Tuesday, 24 June 2014

07:50 – Amelia Earhart departs Thursday on her attempt to fly around the world. If I believed in fate I’d probably think she was tempting it. Obviously, she’s no more superstitious than I am. I was surprised that she’s chosen to fly a single-engine turboprop rather than something with two engines.

More work on building science kits today.


38 thoughts on “Tuesday, 24 June 2014”

  1. One of the things I was taught when boating offshore is rather than a 300 hp motor, two 150 hp was much better. Redundancy is a life saver. Twice as many parts but not all the parts will fail at the same time.

  2. My late uncle, a USAF-trained pilot, used to tell us that planes do not have multiple engines for redundancy — they need them to fly. If one goes out, you are going down, just at a little bit slower rate than if you had only one engine.

  3. I don’t have the cash to own a turboprop, so when I go flying over water I fly a piston twin–I own a Beech Baron. Two engines give you options. The downside to flying a twin (other than paying $5-$8 per gallon for gas) is that if you have an engine failure down low at max gross weight, you better be quick about getting the dead engine feathered or the still running engine will simply lead you to the site of the crash. Up high in cruise, an engine failure in a twin is not really a big deal as long as you don’t have a fire: feather, try a restart, and if that fails, land. You can actually trim out the asymmetrical thrust using rudder trim. A twin turboprop (such as the Beech King Air) generally has so much excess power that losing an engine is really a non-event. The PT-6 turboprop engine is extremely reliable.

  4. This is basically why I like to have two 2TB drives rather than one 4 TB drive. Not only are there (inexplicable, to me) dis-economies of scale (4 TB over two drives is usually cheaper than 4 TB over one) but if your big drive fails you lose the lot but you need both smaller drives to fail to lose the lot, which is less probable.

    Chuck, I’d rather be in a two engine plane with a failed engine than a one engine plane with a failed engine…

  5. Not only are there (inexplicable, to me) dis-economies of scale (4 TB over two drives is usually cheaper than 4 TB over one)

    Both drives probably have the same number of platters, but the higher capacity drive is using cutting edge technology to pack in twice as many bits into the same surface area. So they are harder to make.

  6. Yeah, I really don’t understand her choice. She could have flown a Beech King Air with two engines, which is capable of cruise on just one. Instead, she chose an aircraft that has only one engine and costs something like $1,000,000 more than a King Air. The manufacturer is one of her sponsors, so I suppose that’s why she chose it.

  7. When I was on C-5s in the USAF we would “practice” 4-engine flameouts in actual flight (local “fly around the flagpole” training sorties) by pulling all four engines back to idle at altitude and then pretending to follow the emergency checklist. Not as exciting as using the inboard thrust reversers to do a rapid spiral tactical decent into a combat area (drop 20,000 feet in under a minute).

    The engines supply hydraulics, bleed air, and AC power. So, in the event of a four engine flameout the very first thing you do is deploy the RAT to get hydraulics back. That was what we called a “bold face procedure” in that it was printed in All Caps and bold in the checklist. All bold face procedures had to be memorized as those steps were so critical it was assumed you wouldn’t have (or shouldn’t take) the time to flip to the appropriate emergency checklist. Not being able to quickly and confidently recite your bold face procedures for various emergencies was grounds for immediate disqualification during a checkride and a humiliating return to training status.

  8. ech…

    I’m not really up to date with drives now but about 10 years ago they added space by adding platters. I figured it was just marketing reasons for the dis-economies of scale.

    My employer’s CDC Cyber mainframes back in the Eighties came with extra memory that could be switched on at the site (a golden screwdriver job). CDC provided the memory and it was free to us until we switched it on. Also, the same mainframe could have its microcode upgraded onsite for mucho better performance. A Cyber 180-840 had the circuitry to run at -850 or even -860 speed, but we paid a heap for the microcode upgrade. I assume they sold -840s at a loss.

  9. I’ve always loved the Beech Starship. Alas, only a few remain. I saw one once at The Oshkosh Air Show with a completely refitted “glass cockpit”. Beautiful.

  10. This is basically why I like to have two 2TB drives rather than one 4 TB drive

    I have learned the hard way that it is better to buy two 4TB drives. You think that you will never need all that space, trust me, you will.

  11. A friend of mine was a copilot on a B-24 in the Pacific in WWII. They got strafed by a couple of Zeros and limped home on two engines, throwing everything out of the plane to drop weight. 10 miles out from their base, they lost a third engine. A mile out, his pilot killed the fourth engine and dead sticked her in since the B-24 cannot land on one engine due to the torque. My friend maintains that his pilot is the best pilot of all time since the you had to land the plane on all three wheels of the tricycle landing gear.

