Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

I look forward to seeing what Cap Lion has to say about this one; he’s very damned knowledgable about this stuff, for reasons I won’t go into to protect his privacy.

This is the U.S.’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, the next generation of American fighter jets. It has been in development since 1992. All told the program is slated to cost upwards of a trillion dollars.

And it is one of the most colossal pieces of shit ever created.

The F-35 is supposed to replace the F-16 and the A-10 (the Skydive and Powerglide planes.) Like the A-10 it’s supposed to be a fighter and a bomber, and is supposed to be able to carry a bunch more bombs than the F-22 (Starscream from the movies.)

It’s also supposed to be a single plane shared between the Marines, Air Force, and Navy. This is where the problems start.

“It famously lost in mock aerial combat within visual range (WVR), where its radar stealth is of no advantage, to an F-16 in early 2015, one of the planes the F-35 is supposed to replace as an aerial fighter. The F-35 lost repeatedly in air-to-air maneuvering”

“despite the fact that the test was rigged in its favor because the F-16 employed was the heavier two-seater version and was further loaded down with heavy, drag-inducing external fuel tanks to hinder its maneuverability.”


Now it’s true that many if not most of our successful military aircraft have been dismissed as staggering crap in the early going, only to later find their footing as flaws are identified and necessary adjustments are made. The P51 Mustang, to cite just one example, was kind of, umm, underwhelming until the D version, when the bubble canopy replaced the old razorback fuselage and the Allison engine was replaced with the Packard-built version of the Rolls Royce Merlin. It went on from there to become a true legend, and deservedly so.

That said, it’s also one of life’s across-the-board truisms—from aircraft to motorcycles to cars to tools to musical instruments to etc—that when you set out to design something capable of everything, you usually wind up with something incapable of almost anything, and excels at nothing. Too, the F35 has been kicking around since 1992; its flaws ought to have been identified and fixed by now, surely. Especially when you consider the Mustang’s first flight was in 1940, and it had been transformed into a world-beater a scant three years later. It remained in use well into the Korean war. Some countries’ air forces were still flying them in the 1980s(!).

Anyway, y’all feel free to kick this can around some yourselves in the comments. My own opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is that we shouldn’t have been so quick to abandon the F22. I’d bet we’re going to be relying on our beat-up old F16s, F18s, B52s, and A10s to get the job done for a good long while yet.

(Via Weird Dave)


Happy birthday

To the RAF:

For this Easter Day, we have an audio special for you telling the story of the only Easter standard in the American songbook. However, April 1st 2018 is not only Easter, and not only All Fools’ Day, but also the one hundredth birthday of the Royal Air Force. So I thought this day we’d incline our eyes and ears skyward:

In April 1911 the British Army’s Royal Engineers formed the first air battalion, consisting of aircraft, airships, balloons, and men with kites. At the end of the year the Royal Naval Flying School was born. The following year – 1912 – both were merged into the army’s Royal Flying Corps. By 1914 the navy had reasserted itself and inaugurated the Royal Naval Air Service. And finally on this day exactly a century ago the RFC and the RNAS were merged to form an entirely separate third branch of the British military – the Royal Air Force, the first such independent air force in the world.

Good illustration accompanying the article of what I believe is an SE5, if I remember right. Nice enough, I guess, but when it comes to WW1-era flying contraptions my heart will always belong to the good ol’ SPAD XIII, with special fond mention going to the Fokker DR1. Read on to see where Steyn takes things.


A tale of woe

I’m sure you all know by now that I have an enduring enthusiasm for and interest in aviation, military aircraft in particular. Planes captivated me way back when I was a kid, and that love has stayed with me. Even after working at the airport in the air freight biz for more than 22 years, I have never yet tired of seeing the things take off and land, and to this day will watch them doing it every single chance I get.

As much I’ve studied them over the years, there remains plenty I don’t know about the wondrous machines, and I ran across one example of that shortfall here: a 50s-era jet built by Republic, the F84F Thunderstreak and its variants. I’d never heard of the danged thing at all, which is actually not too much of a shock since for some reason my interest in roughly Korean-War-era jets pretty much begins and ends with one of my all-time favorites: the beautiful and formidable F86 Saber, one of the most wildly successful fighters ever built by anybody.

So I see this Thunderstreak mentioned peripherally in the above-linked ONT post and naturally Googled it right away, my curiosity piqued. As it happens, my prior lack of any awareness of this thing’s existence can be attributed to more than just my general lack of knowledge of aircraft from that era; the thing was a turkey, a near-complete failure, and was abandoned in relatively short order as these things go. It was a disaster right from the git-go. To wit:

Production quickly ran into problems. Although tooling commonality with the Thunderjet was supposed to be 55 percent, in reality only fifteen percent of tools could be reused. To make matters worse, the F-84F utilized press-forged wing spars and ribs. At the time, only three presses in the United States could manufacture these, and priority was given to the Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber over the F-84. The YJ65-W-1 engine was considered obsolete and the improved J65-W-3 did not become available until 1954. When the first production F-84F finally flew on 22 November 1952, it differed from the service test aircraft. It had a different canopy which opened up and back instead of sliding to the rear, as well as airbrakes on the sides of the fuselage instead of the bottom of the aircraft. The aircraft was considered not ready for operational deployment due to control and stability problems. The first 275 aircraft, equipped with conventional stabilizer-elevator tailplanes, suffered from accelerated stall pitch-up and poor turning ability at combat speeds.

Um. Well, okay, so there were some early bugs; these things happen in the military aviation field, certainly. But they usually get ’em worked out, right? Design flaws, production problems—these things can be and are addressed and corrected fairly promptly as and when they crop up, right? Resulting eventually in an at least serviceable and useful platform, sometimes even going on to excel in a role quite different from the one envisioned in the original concept. Right?

