Monday, February 23, 2015

Inertia

Growing up, I was a strange child.  For example, I liked Math and Science.  My folks gave me a chemistry set when I was about 10 with real chemicals.  The horrors!  Gosh, I’m sure I could have made some concoction and wiped out life throughout the universe.  

For my 13th birthday,They gave me a Daisy Model 94 BB gun.  My San Francisco born and bred Mother put up a heckuva fight, but ultimately my Dad won.  Mom, of course, used the “it’s all fun til someone loses an eye” routine.  Dad just took me outside and gave me the four rules speech.  Those made more sense to me.

Our house on Webb AFB were part of the original base housing, built during WWII, there were three buildings and 5 dwellings, 4 duplexes and the Wing King’s house.  Old, and out of the way, but they were (and still are) right next to an undeveloped part of the base.  Cedar and Mesquite trees, hills and washes, the perfect place for a kid with a BB gun to have fun.  Then, my best friend Mike got a gas powered pellet rifle.  No red ant hill nor abandoned beer bottle was safe.  We had a blast. 
Home Sweet Home.  Ours was to the left of the street and closest to the bottom.
Source Google Maps

But, as Sarge keeps telling me, I digress.  Where was I? Oh, right, I was weird.  I got Math.  Algebra was easy and I really loved Geometry which stood me in good stead later when I began flying fighters.
 
Beyond Math, I loved to read (still do with 225 books on my Kindle at last count).  This was a good thing.  Mom’s rule was only 1 hour of TV a day and then only during Summer.  During School, it was 1 hour a week, and even then that had to be diplomatically decided on by the body politic, AKA my siblings, as we all had to watch the same 1 hour show.  Other than that, it was homework, outside play and or reading.  I was a big fan of WWII history books specifically air war related and even more specifically fighter pilot related.  As I said, I was weird. 

At the time, my method of getting around the base was feet or bike.  My bike was a metallic blue stingray with a banana seat and ape hanger handle bars.  It was also from time to time a P-51, Spitfire, Corsair, P-38 and, if I wanted to get exotic, a Mosquito. 
My first fighter!
Source flickr.com

 Mike and I used to have some epic dogfights weaving in and out trying to get behind one another. (Wonder if that had anything to do with my tendency early in my flying career to think two dimensionally?)


Those battles also taught me that rarely does one “win” in a mid-air.

Got to High School and like everyone else in my class took Physics as a Senior.  I’m serious when I say, I think the teacher was in his 80s.  He frequently fell asleep in class.  All that having been said, I got Physics.  I mean I GOT Physics!  It might have had something to do with a practical example of Newton’s Laws I had as a child prodigy when I was flying an F-4 at age 12.

But first, Class we’re going to have a review of Newton’s Laws of Motion.

Newton’s First Law.

 “An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

Celebrex commercial notwithstanding, this law pretty much is the one immutable law of flying.  In Fighter Pilotese, it says, “You ain’t gonna fly until you light the engines.  You’re going to go in a straight line until you change the pressure level around a portion of your aircraft.  And you’ll only stay flying as long as your engines stay running and you avoid hitting anything.”

Newton’s Second Law.

Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass (of the object being accelerated) the greater the amount of force needed (to accelerate the object).

Mongo say “Small fighter, Big Engine.  Trees go by fast.”

Newton’s Third Law.

For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.

Newton must have been married.


Now, Newton was a smart man.  According to legend, he got all that from an apple. 
H/T Angel 

I, on the other hand, needed to perform some experimentation.

So, There I was…..* 12 years old, and bored to tears.  It’s spring break and my best friend Mike and I are trying to figure out what to do.  We’ve shot our way through our allowance in BBs and Pellets and the Red Ants are breathing a sigh of relief.  We’ve conducted numerous Physics experiments with our Hot Wheels cars using some very intricate, albeit carefully laid out, test tracks in Mike’s living room.  His was much bigger than ours.  Mike’s dad was a Lt Col, mine was a Captain.  I have successfully proven that my McLaren was the car to beat once again.  Mike’s mom tells us to tear it down and pack it up, but it’s only 1200!  Her party doesn’t start til 1900.  Even us kids told time that way. 

