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Aviation

Tupolev Tu-95: World’s Fastest Prop Aircraft

Counter-rotating fans! How cool is that!

One of the commenters says the thing is ugly, but I think that in flight it’s quite beautiful, at least from the video. There’s also back-and-forth as to whether it’s a Russified Nazi plane or an American one.

Published on Sep 1, 2013

Russian Aircraft The Tupolev Tu-95 (Russian: Туполев Ту–95; NATO reporting name: Bear) is a large, four-engine turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform. First flown in 1952, the Tu-95 entered service with the Soviet Union in 1956 and is expected to serve the Russian Air Force until at least 2040.[1]

[ ... SNIP of a great deal more info. Go to UT and click "See more"* ...]

*But be warned, among other things “See More” passes us such gems of information as this:

An aircraft is a machine that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. …

And this:

The human activity that surrounds aircraft is called aviation.

It also includes a few titillating details about the USAF. Actually the thing reads like a paper written for school by someone of Junior-High age (say, 11-14).

However, there are some interesting, substantive comments.

It must be true because I read about it in the Daily Mail…

[Editorial note - this story is from a while back but I've been sick as a mangy hound with nastiness so never finished it. I'm back now.]

… except it isn’t. Since childhood I have been an aviation fanatic. I’m astigmatic, somewhat short sighted and RG colour blind. So when I started my degree I spoke to the recruiting officer for the East Midlands Universities Air Squadron and when I explained my ishoos I was told to politely eff off. Having said that would you really trust someone who had to be told what colour Corsodyl toothpaste is with hands on the throttle and stick of a something that costs more than David and Victoria Beckham’s house and can drop JDAMs?

Thought not.

Shame but fair enough I guess. Having said that the highest scoring fighter ace in British history, Major Edward “Mick” Mannock, Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order and Two Bars, Military Cross and Bar (61 confirmed kills, maybe 73) and that Irishman was blind in one eye (allegedly). He (allegedly) bribed someone in the medical section to get the sight-test chart and memorised it. I think they are a bit more careful these days. Never trust the Irish or the Daily Mail.

Why?

Prince Harry has created a scholarship to get wounded veterans behind the wheel of an iconic Spitfire.

A fine and noble goal except a Spitfire (do we need to be told it is “iconic”? Do we ever need to be told something that actually is iconic is “iconic”?) doesn’t have a wheel. No, seriously. This is a snarky piece but it is aimed against the Mail and not Harry. I knew a lass at Nottingham University who helped out with riding for the disabled. Imagine how freeing it is for a paraplegic to be astride a horse and to gain that speed, height and mobility. A Spit has rather more horses in the front so…

The scheme, inspired by Second World War pilot Douglas Bader, will see the strongest candidates move up from a Tiger Mother biplane, to a Harvard, to the bespoke craft.

A Tiger Mother? God help us! The Harvard though was the RAF’s LIFT at the time so OK there but what’s that with “bespoke”?

Oh, and we had many disabled pilots in WWII. One bloke had nose art on his Spitfire showing the arm he’d had blown off flicking the V-sign.

Harry, an Apache helicopter pilot, launched the scholarship by climbing into the cockpit of a Spitfire and starting it.

Er… He’s an Apache WSO. Whatever.

But this is astonishing…

Not Spitfires

The Mail caption is this, “Britain built about 20,000 Spitfires, but they became obsolete after the invention of the jet engine. Here, a fleet is pictured with wing commander Robert Stanford-Tuck for the 1968 film.”

I’m not even going to point out they are Hurricanes.

I can fact-check stuff in the press. But I have limits. I know about certain areas such as aviation, bits of physics, a few other odds and ends but that is my lot. Worrying isn’t it? How much can the media smuggle past you as “truth” if you don’t know the subject?

I’m just wear my Mr Sceptic hat. I’m not exactly accusing them of making things-up or even of cherry-picking things to reflect their views but of in a fundamental way not really caring about hard truth. I mean that in the sense that the Mail sees the truth of telling a heart-warming story of the dashing young prince driving fast cars for a good cause (which it is) is more important than the awkward little facts. They all do it. What we have to do is behave like small Danish boys and sometimes shout, “But I can see his willy!!!”.

A tale of two passengers.

I have flown from Malta to Manchester. I can’t say it was a great experience. Flying very rarely is these days but fortunately I wasn’t on the plane with this tosser. Please read the whole thing – it’s mind-bending. Here is a taste…

A drunken jet passenger was tasered by police after stripping naked on the airport tarmac – and challenging the captain to a fight.

The 52-year-old man, who had arrived in Manchester on an easyJet flight from Malta, also urinated up the side of the Terminal One building.

Video taken of the amazing incident shows the burly, bald man removing his clothes on the runway apron and posturing at the captain – before receiving a slap across the face from his female companion.

Almost makes you wish for the days of Paul Temple on flying boats with wicker chairs and a G&T served just right.

Apparently the gentleman in question has been arrested on the grounds of being suspected of being “drunk and disorderly”. I hope the magistrate doesn’t feel the need to consider this one for too long.

On the other hand this is a brilliant story.