The Thunderstreak suffered from the same poor takeoff performance as the straight-wing Thunderjet despite having a more powerful engine. In reality, almost 700 pounds-force (3.11 kN) or ten percent of total thrust was lost because the J65 was installed at an angle and its exhaust had a prominent kink. On a hot day, 7,500 feet (2,285 m) of runway were required for takeoff roll. A typical takeoff speed was 160 knots (185 mph, 300 km/h). Like the Thunderjet, the Thunderstreak excelled at cruise and had predictable handling characteristics within its performance envelope. Like its predecessor, it also suffered from accelerated stall pitch-up and potential resulting separation of wings from the airplane. In addition, spins in the F-84F were practically unrecoverable and ejection was the only recourse below 10,000 feet (3,000 m).

Aw, dammit. But still, the thing couldn’t have been a total botch, could it? A wholly irredeemable comedy of errors, a curse, justly loathed by all those unfortunate to be tainted by even passing association with the whole mess? Especially not coming from as experienced and competent a manufacturer as Republic, the creators of some truly outstanding planes over many years, the P47 Thunderbolt and the venerable, remarkable, and much-loved A10 Thunderbolt II among ’em. In fact, Republic is still around today, kinda sorta. Not as an independent company anymore, having been bought by Fairchild in 1965, who retained Republic’s naming convention with the A10. There’s also a museum on Republic’s old Long Island factory site, including a still-airworthy P47, bless their hearts.

But back to the F84F. Was it in truth a complete and total failure, an unpolishable turd of an airplane? Does its pitiable legacy consist entirely of being absolutely no use to anyone for anything besides killing pilots, auguring into the ground, vanishing into a blinding fireball, or unexpectedly flying apart on the rare occasions it was actually capable of flight under its own power?

Project Run In completed operational tests in November 1954 and found the aircraft to be to USAF satisfaction and considerably better than the F-84G. However, ongoing engine failures resulted in the entire fleet being grounded in early 1955. Also, the J65 engine continued to suffer from flameouts when flying through heavy rain or snow. As the result of the problems, the active duty phaseout began almost as soon as the F-84F entered service in 1954, and was completed by 1958. Increased tensions in Germany associated with construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 resulted in reactivation of the F-84F fleet. In 1962, the fleet was grounded due to the corrosion of control rods. A total of 1,800 man hours were expended to bring each aircraft to full operational capacity. Stress corrosion eventually forced the retirement of ANG F-84Fs in 1971.

Well, that’s depressing. But wait!

On 9 March 1955, Lt. Col. Robert R. Scott, in a F-84F Thunderstreak, set a three-hour, 44-minute and 53-second record for the 2,446 mile flight from Los Angeles to New York.

Alright then, that’s cool.

With the appearance of the Republic F-105 Thunderchief, which also used wing-root mounted air intakes, the Thunderstreak became known as the Thud’s Mother. The earlier F-84A had been nicknamed the “Hog” and the F-84F “Super Hog,” the F-105 becoming the “Ultra Hog”.

The F105, of course, was a highly capable and successful aircraft, used pretty extensively in Vietnam and other places in various roles.

In what is probably one of the very few air-to-air engagements involving the F-84F, two Turkish Air Force F-84F Thunderstreaks shot down two Iraqi Il-28 Beagle bombers that crossed the Turkish border by mistake during a bombing operation against Iraqi Kurdish insurgents. This engagement took place on 16 August 1962.

Hm. Well, it ain’t a hell of a lot, but I’ll take it, I guess. It does ease the miasma of depression enveloping this stinking pile’s history somewhat.

The F-84F was retired from active service in 1964, and replaced by the North American F-100 Super Sabre.

NOW you’re talking. The Super Sabre, as it happens, is another of my all-time faves (despite serious problems of its own, resulting in a pretty short operational lifespan), which lends the sad saga of the hapless Thunderchump a little luster by association, at least. Rest in peace, poor thing. Or pieces, more like.


Most powerfullest EVAR!

Uh huh.

The Pentagon’s Emergency Plan If the F-35 Doesn’t Work
The United States government has sunk billions into the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The program is set to cost taxpayers almost $400 billion to develop and build 2,443 of the stealthy new jets for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

To ensure that the program is all but unkillable, Lockheed spread the work on the program around the country and around the globe. Indeed, the program brags about its economic impact. “In the U.S. alone, the F-35 program supports direct and indirect jobs for 129,000 people and provides work for more than 1,200 suppliers in 45 states and Puerto Rico,” reads Lockheed’s F-35 website. “The F-35 does more than just elevate international security—it also strengthens the global economy by providing jobs, industrial partnerships and technology benefits to people and companies across the world. In the years ahead, the F-35 program will create more jobs than any other Department of Defense initiative this decade.”

Well, that’s what’s really important, right? Meanwhile, back in the world in which fighters might actually sometimes be used–and useable–for their intended purpose

Conventional wisdom says America has the best-equipped military in the world. But sometimes you have to wonder. Personnel from Marine Corp Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina recently went to a museum in search a part they needed to get one of their older F/A-18 Hornets flyable, according to a report this week from BreakingDefense. 

The part in question was not on hand at Beaufort and is no longer manufactured. The Marines first went to check retired F/A-18s on display at MCAS Beaufort but didn’t find it. Then a Marine Lt. Colonel visiting the USS Yorktown (a retired aircraft carrier part of the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum) in nearby Charleston noted a similar vintage F/A-18A on deck and informed the Beaufort contingent about it. 

