June 16, 2007

Bob DeJaegher 1924-2007

Bob DeJaegher was about what used to make politics matter. He firmly believed that governement was there to comfort the afflicted, not pay them lip service while doing the bidding of corporate or wealthy donors with the only goal of keeping yourself in power and cashing in from these same donors afterwards.

Though it's a bit belated, here's a spot to express your thoughts on the man.

A Guestbook hosted by the QC Times contains many people's rememberances. You may wish to add your own.

June 5, 2007

Even more airshow stuff

Since a reader commented that they especially appreciated the F4-U Corsair, I uploaded a clip of it firing up and beginning it's taxi, plus some more shots of the plane. As always, click the images to see a larger version.

The F4-U fires up.

A shot of the massive flaps for carrier landings. These things are enormous and must have really been effective at providing lift and slowing the planes down for landing.

The instrument panel features a modern radio stack and instruments.

June 4, 2007

Yet more airshow stuff

My apologies to those of you who have zero interest in this sort of thing. But here's some more shots for those who do.

The above shows Jim LeRoy doing one of the most amazing things to see. All three aerobatic pilots at the show performed this maneuver. (in addition to LeRoy, Michael Wiskus, Jurgis Kairys, and Tim Weber in the Geico sponsored plane performed Saturday) They flew along the runway sideways, only about 10 ft above the ground, with their planes rolled 90 degrees and angled up just enough to keep them from losing altitude. To see a plane flying along sideways is a weird thing indeed, it requires a skilled hand and a very powerful plane, and as with all their routines, one false move by the pilot and they're in serious trouble.

Much like NASCAR cars, Jim LeRoy's Bulldog has ever available surface covered with sponsor ads. This is the aircraft equivalent of a Lamborghini.

Jurgis' Extra and Jim Leroy's Bulldog racing straight up.

Here aerobatic pilot Michael Wiskus wedges himself into the cockpit of his Lucas Oil plane. It must be kind of odd having to go to work with a parachute strapped on your back. If you enlarge the shot, you can see the black object extending from his wing spar with wires at the end. This denotes the segments of a circle and allows the pilot to look out the wing and judge how he's aligned with the horizon and at what angle in order to do precise maneuvers.

Below is his helmet and cockpit after his routine showing the short-hand notes which lays out his routine. Each mark indicates exact maneuvers. How you follow it when you're flinging yourself in every direction is beyond me.

Above two Thunderbirds streak past nearly touching. (of course they're slightly offset, (the inverted plane is closer) but still...)

Note in the shot below just how precise the formation is. You could take a ruler and draw a line through the wing tips of all three aircraft. How they accomplish this is nothing short of amazing.

Here's a shot of the Shockwave semi "racing" Jurgis Kairy's Extra down the runway. The Shockwave is capable of reaching speeds over 300 mph and has to deploy parachutes to slow down.

The business end of one of NASA's F/A-18's, including the tailhook for carrier landings. These planes are used for chase aircraft to observe various aerial experiments.

And the nose, with the mid-air refueling boom.

This is a little known aircraft, the Douglas Skyraider, that was introduced in the latter stages of WWII and saw service all the way through Vietnam, where it was used for it's ability to carry massive amounts of varied weapons. It could carry more bomb weight than the B-17.

This particular model is an AD-5 "Fat Face" Spad, as they were called.

It's engine was the most powerful engine ever put into a single engined military plane and the plane itself is massive.

To give you an idea of its size, here's a shot with some spectators standing in front of it. Think that prop can push a lot of air?

Above is the famous gull winged F4U Corsair, used extensively in the Pacific during WWII. The gull wing design was necesitated by needing very long landing gear to provide clearance for the large prop.

The F4U taxis from the flight line to the runway.

The P-51 taxis back to parking after it's fly-by.

June 3, 2007

Airshow video clips

Got around to uploading a clip of Jim Leroy and the Bulldog bi-plane doing a few parts of his routine.

This might give the unfamiliar an idea of what these guys do. It's amazing.

This clip (such as it is) shows a small bit of the entire routine, but includes one of the more spectacular maneuvers where he traces an octagon mid-air and enters it inverted. Can you imagine the negative G's?

The next clip is of two of the USAF Thuderbirds doing a head-on deflection pass. Watch closely or you might miss the plane coming the opposite direction. They roll in oppposite directions just as they pass. (of course it's an illusion as they're both on parallel lines and wouldn't hit each other.... but that's not to say that they're not VERY close and it's still extremely difficult and dangerous.

And here's a clip of a P-51 Mustang "The Gunfighter" taxiing out and then a pull away shot of Jim LeRoy floating inverted in a stall, spinning slowly, and then diving out to within feet of the ground.

And of course the ubiquitous Shockwave, the semi-tractor powered by three enormous jet engines that returns each year to the show. It races up and down the runway belching flames and enormous volumes of smoke along with what sound like sonic booms when the driver momentarily shuts off the fuel. Flames also shoot several feet out of the stacks.