Politics in it’s old hat.

This started as a reply to Sam’s comment here.

Sam, you have a point. The older I get the more I realise that politically we are regressing to a bastardized-Victoriana that never really existed. How else would the largest ever proposed engineering project in British history be a railway that George and Robert Stephenson could envisage – literally – it’s George’s gauge metal rails of course. It’s also 50 billion quid jizzed up the wall

It was cutting edge when George and son were building the Rocket but that was nigh on 200 years from an MP idling on the track and getting mown-down by the Rocket to the first paying passenger getting on the “new” HS2. What happened to the Fairey Rotodyne? Political pignorance and bastarding fuckwittery is what happened. There were concerns over noise (Fairey had got it down to the sound of a tube train). The fact the US military wanted loads of ‘em was irrelevant. The fact there was significant commercial interest in a high-speed city to city VTOL aircraft matter nothing if it scared the horses. Literally. The Bellendius Maximus who first championed HS2 was (and is) Lord Adonis. Yes, it does sound like he should be a porn-star. Lord Andrew [which means "manly" BTW] Adonis looks like this…

What mental image do you have of a Lord Adonis? A sort of demi-god who traded blows with Hektor of Troy? Or that piss-poor wankenshaft? He wrote a scholarly history of the poll-tax.

Short version. I did more against that. I simply didn’t pay. Not because I objected nor because I knew it was wrong as such but because I knew I could get the feck away with it and those quids in my pocket were worth more to me than being in the pockets of the cuntcil. At the time, there was, as ever a C19th (perceived as) idea that the community charge was either right or wrong. I just didn’t want to pay. Yes, I was shellfish. I was the full lobster.

So I didn’t pay and they never got me. So, what’s my point? Well, possibly it is Ike’s about “guided missiles but unguided men”. No politricks this last fifty years has moved much beyond WWI. Anywhere.

Look at the lavish expense of HS2 and compare with the dismal spending on Skylon? The first is a C19th solution to a C21st problem and the second is an SSTO aerospace plane that would result in Bristol Filton being re-monikered “Bristol International Spaceport”. Now if that isn’t cooler than making the trip from London to Birmingham 15 minutes shorter I despair. I have been to Birmingham. It’s OK but space!

It is the chronic lack of imagination that gets me about politricks.

And put it this way… 50 billion quid in you or my pocket is much more likely to get us to Mars than any ammount in the poche of the taxman. And that will only get you to Brum.

Which is like OK and all but seriously nothing to write home about.

Birmingham – it’s OK I guess.

Total Fucking Barbarians…

From The Guardian

One of seven Saudis due to be put to death on Tuesday by crucifixion and firing squad for armed robbery, speaking over a smuggled mobile phone from his prison cell, has appealed for help to stop the executions.

Nasser al-Qahtani told Associated Press from Abha general prison on Monday that he was arrested as part of 23-member ring that stole from jewellery stores in 2004 and 2005. He said they had been tortured to confess and had no access to lawyers.

They were apparently juves at the time which don’t matter a jot to me. Nothing much does when I hear the word “crucifixion” uttered in anger in 2013AD. And I bet it’s done in public though you won’t be able to sup a beer during the hilarity for that would be immoral. Or watch girls in their summer clothes for that too would be immoral. Crucifixion for three days though is moral. Sometimes allegedly they behead you first – with a sword. Thank heavens for small mercies. God almighty, even the bloody Romans would take a few coins to break the condemned’s legs and help ‘em on their way. These depraved camel fuckers are beyond anything I can imagine – 3 days! Is that in the Qu’ran? I’ll bet dollars to donuts it ain’t anyway it’s 2013 for the love of fuck. A kid was born recently who was HIV+ and is now not. Dennis Tito is planning a second honeymoon for a middle-aged couple to Mars! My wife’s new phone has more computing power than Alan Turing ever played with. But not it would seem in the Un-Magic Kingdom (the unhappiest place on Earth). What an epic shit-hole!

1. 9/11 terrorists – 15/19 were Saudis.

2. One enlightened princeling owns an airline (as you do) and employs a female pilot. This is progress – w only got there with Amy and Amelia when my grandad wasn’t even in short pants – of course we could have got there sooner but we had to wait for two guys from Ohio to build a ‘plane. Of course whilst she can fly (because they never got around to banning it) she can’t drive to the airport because women can’t drive. She’s allowed to fly a Boeing or Airbus but a Toyota is beyond her.

3. The last King (the one before Abdullah) had hordes of children due to his harem and due to his alleged “dicky ticker” had the planet’s only one-step escalator installed in the Royal Palace.

4. I can’t go to Mecca on pain of death! Only Muslims can. Not that there is much point anyway because it’s all been paved to build 5* hotels for rich folk on the Hajj (have you seen the cost of that?). The archaeological stuff has just been flattened. It’s like Vegas without the gambling and booze and broads. Or a complete fucking waste of concrete in the desert.

