rehearsing my "answers to common airline interview questions" in the mirror. I was sure that I had a chance to go in there and really impress them with my 1,200 odd hours, no ATP but plenty of charm and new suit. When I reported to the big... BIG meeting room the following morning I saw that it was packed with others of my ilk or better... way better. Tons of former airline pilots were on furlough in those days and they all seemed to be in that room... I felt like a six year old. One of the other guys and I got talking and he had the skinny on what was going on. They were looking for 12, count 'em, 12 pilots to fly their ATRs. This new found pal of mine had been counting the heads and I was number 43 to come into the room... he and I stopped counting around number 57. And, it got worse. When the guy from the hiring board came to the front to speak he told us that there were just 3 positions remaining because they had already interviewed 3 groups of similar size to ours. He then made a joke that obviously most of us did not have a chance, unless we had a space shuttle mission under our belts- and one guy raised his hand... and he was serious. My "in the interview room" session lasted about 9 minutes. No technical questions, no common airline questions, just "briefly tell me about yourself" and it was over. The hiring board guy then mercifully sent me back to the big room to finish filling out my paper work and told me that when I was done I could just come back to the interview room and shove the packet under the door... which I did. I got "The Letter" a week or so later.

After almost a year of similar interview nightmares I decided to get my ATP and shortly there after was invited down to interview at Paradise Island Airlines in FLL. I went down there with a "Aww what the hell" disposition. The HR part of the interview was so basic the lady doing it could have been interviewing me to work at K-mart again. The technical part was done one-on-one with the Director of Ops. He asked a few simple IFR questions and then came across the place in my logbook where my Beech 18 time resides. He asked about it and I told him it was just poor-man's autopilot, night IFR, dead of winter- I flew while the real pilot slept and then the same guy signed it off as dual given. He asked if I'd gotten anything out of it. I said "hell yeah" that "I actually learned to fly instruments in the 18 and although it's like spinning a plate on a stick while standing on one foot on a bowling ball on a moving escalator, it really made it a lot more easy when I got back to college and went into the T303 Crusaders." We laughed. He then got sly and asked what was unique about the brakes in the 18. I told him that when one guy is on the breaks the other guy's breaks are useless because of the shuttle valve between the two. He asked how you lean the engines- I described the color of the exhaust flame. He asked about the tail wheel retraction and I answered about the bicycle chain and keeping it well oiled. He smiled and told me he used to fly the Beech 18. He shook my hand and said he'd like me to go wait in the hallway for a bit as he had a few other people to talk to. I asked how many and he told me they had 21 candidates for 3 seats and I was the first one to interview so far. I sat outside as about six other guys were escorted in and out. Then the HR lady came out and asked me if I wanted to come to work for them.

Oddly, after all of the formal training, the degree in Aeronautical Science, the ATP and all of the hours spent sitting next to students- what got me that first job was simply the time I'd spent playing autopilot in the middle of the night in a ratty, old radial engine, widow making, oil throwing Beech 18 in the coldest winter of my life. Those flights didn't cost me a cent. My first airline job was gotten by pure happenstance- the D.O. of that carrier and I just happened to have that one experience that clicked.

Of course- my first airline job could easily be defined by what I said earlier... ya' know... that stuff about the supermodel psychopathic... oh yeah.


Check the box.

Recently regional airline pilots have come under fire, yet again, in the 24 hour media. The snip that caught my attention was spewed by Fox News' morning show court jester, Brian Kilmeade. Ya' know, the sports reporter who can talk about any sport, except hockey... which to Kilmeade, apparently does not exist. While watching the Fox morning show "Fox and Friends," I was treated to Kilmead's rambling and scatter-brained comments on, what he referred to as a "law" about pilots talking below 10,000 feet. This tid-bit apparently fed to the meat puppet through his ear piece by an equally clueless producer in the booth, was supposed to refer to the "below 10 rule." a.k.a. the Sterile Cockpit Rule.

Somewhere in Kilmead's ramble was the accusation that pilots... especially regional pilots... according to "the NTSB" are prone to violating the "law" by conversing below 10,000 feet. Reality check: Please- can someone find ANY airline pilot who has not violated the below 10 rule in their career? Of course you cannot- although everyone does their best to follow the rule, in aircraft such as regional turboprops that spend almost half of their time below 10,000 feet, strict adherence to the rule can lead to serious breakdowns in both CRM and moral of the crew. Of course, Kilmead has NEVER spent any time flying in the cockpit of a regional turboprop, so he has all of the qualifications to spout a story about the subject to millions of viewers.