“We got an email from the military asking if they could have the forward left nose landing gear door hinge from the F/A-18 on [the Yorktown’s] deck,” says Patriots Point spokesman Chris Hauff. “The Hornet, [Bureau no. 162435] is on loan to us from the National Naval Aviation Museum and they asked if the Marines could come out and take a look at it. They sent a team out here and removed the part, but it turns out they weren’t able to use it.”

Hauff says that the Museum has never had a request like this, but that they were happy to help. “Any way that our museum can help, we will.” That’s good to know. On the other hand, this story illustrates the state of Marine Corps aviation. The Marines fly some of the oldest fighter aircraft in the military thanks in part to their advocacy of the F-35. The service has forgone modernizing its Hornets and Harriers in order to save money for the F-35B, which can’t come soon enough.

Hats off to the Lt Col for his alertness, ingenuity, and initiative, at least. More from the BD article:

“Recently, I have heard first-hand from service members who have looked me in the eye and told of:

  • “trying to cannibalize parts from a museum aircraft in order to get current aircraft ready to fly the overseas mission assigned (See above);
  • getting aircraft that were sent to the boneyard in Arizona back and ready to fly missions;
  • pilots flying well below the minimum number of hours required for minimal proficiency and flying fewer training hours than the adversaries they are being sent to meet;
  • not having enough senior enlisted people to train and supervise younger ones and those who remain working very long hours day after day;
  • service members buying basic supplies, like pens and cleaning supplies and paper towels out of their own pocket, because otherwise it would take three to four months to get them if they could get them at all.

And he hauled out the standard facts service leaders have told Congress for the last few years.

“Aviation units in the Marine Corps cannot meet training and mission requirements. With ‘less than one-third of Army forces at acceptable levels of readiness,’ the Army is ‘not at a level that is appropriate for what the American people would expect to defend them,’” Thornberry said. “‘Less than half [of the Air Force] combat forces are ready for… a high-end fight.’ It is the “smallest, oldest, and least ready [force] across the full-spectrum of operations in our history.’ This testimony across the Services is remarkably consistent, candid, and disturbing.”

How long will it take to fix this? Dunford offered this grim take. The Army, Navy, and Marine Corps will not repair, train and modernize at a fast enough rate until around fiscal 2020. What about the Air Force, the service that has essentially been at war since Kosovo, you ask? The Air Force won’t have high enough readiness levels to cope with a high end war until fiscal 2028.

I find that “BreakingDefense” title entirely too ironic for comfort in the days of our long, slow slip into national dotage and decrepitude. “How long will it take to fix this?” It won’t ever be fixed, unless we fix the nation first. And that’s going to mean breaking the current government–good, hard, and completely–and replacing it with a Constitutionally legitimate one first.

In other news elsewhere on the PM site, I can’t help but love this description of one of my all-time favorites:

In other words, we may never see another ugly, heavily-armored, twin-engined juggernaut that shoots bullets the size of Coke bottles while the pilot sits in a titanium bathtub. Which is really too bad.

It surely is.


The Warthog is dead

Long live the Warthog!

This December saw the climax of one of the more peculiar conflicts in Washington. It was a battle over an Air Force plane. But it was not one of those standard-issue Washington procurement battles in which congressional bean counters seek to kill off a hugely expensive project that the relevant military branch insists is vital for American security. It was almost the opposite: The politicians were trying to save a weapon system, and the service brass, together with one of America’s aerospace giants, were trying to get rid of it.

The weapon in question is the A-10 ground attack plane, officially the “Thunderbolt II” but widely known as the “Warthog.” It has been around for more than three decades. It’s one of the outstanding successes of modern American military aircraft, and its effectiveness in recent wars has made it beloved by American and allied troops.

The effort of the Air Force to retire prematurely this storied plane has few parallels, not just because it has faced dogged, and ultimately successful, resistance from well-informed members of Congress, but because it has lasted 25 years and has its origin in what looks like a troubling moral and intellectual crisis among Air Force leadership.

“Dogged, and ultimately successful, resistance from well-informed members of Congress”? That alone is staggering.

Even more frustrating for those who wanted to get rid of it, efforts to dismiss the A-10 as merely a “single-mission airframe” have been undermined by its surprising utility for other missions besides tactical ground attack.

In the Balkans it proved to be useful for combat search and rescue. During the first Gulf war, besides shooting up thousands of Iraqi tanks, the A-10 also shot down enemy helicopters, making it a star of what the military calls -“Battlefield Air Interdiction.” In Iraq and Afghanistan the A-10 turned out to be excellent for Forward Air Control (guiding other aircraft and artillery fire) in the tradition of Vietnam-era planes like the Mohawk and Bronco.

Right now in Iraq, A-10s are carrying out not just close air support but also the search and destroy sorties that the Air Force calls strike coordinated armed reconnaissance (SCAR) missions, for which it is ideally suited, unlike fragile, fuel-guzzling F-35s or even F-16s.

In 2013 the Air Force brass thought they could exploit the sequester to finally retire the A-10. Sure there was still fighting in Afghanistan, and mothballing the A-10 would mean using fast jets in its place, with all of the attendant downside, but the political opportunity was too good to miss. Indeed, it looked for a while like the A-10 was doomed. It didn’t help that the plane has no big aerospace lobby behind it, the last A-10 having been built in 1984 by a company that no longer exists. But Senator John McCain, supported by the Army and veterans’ groups, began a congressional insurrection on its behalf.

John McCain, right about something? Okay, talk about staggering; this story is becoming almost Kafkaesque.

The Air Force, like the Navy and Marine Corps, has plenty to be nervous about when it comes to the F-35. It is not only already the most expensive weapons project in history and late by almost a decade, there are many people within the defense establishment and even the Air Force who think it a misconceived and wasteful procurement catastrophe.
Part of the problem is that the F-35 was marketed on “commonality”—one airframe for all three services—but built around the Marine Corps’s demand for a jet that can take off and land vertically like the Harrier jump jet. The resulting design compromises meant what should have been the best fighter in the world is slower than and aerodynamically inferior to the modern Russian and Chinese designs it might come up against. As a 2008 RAND Corporation study put it, the F-35 “can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run.”