But they are a key ally in the “War on Terror” (see 1) and for some Godforsaken reason we sell ‘em Gen 4.5 Strike Fighters. Blimey. The first time I saw a Tiffy it was in RSAF colours in Malta. I assume on a ferry trip. They also crucify people. I wouldn’t trust those intellectual and moral retards with a propelling pencil let alone a fighter jet. And BAE Systems only managed to get the deal via grand an hour hookers and Scotch Whisky laid down when Rob Roy was knee-high to a grasshopper. If it wasn’t for the World-Class blow-jobs and the Malts they’d have bought Block-52-60+ F-16s like any sensible person. But so would we! And I guess when you are in a country that is dryer than an Arab’s sandal* and all the girls wear the Millet’s back catalogue God knows.

Perhaps the odd crucifixion relieves the tedium somewhat. God alone knows why we don’t call them for what they are. They aren’t the only gaff knee-deep in four-star. Alberta is but that involves fracking which is controversial. Now if fracking is controversial where does that put crucifixtion?

We live in a very morally troubled World.

*BTW the (in)famous episode of “Yes, Minister” in which Jim Hacker get’s pissed on a visit to a fictional Mid-East country is based on truth. That’s magic that is, “There is a call from the Scotch (sic) Office – a delegation of Teachers”. “A call from the Soviet Embassy – a Mr Smirnoff”.

Yet Another Mail Fail.

This is the opening of a Fail article on the restoration of an aircraft…

150 V1 rockets were fitted with cockpits so they could be steered into targets before pilots attempted to bail out.

And this is the end…

The rocket is 28ft long, has a wingspan of 22ft and is fitted with an Argus 109-014 pulse jet engine.
The museum is due to take delivery of it later this week.

Epic face-palm! You spotted the cock-up yet?

The V-1 was a jet not rocket as the frankly self-contradictory final line states. Who writes this drivel? Why do they employ such numpties? Why does basic factual accuracy on matters of aerospace not matter (and the Mail are far from alone here). And is it just aerospace where they just casually display complete pignorance and lack of basic fact-checking? I know a lot about ‘planes and stuff, not so much about other things. Should I be worried?

That’s rhetorical by the way.

Kill Devil Hills 17/12/1903.

Just over a century ago there was a race on…

It was won on this day in 1903 by two bicycle makers from Ohio. And not with a bicycle. Although that does matter and I shall get onto why later.

I could write (!) a lot on this but sometimes a picture says a thousand words…

This is Samuel Langley’s “Aerodrome” about to take an early bath in the Potomac around Quantico, VA in front of the World’s press… And perhaps more importantly, the US War Department in the form of Teddy Roosevelt who must have concluded that wasn’t $50,000 well spent – I mean I could go further through the air on a skateboard. There were journalists there with (relatively) new-fangled magic picture boxes (can you imagine the embarrassment!). Oh, and they also managed to nearly drown the pilot, twice – they tried again later. Samuel Langley (who wasn’t the pilot but was director of the Smithsonian) got his deputy to fly that contraption and that was into a river in VA in autumn – that’s gotta be ball-shrinkly cold. That was on October 7th 1903 (a follow-up with similarly dismal results occurred on December 8th of the same year – with the same pilot who must have been getting really narked by then).

On this day though, 109 years ago (and shortly after Langley caught the drink – or rather his poor “pilot” did (twice!)) this happened on Kill Devil Hills, NC…

Like I said about pictures…

I saw a documentary about the Wright Brothers a couple of years back. Marvelous stuff! Unlike the $50,000 of “government” money Langley spent the best estimate on what the Wright’s spent is $1,000 which is I suppose the cost of a decent camera these days which is ironic because that image is for me the image of the century of my birth (I happened a mere 70 years later) and you wouldn’t want it caught on your ‘phone. Also I have seen the Wright exhibition in the Smithsonian of which (at the time of the first flight) Samuel (putting a bloke in the drink, twice) Langley was director. When I visited the Smithsonian NASM I saw the ephemera of the Wright Brothers including Will’s pocket watch with which the dream of time immemorial was finally recorded upon – less than the wing-span of a 747 – 12 seconds. I also (it’s right at the entrance) saw the Apollo capsule that took Neil and Buzz and Mike safely home a mere 66 years later. Chuffed would be one way of putting it but I was utterly beside myself. I was seeing for real things I’d dreamed about since reading Bill Gunston as a little kid! It was superlative. Epic beyond my own dismal comprehension.

But there are unleft issues are there not?

Langley managed to panel his ‘plane and pilot into the Potomac. He had not thought of control. You see the thing was the Wright’s knew bicycles and I assume most readers can ride a bicycle. Odd things bicycles. I don’t think I have been on one since 2007 but I know I could ride one right now. Dead easy. Except it isn’t, is it? Langley attempted stability, the Wright’s attempted control. Most early attempts at heavier than air flight (including Langley’s) were based upon the idea that we would “sail the skies” with positive stability rather than metastatic stability (consider a pencil – easy to stand on it’s end – tough to stand on the point even though the symmetry suggests it should do just as well – that’s the difference – the point is meta-stable like the co-linear Lagrange points – it has no come-back from a minor perturbation like someone sneezing in the next room). So you need control because stability is undoable.