The story that the meat puppet and his producers were referring to was from "The Buffalo News" and had little to do with the NTSB. In fact the subject was largely about some posturing of FAA administrator Randy Babbitt who was speaking in front of some "aviation safety officials" and trying to contrast the US Airways Hudson River ditching to the Continental Connection Flight 3407 Colgan Air crash. I'd like to know when the last time was that ol' Randy flew a month of trips in the cockpit of a Saab 340... in January... in the northern states.

This news story, however, goes way beyond some inter-crew chatter and directly into Babbit land.

Thus, we'll give Kilmead a pass here- because, like nearly all TV media people, his personal knowledge of professional aviation extends about as far as finding the proper seat on his next flight and stowing his carry-on... with the help of a flight attendant, of course. We'll also give a pass to his producer, who is equally aviation clueless. The person most irresponsible here is Randy Babbitt.

In one portion of his "talk" to these aviation safety 'officials" (whatever that is), Administrator Babbitt rants "Properly trained people will do the right thing the right way, and do it at the right time," as he went off to point the finger at the crew of Colgan 3407 far more intensely than at Colgan itself. Yet, he never really directed any finger pointing at FAA itself. The real issue of training, you see, resides at length with the FAA.

Airlines train the same way that they do everything else, to the minimum standards required by... the FAA. And as much as Regionals are to blame for minimal training, the FAA is to blame for setting the standards that make up those minimums. Areas such as I.O.E. are so flawed, even in many of the major airlines, that a new hire can easily be swamped. For those of you reading who are not airline pilots, I.O.E. (Initial Operating Experience) is the flying that you do directly out of training- revenue flights, with passengers... and it is mandated to NOT be training. That's right- you come to a new airline, fly the sim until you drop and once out of training, you go directly onto the line... and that flying cannot be training. Someone should find the idiot who came up with that concept and kick 'em straight in the nuts. Also, training in safety enhancing areas such as C.R.M. is often brushed over because the time and budget do not allow for in-depth activity. If the Regional airlines have any great flaw it is in this area. Did I hear Administrator Babbitt mention raising that standard? No. Why- because it would cost airlines money.

In Babbitt's "Call to Action" he says "Training has got to be more than just checking the box." Sounds really good... sounds really good... but where is the new, published, FAA required standard for that action? No place. It does not now exist, nor will it ever exist. The last thing that the airlines want to spend a single extra dollar on is training. Training does not generate revenue and if the FAA publishes an increased standard- such as an expanded, mandatory C.R.M. training section, the airlines will have to pull pilots off the line to meet the new standard, plus pay for them to stay in a hotel, plus pay for instructors, materials and non-rev travel. If the pilot's are in the classroom, the airline is not making any revenue through the use of them and even worse yet- they're having to put out expenses to accomplish the new standard. GADS! We can't have that... screw safety, get Babbitt on the phone... Suddenly Administrator Babbitt's illusion of increased safety- in a practical sense- becomes a burden on the airlines and at that moment it becomes something better treated with lip service than by the classroom. The airlines will continue to train to the current minimum standard, check off that box and move along.

Babbitt may desire to have everyone think he's imposing higher "beyond just checking the box" standards, but in fact all he is doing is generating a sound bite. He knows FULL WELL that the airlines will never go farther than checking the box for the minimum required because there is zero incentive for them to instead do the maximum possible. "Well what about avoiding another accident- isn't that an incentive?" you may ask. Get real... the airlines can always point the finger at the dead flightcrew, insurance pays, the FAA provides lip service and only the next of kin will remember the horror- that's how airline management thinks and the FAA is only too glad to go along. The FAA cannot expect airlines to change as long as the FAA is talking tough over top of the table while playing footsie with the airlines under the table.

And since Administrator Babbitt has pointed his finger toward the regional airlines and their training, let us throw a rock back toward his own glass house. You see, I was in the regional airlines in the days when Captain Babbitt was leading ALPA. The days when new pilots trying to break into the regional airlines were required to pay for their own, substandard- but good enough to just check the box, training. ALPA was in the position to stop or highly restrict this by placing a restriction against pay-for-training into the contracts of every ALPA regional. They never even tried. Instead, they told their members to simply tell hopeful new hires "not to do it." Yeah- that's real effective when said to some CFI who has spend three or four years going around the pattern in bug-smashers and spending 14 hour days at some crummy airport six days a week... real effective. Why it's almost as effective as this "call to action" nonsense.

The bottom line is that Brian Kilmead and Randy Babbitt should get together and talk about hockey- the impact on aviation safety will be the same as Kilmead's report and Babbitt's "call to action."


The Ares I... in trouble?

