Thursday, November 21, 2019

The List 5146


The List 5146 TGB
To All,

I hope that you are having a great weekend. If your team is not doing well here are some tidbits to read.



Thanks to Dutch and the Bear

Captain RICHARD Stratton Way, Quincy, Mass

Dutch.... Beak gets a great day and honor... This is a fun few minutes for Yankee Air Pirates, the POW Brotherhood, the Lemoore Family from the decade of living the war, and folks who have a few minutes to honor one and all the great fraternity of Yankee Air Pirates, especially Beak Stratton... Bear🇺🇸⚓️🐻


Thanks to Mike


Thanks to the Bear

Raven 42–Smokey Greene

Skip... I have referenced this set of Raven tales in two of my blogs with short excerpts. But this is 44-pages of real interesting flying, well written... you might want to preview this for your following as a page of history worth digesting... and excite those among the young who are looking for a little testimony on what it is like to live and FLY dangerously, gloriously, and fearlessly as a young adventurer full of piss and vinegar.... Great reading for an old Bear who remembers some of what Smokey Greene brings alive. All the old warriors will.... Try it, you’ll like it... Bear 🇺🇸⚓️🐻


A couple of interesting stories on Tom Morgenfeld

Thanks to Shadow and Dr. Rich

Eight Minutes in the YF-17

Like to give a post script to the Morgenfeld piece… that involves Tom and Jim “Black” Lucas… my sidekick and the “Black” in Black Shadow Aviation.

When the “Fighter Mafia” was successful in pushing the F-15/F-16 and A-10… it was only natural that the Navy and Marine Corps started pushing for a new airplane too. They were encouraged to look at the YF-16 and YF-17 as a possible candidates… after all, there’d been an extensive fly off between the two aircraft. Now the Navy and Marine Corps tended to want a two engine aircraft for a lot of reasons. Might be a surprise to a lot of F-8, A-4 and A-7 drivers… but that was the mindset in the day.

Now from all inputs… the decision by the Air Force to pick the F-16 was a close call… both aircraft were a quantum leap over the F-4, our main airframe of the day. Test Pilots did their thing and then the Navy decided to have some Fleet pilots get a shot at the YF-17 to get their opinion. At the time, Tom was Skipper of VX-4 at the time… he was one of the Navy pilots selected to fly the YF-17. Jim Lucas was selected as the Marine Corps pilot to fly it (there may have been one other). Anyway… Tom and Jim met to get briefed on the airplane and a time to fly it. I assume they got some simulator time as well. Now both Tom and Jim were old F-8/F-4 types and Tom was also checked out in the F-14. Both had combat experience. But Tom was also a TPS Graduate… the Navy’s Test Pilot School.

I think Tom flew the Cobra first… followed by Jim on a different day. Tom approached the airplane with a Test Pilot’s critical eye and gave Jim a full brief after his hop. Now Marines are different… and Jim of course was a Marine. He had a totally different approach. By all indications, the YF-17’s performance was eye watering… but we’d heard those stories before… often getting us airframes that were the jack of all trades and the master of none (think F-4). Jim wanted to see what it would do against our current best… the F-14. Somehow he convinced Tom to have a VX-4 F-14 come over and go 1V1 with Jim in the YF-17. The day finally arrived and Jim took off in the YF-17 and went into the Restricted Area to get a feel for the airplane… took about 8 minutes. And then they set up for the engagement.

“Fight’s On”!

I think Jim said the first engagement lasted about 30 seconds before he was on the F-14’s tail and locked on. They separated and went at it again and this time it took about 45 seconds (F-14 jock learned something after the first engagement and it took a little longer, but the results were the same. The YF-17 was awesome in the ACM environment! BTW… I should mention here that the YF-17 was considerably smaller and lighter than the later F-18 which it spawned. It was simply beyond anything Jim had ever flown and exceeded his wildest expectations. After their flights, both returned to their bases and wrote their opinions and thoughts about the YF-17. Tom covered the Test Pilot stuff and Jim commented on his ACM engagements with the F-14. They submitted them and life goes on… Until some time later, Tom calls Jim and says he’ll pick Jim up the following morning in an F-14 and Jim should pack his Class A uniform… they had been summoned to Washington to appear before the Senate Armed Forces Committee. Holy Chit!

Tom flew into El Toro and picked Jim up… they flew to Andrews (I think) and were met by some Staffers to brief them on what to expect. Basically the Committee wanted to ask them about their post flight reports. Pretty straight forward. But as with anything involving politicians, there are conflicting agenda’s in play. Unbeknownst to Jim Lucas, Senator Gary Hart (ne: Hartpence) a member of the Committee, was a huge critic of the YF-17 and future F-18 program as a waste of money. He was pimping for Grumman to convert the F-14 into a “Bomb-Cat”… that would supposedly save billions.