When you ride a bike you don’t think of it but you make minor adjustments all the time utterly unconsciously. Flight needs a pilot in much the same way. Orv and Will got this key point. Langley was trying to make a flying ship that would sail the friendly skies and remain stable without control input. Don’t work. That is how he wrecked his craft and almost drowned/froze his “pilot”. Because he wasn’t a pilot. What the Wright brothers figured was that control was more important than stability.

Many people think it remarkable that mere bicyclists first flew a controlled, powered, human-carrying aircraft. I don’t. They were well set-up for it.

But also, think on this… The bicycle was a huge invention. It enormously enlarged human freedom. It was the dot.com of it’s day (read late C.19th stories if you don’t believe me). It was the first time really that the likes of a nanny or accountant’s clerk could go on a trip. It was the automobile, indeed the aeroplane of it’s day. It probably did more for female (and male) emancipation than voting rights. It wasn’t exclusive or high-tech – that is my point – and that is why it caused a revolution. So it is fitting, sweet, and obvious (if you think about it) that bike makers invented the aeroplane off their own bat rather than a civil servant. They had the know-how and they also realised not so much the aeroplane (flying machines of sorts were not exactly new) but the conception of the pilot and the idea that control was the key. And that came from the bicycle. Now we all know the old saw about how you never forget how to ride a bike. What is hidden in there is the idea that no adult ever actually really recalls how they learnt. That is why the Wrights were utterly brilliant. They saw what other’s didn’t. They didn’t so much invent the ‘plane but the pilot. Now that is clever.

And also think on this. As I said the Wright’s spent 1/50th of the monies Langley got from the War Department. His attempt ended in dismal failure (at least partly because he was obsessed with stability rather than control) but the private enterprise model worked instead because…

Well, of the $50,000 Langley spent attempting to drown a man (twice) $10,000 of that was spent on his launch catapult. The Wright’s launched from a wooden rail that by all accounts was bought from a local timber yard and cost the princely sum of $4 – you can’t get a Happy Meal for that these days! Unlike Langley with his enormous ($50,000 was a lot of money back then!) funding the Wright’s were on a shoestring. Their “Flyer” was spotted (I hope you know what I mean by that?) by the local life-savers on the beach and a “curious teenager”. I assume from the timing the kid was on his way to school. I bet nobody believed him when he gave his excuse for why he was late!

Flick forward over a hundred years now. We have SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. Not NASA as much (who are still expanding into space – office space). I saw a documentary about Burt Rutan recently. Utter gonzo-spacing – excellent stuff! I might get to the methane seas of Titan after-all.

The state didn’t make people fly and it won’t take us to Mars or the stars.

I think we can all take comfort in that.

Delta.

Back in 1996 (around this time of year) I was in NYC. Now I had to get back to Atlanta. A naive person might imagine since the invention of the aeroplane this is a minor detail. I was indeed booked on a 9.30am Delta flight from La Guardia to Hartsfield. Do I need to add that Hartsfield is Delta’s major base? Do I need to add that Delta allegedly run 4 flights a day between La Guardia and Hartsfield? So, I’m on the first of four flights that day but no… I wind up on the 6-30pm one because effing Delta “consolidate” all four onto the final flight.

So, eventually I get on this MD-80 and am chucked a bag of nibbles by an extremely bored looking FA (I suspect she wanted to get back to ‘lanta too). But to crown it all we are exiting the holding pattern over Hartsfield and coming in and then we just zoom climb. The captain sounded shaky on the intercom but bloody hellskis I never knew an MD-80 could climb like a Sabre. It was emotional I can tell you. Instinctively my girlf grabbed my hand. But not too tight.

What had happened was that a 767 was crossing the runway and our pilot had seen it just in the nick of time, yanked the stick back and went balls to the wall with the throttle. Well, it took another 45 minutes of orbit to get a slot and I felt Like the Pope when I finally de-planed. Never has this goodly Earth seemed so… er, goodly.

Well, it would appear Delta has bought up 49% of Virgin Airlines. Great! I wouldn’t trust Delta to fly a kite.

And me reporting this on this of all days.

Two bad cases of the DTs

From The Telegraph on the subject of the predecessor to the Bloodhound SSC project…

Thrust SSC was, at 4m wide and 10 tonnes – powered by twin Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engines, more commonly found beneath the wings of an F-4 Phantom II jet aircraft – an unwieldy beast. Rather than simply tweak its design, Noble and Green opted to begin from scratch. A slimmer, lighter car could, they reckoned, significantly outstrip Thrust. But first they needed jets.

This is what an F-4 Phantom looks like:

Do you see any engines under the wings? Now obviously I knew this already but finding that (and many more) images took 5s with Google. And it’s not like it’s an obscure ‘plane so anyone writing on this sort of stuff ought to know anyway.

If I were editor of the DT I’d carpet Mr Ross for such sloppy idleness. Now I’m a fair man so I’d give him a start before I released the hounds and wouldn’t spray his genitals with aniseed first. I reserve that as a unique punishment.

The second is this gem of bollocks reporting and woo-woo headlining.