It seems to be that almost every spaceflight site on the Internet loves to publish that NASA's next launch vehicle, the Ares I, is in "trouble." That is... every place except where actual Ares I hardware technicians engineers exist.

Is the Ares I in trouble? Currently- the answer is "yes" only on the keyboards where the ineffectual arm-chair self-proclaimed spaceflight experts exist. You see the fact is that the Ares I launch vehicle is only troubled in cyber space. You see, cyber space is the playground where the children who actually hate... yes... HATE this launch vehicle, romp. They seem to get their little rocks off by generating all sorts of factual sounding, yet hollow expressions of the vehicle's short falls. Yet when one tries to pin them down by asking them to show you actual numbers or to provide documented, first-hand proof of what they claim, these arm-chair critics quickly scurry down the foggy path to Internet obscurity. You see, it is far more easy to post cyber venom as if scrolling on the wall of a stall in a public restroom than it is to actually build and launch a new vehicle. I like to refer to these ineffectual arm-chair self-proclaimed spaceflight experts simply as "Stall-wallers."

The problem is, that too often these stall-wall cyber critics are seen as actually having true credibility. Let us take a moment and look at that credibility. The first sign that you are reading the rants of a stall-waller is to look at where you are reading the rant. If it is on some "forum" someplace, look first at the poster's number of posts to date. If that total is four figures or more, and the person is not the site owner or a moderator- it should be a dead give away that you have a stall-waller. Ask yourself this, who has the time to sit and post on one or more forums that many times? Think about it- do the math, or let the forum do it for you and look at the poster's posts per day. What sort of a person, other than the one who actually runs the forum, has that kind of time? Certainly not someone who is involved in engineering launch vehicles for a living, nor someone who is managing a complex flight program. Instead you have some arm-chair dweeb who is using the Internet to make themselves look and feel important. The next test to see if you have a stall-waller is to simply ask for complete numbers, sources and documents to support their rant. When you get, instead, a wide ranging and foggy re-write of their original junk, ask again. Soon will follow the personal attack on you and the "well who are you to ask ME this?" retort. Stall-waller! Another great method for uncovering the stall-wallers is to watch for their "key" words and terms. The use of the term "Kool aid drinker" or any form there of, is a dead give away. Repeated use of " sources tell me..." is another term that is a dead give away. Additionally people who talk in all knowing terms, yet later ask dumb questions that should be solved by common knowledge is another give away. Lastly, watch for Herding- because these jerks like to run in packs and often need cover from others wearing the same style tin foil hats and thus will come to one another's rescue with the same unsubstantiated dribble.

That said- the rubber hit the runway this week in the halls of Congress when the Augustine Commission met with the people who actually will have genuine influence as to where the future of the United States space program will be. Apparently, those people in Congress haven't spent any time hanging out on Internet space forums... because their attitude toward the Ares I, and I-X was polar opposite of what the stall-wallers would have you believe.

It was a "cold shower" day for the Ares I haters.

It seems- as I've said all along- that the Ares I is only really "In trouble" on the Internet. The members of Congress were speaking largely in favor of Constellation and the Ares I. They seemed ready to reinstate the $3Billion dollars annually that was cut from the NASA budget and would make the Program of Record (Constellation) work again. They spoke, not in terms of Gap reduction, but in terms of gap elimination. It has been stated as fact by the stall-wallers that the Ares I has all sorts of "Show-stopper" technical issues- Augustine testified that his commission "...found none of this." Additionally, the stall-wallers have argued that the "sunk costs" of $8billion already spent on the Ares I did not matter at all when it comes to decision to cancel their hated vehicle and switching to one of their pet boosters (pick one- there are several). Yet the weight of sunk costs was a very big factor in the hearings.

I mentioned the fact that the Ares I and I-X were in trouble, was simply a figment of cyber space- while I was on one of the comment sections of NASAwatch a few months ago. The site's owner- who is normally level headed except when it comes to Mike Griffin or, apparently, the Ares I- told me to go and post that stuff on my own blog, because HIS "sources inside the Augustine Commission" had told him that the the Ares I was in deep, deep trouble in the commission. Gee... I just watched 2 days of hearings, and saw no indication what-so-ever that the Ares I was in "deep trouble." In fact I saw just the opposite. Augustine himself said today that there would have to be a very compelling reason to cancel the vehicle and right now there was none. Additionally, when asked about the I-X he stated flatly, "I think we should launch it." Gosh... his remarks do not sound to me like someone who has sat on a commission where a launch vehicle was in "deep, deep trouble." Apparently, all of the doom sayers exist only here in cyber space and not on the Augustine commission or in the halls of Congress... just like I said on NASAwatch.