It may sound extraordinary that senior Air Force officers could be almost unconcerned with the safety and success of American ground troops, or that they would make such a fetish of the purchase of expensive, glamorous, high-tech pointy-nosed toys as to undermine the overall military capacity of the United States, but that seems to be the case.

Okay, that’s it. Uncle Peter, my smelling salts!

While the A-10’s supporters have won for now, the underlying problems with the Air Force remain. There’s an argument to be made that if it is institutionally unwilling to take seriously the mission of delivering close air support to American troops, as seems to be the case, then it would make sense to abolish its near-monopoly on fixed-wing aircraft and hand the A-10 over to a resuscitated U.S. Army Air Corps that would be pleased to have it.
And perhaps the USAF should also give up other unglamorous tasks that are about supporting soldiers, sailors, and Marines. It could become a smaller force that operates interceptors, strategic bombers, tankers, and America’s strategic missiles. It’s a solution that could keep the fighter jockeys happy (at least until they are all replaced by unmanned aircraft) without undermining the effectiveness of America’s military as a whole. Of course, it would be far better if the service simply came to its senses and made the national interest, rather than the promotion of the F-35, its first priority.

Now, that’s just crazy talk right there. That little jab about fighter jocks being replaced by unmanned aircraft has gotta sting a bit.


Travails of a jet jock

Good stuff:

You can see why flying involves a lot of trust. You’re entirely reliant on many, many other people to keep you safe. You rely on your wing man not to fly into you; you rely on the ground troops to let you know what areas are safe to fly over; you rely on air traffic controllers to keep everyone properly separated. A poorly coordinated traffic pattern can wind up with you trying to land one jet on top of another. I’ve been lucky enough to escape my few harrowing moments mostly unscathed, but if you do this job long enough, you’ll know someone who has died flying.

But in spite of the ever-present specter of death, be it from rocket-powered seats, Looney Tunes catapults, pitching decks, flying gas stations, passing out in the middle of a fight, suicidal birds, busted aircraft, or just the old proverbial “sudden stop at the end,” I absolutely love this job and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Mostly because of the shirtless volleyball.

Read it all. Yes, even you, Regbo–even though I know already you could furnish a lot more than just five.

(Via Ace)


Veterans Day

Great story.

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — The last of the Doolittle Raiders, all in their 90s, offered a final toast Saturday to their fallen comrades, as they pondered their place in history after a day of fanfare about their 1942 attack on Japan.

“May they rest in peace,” Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 98, said before the three Raiders present sipped an 1896 cognac from specially engraved silver goblets. The cognac was saved for the occasion after being passed down from their late commander, Lt. Gen. James “Jimmy” Doolittle, who was born in 1896.

May they rest in peace indeed. And here’s a couple of of photos from the Warbirds Over Monroe airshow this past weekend:

My two all-time favorites, the F4U Corsair and the hallowed P51 Mustang. My four-year-old daughter took that shot, believe it or not.

Never have seen a wing walker before, as many airshows as I’ve been to. It was AWESOME; she was dressed as Wonder Woman, and that’s just what she is, too. Lots more about her, with some great photos, here.

Update! I should mention Ashley’s pilot, Greg Shelton, and his plane, a Super Stearman with the 450-horsepower Pratt and Whitney engine rather than the standard 220hp Contintental. Hearing that thing roar as they flew by, you could easily tell this was a high-performance aircraft, and Shelton really flew the hell out of it. If you ever get the chance to see this duo perform, don’t pass it up. Absolutely thrilling, that’s what. My kid just loved it, too, clapping her hands, laughing, and jumping up and down like a mad thing. Highly recommended; any Warbirds gathering is as good a way to celebrate Veterans Day as I can think of right offhand.


A little history

As promised, photos from yesterday’s field trip to the Carolinas Aviation Museum.

Gramma and Little Squirt approach Sully’s A-bus

Amazing what impact with a little water will do to sheet metal, ain’t it?

Some of the other flotsam and jetsam about the place, including an F4 cockpit you can climb up into and sit in while making whooshing sounds and machine-gun noises as you mentally strafe the other museum patrons

A fine restoration of a venerable old Piedmont Airlines DC3. There was a company here still flying charters and cargo runs with two of these up til only a few years ago; I used to see one take off early every Wednesday morning from the loading dock at work, and they were COOL. Nothing like big unmuffled radial piston engines, I always say. If you don’t believe me, go watch this

MJ wasn’t really into having her picture taken; she just wanted to run around the place screaming wildly and jumping up and down; the Delta Dagger and Voodoo I mentioned yesterday are over behind the DC7

And since I love GeeBees, and I bought my daughter a small metal replica of this one yesterday at the museum gift shop and she hasn’t put it down since, I’m gonna embed this:


An outing

Taking the little one to the aviation museum here later this morning; I hear it has the actual Airbus 320 that Captain Sully flew into the Hudson on display, and I know for a fact it has a few oddball fighters on hand, like a Delta Dagger (note its slightly-more-famous sibling, the Delta Dart) and a Voodoo (one of my all-time favorites), among others. I’ll see if I can’t grab a few purty pitchers and share ’em with y’all here at the ol’ hogwallow.


Constant Peg

Fascinating stuff:

No such affection was earned by the MiG-21’s brutish follow-on. “The MiG-23 was a nightmare, maintenance was a nightmare. The guys hated flying it, and we checked people out when they had 3-5 months left.