Look, you numpty, this is what the USA thought of doing… They were going to detonate a kT range-yield nuke (I hate the term “atomic bomb” which is used in the article) to show the Soviets that the USA could hit the Moon or even in principle weaponize it. Bear in mind this was the ’50s when serious popular science journals were considering the (stupid and unworkable) idea of missile batteries on the moon. Unworkable because it took an entire Saturn V rocket to get three men there and stupid because it took three days to get there (or back). Who wants to launch a nuclear strike giving the other side that much notice? Of course in those days small (and not so small) boys were reading action comics in which the USMC (Space Division) and the Spetznaz (Space Division) would be slugging it out (with ray-guns, natch) over Copernicus Crater.

It all goes back perhaps to Arthur C Clarke (and maybe John Wyndam) and the concept of orbital weapons. Again a militarily ridiculous concept if you think about it*. Ultimately technical, military and economic logic won though against SF dreams and the sub-orbital ballistic missile was born. Couple that with a nuclear powered submarine and you have a far more potent weapon at orders of magnitude less money. You think a Vanguard or Ohio class submarine is expensive? Compare with the cost of building nuclear silos on the Moon…

I guess it hit a popular Zeitgeist based, perhaps, on the feeling that we’d gone from the Wright brother’s stick and string to Sputnik in half a century and from lobbing hand-grenades from primitive biplanes to Little Boy in even less time.

“Everyday it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a roller coaster”

-Buddy Holly.

Perhaps it’s also down to other little boys fantasizing about using their ray-guns to waste some tentacled horror and win the heart of the alien princess who might be green but that’s OK because she has unfeasibly large breasts (that’s Zero-G for you!). Seriously, the interaction between popular culture, fashion, trends in aerospace and governmental policy can’t be underestimated. Perhaps whoever wrote this Telegraph schlock was one of those little boys but of course this persisted long after the ’50s. Consider two films from about 1980. There was a sort of proto-”Deep Impact” movie (I forget the name) which featured pre-existing Soviet and US nukes being turned against an incoming meteor or some such and also of course “Moonraker” with the USMC in space-combat with Drax’s mob. Drax also has deadly weapons in space. Of course he does! And he wears a Mao suit.

Instead we had Apollo. You know they left medals commemorating lost cosmonauts as well as the astronauts who died in the Apollo oxygen fire?

Back to Earth! The wider problem I see with this hopelessly sloppy reporting on aerospace related issues by the dear old DT is that this is a subject I know a lot about. And it isn’t just the DT. They are all at it. The contempt the MSM scribblers show for basic fact checks and employing anyone competent** in the first place is staggering. And this is something I know about so I can chortle but what about the huge numbers of things I don’t really know about? That’s a worry. I don’t have the internal knowledge to appraise immediately nor the time to acquire it. They can’t sell me a load of pony on certain things but on others… And the same dear reader applies to you. None of us are polymaths anymore.

But as to the aerospace specifically, suspect deep-down it is a symptom of an ingrained belief amongst the “serious” papers (the ones without unfeasibly large breasts – more honest – you know where you are with a tit) that the really important stuff only happens between Whitehall and Wapping and getting actual facts – easy, non-controversial, non-debatable facts correct about all that nasty, complicated stuff with “like sums with letters in them” doesn’t really matter to their journalism trained minds. Something Michael Gove said is ever so much more important. No. It. Isn’t. When the Govester and his EBacc are mere footnotes in Hansard (some other wanker will be re-arranging the deckchairs by then anyway) studied only by the dullest of graduate students people will remember Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins.

Well, that tech-stuff does matter and I’d much rather read something written by someone with no qualifications in journalism but an understanding of the area they are reporting on anyway. As I said, in many areas I don’t know what to think because I don’t trust what I read not just because it is propaganda or lies or deranged opinion but because I can’t accept the basic, verifiable, “truths” they use within the piece as real or otherwise because I know how sloppy they are on things I do know because I know they don’t even care to find out an F-4 Phantom has fuselage mounted engines rather than under-wing ones. I’ll leave the penultimate words to a quote from Bertrand Russell (I think this is about right),

I’d rather be reported by my worst enemy in philosophy than someone ignorant of it.

Quite, Bert.

Without facts to argue from analysis and opinions are devoid of meaning. Without a respect for facts analysis and opinions range from doubtful to disingenuous to out-right “Noble Lies” (in the Platonic sense).

I want to know truth and not an unreality built upon a lack of genuine, objective facts. Every ignoring of reality (whether deliberate or through idleness or stupidity) contributes towards an “invented reality” so let’s ultimately hear from Jorge Luis Borges.

Ten years ago, any symmetrical system whatsoever which gave the appearance of order — dialectical materialism, anti-Semitism, Nazism—was enough to fascinate men. Why not fall under the spell of Tlön and submit to the minute and vast evidence of an ordered planet? Useless to reply that reality, too is ordered.

- Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

PS. I know this rambles. I’ve spent too long on it.
PPS. I know (see PS) this is posted after Levenson introduced (BBC – “His long-awaited enquiry results”. Not by me it wasn’t. I wasn’t calling for the DT to be taken to task by the “Regulators” (think Western movies) over these inexcusably bad pieces of journalism. No. I was calling for the likes of us to point out and laugh because, like a small boy who sees a potentate in the nip.

