recalcitranttoy: (Default)
We've seen what happened during the Bush administration whenever there was an attack, hint of attack, pseudo attack, etc. -> Fear, uncertainty and doubt. Knee jerk responses that had very little to do with actual security, or even preventing the horrible that happened or was attempted. Examples:

Twin towers in NYC knocked down by airliners, Pentagon attacked by airliner, Pax bring down 4th airliner slated for the White House. Reaction:

Ban private planes from flying at all, then allow them but not close to DC (no private planes involved in the attacks)
Make people take their seats 1/2 hour before landing at DCA (no planes out of DCA involved in the attacks. One can blow up a plane 31 minutes before landing)
Close down Pennsylvania Ave. (because they'd been wanting to and it's a great excuse)
Create DHS and TSA, hiring the same people who they complained were incompetent.

Shoe Bomber attempts to take down aircraft. Reaction:

Ban matches but not lighters
Make everyone take shoes off and put through X rays (material in shoe bomber's shoes can't be detected by x rays)

There are tons of others, but you get the idea.

The question is, will our new president follow the same pattern? None of the nonsensical knee-jerk reactions mentioned thusfar by TSA would do a thing but annoy travelers. And the "you will stay in your seats" rule would actually have prevented passengers from subduing this particular suspect. Today's news reports are saying that TSA is easing up on the clampdown, and hopefully this is a sign that the Obama administration is going to more carefully scrutinize Improv Security Theater, but is it going to be enough? TSA is talking about new 400K explosives detectors in each airport. That's quite a bit of money, not to mention the question of how many are allocated to each airport. If only one, what happens at Dulles during departure push?

Why not look at what really would have helped in this particular circumstance? Recall right after 9/11 when everyone was hyping new methods and equipment by which intelligence organizations could share data about bad guys? There was a huge to-do about increased communication and sharing and all that warm fuzzy feel good stuff. So where was it several months ago when this guy's own father went to authorities to say his son was a nut job about to do something ridiculous? Why didn't his visa get pulled then? People have been denied visas for much less, why not this time? Why wasn't this guy on the "do not fly" list along with 5 year old kids, nuns, and liberal senators? And don't say it's because of privacy fanatics because if that were the case the no fly list would have been cleaned up to the point where only actual threats were on it. If "my son has been trained by Al Qaida and may blow up an airplane" isn't enough to at LEAST get some extra screening, then what's the point?

So Barack, what's it going to be? More veneer to keep the stupid believing they're safer? Or will you actually try to do something? I certainly hope I didn't waste my vote.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
And yes, we are in Acton, MA. And yes, we live. And yes, a brilliant individual posted the flight path and no, I can't believe how stupid some passengers can be. More later, but we have a wedding to shoot. I just have to pick the ammo. Mini DV or Mini DV. Hmmm :-)

Amazing!

Jan. 15th, 2009 05:17 pm
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
So many people believe that all aircraft accidents are fatal. Not so today, likely due to an amazing job by the pilots of the US Airways Airbus A320 that went into the Hudson. CNN just said that all were accounted for, some are in the hospital but nothing critical so far. 155 people safe.

Anyone who has a pilot's license has practiced "engine out" maneuvers. I bet everyone on that airplane is glad those particular pilots did :-).

I wonder what the glide ratio of an Airbus A320 is....

Serious kudos to that flight crew for bringing the airplane down smoothly in a very difficult ditching procedure, and the flight attendants for evacuating the aircraft so quickly under so much pressure. One of those flight attendants is going in for surgery for a broken leg CNN just reported.

Good news is a wonderful thing.
recalcitranttoy: (737)
Every two years I forget that I have to renew my CFI (Certificated Flight Instructor) certification. Why I bother these days given that I haven't flown in ages is a damn good question. However, it was so damn difficult to get the certification in the first place that I'd be an idiot to just let it go. And there is always the chance that I someday get off my sorry behind and actually fly an airplane again.

So, how do you renew your CFI? You take a series of tests that mean you remember which end of the airplane has the cuisinart and whether you push or pull to make the houses get bigger. And this lovely test yells at you if you do it too quickly and implies you "aren't taking the questions seriously." Well what if you just KNOW THE ANSWER? Here's an example of one of the questions:

True or False
A steep turn in which the bank angle is more than 60 degrees is a permissible maneuver for a normal category airplane.

Well if you just KNOW that a 60 degree bank causes you to pull G's and start to stall and the pilot rolls out of her seat in a right bank and tries to crash out the right side window, you kinda KNOW that it's a bad idea to do that in a non aerobatic airplane without a PARACHUTE, eh? How much THOUGHT does that actually take? Oh, I don't know...NOT MUCH?