“We had eight MiG-23s, two of them the air-to-ground version [MiG-23BN]. At high AOA (angle of attack) they were not as stable as the radar nose types.

“It would accelerate until it blew up. The limit was 720-710 knots, but guys would look down inside and see they were going 850-880.

“Everyone who flew it spun it at least once. You’d be in a separation maneuver at 1.4 and the nose would start searching from side to side. The stab-aug was terrible – although it was faster than anything we had, you weren’t ever comfortable.

“At Red Flag in the 1970s we were told that the MiG-23 would sweep its wings [forward] and kill you. Ron Iverson [4477th operations officer 1975-79, retired as a Lt Gen] flew one of the first ones. He said, “don’t worry about it — most of the time it’s trying to kill me”.

Overall, the operation was hazardous. Tactical Air Command “asked us for our accident rate. TAC average was three to four major accidents per 100,000 hours, Five to six was a concern. We had a rate of 100/100,000, and that wasn’t counting all of them. We spun one and we never flew it again, because you got a fire light every time you started it.”

“We had 210 maintainers,” Manclark recalled. “They were dedicated, just unbelievable, tech sergeants and master sergeants. The CIA gave us a flare dispenser from a Frogfoot [Su-25] that had been shot down in Afghanistan. We gave it to maintenance – it was just a thing with wires coming out of it. Four hours later they had it operational on a MiG-21.”

That proved to be a very important test.

You’ll want to read all of it, I assure you.

(Via CDR M)


What a drag it is growing old

And I don’t mean people here.

“I hear people talk about, well you know, the U.S. military spends more money than the next 17 nations combined,” Deptula said. “Well, the next 17 nations combined are not committed to maintaining peace and stability around the world. We are.”

Deptula uses the term “geriatric aviation force” to describe the current state of affairs. He has firsthand experience. He earned his wings and flew an F-15 for the first time in 1977. Thirty years later, another Deptula boarded the aircraft. His son, Lt. David A. Deptula II, flew the same F-15 at Kadena Air Force Base in Japan.

The Wall Street Journal documented the amazing father-son story last fall to illustrate the challenges facing the aging force. The elder Deptula recounted how the fighter was originally designed for a 4,000-hour service life. That was later extended to 8,000 hours.

“We have really flown these aircraft well beyond what originally would be believed as their replacement lifetime,” Deptula said of the F-15s. “And now, because of some of the fiscal constraints that are being imposed on the Department of Defense, there is consideration being given to extending the lifetime even further.”

Hey, we could always bring back the mighty Mustang, right?


Pres. Greencheese and the Moon God


I finally figured out why NASA’s (National Arab-Nautics and Self-Esteem Advocates) top priorty is feel-goodism: the president wants every Muslim to have the same chance at a moon program as every American has under the Obama administration.

That is, none.


Sky King George III: “No Transportation Without Taxation!”

“Hardly a day passes where I don’t walk out on the (House) floor that someone asks me, ‘When are we going to re-regulate the airlines?'”–Rep. James Oberstar, (D.-PermaBureaucracy)

Travel Blog:

“Fees are a business decision best made by each airline,” Ridley said, adding that the federal government should make sure all fees are disclosed to consumers. Robert Rivkin, the Department of Transportation’s general counsel, said government officials are looking at ways to tighten regulations on how airlines inform consumers of such fees. “We believe that the proliferation of these fees and the manner in which they are presented to the traveling public can be confusing and in some cases misleading,” Rivkin said. Published fares used by consumers to choose flights don’t “clearly represent the cost of travel when these services are added.”

Umm, excuse me, but…have you seen the Tax Code lately?

“Confusing and misleading the public” about the cost of government seems like Job #1 around Washington, DC–starting with the ridiculous, laughable, cynically dishonest fantasy budget projections used in the HealthControl debacle. Congress won’t even adopt a budget this year, in hopes of keeping the public fooled.

In a warning to the industry, panel members asked about the possibility of extending the airline excise tax of 7.5 percent charged on airline tickets to the unbundled fees, which currently escape the tax. The tax revenue funds the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ah–it’s about their baggage problem, not yours.

Speaking of shining a light, the Foundry:

In spite of supporting regulations that will force all Americans to switch out old light bulbs for more expensive new ones (the good old incandescent bulb will be illegal in 2012), it seems that the DOE itself finds that it’s too much trouble and too expensive to adopt the latest energy-saving technologies.

An audit of 96 buildings by the department’s inspector general reveals, “For the most part, sites either did not use, or made limited use of, innovative lighting technologies developed in the Department’s research laboratories.” The DOE is not even availing itself of the technologies that, as part of its mission, it helped create. The primary impediment cited was a “lack of resources.” In other words, the energy savings were too expensive.

The DOE is cheerleader for parsimony in energy consumption for everybody else. Yet it still hasn’t outfitted a majority of its own buildings with occupancy sensors and the latest lighting technology. Maybe American households should also be allowed to choose which “money-saving” technologies they want to adopt and when they want to adopt them.

Republicans should run on this in the fall, even though Bush signed this stupid law:

A government that doesn’t trust you with light bulbs or ticket prices, yet hides all its own costs in the dark.


Voyage to the Journey of the Center to the Middle of the Mediocre Marxist (Updated)


“Don’t be afraid to see what you see.”–Ronald Reagan, regarding our willful blindness to Communism

Cora Peterson: “We’re going to see things no one has ever seen before. Just think about it.”
Grant: “That’s the trouble. I am.”–Raquel Welch and Stephen Boyd in “Fantastic Voyage”, 1966

During His Ministry in the Wilderness Years 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama went to the Space Coast of Florida and lied outright to the space workers there.