*Either geostationary over Moscow and DC or in predictable orbits or burning lots of fuel to vary orbit which would mean a very limited life-span or some form of space refueling.
**In the first article there is some wibbling about “Computational Fluid Dynamics”. Clearly the author hasn’t a clue what he is on about.

Heroes of the Day…

In a daring raid intended to boost the morale of the French [hmm...], Wing Commander Ken Gatward flew just feet off the ground to put the wind up the Germans.

After dropping a huge French flag on top of the Arc de Triomphe, the British pilot headed towards the Gestapo headquarters which he raked with 20mm shells.

The attack sent the German SS troops running for their lives [and crying like girls], to the delight of Parisians.

Just read the whole thing. It’s awesome.

It reminds me oddly of this.

Push-me Pull-me justice

If you’ve been paying attention over the last few years, it is clear how the elite see the rest of us.  We are little more than farm yard animals to be cajoled and compelled and banned from doing things, lectured and hectored at will, and above all taxed.  We maybe shot if it suits the government as poor old John Charles De Menezes found out, or slung in jail as any number are now finding out for speaking words the government don’t like, and above all we are to be frightened by bogey men.  Mencken once said “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

 

And thus the whole security theatre at airports (which I will take a bit more seriously when I see Obama’s daughters being abused by the TSA or Cameron being subject to a body search ~ hey who has killed more people after all?).  Terror threat?  For someone who grew up in the 1970’s when the IRA were planting actual bombs regularly, it’s hard to take this seriously.

 

But you might have hoped for some kind of intellectual consistency, if not from politicians then at least from the judiciary.

 

But in one of the most convoluted and tortured contradictions ever to vomit forth from a British courtroom, the residents who weren’t thrilled with having anti-aircraft missiles on their roofs (and from what I can make out, out there without permission, notice or compensation of any kind) have lost their case against the deployment. 

 

A judge ruled the Ministry of Defence was legally entitled to decide there was “no credible threat” and the siting of the missiles was both “legitimate and proportionate” because of the “unprecedented” circumstances of the Games.

 

Yep, you read that right, there is no credible threat and it is so severe that we need to put missiles on your roof. 

 

One of the residents has caught on, he said the clear implication of the judgment was that “the MoD now has power to militarise the private homes of any person” even when there was no war on, or state of emergency declared.

 

Yep.  Free speech is gone, the right to own handguns long gone, self-defence, forget it, wer are taxed* and regulated to death, albeit inconvenient regulations are done away with for the elite**.  Now property rights are crushed at the whim of the state because they find it convenient.

 

The Romans used to say Fiat ‘justitia ruat caelum’’ meaning “let justice be done though the heavens fall”  Not anymore. 

 

* Not for the elite obviously, for you.  They pay 8% tax on the money they extract from you at the point of a gun, while they make you pay 45%.

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/331884?tw_p=twt

                                                                                                    

** I’ve read, (but cannot find a link) that some of the speed bumps in the Zill lanes are being removed, does anyone know if this is correct?

“That Damn Swede Can See Air”.

Only quite recently did the Typhoon FGA4 hit anything like FOC (full operational capability – I get the distinct impression they had to rush JDAM capability to bloody Ghadaffi’s nose. Before that it was very much a case of flying low and flicking them the bird or what the RAF called a “robust air-to-ground capability”). OK, it’s good but the genesis of the ‘plane is an RAF AST (Air Staff Target) from 1971. Of course what that means is time-delays (and of course the resulting cost over-runs which results in… Which results in…) and the longer it goes on the more self-starting they become. Quite simply there can be no continuity of design team because people retire or indeed die over those decades. Everyone has to keep re-inventing the wheel and then new tech pitches-up otherwise it’s obsolete and that has to be integrated onto an increasingly obsolete frame so more delay, more cost, more obsolete. It eventually transpires but via vastly more kicking and screaming than you’d want. So enter one of my absolute heroes… Clarence L “Kelly” Johnson of Lockheed and his Rules of Engineering.

1. The Skunk Works manager must be delegated practically complete control of his program in all aspects. He should report to a division president or higher.

2. Strong but small project offices must be provided both by the military and industry.

3. The number of people having any connection with the project must be restricted in an almost vicious manner. Use a small number of good people (10% to 25% compared to the so-called normal systems).

4. A very simple drawing and drawing release system with great flexibility for making changes must be provided.

5. There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.

6. There must be a monthly cost review covering not only what has been spent and committed but also projected costs to the conclusion of the program.

7. The contractor must be delegated and must assume more than normal responsibility to get good vendor bids for subcontract on the project. Commercial bid procedures are very often better than military ones.

8. The inspection system as currently used by the Skunk Works, which has been approved by both the Air Force and Navy, meets the intent of existing military requirements and should be used on new projects. Push more basic inspection responsibility back to subcontractors and vendors. Don’t duplicate so much inspection.

9. The contractor must be delegated the authority to test his final product in flight. He can and must test it in the initial stages. If he doesn’t, he rapidly loses his competency to design other vehicles.

