Monday, September 30, 2013

Autumn in New England

View to the West-Sou'west from Chez Sarge
As the days get shorter, as the air starts to have a bit of a chill, I know that one of my favorite times of year approaches. Autumn in New England.

I grew up in Vermont, where in October the hills laid out before us were a riot of various shades of orange, yellow and red. Here and there were the somber dark greens of the pine and the fir trees. It all made for a very stunning view out of our living room windows.

And yet I seem to recall that, as children, we were rather blasé about the whole thing. I mean the view out the windows in fall was nice. But that's what it looked like every fall. Let's not make a big deal out of it, 'kay?

But in later years I look back on that and realize, we had this fantastic tableau laid out for our enjoyment every single year of our childhood. And we took it for granted.


To give you an idea of the view from where I grew up...

The Old Sod
Now imagine all of that painted like this...

Yes. It got pretty spectacular back in the day. But when you saw it every fall, year after year.


Hard to believe, but it's true. We really did take it for granted. We'd even whine about the tourists, traveling for hundreds of miles to see what we saw everyday. For we were young and thought the whole world looked just like where our home was.

Um, no. Not so much.

But you don't understand that until you grow up and move somewhere else. Where things might be radically different. Like, oh let's just say, Okinawa. Or Korea. Different. Very different. (Though truth be told, there are places in Korea where the fall foliage is every bit as spectacular as Vermont. Just not where I lived. Sigh...)

So keep a little something in mind as you go through your day. Enjoy it. Try not to take it for granted. Stop and smell the roses.

Or the smell of newly fallen leaves. Or the scent of a distant fireplace.

Drink or eat some pumpkin flavored whatever.

Life is short. Savor it.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Color Me...?

Lazy? Unmotivated? Uninspired?


Went to church, cut the grass, watched some football.

I am such a middle-class slacker.


But on the up side, finding that picture of an old timey box of 64 Crayolas brought back some awesome memories of being a kid.

Man, I can still remember the smell!

So I have that going for me.

Mayhaps I shall dazzle you with new stuff tomorrow.

For now, Scooter-flying, "Down Under" style.

Australian A-4 Flying Past HMAS Melbourne
"Hey mate, we're up here!"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ah, The '80s

Sometimes I Miss Them...
The Old AF Sarge's guilty pleasures, the 1980's and...

...Def Leppard...

Yes, YMMV. But ya gotta play this LOUD...

Saturday Open Road (Say What?...)

So I stayed up late, hoping to catch c w's Friday Open Road before hitting the sack.

No joy...

He posted it today. A Saturday. Seems the poor guy had to work late.

Well, I tried. But it's a good one. Check it out.

(Hey? Isn't that one of Rumbear's cousins?)


I have been a computer programmer since 1980-something. I find that computers are starting to piss me off more and more.

It's not the machines themselves which are to blame, it's the crappy software loaded on them.

I've noticed that Facebook has been "upgraded" (which is computer-speak for "made to suck more").

I've noticed that Blogger has been "upgraded" as well. Pictures which used to fit nicely on the sidebar now tend to stretch out to the right a bit. I've heard other bloggers mention that and I've seen it on a couple of blogs I follow. Also the comment blocks are different. Not better, just different.

And don't get me started on "smart" phones.

When I got my first one (described here) I was really enjoying it. When trapped on long shopping trips with the female progeny and my better half (my version of Lex's "All Girl Spending Team"), I could spend the time surfing the web. Reading the blogs I follow. Ya know, it was my link to the world outside of Marshalls and Ann Taylor.

But then came the day when I attached my phone to the outside world and AT&T informed me that my software was to be "upgraded" and would I please be patient.

Yup, now my phone sucks in a number of ways.

Seems I need to constantly recharge the damn thing. Got up this morning, disconnected it from the charger, put it in my pocket and began the day. An hour later when I went to make a phone call, the battery was down to 80%!!!

Yes, now the sumbitch sucks down battery power like you wouldn't believe.

(A friend of mine with an iPhone says that the Galaxy has a number of nice features, too bad you need to drag a generator around to keep the battery alive.)

Yeah, I know it's not the hardware itself. It's the blankety-blank what-sodding-idiot-wrote-this-crap software that sucks beyond all belief.