Anyhow, my Mom calls and says Dad’s home and Lunch is ready.  So I go home for my Baloney Sandwich.

Dang! Life was good back then!

We’re all sitting down at lunch and Dad’s talking about his day so far.  He’s been out in Mobile all morning, grading landings and making sure his student pilot assistant is checking every airplane to make sure their gear is down.  Newton’s first law says that the landing roll will be unusually short if not.

Anyhow, an F-4 has come in on a cross country and during his landing roll, his drag chute separated from the aircraft.  It being a gusty day, the drag chute was out in between two busy runways and just in front of the Mobile Control.  Dad sent the student out to get the chute.  It was in Dad's car, would I like it?
Drag Chute
Source en.wikipedia.org


Now, this was during the period when having a parachute hanging from the ceiling as room decoration was the absolute height of Air Force Brat, Male, 1 each, coolness.  Yeah Baby!  (No, I did not say that to my Dad!  “Yes, Sir, Thanks!)

Lunch is over, I’ve retrieved the chute and dragged it over to Mike’s house to show it off and enlist his help in hanging it in my (well, my brother and my) bedroom.

Mike is enthused as we open it up outside, then he gets a great idea.  How about if we have a dog fight?  Juvat, you can be the F-4 and we’ll tie the cable to the back of your banana seat.  Then when we come in for the landing, you can deploy it and that’ll be really cool!

So it is written, so it shall be.  We go round and round for a bit and then head back for landing.  I’m headed into about 15-20K of wind and decide it’s time to deploy the drag chute.  I reach behind me and grab the rolled up chute and throw it behind me.  Nothing happens for a second. 

Then….

A body in motion (mine) tends to stay in motion, even if his bicycle has come to a complete stop and in fact is being drug by a fully inflated chute capable of stopping a 20 ton fighter travelling at 160K.  

Well, I stayed in motion until gravity overcame what aerodynamic lift my body provided  and then friction between it and the asphalt brought me to a halt.  The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Webb AFB clinic putting my left arm in a cast.


In one short, but vivid, episode, I experienced all three of Newton’s laws in a very effective learning environment. But, by the time I was a Senior in High School, I GOT physics!


*SJC

40 comments:

  1. Oh, man...that bike/drag chute mental image just make both dogs come running into my office to see what I was laughing so hard about.
    I explained it to them and now they're both walking around the Lair snickering like a pair of Mutleys.

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    1. Glad I was able to entertain them, but are you sure it was about my post and not a successful raid on your countertop?

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    1. Yeah, Baloney Sandwiches were Haut Cuisine to me back then. I also don't remember either parent getting a case of the vapors over the incident. Although after I went to bed that night, it did seem, as Murph describes, they were "snickering like a pair of Mutleys".

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  3. Science!

    I love these educational posts. (Another instant classic Juvat.)

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    1. Thanks. As far as Newton and I are concerned, THAT science is settled.

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  4. Absolutely classic.

    I had a similar lesson with a bike. My plan was to drive my yellow stingray into a woven wire fence. The fence would stop forward motion while the bike pivoted up around the front axle, launching me effortlessly over the fence where I would land lightly on my feet, much to the amazement of the captivated observers.

    I had most of the physics intuitively suitcased, but hadn't solved for the necessary application of a vertical force component. So let's see, half the mass would have been about 22 kilos, velocity 10 m/s, umm, 1100 joules, give or take. More than enough energy to wrap me around the ape hangers when I arrived after 18 inches of travel.

    The crowd was amazed.

    Thanks Juvat!

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    1. Yeah, there always seems to be another vector you need to take into consideration.

      In another episode of boredom, we got into a discussion one night (very late) on board Blueridge. The topic was how much force would it take to stop the ship and could that be done by a fighter. That went on for a long time and ebbed and flowed with discussion vectors. Important to note in determining how bored we were. No alcohol was involved!