Realizing that Florida’s electoral votes were key to his plan to impose Socialism on America, Obama made a conscious decision to lie to their faces, telling them that their jobs were safe, the funding was secure, that America was returning to the moon, and that greatness still lay ahead.

As soon as his own job was secured, however, he began firing the workers, canceling the moon program, initiating the War on Greatness and grabbing the money for the Socialist Project. And even that is being done in a dishonest manner.

Dafydd ab Hugh:

Simply put, an administration that believes in manned space exploration — believes in Mankind.

So it’s hardly a surprise that Barack H. Obama is in the process of killing the Constellation program proposed by (of course) President George W. Bush to return human beings, Americans, to the Moon, this time to stay…

And it’s even less of a surprise that they’re doing it in a backhanded way, in violation of an act that Obama himself is about to sign into law — while mockingly flouting it:

“The head of Nasa, Major-General Charlie Bolden — an Obama appointee — has now written to aerospace contractors telling them to cut back immediately on Constellation-related projects costing almost $1 billion (£690 million), to comply with regulations requiring them to budget for possible contract termination costs.

The move has been branded a “disingenuous legal manoeuvre” and referred to Nasa’s inspector-general for investigation. “It’s bordering on arrogance by the Administration to boldly and brazenly go forward with this approach. It shows a blatant disregard for Congress,” said the Republican Congressman Rob Bishop, of Utah, whose constituency stands to lose thousands of jobs. Two weeks ago the Senate passed legislation that compels Nasa to continue work on Constellation unless Congress directs otherwise. That legislation is due to be signed into law by Mr Obama this month while Congress continues its deliberations over his proposal to cancel the current space space progamme.”

In other words, Obama is the Maximum Leader, and he doesn’t need any pesky “co-equal branches of government” telling him how to do things–even if he signs their laws!

But why? Why the hostility to the space program?

For one thing, it denotes American greatness. To Obama, that means jingoism. And patriotism, which is a lesser love than the Pure Socialist Ideal.

Just as he has never “forgiven” the US for ousting the Communist Mossadegh in Iran during the Cold War, Obama has never forgiven America for beating the Soviets to the moon.

Yes, the Soviets had a space program, even before us–but in Obama’s view, they were only forced into it by American aggression. Obama would get even by forcing us to hitch-hike a ride into space with the Russians or Chinese, in which our sole contribution would be bringing along the escape pod, which would be like Columbus setting out for the New World in a life preserver.

But it is an apt metaphor for a passive/aggressive Escape Hatch Presidency.

You might think that a man who fancies himself Overlord Galacticus, Lord of All Worlds, Both Known and Unknown, Except for One Mile Deep in the Gulf Which is Not My Fault would welcome space travel.

But it would be an invasion of His Space, like the miniaturized sub Proteus entering the bloodstream of a Soviet defector in order to save the Secret Formula in the sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage.

In the real world, of course, we know that the Clinton/Obama Democrats would sell the Formula to the Chinese for campaign cash, return the defector to Russia, sign a Non-Aggression Pact with Vladimir Putin over Molotov cocktails and hit on Raquel Welch.

The main reason for Obama’s hostility to space lies elsewhere, though.

Socialism is a materialist philosophy, concerned with dividing the stolen loot properly.

They look at the money spent on space exploration and it angers them. Like your 401ks, it is a pot of money unavailable to them to redistribute to themselves the Workers of the World, and they mean to fix that.

When you or I look at the night sky, we see sparkling white stars on an inky black page. But socialists see only gray. They think of all the socialist housing cubicles that could be constructed out of the drab, gray Soviet cement of their dreams. East German architecture for as far as the eye can see–the good eye, the one that wasn’t gouged out by a Bulgarian border guard.

That’s what excites them. That’s what moves them. Space travel is a diversion from the Statist Project of creating Heaven on Earth–you know, like Havana or Harare.

But Kosmo Not-Kramer Hussein deserves credit for this; in seeking to turn America into a socialist basket case, he is boldly going where no Menshevik has gone before.

The New Frontier shouldn’t become our final one just because Commander Zero has “the heart of a prison matron and the soul of an East German border guard”, as P.J. O’Rourke once said of Hillary.

Let’s give this guy the final word for now, because he got it right the first time:

“Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward–and so will space. …

The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space. …

[T]his generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation. …

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. …

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.”

Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”–John F. Kennedy – September 12, 1962

UPDATE: Byron York dreams of things that never were and asks “why not?”:

For Obama, the space program shows that America has the ingenuity and know-how to find new sources of energy: If we can put a man on the moon, then we can create a clean-energy future. But as they watched the speech, some Americans, perhaps millions of Americans, had another reaction:

If we can put a man on the moon, Mr. President, then why can’t we stop the leak?


Deep Space None: Mission to Marx!

“We can’t expect to be number one in everything indefinitely.” –Top administration science adviser Dr. John P. Holdren, to students at the American Association for the Advancement Prevention of Science (AAAPS).

Robert Costa:

“I just have to say, pretty bluntly here, that we’ve been [to the moon] before,” Obama declared in front of an eerily quiet NASA audience. “There is a lot more of space to explore.”

We’ve been to Delaware before, too–but that didn’t stop you from going back there and funding Joe Biden’s Private Amtrak smoker.

“No one is more committed to manned spaceflight, to the human exploration of space, than I am,” Obama said. “But we’ve got to do it in a smart way. We can’t keep doing the same, old things.”

Unless it’s the Russian Revolution of 1917.

When he spoke at the Kennedy Space Center during the run-up to the 2008 election, Obama vowed to protect the jobs of the facility’s workers before an audience that included them; not a single space worker was invited to attend yesterday’s speech.

But he promised that about one/tenth of those fired would eventually get their jobs back. And if you can’t trust an Obama Promise(tm), what can you trust?