The clip isn't great, or even good, as I was caught at a bad vantage point, but you can get an idea of what Shockwave is about.

June 2, 2007

Wild and Crazy Guys (and a girl, too.)

Took in the Davenport Air Show today.... went with a raincoat and ended up with a sunburn.... but I guess that's not bad.

Lots to see, and a pretty good show, heavy on sentimental patriotism smothered on with a trowel, but... hey, that's what we pay tens of millions of dollars to maintain the military show teams for I guess... recruiting and psy-ops. Just struck me as a bit odd creating a reverent almost religious tone to honoring those who bravely lost their lives while in the pursuit of killing a lot of people from other countries that I guess just don't really count. And of course, in the countries where our sainted war heroes bombed and strafed and killed thousands of their people, both soldiers and vast numbers of civilians, they're probably over there doing the same thing.... making heroes out of people who got killed trying their best to kill others, usually without having to so much as see their victims as they rain sudden and often random death from thousands of feet up. Seems odd. Must be just me.

But the show was good in a uniquely American way... obscene amounts of fossil fuel burned in stunning quantities all to make a lot of smoke, fire, and noise. Raw power baby... all provided for our amusement.

And the precision, professionalism, guts, and skill shown by the pilots was truly what made the displays so remarkable, and of course, the almost science fiction level of power, capability, and performance of the planes themselves.

It's very much true that killing people from other countries has probably been the single greatest impetus in advancing technology, The amazing military aircraft probably being one of the most prominent examples, but that's probably because much of the wealth ever created in history has been spent (and much of it wasted) on the pursuit of new and improved ways to kill the enemy of the day.

Below is a shot of the second time in the afternoon that a parachutist (or I guess they're now paragliders) made their jump trailing a large flag. ( And the Flying Elivis' parachute team were there too, though I think it should more properly be the Flying Elvi, right?)

The title of this post refers to the very cool fact that one of the USAF Thunderbird team was female, a very encouraging sign that we're entering the 20th century. (that's not a typo)

Here she is getting a better look at the ground by streaking by inverted.

I took close to 300 pictures so I'll just post a few to start. I also have nearly 30 video clips, any decent ones I might upload to youtube so you can take a look if you'd like. Just depends on if I can find the time.

The guy below is a fearless and incredibly talented individual. He's also straight up nuts. Anyone that does what he does, and there were three there today, has got to be a special kind of insane. If you've seen them in action, you know what I mean.

Note the Arabic writing on his plane. Some of my readers will be shocked that he didn't drop a dirty bomb on their homes, no doubt. I'm sure the script would be enough for them to view him with fear. Relax... Bush wanted to hand Arabs the contract for security at our major ports. How bad can they be? I guess it's only multi-millionaire Arabs that are cool. But I digress.

His name is Jurgis Kairys, and he's Lithuanian. He's suiting up and about to strap himself into his Extra 300 unlimited aerobatics plane. By all means, check out his web site, and be sure to click the link and watch the clip of him flying under a bridge inverted. I'm sure it must be in Lithuania or somewhere besides the U.S., because he'd never get permission to do something like that here I don't imagine.

Here's a shot of him doing one of the about 200 maneuvers in his routine. The smoke trail shows his path. You don't normally think of planes making right angle turns in mid-air, but these guys did.

And here's the friendly looking tail end of a A-10 Warthog. But they're not that friendly at all, since they can carry millions of dollars worth of killing devices, including the Gatling gun mounted in the nose.

The Warthog

Diplomatic statesmanship in action

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A state senator lashed out at Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Friday, alleging that his fellow Democrat threatened to withhold funding from his local university and to destroy his political career if he did not support a heath care measure.

"He blew up like a 10-year-old child. If he had been my son I might have put him on my knee and spanked him,'' Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, told reporters on the Senate floor Friday, after a private meeting with Blagojevich.

"I was intimidated. I was a little scared,'' Jacobs said. "There's security everywhere in there. I've got the governor doubling his fists, acting like he wants to punch me.''

In an e-mailed response, Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch said, "Of course we deny his description of events." She said Jacobs wanted a $75 million project in his district before voting for the health care plan, but Blagojevich wouldn't agree.

The scuffle came at the end of a contentious legislative session that on Thursday was supposed to have adjourned for the summer. That adjournment never happened because Democratic leaders couldn't agree on competing budget priorities.
What a flair for the dramatic.

And who's lying?

After the deluge

A couple shots taken immediately after the downpour yesterday. (click to enlarge)

Water in the interesection by Blockbuster in Moline on Avenue of the Cites was over the curb.

And the creek that runs through the Heritage addition in Moline normally has maybe a few inches of water in it. It had a little more yesterday.

The ducks liked it though.

June 1, 2007

Fast things

The USAF Thunderbirds on the ramp in the dawn fog.

And something a bit quieter and slower, but no less amazing....

The Thunderbird's Lockheed-Martin F-16Cs sit beyond the barb wire topped fence that suspends this dew drop draped (say that three times fast) spider web.