10. The specifications applying to the hardware must be agreed to well in advance of contracting. The Skunk Works practice of having a specification section stating clearly which important military specification items will not knowingly be complied with and reasons therefore is highly recommended.

11. Funding a program must be timely so that the contractor doesn’t have to keep running to the bank to support government projects.

12. There must be mutual trust between the military project organization and the contractor, the very close cooperation and liaison on a day-to-day basis. This cuts down misunderstanding and correspondence to an absolute minimum.

13. Access by outsiders to the project and its personnel must be strictly controlled by appropriate security measures.

14. Because only a few people will be used in engineering and most other areas, ways must be provided to reward good performance by pay not based on the number of personnel supervised.

There was also the unofficial 15th rule which was never to work for the Navy. Apparently they were wont to change specs dramatically during projects.

And that is how you build this on time and on budget and whilst the other Johnson is in the Oval Office…

Adolph for the Tenner…

The ten pound note has to be replaced soonish. There would appear to be a serious rick-rolling of Alan Turing here which made me think “Who else?”. Now don’t get me wrong. Alan Turing would be fine with me. As would, in principle, James Maxwell (a man who is nowhere near as publically honoured as he ought to be). A truly astonishing theoretical physicist.

∇.D=p

∇.B=0

∇xE=-∂B/∂t

∇xH= ∂D/∂t+j

That is electricity and magnetism for you – all of it – that is kettles and Tesla coils, EKG and lasers – our everything. That is one of the four fundamental forces of nature conclusively decked and so neat, so simple. Those equations are also pregnant with relativity. They are, anyway, awesomely elegant. That is why I studied physics. To see such beauties dance. Think on it. Reality that will fit on a small Post-It! You can derive the speed of light as a universal constant from those simple equations if you know The Calculus and vectors. Maxwell also made profound contributions to thermodynamics as did Josiah Willard Gibbs (with his “Grand Cannonical Ensemble” – available for birthdays, weddings and ba(r/t)-mitzvahs) who we have to thank for the modern vector notation those equations are written in. Maxwell’s original work is (and was) verging on impenetrable without it. If you are reading this with a mug of tea or coffee on the go then the number of accessible microstates of that beverage is e to the power ten to the power twenty three (roughly). Trust me, that is big. And might involve a demon. I sat through many lectures on ergodic theory and it was nails. I liked that. I knew students of the Farts and Shitterature. I learned hard reality (and how to duck and cover when Denver’s (yes it was his name) and the experiment with an unfeasible quantity of used cooking oil frequently went Pete Tong*. The others learned to say such and such about some book.

So, why not Maxwell? Alas, I feel that if we replace one heavily bearded bald Victorian gent on the tenner (Darwin) with another people won’t notice the change. I will, obviously. So, let us honour Maxwell otherwise – and he deserves it. Dear Gods he does! He easily makes the Holy Trinity of British Scientists along with Newton and Darwin.

As I said, Turing would be fine. The Daily Mash seems to be cheerleading for US rapper Will I Am (I think his mum still calls him “William”) which just makes me think, “Why not Ant & Dec?”. Crusty old bugger I am. But if we are to have a debate then why not Adolph? Obviously not the genocidal tooth-brush ‘tashed Austrian mono-orchid lunatic but this Adolph…

Adolph Gysbert Malan, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar (24 March 1910 – 17 September 1963), better known as Sailor Malan, was a famed South African World War II RAF fighter pilot who led No. 74 Squadron RAF during the height of the Battle of Britain. Malan was known for sending German bomber pilots home with dead crews as a warning to other Luftwaffe crews. Under his leadership No. 74 became one of the RAF’s best units. Malan scored 27 kills, seven shared destroyed, three probably destroyed and 16 damaged.

Malan survived the war – to become involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his country.

*****

With the rationalisation of 4 FTS to just two squadrons, 74(R) Sqn was disbanded on 22 September 2000.

In 2008, No.74 would have celebrated its 90th anniversary, however No. 74 (F) Squadron still lives on through the 74 (F) Tiger Squadron Association, which brings together former tigers from all generations for a yearly reunion dinner. Pending raising the necessary funds, plans are in place to create a museum dedicated to the Squadron’s history at their former base of Horsham St Faith, now Norwich Airport.

Hardly the same. Stick Sailor on the tenner. It is the least we owe him.

This is Group Captain Malan…

Sailor

Stick him on the tenner with a couple of Spitfires. Job done. We could do much worse. He fought like a tiger in a battle half a world away from his home and he kept on fighting after the war. A genuine hero.

*Denver was pouring used cooking oil down an inclined plane to investigate the connection between flow-rate and the way it “combed” at the “drip-end”. Well, I thought it interesting. Now you might think that dull but there is truly fascinating physics lurking. And useful for a huge number of industrial processes to boot!

Zambonauts!

My parents taught in Zambia in the early ’70s. My Dad told me this story so respect to Infidel753 for reminding me of one of the less reported candidates in the Space Race. In the early sixties space was the big thing. Yuri had taken a trip and newly independent British colonies wanted a piece of star pie. They were young, new nations brimming with confidence so why not? Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with the utterly quixotic Zambian Space Program!