But hey, that's one of those First World problems right?

I comfort myself with the idea that something like SkyNet won't ever come to pass. The constant software upgrades would doom the system about an hour after coming online.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Friday Flyby - 27 September

Fokker E.III Eindecker
Wasn't sure which topic I should cover this Friday, then it struck me. World War One, the Great War, the War to End All Wars.

It was the war where military aviation started. From the earliest days of pilots and/or observers taking pot shots at each other with rifles and pistols to the days of synchronized dual machine guns. Military aviation was born in the period 1914 to 1918.

Now I have mentioned World War I pilots before in the Friday Flyby, like here. But I have not done any Flyby's dedicated specifically to the first war in the air. And I feel a series coming on (when my pastor says that, I always groan, don't tell him!)

Today we'll look at the aircraft and the flyers of Imperial Germany. Why Germany first? Well, I like starting with the best. In other words, this guy -

Rittmeister Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen
80 Confirmed Aerial Victories
02 May 1892 - 21 April 1918
Holder of the 
Pour le Mérite
Killed in Action, 25 years old

From Wikipedia -
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918), also widely known as the Red Baron, was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) during World War I. He is considered the top ace of that war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories.

Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of Jasta 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became leader of Jasta 11 and then the larger unit Jagdgeschwader 1 (better known as the "Flying Circus"). By 1918, he was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and was very well known by the other side.

Richthofen was shot down and killed near Amiens on 21 April 1918. There has been considerable discussion and debate regarding aspects of his career, especially the circumstances of his death. He remains perhaps the most widely known fighter pilot of all time, and has been the subject of many books, films and other media.
A Closer Look  at the Pour le Mérite

From Wikipedia -
The Pour le Mérite was founded in 1740 by King Frederick II of Prussia. It was named in French, which was the leading international language and language of the Prussian royal court of that era. The French name was retained, despite the rising tide of nationalism and increasing hostility between French and Germans during the 19th century, and ironically many of its recipients were honoured for acts performed in wars against France. 
The physical symbol of the award was a blue-enameled Maltese Cross with golden eagles, based on the symbol of the Johanniter Order, between the arms and the Prussian royal cypher and the words Pour le Mérite ("For Merit" in the French language) written in gold letters on the body of the cross.
The medal was also known as the Blue Max (Blauer Max - auf Deutsch). The movie of the same name (with George Peppard) was not bad. Not bad at all.
Yes, Ursula Andress is in the movie. Now that you mention it...

Legend has it that the Rittmeister flew an all red Fokker Triplane (the Dr1). Legend, as usual, is wrong. He also flew the Fokker E.III, the Halberstadt D.II and various models of the Albatross.

Halberstadt D.II

Albatross DVa

Fokker Dr1 in the paint scheme commonly attributed to the "Red Baron"
(Mostly red...)

Yes, Pungo has one.
(Actually they have more than one!)

Now, have you ever heard of an Immelmann turn?

Here's the chap they named that particular maneuver for. (And yes, I have done one of these in a real live aircraft. In the air and everything! Loads of fun!)
Oberleutnant Max Immelmann
15 Confirmed Aerial Victories

21 September 1890 - 18 June 1916
Holder of the 
Pour le Mérite
Killed in Action, 25 years old

From Wikipedia -
Max Immelmann (21 September 1890 – 18 June 1916) was the first German World War I flying ace. He was a great pioneer in fighter aviation and is often mistakenly credited with the first aerial victory using a synchronized gun. He was the first aviator to win the Pour le Merite, and was awarded it at the same time as Oswald Boelcke. His name has become attached to a common flying tactic, the Immelmann turn, and remains a byword in aviation. He is credited with 15 aerial victories.
Speaking of Oswald Boelcke...

Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke
40 Confirmed Aerial Victories

19 May 1891 - 28 October 1916
Holder of the 
Pour le Mérite
Killed in Action, 25 years old

From Wikipedia -
Oswald Boelcke (19 May 1891 – 28 October 1916) was a German flying ace of the First World War and one of the most influential patrol leaders and tacticians of the early years of air combat. Boelcke is considered the father of the German fighter air force, as well as the "Father of Air Fighting Tactics"; he was the first to formalize rules of air fighting, which he presented as the Dicta Boelcke. While he promulgated rules for the individual pilot, his main concern was the use of formation fighting rather than single effort.

