Entries from March 2006

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Arrest Warrant for Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA)

WSBTV.com - News - McKinney Cancels News Conference

Coulnd’t have happened to a more worthy woman.

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

Carrier Blogging

Took this pic a while back when I was doing some reserve duty at Norfolk Naval Base. Just a nice sunset pic made better by having USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, CVN-73, in the image:

carrier sunset

hi res image here

You can see an Aegis destroyer off on the right.

There has been talk (there always *has* been and I suppose always *will* be) about how the carriers are obsolete these days. al Queida doesn’t have a navy; in this “Long War” we will face, from the sea, nothing more than rogue pirates and water-borne suicide bombers; China has to much to lose economically to test us over Taiwan; what’s the good of a thousand-foot multi-billion dollar ship?

Aside from the fact that it is four-and-a-half acres of sovereign United States territory that can be moved around the globe at 35 knots to virtually any place it is needed and project a significant amount of power, that is.

Seriously, aircraft carriers are the backbone of our navy. Global interests mean we must have a global presence. Parking an aircraft carrier 25 miles off the coast of some rogue nation and flying show-of-force missions has a nice way of convincing some people of the folly of their ways.

Steve Ambrose, over on his site takes apart an amazingly uninformed writer who claims the days of the carrier are numbered because of an uptick in the construction of diesel submarines around the world. As if our navy, ship-borne and airborne, hasn’t been training to find all sorts of submarines for the last 60 years.

Addendum: Steve oughta know - 8 years active duty as a S-3 Viking Naval Flight Officer. The S-3 was the US Navy’s premier carrier-based anti-submarine platform. We don’t take these challenges lightly.

No. Carriers remain and will remain extremely relevant today and for a long time to come, especially in these days of foreign nations and governments denying the US basing or docking privileges. Having our own airfield that can me moved to the region it is needed is a spectacular capability. People forget the first weeks of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan was borne on the shoulders of a 3-carrier strike group. I blogged a bit back on this in the speech I gave to the WW2 vets, about how the airwing was flying up to 7 hour missions - that’s like launching from a carrier in the Gulf of Mexico off New Orleans, flying to Chicago, executing your mission, and returning to the ship. Not having land-bases for Air Force expeditionary elements to strike from simply demonstrates the speed, flexibility and capabilities of an aircraft carrier.

So the next time you are at a cocktail party and someone says “Carriers? Bah!” , throw your drink at them and say “Silly person. You know not of what you speak”.

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

EA-6B Prowler - and Carrier Thoughts

A Cat of a different color…or stripe.

Prowler

high res image here

I took this picture of a Prowler in the wires on IKE a few years ago (well, ok, more than just a few years ago….still, I like it).

You can see the Landing Signal Officers (LSOs) on their platform behind, an S-3 parked over by elevator 4 with its wings folded (wing-fold - a necessary requirement sometimes with the premium of space on a carrier). The screen that you see just to the right of the LSOs helps protect them not only from the jet blast exhaust of launching and recovering aircraft, but gives them a bit of a respite from standing out in 25 or 30+ knot winds all day. It might not sound like much, but when I was doing the catapult officer thing, its amazing how beat up you get up on that steel flight deck working in that kind of wind for hours at a time.

At that particular point, the aircraft is probably at around 135 knots, just a second or two from the tailhook grabbing a wire.

Think of the physics required to stop a 25-ton object traveling at 135 knots in approximately 300 feet.

And have to do it again 45 second later.

Up to 10 or 15 times in a row.

Every hour and a half for 12 hours.

There have been news snippets that the Chinese are working on their first aircraft carrier, either a new build or a refurbishment of one of the old Soviet carriers that they bought for use as a *cough cough* Casino.

I said this when the Soviets were getting ready to deploy/operate their first real aircraft carrier back in the 1990’s - I’d give a month’s wages to watch their first flight operations at sea. It has taken the United States over 80 years to get where we are with regards to carrier ops:

Langley

The million and one things that one needs to do just right - from hardware, engineering, personnel, aircraft, seamanship, doctrine, procedures, experience, etc - is not obtained overnight, or even in just a few years. Its one thing to reverse-engineer a missile or even an aircraft, its something totally different to decide “Let’s have a blue-water aircraft carrier capability!”

The Soviets did establish some sort of capability with carrier-based air operations, but I think they just did it then said “Nyet….too difficultski”:

Mig cvsu335su336su337

I’ll blog soon on our new class of carrier, currently designated CVN-21 that will begin construction next year. In short, when the current NIMITZ class came out in the late 60’s, the capabilities of the carrier far exceeded the capabilities of the air wing. Today, that is reversed, with the capabilities and requirements of the airwing beginning to seriously impact the ability of the carrier to support efficient flight operations. Some significant changes are coming in the carrier world.

Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Hostages Rescued by Coalition Forces

Bully!!!!!!!!!!!! Heckuva job, guys! I know everyone….I mean everyone thanks you for what you have done in this rescue.

What’s that? The Christian Peacemaker Teams organization?? You mean they don’t even “mention” the coalition forces in their statement??? They still “blame” you for the trials, tribulations and troubles in Iraq???