091409 klyde morris


Why 9/11 cannot be repeated

Although the current idiots in power in DC are doing a really fine job of resetting the nation into a position that terrorists can easily use to hit us once again, the bearded cowards from sandland will never be able to use airliners to do so... and here's why...

The reason why they were able to successfully use airline aircraft to accomplish the 9-11-2001 attacks is very simple and now very gone. What facilitated the plot hatched by the bastards that day was the worst kept secret in airline security called "The Common Strategy." This was a plan that was taught in EVERY airline training course- including the private ones where some of these creeps paid to learn how to fly 767s- and it could be effectively titled "How to get hijacked." It was cooked up by the FBI, the FAA and some professional terrorist negotiators. The rules for the flight crew were very simple- in flight: do whatever the hijackers tell you, on the ground: make the aircraft into a building. Additionally, there was a saying: "If release is offered- take it, if escape is possible- make it." In short- you were supposed to be 100% non-confrontational and stall for time, because time was the FBI's best weapon. "Wait 'em out" is what we were instructed to do. "Don't be a hero." was stressed. That even went as far as surrendering control of the aircraft if the terrorist said that they were going to fly it... which is exactly what all four flight crews did on 9/11- because that is exactly what they were trained, many times, to do. We were told to keep this plan a "secret"- yet thousands of crews were given this secret in training- from the new-hire regional flight attendant, to the sliver-haired major airline captain who'd seen it once a year for their whole career. Needless to say- it wasn't that much of a "secret." Somewhere along his path of hate Mohamed Atta or someone near him learned of the "Common Strategy" and used it to put together the perverted plan that killed 2,974 Americans.

The moment that we saw the second aircraft strike the second tower, every airline pilot instantly realized that "The Common Strategy" had been used against us in an unthinkable manner. At that same instant, we all said to ourselves, "SCREW THAT, no one's getting my aircraft ever again." Screw the negotiators, screw the experts, screw their training- I'll get on the F&%king P.A. and tell the passengers to fight back with their lives and I'll pull so many G's that those bastards will find their teeth in the carpet- and if they do get through the door they'll be wearing my crash ax between their eyes.

Thus- a repeat of the 9/11 attack can never take place again using airliners from civilized countries. All the TSA passenger searches and assorted nonsense is little more than show. The real security is in the cockpit, and it has been that way since the moment the second aircraft hit the World Trade Center. This all means that the bearded bastards from sandland will have to hit us in another way- and at this moment they're plotting on how to do it.

091009 klyde morris



Last night, at the President's address to a joint session of congress, a Republican Senator shouted "You Lie" while the president was at the podium... lying. Now there's a big soundbite whoop going on over the event.

Frankly, yelling "Yer's a lier" in the Congressional halls is the same as yelling "Yer' a cheesehead" at a Packers game.


090709 klyde morrus


090309 klyde morris


Heart Ache

So, you're an aviator and you're sittin' around the ops. room tryin' to read some article in USA Today and decide if it's written by an actual journalist or just by someone who was recently fired from the Springer show's writing staff, and suddenly you realize that Don Johnson's only charted song from the 80's "Heart Ache" keeps running through your brain and you can't stop it... does that mean that death is stalking you?

From my years of aviation experience, I'd say... probably not. You see, when things are frustrating, weird, crummy or all of the above, you're the most likely to be on the right path in aviation. It is only when you think you've got it made, or you've hit the jackpot that you are really about to be cast into the pit of aviation excrement.

As I recall, the day I got hired at my first regional airline, which happened to be the second highest paying regional in the nation, I really thought I had it made. Sure, they were making us pay for training, but it was in the middle of the hiring slump of the early 1990s and everyone was being forced into PFT to get any job anyhow- so why not be happy at recouping my investment a bit faster at a higher pay-rate? You bet I was a happy camper. Three months later, however, when I was furloughed with severance pay and stuck with a five figure debt, I felt a bit different.

Of course I should have known better- when I was a CFI I'd always wait for my students doing dual cross-country flights to get about 5 miles from our home airport and then ask them how they thought the flight had gone. They'd smile and say "Terrific" and I'd pull the engine on them. The lesson being to never let down your guard, because that is the moment when the big hand of aviation is going reach out and give you a karmic wedgie that you'll remember.

Thus the lesson is, that when you are sitting around ops. and you are pondering the fact that you decided not to send in that matchbook cover application to the Southern Georgia School of Truck Drivin' and instead ended up at your current aviation company that sucks so bad- you're probably safe to go flying. On the other hand, if you've just gotten engaged to a super-model and you have a winning lottery ticket in your pocket plus your current company actually DID take delivery on those new aircraft that they promised would be "coming soon" while ground is being broken for a new terminal... instead of flying, you may as well just go out and crawl into a big black ziplock bag and wait for the end to come- that way there will be less of you spread around for the NTSB to pick up.