NASA shouldn’t be a jobs program, but does everything he touches have to turn into an Anti-Jobs Program?

As for the future of manned space exploration — to which he’s “100 percent” committed — Obama announced plans to develop a “heavy lift rocket” to be our means of reaching deep space, a rocket that will take years to develop. He wants the design completed by 2015. By 2025, he wants to have a manned crew mission into deep space, then maybe a trip or two to an asteroid.

Barack the Cosmonaut wouldn’t know an asteroid from his hemorrhoids. Hit it, Sammy:

Fly me to a ‘roid
Let me Stimulus the stars
Let me Tax and Regulate from Jupiter to Mars
In other words, to Marx, be true
In other words, America’s through!

You could almost hear the yawns in the NASA hangar. Without a clear vision from the president, just an urge to “research,” the weary spacecrats know little will happen.

Obama’s is a stunted vision, and one that deliberately scales back the horizon for Western man, leaving the Chinese and Russians as de facto kings of the cosmos. Though the president believes that he’s smartly tossing a cumbersome program into the bin, along with its cowboy ethos, he forgets that astronauts are more than overpaid automatons of the state — they’re heroes, men whose adventures are an instrumental part of America’s own.

The president looks at moondust and sees dirt.

Actually, he likes dirt. It’s America he keeps trying to wash right out of his hair.


This sounds more like a bid to hold down electoral losses in Florida this year.

Says the job cuts are result of decisions made 6 years ago, not 6 months to retire the shuttle. True but he cut the replacement program that people would have segued into. Nice try by the Blamer in Chief.

Homer Hickam:

Quite honestly, at this point, I don’t much care what they announce and pronounce. I do not think any of them are capable of organizing a DAR scrap drive. The most important events of this spring or early summer isn’t anything President Obama is going to say or propose. It is:

— The launch of the X-37, a prototype space plane by the United States Air Force.

— The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

The moon is the obvious destination for spacefarers with our present technology. So much can be done there. I’ve said my piece on this, both in my blogs and in my novel Back to the Moon . I’m not trying to convince anybody at this point. Read them if you wish. Or opt for Mars. Good luck on that. Let me know how you made out.

It’s not you. I just need some space.


The Florida Line: Progressives vs. Progress and the First President to Moon America


President Space Ghost is heading for the Space Coast. Quick–hide your jobs!

But first, as we noted in January,

Obama then:

“Obama commits to moon mission” By Robert Block, Orlando Sentinel, August, 16 2008

Obama now:

“Obama aims to ax moon mission” By Robert Block, Orlando Sentinel, January 27, 2010

If, for whatever bizarre and inexplicable reason, you’ve decided to subject yourself to the SOTU speech tonight, think of these…and remember:

It’s Only Words.


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — Near the launch pads where U.S. space voyages begin, President Barack Obama will try to reassure workers that America’s space adventures sail on despite the coming end of space shuttle flights.

And Obama on Thursday will also try to explain why he aborted his predecessor’s return-to-the moon plan in favor of a complicated system of public-and-private flights that would go elsewhere in space, with details still to be worked out.

It’s a tough sell.

Solution: A Canaveral Kickback! “Deem and Dream!”

Earlier this week, the administration said it would rescue a small part of the moon program: its Orion crew capsule. But instead of taking four astronauts to the moon, the not-yet-built Orion will be slimmed down and used as an emergency escape pod on the space station.

What a perfect metaphor for Obama’s vision of the country: from “To Boldly Go…!” to “Keep your head down, crawl into the escape pod and nobody will get hurt.”

“America–We Lead the World in Escape Pod Technology!”

Obama becomes the first sitting president in 12 years to visit Kennedy Space Center, but he won’t stay long. After a couple hours he’ll jet to Miami and spend more time in South Florida at two Democratic National Committee fundraisers.

First things first!

He’s heading to South Florida? Probably just wants be closer to Castro.

If that’s possible.

UPDATE: Allahpundit says we can’t afford a space program–but the first principle of security is to take the high ground. We can’t afford not to have a space program.


“Kenya, We’ve Got a Problem…”


Mike mentioned this already, but here are some more excerpts of the open letter from our mission commanders to our missing Commander:

“The United States entered into the challenge of space exploration under President Eisenhower’s first term, however, it was the Soviet Union who excelled in those early years. World leadership in space was not achieved easily. As a result of the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, it was concluded that our space policy required a new strategic vision. The program was named “Constellation.” The decision to cancel the Constellation program, its Ares 1 and Ares V rockets, and the Orion spacecraft, is devastating.

America’s only path to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station will now be subject to an agreement with Russia to purchase space on their Soyuz (at a price of over 50 million dollars per seat with significant increases expected in the near future) until we have the capacity to provide transportation for ourselves. …

In other words, we’ll be hitch-hiking with the Russians–if the Russians happen to feel like stopping their car!

It appears that we will have wasted our current $10-plus billion investment in Constellation and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded.

For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. …

Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space.

Actually, sir, America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader on earth–and space will follow.

If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.

Yes–a program of removing Blame-America-First socialists from power forever.

Neil Armstrong
Commander, Apollo 11

James Lovell
Commander, Apollo 13

Eugene Cernan
Commander, Apollo 17

Here’s The Man in the Moonbeam at his Loose Nukes and Kooks Summit:

“…Whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower…”

“Or not”?

We know which side of that “or” he’s on.



Contract With America…or “Contact” With America?


One from Ashbrook, wherein the author, Ms. Ponzi, takes her family to the Reagan Library.