“We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end.

Even the statement from the family of Canadian Jim Loney talked about how he was “released unharmed”, as if the “Swords of Righteousness Brigades” realized the error of their ways and let the 3 peace workers go out of the goodness of their hearts - not as if the 101st Airborne and elements of the British Army had anything to do with it.

We have just learned that James is coming home. He has been released unharmed, with his companions Harmeet and Norman.

I know its tough, guys, to continue doing the oftimes dangerous and heavy lifting that needs to be done in the face of what seems to be bald-faced ingratitude, but WE thank you! Keep up the superb work!

Hat tip and a big thanks to Jason up in Chicago for the head’s up!

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

The Wacko Left - Stuck On Stupid

At first I thought this was a MSM (mainstream media) bit, but then I saw it was just that lunatic Alex Jones. All you have to do is read this headline:

Actor Charlie Sheen Questions Official 9/11 Story
Calls for truly independent investigation, joins growing ranks of prominent credible whistleblowers

Now far be it from me to question a “credible” source such as Charlie Sheen, what with his demonstrated good judgement, for, oh, say…dumping Denise Richards - or at least screwing around on her. Yeah…what a rocket scientist.

Not being one who ascribes a certain mind set lock, stock and barrel to a specific group, I have tried….honestly, I have….to mainatain an open mind about “actors” and their strange penchant for thinking that simply because they make a ton of money for creating a fantasy world, their “judgement” (re-read Mr. Sheen’s judgement above again) regarding events of the world are something “special”.

“No, I’m not an expert on international relations, but I’ve played one on TV!” seems to be the mantra for many of these so-called “credible” morons. I’d trust them more if they said they had stayed at a Holiday Inn Express the previous night. For Sheen, I suppose the fact that his dad was in Apocalypse Now and was the left’s “real” president coupled with the fact that the younger Sheen was in that blockbuster “Navy Seals” qualifies him for….what, I’m not too sure (full disclosure….they filmed some of that piece of offal back behind my house when we were in base housing at Oceana. I took Kate out (she was about 2 at the time) to see the marvels of moviemaking).

The list goes on. Richard Belzer, of “Law and Order”, recently opined, in his infinite wisdom, that the troops in Iraq are dumb stiffs who know nothing about what the hell is going on because “…they don’t read twenty newspapers a day”.

As the Guinness commercial goes, “Brilliant!”

Belzer and the others (Garafalo, Sheen, Sarandon, the newly minted “rockstar” Sheehan, etc) are all entitled to their opinion, but why the hell it is supposed to mean anything special, I have no clue.

Opinons, as the saying goes, are like a**holes - everyone has one - its just that some have - and are - bigger….opinions…than others.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Ahhh….Springtime!

I know its just a dusting and the kids are wailin’ cause it wasn’t even CLOSE enough for the Prince William County School system to burn their last snow day, but still….what’s up with THAT!

dust

In any event, it just highlights - emphasizesunderscores…the fact that there are only 164 days before the first game of the 2006 season!

Let’s see if we can forget that last debacle and press on!

War DAMN eagle!

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

Speechifying

One can look back over one’s life and find certain events or experiences that help forge the foundations of where their life will lead or how you will approach it. For me, it was probably growing up with an older brother (only 14 months older, so we were pretty close in age) who developed a love of theater, beginning in high school. Bob, who is still acting/directing/etc, served as an ideal (if unknowing at the time) lead for his oldest-younger brother to spread his own wings a bit.

That confidence, that ability and experience to get up in front of a couple of hundred (or so) family, friends, peers, etc and “perform” without *totally* screwing up is, I think, a key element in my ability to have accomplished many of the things I have in my life. Graduating from being “Man in Crowd” and “Major Domo” to one of the leads in “Annie Get Your Gun” over the high school years, complete with singing (warbling, really) and dancing (plodding, actually), was a great experience.

(bear with me….there is a thread here I’m trying to get to)

So it was a couple of years ago when an email came thru at work that the Chief of Naval Operation’s (CNO) Speaker Bureau was looking for some guest speakers. Fine. Not being one who thought rationally at all times and who never really lived by the tenet “Don’t be first, don’t be last and never volunteer for anything”, I said what the hey!

“Send me what you want me to read and we’ll take it from there”

“Ummm…no, CDR Paisley….you’ll have to write the comments yourself”

Okey fine then. Turned out the gig was a reunion of World War 2 veterans of the attack transport ship USS Frederick Funston. This was the late spring of 2003, so the World War 2 memorial on the mall in DC had just opened. I had volunteered (there’s that “volunteer” thing again) to be an escort for the event and had just a blast listening to all the stories from the then-18 year olds at Normandy or Okinawa.

Armed with that bit of knowledge, I got to work and did a bit of research, aiming for a generic “Your Navy Today” theme (I thought a major policy address detailing our plans to realign the Air Force to be the US’s dedicated military golf course manager was not quite ready).

So this is what I came up with. Reading it is much better than listening to it, and it seemed to be well received.

Good evening

First I’d like to say what an honor it is to be speaking before you tonight. I’d like to welcome you all to Washington DC – this can be an interesting place to live sometimes, in more ways than one, but it is indeed unmatched in the history and the wonderful heritage that this nation has.