083109 klyde morris


"Written-up"... ME?...

At most jobs the most used of the soft core punishments is when "they" (some butt-sputter who somehow has rank over you) threaten to write you up, or what they think is worse yet, actually "writes you up." This moronic exercise serves to do little more than piss you off while allowing the butt-sputter to feel really, really self-important. It takes place in every sort of job from the name tag Joe-jobs to the airline pilot's cockpit seat. I'm proud to say that as a lifelong smart ass I've been written-up at every level... except for now, perhaps... because I'm self employed and own my companies myself... so I'd have to write myself up.

In the airline pilot's job I was written up by the worst captain on earth. I countered by going directly to the chief pilot and demanding a competency check ride "Right now" (by the way I was a probationary new hire at the time.) I got my check ride a few days later followed by another meeting in the chief pilot's office with the check airman to discuss why we did the ride. I was just fine in the operation reported the check pilot- so why did we do this? I told them that I wanted to prove they had flown with the wrong guy- the captain who wrote me up was the real problem. A lesson to me, however, did come out of it. There after, I asked every captain that I flew with to "write me up" because every airline pilot needs a pile of good write-ups in their file to provide a cushion when some asshole decides to turn in a bad report on you.

Most of my write-ups were earned while working the Joe-jobs as I worked my way through Embry-Riddle. I found K-mart to be the most fun to be written up at... because, although they threaten to fire you after your third time being written-up, they actually will do nothing of the kind. My first K-mart write up came when I was working in the Over-the-counter Drugs department. I was content to just keep my shelves stocked and show customers where the toothpaste was, but nooooo... the butt-sputter department manager insisted that I do "PAs." These are announcements over the store PA system to advertise some product to the people in the store. Management kept score as to how many PAs that each of us did, and my score was zero. Soon the pressure grew until I was told to make a PA "or else." I asked what they wanted me to PA and the answer was "Anything... just take a product off the shelf and PA it." Can ya' see this one comin' folks? Yep... I got written up for PA-ing Glycerin suppositories, "...with ease and comfort you apply them into your..." I read from the bottle as the butt-sputter department manager came running up the aisle toward me- I can still see the look on his face. Sure, I got written up, but no one ever tried to force me to do another PA.

Of course K-mart turned out to be a rich place for a smart-ass seeking a record for being written up. I was later transferred to the Garden Shop/pet department and got written up there for things such as, teaching the parakeets to say the word "slob" (who knew that once they learn a word they repeat it until they die?), wrapping an action figure in chains and a little padlock and dropping it into an aquarium, altering the pricing board outside that originally said "5 pound fert." replacing the day manager's noted instructions to the evening crew and having an entire section of hoses replaced with plastic pink flamingos, mounting a dead guppy on the sign that read "Pets Clearance" taking a freshly killed rat and placing it into a store bag then taking it back to the damaged goods clerk and asking her if it was repairable, attempting to dress a parakeet in G.I. Joe cloths... Yet the one that I snickered about the most took place after closing and after I'd learned what a nifty ride the hand-forklift was when you turned it around backward and rode it like a scooter. I'd been ordered to "Take it to the back stockroom and hurry." So I rode it up to the back aisle and really got her goin'. Made the sharp turn at the grill and burst through the double swinging doors that led to the stockroom only to come face to face with the little old lady who worked in the millinery department. I swerved, missed her and ran smack into a huge stack of boxed toilet paper that arrived that evening by truck. The entire wall of stacked butt wipe came tumbling down on me... and I deserved it. The next day I cut a small flower from one of the plants and took it to the little old lady that I'd nearly killed, gave her a hug and told her I was an idiot... she agreed.

It is always a hazard to have someone who is clever and a smart ass doing simple labor- because they have too much time to observe and exploit. Once while working at a hotel as a "set-up" guy, or the person who sets up rooms for meetings, I observed that nearly every employee made multiple trips in and out of the front office every day and when they did, they passed the desk of one of the office staff, a personable girl by the name of Linda. EVERYONE would stop and chat a bit with her. I also noticed that we had tons and tons of hotel pens in the store room. I convinced the staff that what we all should do was to get a pen and when you stopped and said hello to Linda- casually leave your pen on her desk. We could then see how long it would take before she caught on. Of course the word quickly spread. By the middle of the second day, poor Linda was swamped with pens. Of course the hotel manager, a Nazi, found out and soon everyone finked on me and I got called into my manager's office to be written up... like I cared, I was on my way back to school in a month anyhow. On orders from the Nazi hotel manager, my boss went through all of the steps- then winked and told me he's left 11 pens on Linda's desk himself.

