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.