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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Adventure

We're off to the US Air Force's annual air show at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage today.

Whee.

Seriously, a bunch of military transport planes and The Thunderbirds fills me with a major case of the mehs. The Air Force might be spectacular in the sky, but on the ground they can't organize a salad fight, and parking every year is a major pain in the ass.

I've seen, and ridden in, just about every type military aircraft there is, and frankly I don't particularly care if I ever see another C-130 again as long as I live. And the F-22 just plain pisses me off, for a number of reasons.

However, I'm still going to the air show.

Why, you ask? Why, Jim, would you go all the way into Anchorage at $5.00 a gallon to do something you don't want to do?

Because I have a 12-year old son, that's why. Duh.

Truthfully, we do this every year, and it's usually fairly fun and interesting, despite the Air Force's pathetic attempts at organizing the traffic flow and parking. I'll wear my Navy sweatshirt just to piss off the fly boys, which is always fun. And I'll take plenty of picture so you all can enjoy the show.

In the mean time, you can look at one of my latest projects. It's a rose vase, for my wife's desk:

Vase 1

You can't tell in the photo, but the walls of the vase are so thin that light shines through.

More later.

6 comments:

  1. I didn't even think of the 12-year-old when you were asking why you'd do this thing you don't want to do.

    I just assumed everything had been too copacetic in Action Hero land lately and you needed some ammo for a good rant. We all know you're more than willing to suffer for your art.

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  2. Hey, we can't park cars, we're in the air. There's plenty of parking up there.

    Last Air Show I went to was in Dayton, way back in the early 90s. There was a MiG (I want to say 29, but I don't remember their numbers all that well anymore, it was the F-18 rip off), it's first US showing. Not many people stopped by the booth or bought their t-shirts. Most of the crowd hung around the F-117A which was just back form the Gulf War (i). My wife, friends and I liked the look of the MiG, and got up real close to it. We then went over to the F-117A and took turns discussing which of the armed guard around the Nighthawk would pose the most problem.

    We then took a tour through the AWAC just as the afternoon shows were starting. The SSgt that was giving the tour picked me out as Air Force and I told him that I was in back in the 80s. My other friend was Army, and another friend is basically a walking Jane's. So our tour was a little special (especially when Jim and I could name the component parts they had covers over that said, "Secret." We were almost through when they had to clear us out and the sergeants allowed us to stand on the exit ladder with them to watch the show. First up was the MiG.

    We cracked a lot of the standard jokes about flying pig-iron. The MiG did a few fly-by maneuvers, big thunder, 8-point rolls, all very good. Then he started pulling 4G turns making a square pattern in the sky, all of it in view of the review stand. Then, on the legs between the turns, he started doing rolls. The breeze we felt was all of our jaws hitting the deck. No one said anything, but the thought was loud enough, "That thing should fly apart. It can't do that. It's about to fly apart." After about five minutes of that, the MiG took off and did a final run, where he pulled a Cobra right at the stand, nearly sitting it up on the tail. That's when we started vocalizing. That machine couldn't do that (insert obligatory cussing). We were all told it couldn't do that. The pilot went out to level flight and at the end of the runway, went to about 85 degrees, turned on the after-burners and accelerated on a ballistic course. Also, something that machine could not do (as we were told).

    When they rolled the MiG back onto the display area the pilot and navigator were mobbed and I believe they sold out everything including the patches off their own uniforms.

    Don't tell me air shows can't be exciting.

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  3. Steve, one thing about Russian aircraft, their avionics suck, but they are without doubt the most rugged planes flying. And Russian pilots are every bit as good as they think they are. I was at the Paris airshow a number of years ago, and the Russians were the top draw, as usual.

    I really admire their space program. Broke, primitive, and slapdash - but they keep flying and they keep getting better.

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  4. I think I once read somewhere--maybe it was an old issue of Wired years ago--that Russian programmers were the best coders in the world because their hardware sucked, relatively speaking. So, where an American programmer might be able to get away with a certain amount of bloatware, say, a Russian coder had to make his software lean and mean just to get around the limitations of his machine.

    I wonder, from what you say, if Russian pilots operate under a similar situation with similar results. Not to suggest that Western pilots might be sloppy, but simply that American and European tech might be a little more tolerant and therefore require just a little less work. (Similarly, within the flying community itself isn't there a saying that real pilots fly helicopters--an unforgiving craft supposedly requiring more skill?)

    But what do I know? My piloting savvy ends at being able to drive a stick shift. (Unless video games count. Do video games count? Oh. Darn.)

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  5. isn't there a saying that real pilots fly helicopters

    Well, I don't know about that, but within the HSL community (helicopter squadron) the running joke is "What does a fighter jock look like to a helicopter pilot? Answer: Cold, wet, and scared.

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  6. Eric, I learned to program that way, back when 4K of memory cot more than a car. You had to be lean. Kids these days.

    And, oh yeah, FOD scans are not designed for in Soviet Aircraft. You don't want to see those air strips. They've got weeds growing in the middle of them. And their air craft are designed to use them in that condition (as I remember some of the MiGs have louvers on the air intakes that close up for take off and landing - oxygen starves the engine, but keeps debris out).

    Yeah, some of our pilots would see the runway conditions and faint.

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