Read more…

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Big Pics

Had a few requests for some larger images from the Fly-In last week, so am more than happy to oblige. Sorry the sky wasn’t crystal clear blue, but such is the life of Oceana in March. The wind was wicked, as well, prompting some (like my dad) to comment “That wasn’t a formation…it was a gaggle!” With gusts up to 30+ knots and having 1,188,000 lbs of aluminum and steel flying in a fairly close “formation” (or gaggle, Dad), getting that picture-perfect symmetrical multiple diamond formation isn’t the easiest thing in the world.

So, for your downloading pleasure (and for some, your photoshopping pleasure…), here they are:

3 break
big one here

4 break
big one here

4 break 2
yep….here

101 close
you guessed it

101 close 1
I think you have the idea now

formation 1
here

nose on 1
big one here

nose on 2
here

nose on 3
here

Monday, March 13th, 2006

Grumman Iron Works

iron works

Such was the name earned by the Grumman Aircraft Corporation over the years for the ruggedness and toughness of their aircraft.

There is this famous and incredible picture of this VF-213 F-14 with half its starboard wing gone from a mid-air collision:

VF213

(photo above thanks to Torsten and MATS)

This is not to say that Grumman built the only aircraft that came back with significant parts of their aircraft missing from a chance encounter in the ether - a failure of the “Big Sky Theory”, in other words - but when you look at the battle damage the WW2 fighters would come back with, the name is honorably earned.

(Incidently, that aircraft recovered safely at Singapore with 8′ of the wing gone)

Grumman, based on Long Island, concentrated primarily on carrier-based aircraft for their military programs, although they did build air force aircraft over the years, as well as civilian aircraft.

One notable exception to the previous, however, was of course the Apollo program Lunar Module - what Michael Collins wrote about in his memoir “Carrying the Fire” was “what you get when you turn aeronautical engineers loose designing a vehicle that always flies in a vacuum”.

There has been more than one or two comments made on the Instapinch that Grumman aircraft have been on US aircraft carriers in one way or another since 1933 - quite the record of longevity. While the Tomcat is probably among the most famous of the Grumman planes to have lived on the “roof”, even with its departure we will still have Grumman products there for a few more years - the EA-6B Prowler, until it gets replaced with (you guessed it) the Hornet-variation of the jammer aircraft, the F-18G Growler. In addition, the E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft (the Navy’s “AWACS”) will still be around for a number of years to come - I don’t think they have figured out how to get a radar dome on top of a Hornet yet. (I know…I’m being snarky).

Update: Chris, from the comments, is a EA-6B Prowler aviator headed to the EA-18G Growler, which is of course the correct designation for the Navy’s new jammer aircraft. Mucho apologies for letting my snarky camel nose itself inside the blog tent :) Best of luck, Chris, with the new ride when you get there!

Anyhow, a number of years ago at the airshows that would occur along the east coast, a “Heritage flight” would be part of the display. I snapped the below pic on an overcast day as the F-14 Tomcat pulled up and away in a Missing Man formation out of a quintet of Grumman fighters - from left, the Wildcat, Tomcat, Tigercat, Bearcat and the Hellcat. I haven’t seen such a collection of war birds since, and as everyone knows, soon the Tomcat will go the way of these historical pieces of aeronautical and American aviation history.

Cats

Just have to close with a quick disclaimer - I spent 2 years with the Grumman folks out at the assembly plant in Calverton, Long Island back in the early 90’s as the Navy operations officer for the Defense Plant Representative Office. Best bunch of people you would ever want to meet - hands down. In a short 6 month period, the folks there saw the end of the A-6 production line and the end of the F-14 production line - the mainstay of carrier aviation from the early 60’s on. Tough times for them then, especially with the family aspect of that company. Good people, though.

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

Oceana Fly-In, part 3

Just some additional photos that have come out since the last Tomcat fly-in a few days ago.

Talk about finishing on a high note! What a helluva way to go out…..last fly off, so launch the EA-6B’s back to Whidbey Island first, then the E-2’s back to Norfolk, the S-3’s off to wherever S-3’s go to these days, and those damn bugs can go…they know where.

What’s left? The pinnacle of American naval power with NOTHING but F-14’s festooning the roof! Man….something to warm this old RIO’s heart!

TR Fly off

larger image here

And after they all launched, they formed up for one last fly-over of the ship - check out the deck and the thousand or so folks wanting to witness this bit of history:

TR Tomcats Flyover

larger image here

The very, very, very last catapult shot of a Tomcat off a flight deck. If you look closely, you’ll see a long line of people along the catapult track - for these “memorable” cat shots, usually everyone who is anyone on the ship gets to go down onto the flight deck and do a ceremonial cat officer launch signal:

Last shot

larger image here

And for those of you who were asking about a video? WAVY-TV News in the Tidewater region has this snippet - thanks to the folks at Alert 5!

Those photos from Navy News via Tomcat Sunset

Many thanks to Murdoc, John at Officer’s Club, Blackfive and others for the links, posts and re-directors!