Germany's premier ace, Manfred von Richthofen, had been taught by Boelcke and continued to idolize his late mentor long after he had surpassed Boelcke's tally of victories.

One of my personal favorite pilots was Werner Voß (Voss auf Englisch). I had a model of his aircraft when I was a kid. 

Leutnant Werner Voß
48 Confirmed Aerial Victories
13 April 1897 - 23 September 1917

Holder of the Pour le Mérite
Killed in Action, 20 years old

From Wikipedia -
Werner Voss (German: Werner Voß) (13 April 1897 – 23 September 1917) was a World War I German flying ace, a friend and rival of the famous "Red Baron", Manfred von Richthofen. Voss, a dyer's son from Krefeld, began his military career in 1914 as a Hussar. After turning to aviation, he became such a skilled and aggressive fighter that he was considered by some to be the one pilot who could match von Richthofen. Although absent on leave during Bloody April, when German aces fattened their victory lists on the disproportionate British losses, Voss's score was second among German aces at the time he was killed in action. His final combat is considered one of the most momentous and exciting dogfights in history. After he fell in solo opposition to eight British aces, he was described by his preeminent foe, James McCudden, as "the bravest German airman".
It took EIGHT aces to bring down this young man, fighting alone. He truly was a brilliant aviator.

Leutnant Werner Voß's Last Flight

My profile picture up there near the top of the blog? On my very first visit to the Military Aviation Museum in Pungo, Virginia, I spotted that aircraft I'm posing with right away. Why? It bears an earlier version of the paint scheme Leutnant Voß had on his aircraft. The one before he had the eyes and moustache painted on the engine cowling.

This aircraft -

"My" Fokker Dr1 

Of course, no discussion of World War One military aviation can be complete without a mention of one of the very best fighters to come out of that war. An aircraft so potent that it was called out specifically in the Treaty of Versailles.

From Wikipedia -
The Fokker D.VII was a German World War I fighter aircraft designed by Reinhold Platz of the Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. Germany produced around 3,300 D.VII aircraft in the summer and autumn of 1918. In service, the D.VII quickly proved itself to be a formidable aircraft. The Armistice ending the war specifically required Germany to surrender all D.VIIs to the Allies at the conclusion of hostilities. Surviving aircraft saw continued widespread service with many other countries in the years after World War I.
Fokker D.VII in the Foreground
(That's an Albatross off the starboard side)

And yes, of course Pungo has one!

One of Pungo's D.VIIs
Check your six!

Next time, les Français!

New Project at Work

Alright, your mission is to stare at the image above for eight hours a day.

Okay, it ain't that bad.

On the upside, I don't need to travel "Up North - 30*". I can watch the paint dry perform the task from the Home Office**.

So life is somewhat back to normal. But merging files from two different systems, when each file has to be examined by an "expert" (that would be moi) before merging into the "new" system is not the most exciting of tasks.

But it is an important task. (So I tell myself when the alarm goes off in the morning.)

If not me, then who?

Like the Old NFO said the other day in the comments "If it puts $$ in the bank, and food on the table, we do what we have to!"

As an old NCO of mine said, "I suppose later on I can always go to Vegas and turn tricks on a street corner to get my self-respect back."***

Um, yeah, okay. It's not that bad.

I've been stuck with worse tasks in the past. For less money too.

And so it goes...

Now that's low!

* "Up North - 30"  Where I spent the better part of three years is "Up North". Home of the new task is 30 miles south of there. So, "Up North - 30". Hey, I never claimed to be clever.

** Home Office - My regular work place in Little Rhody. Not the British Home Office.

*** Of course, he used language which was much more colorful.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


So the old project is winding down. Looks like I won't have to go Up North anymore. Looks like I might get to work near where I live.

Looks like I was wrong.

The new project requires a wee bit o' travel. Not as far as the old project, in fact 30 miles less (one way) than the old project.

Still and all, me and the Big Girl are putting far too many miles on ourselves.

Wears a fellow out it does.

But hey, last I checked, the pay check still comes in every other week.

They call the shots.

They say "travel".

I say "How far?"

Oh well.

As the great man* said "It is what it is..."