    BTW, his pilot is now 92 and drove from Arizona to Florida in March, stopping here for a couple of days to visit Ken. Most of their crew is still alive.

  12. Propellers are just big fans to keep the pilots cool. Don’t believe me, just watch how quickly the pilots start to sweat as soon as they stop turning.

  13. All combat pilots have brass balls, but even more than carrier pilots my vote goes to the heavy bomber pilots during WWII. I remember my dad telling me about one mission from his airbase in England. They had the B-17’s loaded way beyond the official maximum take-off weight, which apparently was pretty routine. Long missions with heavy bomb loads and lots of fuel. Bomb load and fuel took precedence even over ammunition for all those .50’s. On this particular mission, they spaced the takeoff runs more widely than usual. My dad said that even more than a mile past the end of the runway, the bombers were barely 50 feet off the ground, clawing for altitude. A wind gust could be deadly, and if they lost an engine that was all she wrote.

    One of the B-17’s didn’t make it. My dad said they never knew what caused it–an engine problem or a downdraft or whatever, but the bomber cartwheeled in and immediately the fuel and bomb load went up. The next bomber was already on its takeoff roll. The same thing happened to it. The next guy in line started rolling like nothing had happened, and made it. I remember thinking that that second pilot must have been brave not to abort his roll, but the third guy must have had titanium balls.

  14. I’ve always loved the Beech Starship. Alas, only a few remain. I saw one once at The Oshkosh Air Show with a completely refitted “glass cockpit”. Beautiful.

    I’m more of a DC-3 guy. 🙂

  15. We used to love those 60 bit words on the CDCs. Double precision answers for a single precision price.

  16. Achtung! Homeland Security is in desperate need of underwear for all the poopy illegal aliens.

    Maybe they could call Biden since he is always donating his used undies to get a charity deduction. BJ Klinton, also. Don’t know about Hildebeest or Mooch.

  17. I don’t understand why the US has not deployed our military along the Rio Grande, with orders to shoot to kill. Air-scattered mines would be nice, too. Is it not the duty of the US military to protect the nation from invasion?

    For the ones who have gotten through, hand them a bottle of water, point them toward Mexico, and tell them they’ve got an hour to get back across the border before we open fire. And in that group, I include all of those who entered the US illegally from Mexico, including children born on US soil who don’t have at least one parent who is a US citizen. In fact, I’d make that retroactive to 100 years ago. Anyone who was in the US 100 years ago would be presumed to be a citizen, as would their children and anyone else born of that line. Otherwise, they are not citizens.

  18. If the mines fail, we should deploy SWAT teams since the police have so many. Oh, wait, that is for citizens only. Especially Vets up north. The cops should just go “full” SWAT all the time. Their motto should be “I fear for my life at all times, so OPEN FIRE!”

  19. “…Don’t know about Hildebeest…”

    Yeah, her especially; she was notoriously outed back in the day in the American Spectator magazine for donating their used underwear and other very questionable and tacky items during their tenure running cocaine in and out of Arkansas while the Gov boffed various subordinate female staffers and there was only the sound of crickets from the usual suspect rabid feminists about sexual harassment, a pattern which he gleefully and successfully continued throughout the WH years. And still, nothing but crickets, with some libtard parties, male and female, publicly yearning to drop to their knees for the big, lovable lug of a Prez. That mag is where HILLARY! got her nickname of “Lady MacBeth of Little Rock.” Mrs. OFD voted for them twice and voted for Barry & Co. twice and now she’s as disgusted with them as I have been; but too late, hon! Shoulda listened to the ol’ hubby back when. And back when I also crapped all over both Bush regimes, but that was A-OK with everybody.

    As for cops and SWAT; evidently the training default now is that officer safety is totally and exclusively paramount over all else and lethal force is the default setting. Take that into consideration during your next traffic stop or other encounter with “law enforcement.”

    Naturally there are good officers and even heroic officers, but they’re being phased out in favor of thugs and killers and potential SS camp guards. Standard uniform: shaved head. Bulked up, probably with ‘roids and gym rat hustles. Or just plain fat. Wrap-around mirror shades. Immediately revving from 0-90 with the hostile, aggressive attitude. Quick escalation to injurious or fatal physical force. Has a free pass to do so.

    Agreed with Bob on the border solution; shut it down.