Oddly, some of my pranks did not get me in trouble. When working at AirFlite's Hangar 6 in the late 70s as the "hangar rat" or the guy who does all the crap work, I pulled one of my best pranks. It had been snowing real hard and the hangar ram-rod told me to go get the big rung ladder, go up on the hangar office roof and see how much of that snow I could shove off. I went and got the ladder and also recruited two of the idle mechanics to help me in my prank. In order to get the ladder outside I had to take in down the hall past the ram-rod's office window. I had one mechanic stand on one side of the window, and one on the other. Then I took the front of the ladder and did the old Three Stooges bit... as I walked past the ram-rod's window with the front of the ladder under my arm I bumped into his window sill, he looked up I waved and kept walking. Then I handed off the ladder to the other mechanic, got down on hands and knees and scurried under the window and grabbed the back end of the ladder from the first mechanic. As I passed the window carrying the rear of the ladder I bumped the sill again and he looked up, I waved and kept right on going as if I was on both ends of the ladder. Later that day, after I'd finished on the roof I was out in the hangar mopping the floor or some such thing when the hangar ram-rod came out. Looking down and picking at his finger nails he simply said "How'd you f#;%kin' do that?"

Thus, if you are out there moppin' hangar floors, or tossin' bags of cow poop in a garden shop trying to pay for flying lessons or if you're a new-hire pilot at an airline- don't fear being written-up. It's just the way that the butt-sputters document the fact that they exist on this planet, because they actually need proof of that... and you don't. In the end, the ways of the universe always even things up. The captain who wrote me up got hired by a major airline and fired while on probation- likely for being a dick. The managers at K-mart are suffering by still being employed there 3 decades later and the Nazi hotel manager (who was a real member of the local Nazi party by the way) has to contend with Nancy Pelosi and her friends joining his socialist movement- which is probably as insufferable as being in a tough street gang and having Richard Simmons say he's one of you... "Say what?"


082709 klyde morris


082409 klyde morris



Once upon a time in the King Air "AKKKKKK!"

We'd just set down on an early morning run to take a TV crew to up-state New York so they could cover an auto race. The ramp was packed as I taxied the King Air 200 to the directed unloading area. My FO popped the door and let the guys out as I finished with the cockpit. By the time I got to the door and stuck my head out the crew had their gear and were walking away.

"HEY!" I shouted, gaining their attention, "Come on back here!"

The guy in the lead came back as the others followed.

"Ya' know the little bottles of booze that we carry?" I asked as they looked at me a bit sheepishly.

"Yeah." came from the group.

"Well I noticed as you left that not one of you took any of those." I said pointing toward the storage compartment. The guys all looked a bit puzzled. "This ain't Delta guys, the booze is included in the flight- yer' company already paid for it." I insisted, "I'm the Captain and I'm telling you to get yer' butts back into this aircraft and clean out that liquor cabinet!"

With that they all happily re-boarded the aircraft and proceeded to wipe out the booze drawer... except for one guy who just stood there on the ramp and waited until his pals returned from their raid.

"What's up with you?" I asked him, "Are ya' a non-drinker like me?"

"Nope," he replied hanging his head, "I already have eight bottles in my pockets." A group laugh broke out.

On the drive to our hotel, which was about 60 miles away, my FO spoke up.

"I can't believe you did that with the booze," He said, "Don't ya' think you'll get in trouble with the company?"

"No," I replied smugly, "We do such short hops with the King Air that no one ever gets the chance to mix a drink. Those bottles have been in that cabinet for years and the stock really needs to be rotated."

After a 48 hour stay in a crummy hotel in some crummy town whose name I can't recall because it is blurred into the names of a bazillion other crummy towns, we were back at the airport. Before we had left the aircraft in the hands of the overworked line crew I'd left our fuel order. This particular aircraft had a leaky seal on the right outboard tank. So I had left instructions not to top that tank. This was because when it was topped, the fuel would syphon out for about the first 10 minutes of flight- until the level burned down away from the seal. It wasn't a hazard, it was just a bit of a waste. My FO was within weeks of leaving the company and going to his first regional airline- so I was working him in a manner similar to what I knew he'd see at the airline. With that in mind, I would send him out to preflight and I'd place that entire responsibility of the preflight on him- just like an airline FO. He was good, and I knew that whatever airline Captain got him to work with would have a good trip.

Coming in from the preflight, my FO told me that the overworked line guys had missed my note about the right outboard tank and topped it anyway. In all of the confusion, with a ramp packed with aircraft, it was easy to understand- annoying- but easy to understand. Frankly, on a trip that had been peppered with all sorts of little pains in the ass- this was something I could shrug off.