One of the problems of looking for the bizarre in history is that, after a while, you’ve read everything before: mermaid funerals in the Hebrides, tick; bats used in bombs against Japan, tick; Roman legionaries in China, tick… But then every so often something comes along that is fresh and that has completely escaped your notice and suddenly life feels worth living again. That, anyway, was the emotion that Beachcombing had when he read last week about Zambia’s attempt in the early 1960s to enter the space race. Beach writes ‘Zambia’ that would be wild enough, but actually this was Edward Makuka Nkoloso, a Zambian high school science teacher who became head of the National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy, an organisation that naturally EMN founded.

His ten Zambian astronauts and a seventeen-year-old African girl are poised for the countdown. [EMN] said: ‘I’ll have my first Zambian astronaut on the moon by 1965. My spacemen are ready, but we’re having a few difficulties…we are using my own firing system, derived from the catapult.’

NASA clearly were wasting their time with a 7,648,000 pound thrust Saturn V when all you really needed was a lacky band.

Mr. Nkoloso continued: ‘To really get going we need about seven hundred million pounds. It sounds a lot of money, but imagine the prestige value it would earn for Zambia. But I’ve had trouble with my space-men and space-women. They won’t concentrate on space-flight; there’s too much love-making when they should be studying the moon. Matha Mwamba, the seventeen-year-old girl who had been chosen to be the first coloured woman on Mars, has also to feed her ten cats, who will be her companions on the long space flight… I’m getting [the astronauts] acclimatised to space-travel by placing them in my space-capsule every day. It’s a 40-gallon oil drum in which they sit, and I then roll them down a hill. This gives them the feeling of rushing through space. I also make them swing from the end of a long rope. When they reach the highest point, I cut the rope – this produces a feeling of free fall.’

Mars with ten cats. Wow! Just wow!

You think I’m making this up? Here’s the video…

The bizarrely ironic thing is Zambia is actually close enough to the equator and with predictable weather to be a reasonable launch site. Glorious insanity! The Youtube link, alas, contains some frankly deeply racist comments which is a shame because I tend to think it’s straight out of the glorious tradition of mad men in sheds. So Mr Stephenson has invented a moving kettle and Messrs Wright have cracked the control problem for heavier than air flight! A miner and the owners of a bike shop! Hell’s teeth John Logie Baird’s experiments with TV involved a bizarre assemblage involving a hat-box and a coffin lid (quite how one obtains a coffin lid without the rest of the coffin is an exercise I leave to the reader). Philo T Farnsworth who invented TV in the electronic sense was a farm-boy who got his ideas about scan-lines from plowing a field. We are all enriched by such impossible dreams and sometimes they work and everything changes. Do you know what the Wright’s spent to get Flyer I airborne? Have a guess!

They spent roughly $1000 of their own money. Their biggest competitor Samuel Langley (director of the Smithsonian) spent $50,000 of US Navy money and this happened…

Now you don’t have to be a student of aerodynamics to tell that is not going up. The pilot took an early bath in the Potomac. Langley had invited all the press. Epic fail.

Shortly afterwards…

And the rest was history. The Wright’s didn’t have the press. Their craft was spotted by the local life guards and a “curious teenager”. Langley’s Aerodrome was launched from a $10,000 steam catapult and the Wrights bought $4 worth of timber from a local yard to build a launch rail.

Jeremy Clarkson – my thoughts

Following Clarkson’s recent outburst much Sturm und Drang has followed.

I have just one thing to say on it (I should have said this earlier perhaps but I was curious to see if I’d read it elsewhere…)

I haven’t so here goes.

Jeremy Clarkson is a very wealthy man who writes books and newspaper columns so fair play to him but not only is he paid a small fortune by the BBC to host Top Gear but all the other pies he has fingered as a professional gobshite have piggy-backed on that fame. Well, OK, fine he’s capitalised on his celebrity/notoriety/whatever and again fair play to him for that but the simple fact remains over the years the BBC has paid him an awful lot of money. By almost any realistic metric Jeremy Clarkson is one of the highest paid public-sector workers in the land! And as to his line about public sector workers being idle and needing to get a proper job then what exactly is wearing ridiculously tight trousers for a man of his age, driving the latest supercar (badly) round a track and saying things like, “Just listen to that, it sounds like a tiger passing a kidney stone!!!”. I reckon I could do that (except I wouldn’t dress like that – I value having genitals too much) and I bet so could you. It’s Advent and the shops and ‘net are full of “experience days” like driving a Ferrari round Silverstone for which people are prepared to pay good money for the privilege. And why not? “Due to the unique way the BBC is extorted” they’ve already paid for Jezza to do it.

Some public sector workers co-ordinate and outreach less than zero and some work very hard and some loaf but Jezza is about the only one I can think of paid to have fun.

Anyway, if any of our readers are mad and (seriously) rich enough to decide my own drivel here is worth a prezzie then I wasn’t angling for a track-day because any car is utterly gay compared to this.

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