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    2. I bet that was a great discussion. Brings to mind Michener's "operation pinwheel" from "The Bridges at Toko-Ri."

      http://www.abledogs.com/Stories/pinwheel.htm

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    3. Interesting story. Had to cheat a bit and look up FJ-3M though. Pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite jets, although all decked out in Navy!

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    4. Come on, Juvat...there was nothing cooler in Navy livery (until the Phantom came along) than the FJ-3...a Sabre that could operate from carriers was the bomb-diggity!
      If you ever get to Charleston, SC, Patriot's Point has one. First time I saw it, it flipped my lid because back then I'd never imagined such a beast.

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    5. Haven't been to Charleston since ROTC summer camp (I think Washington was camped at Valley Forge that year). It's a bit of a hike, but ....

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    6. The Sabre was originally a Navy jet (FJ-1, I believe--in straight wing) and then developed into the F-86. So there.

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    7. Truly did NOT know that. Interesting!

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  5. Every physics question I was ever asked was, "How did you do that to your bicycle?"
    The standard answer was, "I dunno!"

    Fortunately, it was always the Ol' Man asking and not Mom or the bike would've been mothballed.

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  6. Well, that was usually my answer also! Didn't work very often either and was usually followed by the words "Dumb S**T!"

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  7. Great story! Makes me want to confess "beyond belief" stupidity to sort'a, you know, one-up the tales involving parachutes. Mine involved a cargo chute, roller skates, a Walmart parking lot, a nice breeze and a vector change where it went around a corner of the building. Lesson? Never use a double granny knot to tie a parachute around your waist.

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    1. Important safety tip, gotta remember that! Course it was probably better than a slip knot, just sayin'.

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  8. The crazy stuff we used to do as kids! The dumbest thing I did, along a similar vein, was to jump off roofs (1 story roofs, thankfully). My father was in the 82nd Airborne, and taught me how to "land" - (collapse your legs and roll).

    So for about a year I'm jumping off rooftops. Miraculously no broken bones.

    Never got an eye injury from a BB gun but a "friend" shot me in the butt one time.

    That's another story :-)

    It is amazing as kids the fun we could get into with things and places adults wouldn't even look twice over - Parents seem to want to "protect" their children from these things these days, it seems...

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    1. Yeah, that area of bush and scrub in the top of the photograph of where we lived, is where Mike and I spent virtually every daylight hour (if we weren't at the O'Club pool). Nobody really cared, but it wasn't anything to see rattlesnakes. You just kept an eye out and let them be. I think that freedom is lost on youngsters today. (not to mix it up with snakes, but just to wander and explore without somebody hovering over you 24/7)

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  9. Great read, come d'habitude, dude. Way too many comparables popping up in these tales and the life I remember. Therefore it is to be set in stone that we are running in parallel universes albeit the timelines are skewed by about twenty years or more to be absolutely merged as one life -two bodies. Chemistry sets, Red Ryder BB guns, effects of Bay Area living, Fabulous Phantoms, Webb AFB, immortality of spirit, immaturity of the brain. The only thing you've missed thus far is "Buzz Corey, Space Cadet", "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe" and "Destination Moon". Hence the lack of a complete time sync. These are the things that led me to understand about not working for a living, but flying instead. When was your family at WAFB? I was there in 1962. Or as we oldsters say it, "Nineteen and sixty-two".

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    1. Well doing the math from that date known to our generations, I was in 3 grade in 63 and I was in 5th at Webb and it was summer when we moved , so summer of 65. Went back there about 10 years ago (pre fracking oil boom). The base had been taken over as primarily a prison facility, there were I think 5 prisons on the base, and the capehart housing looked to be affordable housing for prisoner's families. Our house was uninhabited/uninhabitable at the time of the visit, but Google Street View has someone in it now. Still looks pretty bad. I was able to pick out Mike and My "fort", a formidable redoubt in the middle of a Cedar grove, still though.

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    2. I am glad that I was able to protect you from the Aisan Hoarde at that time, during your formative years.