“Air Force One and a Free People”:

…The plane projected greatness, but inside it was rather ordinary. The exterior sparkle and flash of it are not matched in the interior which could be described more as serviceable than grand. I have seen RVs that were more plush and, no doubt, a rock band might have a plane that is embellished with more luxury. This impressive and powerful machine is designed, mainly, to do a job and it is intended to facilitate a man who is doing the job of a nation of free men who are not beholden to some grandee.

By the time we made our way to the galley and the White House Press Corps section of the plane, a deep sense of satisfaction washed over me, replacing my initial disappointment. I realized that this plane is entirely American. It did its job in simplicity and efficiency–projecting both power and humility. We were touring the movable office of the President of the United States . . . not a gilded palace of Europe or, even, a grand and cushy carriage of a monarch. And the funny thing was that everybody on board with our group (children excluded, of course) was remarking about it and they all had pretty much the same reaction. There was a kind of modest pride–if such a paradoxical term can make any sense–or maybe it was a pride in our modesty. The other thing that I thought remarkable was the kind of spontaneous cheer that erupted from the crowd as the docent explained that the press corps traveling with the President is chosen by a lottery and, while they are accommodated with exactly the sort of meals that the President, First Lady and staff receive, they (or, rather, their news organizations) have to purchase their fare at the going rate. They don’t eat or fly on our dime. Someone behind us made the remark that this much expectation for people to pay their own way stood in contrast to recent trends . . . and the docent smiled broadly as she made a fair point about what true freedom of the press means.

Which reminds me of this Charlotte Hays post on Air Force Three for Me, but not for Thee:

What if our legislators had known in advance of that dastardly vote that that they would have to rub elbows with us? What if (heaven forfend!) Nancy Pelosi had to sit next to one of us on an airplane? Call me crazy, but I think a lot of what ails America could have been prevented if we had refused to pamper Congress. As Marie Antoinette might have said, Let Them Fly Commercial. This should be part of any new Contract with America.

Before we even think about a new “Contract”, the first question is “What should we call it?”

“Commitment With America” is not going to cut it. That sounds like a third date with Cynthia Schmeckleford gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Our public officials don’t need another “Contract”; the Constitution is the only contract they need to review right now. No, what they need now is Contact With America, as in contact with reality.

What items would you put on your Contact List?

Term Limits?
Repealing HealthControl?
The Line-Item Veto?
Balanced Budgets?
Forcing Legislators to Appear Nude at any Congressional Session Lasting Longer Than Three Days?

I dunno. But there’s one thing on my list: Repealing the Light Bulb Ban. It’s the perfect symbol of a government run amok: they don’t even trust you with a light bulb.

*It’s bipartisan. It was written by a Democrat Congress and signed by a Republican president, who should have known better.

*It was done to help stop mercury emissions from power plants…yet, when the bulbs are inevitably broken, they will introduce mercury into every household. Proper clean-up also requires a federal haz-mat team, a requirement which will be roundly ignored, thus making criminals out of the entire population.

*Incandescent bulbs also provide some heat which, on balance, probably lowers heating usage, thus helping with Global Warming. Which doesn’t exist anyway.

But the biggest thing is this: the light from the new bulbs sucks. In the New Progressive Era, slipping into darkness counts as “progress”. This is what I mean by ‘contact with reality’.

These guys think they’re all smarter than Thomas Edison, but they couldn’t outsmart Thomas the Tank Engine. If you don’t believe me, just look at Amtrak’s latest budget.

Like they told the alien: “D.C., phone home.”


“To the moon, Alice!”



Obama then:

Obama commits to moon mission” By Robert Block, Orlando Sentinel, August, 16 2008

Obama now:

Obama aims to ax moon mission” By Robert Block, Orlando Sentinel, January 27, 2010

If, for whatever bizarre and inexplicable reason, you’ve decided to subject yourself to the SOTU speech tonight, think of these…and remember:

It’s Only Words.




The Good News:

“I reject the notion that we have to waste billions of taxpayer dollars…”

“We do not need these…”

The Bad News:

“I reject the notion that we have to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on outdated and unnecessary defense products to keep this nation secure.”

“We do not need these planes.”

(Note to Linda Douglass: that’s how quotes are taken out of context–by truncating them, not by letting Obama talk and talk. and talk. In fact, that’s the very definition of “context”.)

The only time Obama wants to cut government spending is on defending America. There’s plenty of money to buy Congress its own luxurious personal airline, but no money for the F-22, an airplane that has deterred agression and kept us safe for decades.

Michael Goldfarb:

…Air Force chief of staff General Norton A. Schwartz appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and characterized the risk to national security from halting F-22 procurement at 187 as “moderate to high.” And in April retired General Richard Hawley, a former commander of Air Combat Command, told a Senate committee that the administration’s recommendation to kill the F-22 “rests on an assertion that we cannot afford to equip our airmen, on whom we rely to gain and maintain air superiority, with the best weapons that our defense industrial base has developed.”

Defending the nation is the one true undisputed job of the national government. So naturally, in the topsy-turvey world of Barack Obama and liberals, it is the only area where spending cuts are mandatory. You see, in their heart of hearts, they believe America is barely worth defending anyway. In fact, they believe America is a rogue agressor nation that will only start more wars if given the best weapons.

Ronald Reagan:

Believe me, it wasn’t pleasant for someone who had come to Washington determined to reduce government spending, but we had to move forward with the task of repairing our defenses or we would lose our ability to deter conflict now and in the future. We had to demonstrate to any adversary that aggression could not succeed … The calls for cutting back the defense budget come in nice, simple arithmetic. They’re the same kind of talk that led the democracies to neglect their defenses in the 1930’s and invited the tragedy of World War II. We must not let that grim chapter of history repeat itself through apathy or neglect.

And certainly not through the Blame-America-First crowd’s myopic upside-down vision of America coupled with their treasury-swallowing Big Government addiction fiction.




"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

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