Our people showed up just in time for us to beat the rush out of the airport and we took the runway on the roll and blasted out of there with as much glee as noise. We were climbing out and looking for a low altitude cruise in the mid teens when my FO looked out toward the right wing.

"Yep," he reported, "it's syphoning again. Leavin' a long contrail of fuel back there." Then he happened to glance back into the cabin. "And the passengers have noticed it."

I glanced back and saw the guys in the back getting uneasy as they all were now taking notice of our vapor trail. Soon it became obvious that they were electing one of their group to tell me about the vapor trail. Seeing that- I casually spoke to my FO...

"They're gonna ask about it. Let's have some fun," I told him, "when they ask me about it, just follow my lead- do what I do."

My FO grinned in response just as the leader of the group stuck his head through the door and tapped me on the arm...

"There's something leaking out of the wing." He pointed toward the right wing as his fellow passengers looked on worriedly.

"There is?" I leaned over as if looking out my FO's window.

Then I looked at my FO and acting panicked blurted out, "AKKKKKKKK!"

My FO looked back at me and screamed "AKKKKKKK!"

Then we looked at each other and waving our arms overhead screamed "AKKKKKKK!"

Then we held our heads and went "AKKKKKK!"

Then I turned around and went casually about flying the aircraft, and my FO followed suit.

The whole cabin erupted in laughter.

"I take it that's not a problem... right?" the passenger asked.

"It's an expected pain in the butt." I replied. Later I leaned over to my FO and told him never to try anything like that at the airlines.

We landed and released our happy passengers. A few days later while preparing for another trip I stopped into the front office and told them what I'd done with the booze cabinet. The manager told me that was simply great because they'd been meaning to rotate that stock out for over a year. I was also informed that the passengers on the last trip said they'd had a great flight and they wanted to fly with me from now on... must have been what I did with the booze. I was thinking to myself "AKKKKKK!"


A big ol' plate of NASA to cancel

There are so many aspects and dynamics going on right now in the world of the DC vote grubs that no one knows what will be next, or in the future for anything. Frankly I think we'll be lucky if they don't change the flag to green with a red hammer and sickle and then have Obama come on the TV and declare himself president for life- because most of the media would simply go along with that. In reality, the party in power is rapidly ripping itself to shreds while the other party is trying to figure out where all of that ripping noise is coming from. Into all of that, the Augustine commission is about to slide, in front of the most liberal left wing President in American history, a great big platter of NASA all garnished with "Nothing fits any budget" sprinkled all over it... YUM! Sitting there with his knife in one fist, his fork in another and his red hammer and sickle bib covering his nice suit what will the President do with such morsel?

Take a wild freakin' guess. Go ahead- all of you space coast workers who voted for him after his shoot and scoot campaign stop at KSC and all of you aerospace workers who voted for him because the union said you should, and all of you NASA workers who had senator's Bill and Babs present him to ya'... come on... guess!

Anyone think that after quadrupling the national debt in just six months and taking heat for running the fiscal boat of the United States full speed onto the rocks, the President may just take this opportunity to fulfill one of his most chanted campaign slogans and make a "change?"
The media is already on board- as it was said today in the Orlando Slant-enal it is now up to the President " decide whether human space exploration is a worthy priority or an unaffordable luxury." OH BOY!... it is a left-wing liberal's dream come true! How better to take the last thing that the USA actually leads in- spaceflight- and gut it, thus bringing us closer to the liberal's goal of finally making us a third world nation!

And even if President Obama does not decide to gut and castrate NASA- there is the congress. The Health Care socialization movement is so damaging the Democrats that they could lose more than 80 seats across both houses next year. That means that some bedrock NASA supporters may be out, and those who replace them will not be in the mode of increasing budgets of any agency. It is going to be cut, reduce and repeal in an attempt to pull back from the insane spending of our current one-party government.

So- the entire balance of United States human spaceflight now will be cast into the bee hive of indecision and CYA politics that is Washington DC. What will the President do? Lead? or vote "Present?" Perhaps he'll send us on a grand adventure to discover... EARTH! Ya' know- chase the left's global warming myth at the rate of a few billion bucks a year until he's thrown out of office. What will the headless chickens in the congress do? And even more important- what will the next batch of vote grubs who replace the current herd of wafflers do? Will they vote to allow our great garden of technology wilt on the vine- like they did four dechades ago? We can only watch.