Heh...in any case, that's what I'll be trying to do over the next week along with all the other stuff I have to do. Ever so happy.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
Brought to you by a country who STILL doesn't inspect all air cargo, but puts passengers through some of the most abusive nonsense known to humankind in order to get from point A to point B

The US administration is pressing the 27 governments of the European Union to sign up for a range of new security measures for transatlantic travel, including allowing armed guards on all flights from Europe to America by US airlines.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
Again on Boing Boing

This kid's parents have been trying to get his name off, but no luck. You'd think a name like Samuel Adams would NOT be one on the list, but well here we go again, eh?
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
Learned something I didn't know by watching tv! Wow, is that ever rare :-). I had no idea that anyone survived the Tenerife air disaster that took over 500 lives due to an impatient Dutch KLM captain. I also had no idea that some of the crew survived on the Pan Am aircraft. Of the 16 crew on board, there were 9 fatalities, 7 survivors + 2 company employees who were sitting in the cockpit jump seats. Of the 317 passengers on board, 61 survived the accident ,but 9 died of their injuries at a later date. Nobody survived on the KLM 747. 234 passengers and 14 crew.

The KLM aircraft did not have clearance to take off and began rolling anyway. The co-pilot questioned the decision, which was quite unusual given the strict culture of authority in European cockpits. The KLM captain had been their chief pilot and flight instructor, so the very idea of questioning him was extremely unusual, and took serious guts on the part of the co-pilot.

Of course, the Pan Am aircraft was still on the runway. At Tenerife, in order to get to take off point, planes had to backtrack on the runway and exit on a taxiway to circle around back to the runway start. The Pan Am flight had been cleared to do this, and was about to exit the runway when the KLM flight was on its take off roll.

Listening to a surviving Pan Am pilot, the differences in cockpit interactions was very marked. On the KLM flight, the flight engineer asked the captain whether he was sure the Pan Am plane was off the runway. The captain pretty much dismissed him. The Pan Am co-pilot keyed the mike and warned they were still on the runway. That key message was not received because the tower was also broadcasting "standby for takeoff" therefore both critical messages blocked each other out. How ironic.

Meantime, the Pan Am co-pilot noticed the KLM aircraft actually moving towards them on the runway (something pretty hard to do at the time because of the fog that had descended). Rather than refrain from questioning the captain, and putting complete faith in the chain of command, the co-pilot ordered the captain to throttle up to clear the runway. The captain, rather than argue or hesitate, firewalled the throttles, which saved some of the people on board.

So you know....the idea of questioning authority is one that should definitely be fostered rather than squelched. Of course, there are ways of doing that in a non offensive, non challenging way. It seems that our culture is moving more towards that of the KLM cockpit than the Pan Am flight deck. People are far more reluctant to question these days, possibly because the answers we are given are often pithy and useless (i.e. "for security reasons," or "for your safety" or "to prevent terrorism"). However, fear of questioning has some pretty significant ramifications. We can't let ourselves be lulled into a false sense of blindly trusting that our authority figures are looking out for our best interests and should be given unbridled leeway in making choices that affect our lives.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
A good friend has been noticeably absent from where I normally find him online. I tried his cell phone and home phone a few times, couldn't raise him there either. I know he travels a lot, so I figured that maybe he'd just been jaunting around in his airplane and was too busy to get back to me. I dropped him an email and didn't worry much.

Today he popped up on AIM, so I asked him where he'd been. His answer was "burn unit." Since he's a doctor, I thought that maybe he was helping out. Uh, no. He was IN the burn unit.

Pilots can have strange reactions to crashes. Some feel it important to sift through the accident reports so that they can find blame and boldly state that they would never do something so stupid. They feel that these things would never happen to THEM because somehow they are "better than that." The reality is that it's all too easy to play Monday morning quarterback when you're not in the emergency and don't know how your mind would work under those exact conditions, or what choices you would make. I've had my share of emergencies and near emergencies in which I could have performed better or could have made different choices. Due to the luck or the draw, or the grace of the gods, I'm still here to talk about them. But it really didn't have to be that way. Each day we make choices and decisions that could directly lead to our demise, and in that split second, trust the universe not to press the "smite" key.

Sometimes we are right, sometimes we are not. Other times, the story becomes a stark reminder to us of the fleeting nature of life, and what things are truly important.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
I received my "Temporary Airman" certificate in the mail finally. Flight instructors have to renew their certificates every two years or lose the ability to be continually terrified by students who are all actively trying to kill you. There has been lots of talk about changing the monicker "airMAN" for something else, but they haven't done this yet, so I am again a temporary airMAN :-)

When I become a permanent airman does this mean I can pee standing up? Might actually be handy.

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