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    3. And I appreciate that. You were in my Dad's timeframe. Aviation Cadet in 53, commissioned in 54 and married Mom. I came around 9 months later. I got to know a lot of people who had a great influence on my life. Not many of them are famous, but, in my mind, they are heroic. Crappy little war led by a democrat president with no intent to win, but they went and did their jobs anyway. That was why I joined. I'm just sorry that history seems to have repeated itself.

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  10. Well, Dave, looks like you were protecting me as well. Fall of '62 was my freshman semester at LSU--just in time for the Cuban Missile crisis with the Exxon "Bluejay" refinery in B.R then being the largest in the US/world. Nothing like sitting at ground zero, lol. That critical weekend was our Homecoming against Florida, so we partied on regardless, lol. (Your Florida teams under Ray Graves were so bad then that we scheduled you two years in a row and beat you like a drum. Of course when Steve Spurrier came along in "65 the worm turned, :) )

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    1. I didn't get into the "Gator Nation Notion" until 1965, when I married in to it. Most of Jeanie's kin were Gators.

      I went to Washington University in St. Louis. They were into basketball. Not me. I was into bowling and Budweiser.

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    2. VX, do I remember you saying you went through Webb also, or is it remnants of the episode of Barbancourt you talked me into trying? If you were a freshman in 62 and went through Webb, we crossed paths. (or were within a few miles of each other anyhow)/

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  11. PS: While all of us on Fraternity Row were busy with building "house decks" -decorations (we Phi Delts won for third yr in a row and retired the trophy) the DEKE's were the only sensible people. They build a bomb-shelter out of empty beer crates in the front yard with a life-sized "Hey Mable, Black Label!" cut-out standing in the entrance with a sign saying "To Hell with Homecoming! We're building a bomb-shelter!" LOL! )

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  12. @Dave/

    "Buzz Corey?" All I remember was the "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" series of books. Remember his two buddies from the academy and later crew members on his rocket? Roger Manning as the blond, cocky Navigator and Astro, his engineer, lol..

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    1. My bad, it was Buzz Corry, Space Patrol. Tom was the cadet. Fun reading at Wiki.

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  13. So, having an early experience with arrested landings, you decided not to become a Naval aviator?

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    1. Nah, I had several hooked landings in my career. Came close to joining the Marines, but....that's another story.

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    2. Juvat & "several hooked landings"

      I take it you must have several "Grand Order of the Tape Dragon" plaques hanging on your wall then, right? :)

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    3. VX, talking about arrested landings and such reminds me that you apparently "googled" barriers or something to find out about the post I had regarding my first trap in "Milk Run". You invited me to enquire about Neptunus Lex back then and I was hooked forevermore. Made a lot of good "digital friends" here and learned about Barboncourt. I still prefer Bacardi 8 year old though.

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  14. Ouch, but yeah, that DID get your attention! :-)

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    1. Ah, you know how it was back then, the cast meant I got to tell my story. Which meant drag chutes off of real fighter planes.....

      But, I did gain an innate understanding of the Laws of Motion. Got to retest them this morning on the way to work. Freezing rain OAT of 25 degrees. Signs saying "Bridge will freeze first" with 20K of crosswind. Let off the gas, steer into the skid and coast over the bridge. "Bubba! You mind getting off my rear bumper a bit, huh?"

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    2. Bubba was just drafting. Probably watched the Daytona 500.

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  15. No, juvat. I went thru sunny Del Rio @ Laughlin, remember? That playground of the idle rich, lol. But if you remember we both made the drive from Del Rio to Reese in Lubbock a couple of times, iirc.

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  16. @Dave/

    Yeah, I remember that post. It had been so long I couldn't remember if we had the BAK-9 or Bak-13 @ Bentwaters/Woodbridge, so hit google to refresh, lol.

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  17. PS: BB guns? Me too. Sounds like we non-PC types ALL had Daisey BB guns growing up, lol. WARMONGERS! Quelle Horreur! :)

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)