  20. The takeoff run for the B-52s on Guam bombing Vietnam was very hairy. The runway was pointed over a cliff. With a full internal/external bomb load, it had just enough speed to lift off in ground effect, then passed over the cliff and dropped towards the ocean as ground effect ended. If it all worked as planned, they would have enough thrust to recover and climb. If not, the bombardier was to jettison the external bombs into the ocean.

  21. Guam. a.k.a. “The Rock.” Or was that Okinawa. I never had the pleasure. But about the time my ears and nose were bleeding from B-52s completing their bombing runs in ‘Nam just a mile away from me, Mrs. OFD would see them taking off and landing at Plattsburgh AFB, a SAC nuke operation, which used to be just several miles southwest of where we live now. She said it was pretty impressive.

    I was too tall to ever be a pilot back in them days but not so tall I couldn’t be aircrew on choppers and AC-130 gunships, I guess. And in them golden days of yesteryear, the military police and cops back here liked big tall guys. Now it apparently doesn’t matter, though my experience as of thirty years ago was that little guys and chicks had a tough time with the Gutter-Wrestling-With-Drunks events and pool room biker brawls, not to mention hauling unconscious big fat people outta vehicles and buildings. I suppose now they just tase or shoot people, eh?

    I’m not this Amelia person and not a pilot but I’d sure want two engines on any long haul, esp. over wottuh and not to mention circumnavigating the globe. I guess she has a co-pilot? I’d also want a tailing aircraft for an event like that. On the other hand, what did Lucky Lindy have on his trip? Or the original Amelia? And did I read recently they think they know where she ended up?

  22. Well, this is no special day as far as numbers go, but a new monitor arrived, and I have used the opportunity to make the switch from the eight year-old Windows Asus laptop to the Asus netbook which has only Linux installed. Monitor is probably a mistake. It is 24 inches, and just too darned big. We are coming up on a big video project, and I thought I needed something newer and bigger, but this is ridiculous.

    Last 3 weeks demonstrated that I could manage just fine with nothing but Linux, so with the successful installation of Winamp using WINE, all of my current needs are satisfied. Quite happy with Evolution for email, although I have yet to get 14 years of contacts and email history pried from Outlook’s 4+gb file. Last attempt to do that was unsuccessful. Crashes of Evolution in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS were the primary show-stopper last time I tried to move to Linux, along with display problems that made video editing impossible. Mint 17 and/or Evolution seems to have cured all problems. Not sure who owns Evolution now that SuSE dropped development, but Red Hat appears to have made it their project and thrown a bevy of developers at it, and the progress since I last tried it shows.

    I will leave the older computer hooked up and running over in the corner, as I take files off it, but her days are truly numbered; she no longer occupies a desk or has a monitor.

  23. A self-anointed reliability expert was giving me a lecture on redundancy as reliability, risk reduction method.

    Lecture abruptly ended when I asked him when was the last time that he checked the pressure in his car’s spare tire.

  24. I asked him when was the last time that he checked the pressure in his car’s spare tire

    Ha. I haven’t checked mine in a while, but I carry a pump (as well as a booster box, a small floor jack, flashlights, forty to sixty pounds of tools (varies because I move stuff in and out of the van depending on other needs), and a milk crate of fluids, tow straps, flares, and what-not) so I’m not too worried about it. I also had a tire patch kit, like service stations will use when they charge $10-$20 to patch a nail puncture, but it seems to have gone missing and I keep forgetting to get another.

    Some years ago I borrowed my dad’s (rather old) full-size van and trailer to move an apartment’s worth of furniture from Boston to Schenectady. I don’t like travelling without tools ’n’ stuff, so Dad said I could throw his “travelling” toolbox into the van. Nah, would rather bring my own; I know what’s in it. So my brother and I headed out, loaded up, and headed back. One of the transmission fluid lines split along the way; all we knew was that the van started popping out of gear at 22:00 in November on the Mass Pike. In a rest stop we looked it over and said “aw, shit”. We rummaged through my toolbox and found half a hacksaw blade, a handful of hose clamps, and several short lengths of pressure hose of various sizes. My brother put some vise grips on the hacksaw blade and cut away the split section of pipe, then found a close-enough length of hose and clamped it. Put in about four quarts of tranny fluid and we’re on the road again.

    Now, the point of the story is not the obvious: being prepared with a toolbox was all well and good. Having the skills to make a parking lot fix is all well and good. But neither of those would have done us any good if I had cleaned my toolbox as I’d planned to the week before. It was only my laziness/absentmindedness which provided the half hacksaw blade and the too-short-to-be-useful-for-engine-work length of hose. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. Damned if I know what it is. “Laziness trumps preparedness” is probably not it. “Be as prepared as you like, but success depends on dumb luck” is probably not it, and it’s terribly demotivational as well.