Well, Tom gave his presentation first… straight forward, very professional… left little to be questioned. And then it was Jim’s turn. He started by describing his engagements with the F-14 and that was when Hart interrupted him… He looks down and says… “Major Lucas, aren’t you being disingenuous with the Committee”? Jim looks up, kinda shocked and says “SIR”? (He swears it wasn’t because he didn’t know what “disingenuous” meant) Hart then strikes! “Isn’t it true Major, that you vaunted fight against the F-14 wasn’t fair… in that the F-14 pilot was new and had less than three hundred hours in the Tomcat”? Jim was shocked… Hart then repeated his claim that the F-14 pilot was somehow inexperienced and had limited time in the Tomcat. Jim paused and then looked up and said, "In all due respect Senator… I only had eight minutes in the YF-17”. (I can imagine there were snickers and snorts from those informed in the audience) It went right over Hart’s head! He once again stipulated it wasn’t a fair fight… once again Jim repeated that he only had eight minutes in the YF-17 before the fight began… then went on to say, had the roles been reversed, he was sure the other pilot would have had the same results… it was the YF-17 that made the difference, not experience (basically Jim and the Tomcat pilot had a very similar experience level). Hart started in one more time before the Chairman (I think it was Stennis) interrupted him and said… “Senator, I think you should quit while you can”>

Jim was always one of my heroes… but this incident instilled in my heart that this was a special man. While politicians, academics and self described intellectuals... think they’re superior and oh so smart… Marines get great pleasure out of beating them at their own game.

Now… this is all from a faded memory… and If I got anything wrong… I’m sure I’ll hear from Black.


.. and from Black … grab a beer first ...

Don’t know if you’ve seen the presentation by Trees.


Thanks to Mugs….I was watching a very good history on the Moon Mission last summer and this item came up. I was amazed at the time I had never heard of it prior. Here it is for your reading. Another close thing that turned out well.

Devil's in the details, they say!

Dear readers,

Half a century ago this week, a young NASA engineer spoke what would become one of the most celebrated bits of jargon in the history of the space program. Late in the morning of Nov. 14, 1969, just minutes after Apollo 12's Saturn V rocket took off, the spacecraft encountered a major problem. Back at Mission Control in Houston, the young engineer suggested relaying the seeming-nonsense phrase: "Try SCE to AUX."

You can find it on today t-shirts and coffee mugs. You can even find it in a variation of the famous British keep-calm dictum: "Keep calm and try SCE to AUX." The term is a knowing nod to history for space nerds, but it was one of NASA's most dramatic moments. In honor of the anniversary, below is an excerpt from my young-adult book  
based on my "Countdown" podcast for TIME, recounting that harrowing morning:

Pete Conrad had no business trying to fly to the moon today. And NASA, by the look of things, had no business agreeing that it would be a good idea to send him there. You wouldn’t know that, however, from the scene at Cape Canaveral.

The Saturn V moon rocket was poised on the launch pad, impossible to miss even three miles away—a spike of white, 36 stories tall, weighing six-and-a-half million pounds. Vapor was subliming from the rocket’s sides.

Conrad, the commander of the mission, and his crewmates Dick Gordon and Al Bean had already made their ceremonial pre-flight appearance, sealed in their spacesuits as they took the short walk from the suit-up building to the waiting van for the long ride to the pad. Out of the view of the public, they had taken the 360-foot elevator ride to the top of the rocket and climbed inside their conical command module.

It was all as orderly and deliberate as the Apollo missions that flew before had been—and yet there was the business with the weather. The cloud ceiling was hanging at just 1,000 feet. The wind was blowing at just less than 20 miles per hour, barely within limits. The rain, at least, was only intermittent, but it was falling all the same.

Still, the NASA meteorologists gave the mission a cautious go, and five minutes before launch, the pad controller radioed the cockpit, wishing Conrad and his crew a good trip.

Gordon answered: “Hold off the weather for five more, will you?”

Conrad, a Naval aviator and test pilot, had no such worries. “The Navy is always glad to do the all-weather testing,” he said.

At 11:22 AM, the countdown clock wound down to zero and the engines lit, producing 7.5 million pounds of thrust.

“Liftoff! The clock is running,” Conrad called as the Saturn V muscled itself off the pad and the mission clock on the instrument panel began to move.

Conrad, Gordon and Bean had been as prepared as they could be for the shaking and noise of a Saturn V launch, but the simulators in which they trained could never match the violence of the real thing.

“This baby is really going!” Conrad called over the roar.

“Man is it ever!” Gordon agreed.

“That’s a lovely liftoff! Not bad at all!” Conrad enthused.

It stayed lovely too—but only for another 15 seconds or so.

Then, just 37 seconds after launch and a mile and a half into the sky, a flash of light and a loud bang exploded through the cockpit.