Oddly, some at NASA are actually delighted at the prospect that project Constellation may be cancelled- because they feel it has been raiding money from the agency which will somehow find its way back to whatever they are personally working on. I fear they have a shock coming. In that embarrassingly inaccurate movie "The Right Stuff" there was a line that went "No bucks- no Buck Rogers." Of course the writers of that script, along with getting almost every other fact wrong, also got that quip wrong- the way it really works is No Buck Rogers- No Bucks. Without human spaceflight, NASA will fade into the federal background. Be careful what you wish for people- those who wished for the death of the Ares I, those who wished for the cancellation of Constellation, those who wished for an end to the shuttle program, those who wish for the end of the ISS, those who chanted for "Change" and those who wish for the end of NASA itself- you may all get what you want, and all at the same time.


CAL, the moron lottery and the 50/50 rule

I love the term "Aviation Safety" as it is actually an oxi-moron. Although, statistically, aviation is by far the safest way to get around- if you talk to anyone at the NTSB (which oversees safety and investigates accidents involving highway, railway, marine, aviation and pipeline) and ask what the safest way to travel is, they'll answer by saying simply- "pipeline."

The simple fact of physics is that anytime you accelerate the human animal to speeds greater than 50 knots or loft the human animal higher than 50 feet you have banked enough potential energy to kill it...period. So simply by entering into any mode that does either of those two things, you are in danger of death. I call it my 50/50 rule and have taught it to all of my flight students- not to worry them, but to scare the living crap out of them. The 50/50 rule is a reality pill that anyone who does other than sitting on the fence and watching the birds, should take.

You see, we who have been steeped in the profession of aviation, know well that we are only as safe as we keep ourselves. That, along with the 50/50 rule is another lesson that the public at large should learn. That lesson is that aviation is the most inherently dangerous for those who forget that it is inherently dangerous. Such was the case recently with the CAL flight that hit turbulence and had passengers flinging around the cabin like a maraca. The captain had had the seat belt sign on for over an hour at the time of the incident. You see when the captain has had the seat belt sign illuminated for over an hour and then the aircraft hits turbulence while some passenger is slobing around with their belt off- and thus finds his or her head stuck through a fresh hole in the overhead and ends up examining the wiring for the reading lights- we in professional aviation know that person has earned their new position on the aircraft. Aviation safety is that simple- follow the rules, listen to the instructions and you'll be as safe as you can make yourself- which is the best that you can do. Yet still the public won't get it. I watched a ton of coverage of the CAL turbulence encounter and the reporters focused on the injured passengers- zooming in on bandages on their faces and braces on their necks while ignoring the seat belts they failed keep fastened.

Of course CAL will end up paying a ton to these morons who can't understand the light-up sign that shows fasten your seat belts, or the announcement made by the flight attendants. Unfortunately, these dim-wits have, in fact, now won the moron lottery. Yes they'll get lawyers (who'll get most of the cash in fees) and they'll file and collect plenty from the airline. The moron lottery has no regard for how much sense a passenger failed to use, it only applies to how safe flying is supposed to be in spite of their non-efforts in the process of making it safe. No one will ask the questions "Were you going faster than 50 knots?" "Were you higher up higher than 50 feet?" "Why didn't you have your FU%$ING seat belt on!?" The answer, of course, would be "Duhhh... I donno." DING! DING! DING! You win the moron's lottery! Johny Donnavin, tell 'em what they win!

One of the paradoxes of the aviation industry is that in order for us to sell it to the public we have to convince them that it is "perfectly safe." A long time ago I recall someone at one of the small airports I was flying out of telling a perspective customer, "Flying for me is just as common as getting into my car and driving... it's that safe." He was killed in a car accident a few years later... wasn't wearing a seat belt. Odds are that if he had told that person the facts, like the 50/50 rule, they'd have never signed up for flying lessons. Odds also are if he'd have learned the 50/50 rule himself and obeyed the law about seat belts, he'd be alive today too.

We have to go along showing the public the big yellow smiley face from the 70s while only sharing among ourselves the honest stories of just how close the close calls can be. Perhaps with every commercial pilot's certificate there should come a big paper sack with a big yellow smiley face painted on it and eye-holes cut into it... ya' know... to be worn while in public.

Although when traveling, I feel the most safe when I'm above 18,000 feet- in pro. land- I never think of flying as perfectly safe. As an ATP and professional aviator I always keep in mind the 50/50 rule and the fact that no matter if I'm in the nose or in the back, I'm still in a huge hunk of metal that is a complex machine that is cheating the law of gravity. The bottom line is that aviation is the most inherently dangerous for those who forget that it is inherently dangerous. Of course it would be really hard to sell tickets if that motto is written across the ticket jacket.


081009 klyde morris


080609 klyde morris