  25. Lynn wrote:

    “I have learned the hard way that it is better to buy two 4TB drives. You think that you will never need all that space, trust me, you will.”

    When I got my first PC in 1997 I wondered about what capacity hard drive to get I eventually decided to splurge on a 3.6 GB Quantum. I mentioned this to a work colleague, he said he was glad to see I wasn’t pissing around with a small drive… 🙂

    “We used to love those 60 bit words on the CDCs. Double precision answers for a single precision price.”

    All hail Seymour Cray!

  26. I don’t remember where I heard about this new sci-fi author, Peter Grant. Possibly at Borepatch? Anyhow, I just read his first three books, and enjoyed them a lot! In the first book, Take the Star Road, he has a couple of annoying writing tics, but these are nearly gone by the third book.

    Reviewers compare him to early Heinlein, and they’re right. Pleasant, everything-is-gonna-work-out entertainment; the background message is libertarian.

  27. The takeoff run for the B-52s on Guam bombing Vietnam was very hairy. The runway was pointed over a cliff. With a full internal/external bomb load, it had just enough speed to lift off in ground effect, then passed over the cliff and dropped towards the ocean as ground effect ended. If it all worked as planned, they would have enough thrust to recover and climb. If not, the bombardier was to jettison the external bombs into the ocean.

    There’s wreckage of a B-52G off of the coast of Diego Garcia. You used to be able to see it on final approach. It crashed there on a return flight from a Dessert Storm bombing mission. Lost 3 of 6 crew. I don’t know if they ever removed it, if Mother Nature took care of it, or if it’s still there.

    There were few things more glorious than a full loaded B-52 taking off with water injection. You could feel that rumble deep in your chest.

    It was a super hot day and our C-5B was fully loaded taking off from Offutt AFB. So we backed up to the end of the runway. Set the brakes. Then push the engines to FMT and waiting for them to come up to full speed before releasing the breaks and taking off. Well, right behind us was a wooden structure used to shield a road from jet noise and jet blast. We blew most of the wood off of it. I remember buzzing cornfields in western Iowa while we waited for sufficient speed to turn.

  28. The takeoff run for the B-52s on Guam bombing Vietnam was very hairy. The runway was pointed over a cliff.

    I have taken off from that runway several times in different aircraft. On more than one occasion I looked back and was looking up at the tops of that cliff. Even more exciting is landing from the cliff side. Nothing but water, then boom, touchdown on land. SFO approach is almost as sudden but touchdown is better because the runway is longer.

  29. “We used to love those 60 bit words on the CDCs. Double precision answers for a single precision price.”

    All hail Seymour Cray!

    Isn’t it interesting that the world is turning to massively parallel computer systems now? All the latest smartphones are quad cpus with a gpu coprocessor with extreme parallel computational ability. And all without active cooling. Simply amazing.

    And, the compilers still suck for automatically generating that massively parallel code. All the people that I read say that massively parallel software must be hand coded:
    http://thecodist.com/article/writing-multithreaded-code-is-like-juggling-chainsaws

  30. Reviewers compare him to early Heinlein, and they’re right. Pleasant, everything-is-gonna-work-out entertainment; the background message is libertarian.

    If I had a dime XXXXX dollar for every author that has been compared to Heinlein, I would have a lot of dollars. Sounds kinda like a Heinlein juvenile, I will try it out.

    Here are a couple of my Heinlein wannabees:
    http://www.amazon.com/Orphanage-Jason-Wander-Robert-Buettner/dp/0316019127/
    and
    http://www.amazon.com/Freehold-Michael-Z-Williamson/dp/0743471792/

  31. True enough, lots of authors get compared to Heinlein. I suppose I like the ones with optimism – I’ve really disliked the past 30 years of science fiction, where it has turned dark and pessimistic, we are all so screwed. If I wanted to depress myself, I’d read the newspaper.

    Thanks for the further recommendations – I’ll look into them.

  32. I’m not an authority on science fiction, but I know what I like, which is:

    Frank Herbert’s Dune saga.

    Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels (especially) and other SF novels.

    Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, Robot and Elijah Baley novels.

    I don’t read very widely in SF, I have some Heinlein and others but the above three are my favourites. Banks unfortunately died last year, not much older than I am now, of a rare form of cancer.

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