“What the hell was that?” Gordon exclaimed.
Instinctively, all three astronauts looked toward the instrument panel, and what they saw shocked them. From one side of the big board to the other, the vital signs of their spacecraft were falling apart. Fuel cells flashed red, electrical systems spiked and failed; guidance programs, on-board computers, life support systems—basically anything dependent on electricity, which meant everything—began to crash. Worst of all, the four gyroscopes, together known as the guidance platform, went completely offline, meaning that the guided missile that was the Saturn V was in danger of becoming completely unguided.
“OK, we just lost the platform, gang,” Conrad radioed to the ground. “I don’t know what happened here; we had everything in the world drop out."
Conrad’s left hand was resting on the spacecraft abort handle. In the event of a launch disaster, it was the commander’s call to end the mission and save his crew, activating the escape rockets which would pull the Apollo capsule up and away from the from the Saturn V and sending the crew to a safe parachute descent in the Atlantic.

That, of course, would mean the end of a half-billion dollar rocket and the end too of what was supposed to be a 10 day lunar mission after less than ten minutes.

For the moment, the commander kept his hand still.

Conrad’s counterpart in Mission Control was Gerry Griffin, a former guidance and navigation officer who had recently been promoted to Flight Director. Griffin toggled his microphone open and spoke directly to John Aaron, the 24-year old engineer sitting at what was known as the EECOM console, for electrical, environmental and consumables.

“How’s it looking EECOM?” he asked. He got no answer. “EECOM, what do you see?” he repeated.

What Aaron was seeing was not good—the same ratty data all of the other controllers had on their screens. Like the other controllers, he had never seen anything like it before—or almost never. Aaron had a reputation as something of a wünderkind in Mission Control, with an uncanny way of remembering nearly any glitch that had ever affected any rocket that had been placed in his care before.

He now recalled a moment a couple of years earlier, when he was manning a console during a simulated launch of a smaller, unmanned Saturn 1B rocket. That day he’d seen similarly screwy numbers on his screen—too screwy to be believable—and he guessed the problem could be traced to what was known as the Signal Conditioning Equipment, or SCE, which was designed to translate the signals coming from the electrical system into usable data that the controllers and astronauts could read. If the system failed, switching it from its primary mode to its auxiliary mode could reboot the SCE itself and also bring the entire electrical system back online if it had gone off.

The SCE was so rarely used, however, that almost nobody knew what it was. Even in the spacecraft, the switch was installed in an entirely obscure spot, off to the far right of the instrument panel, over Al Bean’s shoulder.

“Flight, EECOM, try SCE to AUX,” Aaron said to Griffin.

“Say again, SCE to off?” Griffin asked.

“AUX,” Aaron repeated. “Auxiliary, Flight.”

Griffin then radioed the command to the capsule communicator, or Capcom, who radioed it up to the ship.

“Apollo 12, Houston. Try SCE to Auxiliary. Over,” he said

Conrad scowled. “FCE to auxiliary? What the hell is that?”

“SCE,” the Capcom corrected.

Conrad and Gordon did not know where to begin looking for the switch, but Bean, the one rookie aboard, did. He reached up behind himself and threw it to the new setting. Straightaway, the sickly lights and numbers on the instrument panel and the screens in Mission Control began to get well.
“It looks…everything looks good,” Bean said tentatively.

Aaron sighed in relief; Griffin, who had been standing, dropped back in his seat.

“Ok, we’ll straighten out our problems here,” Conrad said as the rocket sped on toward space. “I don’t know what happened; I’m not sure we didn’t get hit by lightning.”

That was exactly what happened. As the Saturn V passed through the electrically charged clouds, it turned itself into a lightning rod, attracting a flash that passed through the rocket and ran all the way down its exhaust trail to the ground. With the electrical system reestablished, Apollo 12 reached Earth orbit, spent the next three hours there configuring itself and making it was sure it was fit for its mission, then lit out for the moon.

On November 19 it landed on the moon's Ocean of Storms. Conrad and Bean would take two moonwalks over the course of the next day, while Gordon staton-kept in the orbiting command module. On November 24, ten days after the launch and the lightning strike, the crew would safely splash down in the Pacific Ocean. Conrad and Bean would fly once more, serving aboard the Skylab space station. Gordon never returned to space.

And John Aaron, who had learned a lot about how to handle a real-time emergency and would be well-prepared to do so again if the occasion ever arose, would go straight back into training for NASA's next great lunar mission: Apollo 13.

—Jeffrey Kluger

Copyright © 2019 by Jeffrey Kluger, from Disaster Strikes: The Most Dangerous Space Missions of All Time. Used by permission of Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Bones on Mars

Fossil hunters have been digging up remains of extinct species on Earth for centuries. Now the work is about to begin on Mars. A paper just published in the journal 
announced the identification of a ring of mineral deposits in the Jezero crater, which will be the landing site of the Mars 2020 rover, set for launch next year. The ring is rich in carbonates, the stuff of fossils and sea shells. The deposits could wind up being nothing but carbonates—or they could be a whole lot more. We'll know soon enough.

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