I'll try to keep blogging through all this, but I noticed that the posting frequency for this month has dropped a bit. Hopefully, the quality is still there. YMMV...

*Sources vary as to who said this first. So I'll keep it vague.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

For the Ladies...

F/A-18C Dropping 2 BLU-110 High Drag Bombs
The WSO's current squadron (VFA-2) has three ladies who fly. Two WSOs and one nose gunner,er, stick actuator, er, pilot, er, Naval Aviator.

The video is of an all-female Bounty Hunter crew out at the range. Blowing things up with a BLU-110 High Drag bomb. (No, the WSO was not in the back seat of this one. But she was out playing that day. Same ordnance.)

The jet comes in at 200 feet, pickles the bomb, then executes a 5G breakaway.

Good stuff!

You don't want to piss these ladies off.

No way.

No how.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Yup, went over 100,000 hits this past week. Feeling very froggy we are. (I would have mentioned it earlier but I forgot, it took the next milestone to remind me of this one. It is old we are getting!)

On Sunday, Big Girl hit 100,000 miles on the old odometer. For those of you who don't know who (or what) the Big Girl is, go read this. For those who perhaps don't wish to hit that link, let me just say that the Big Girl is my personal automotive conveyance. My vehicle. My means of transport. You know, my car. Though technically she may be better described as a "Sport Utility Vehicle" or "SUV". (At least that's what the speeding ticket I was awarded down along the Eastern Shore of old Virginny called her.)

Some would call her a "toaster on wheels".

Okay, so she's kinda "boxy" looking.
It seemed particularly appropriate that my trusty vehicle hit that particular milestone on Sunday, as it involved driving the Nuke to the airport. The Nuke was Big Girl's first owner. Of course, if you followed that link, you know that. If not, go back and check it out now. The rest of us will wait for you.

"Alright, take ten, smoke 'em if ya got 'em."

Okay, we're all up to speed now. Right?


100,000 hits on the blog. 100,000 miles on the personal commuting device. Big milestones pour moi.

Et vous?

Elementary My Dear Watson...

Blog buddy Michelle (or should I call her Juliet?) over at Free Falling in the the Great White UP had one of those quiz thingies linked on Sunday. Here.

Nothing too rigorous, only ten questions, the outcome (for those who like to read at any rate) is kind of fun. Anyway, I like that kind of thing, YMMV.

Give it a shot, then share here, or over at Michelle's place.

Must run, I sense that
Moriarty is about!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Amazing Lack of...

...content. We have a lack of content today.

The Nuke has been around most of the week, on a recruiting trip. She went back today. Back to DC.

She has no idea what it's going to feel like to go back to work at the Navy Yard. Especially thinking back to a week ago.

At any rate, we planned to get out of the rack at 0630 this morning. That opening picture was what was going on at 0500. A driving rain, lots of thunder.

Sleep? Not a chance.

So I rolled out of bed, shaved, poured some coffee down my throat, stayed out of the ladies' way as they got ready and then we all piled into the automotive conveyance and drove to Logan.

Traffic? Not bad at all.

We made it with time to spare.

But due to the early rising, then the drive up to Boston and back...

We're a bit worn down.

Yeah, like that.

Sorry for the lack of content today. But I will leave you with two images...

I remember when the rest of the world took the U.S. seriously.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Friday Open Road (I Know It's Saturday...)

First Successful Test of the MK 72 Mod 0 AUDMAAWS
(Off the coast of Sandy Eggo)
Okay, the picture above is not that of the first successful test of the Navy's MK 72 Mod 0 Advanced Undersea Dalmatian Missile Anti-Air Weapons System (AUDMAAWS). No, it's one of c w's photos for the Friday Open Road. Go. Enjoy.

(I keep logging off the computer too early to catch this on Friday night. So we East Coast types get to read it on Saturday morning. Hey, it's before noon. Technically that's still morning!)

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Friday Flyby - 20 September

American Waco CG-4 Military Glider

Perhaps I should call this week's installment The Friday Glide-By. Blog buddy Frank planted this idea in my head. After all, the glider played an important role in World War 2, from Eben-Emael to the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater. So I decided to run with it. Buckle up, there are no engines on these beasts and no way to return once we slip the tow rope!

German Fallschirmjäger Debouching from a DFS-230

One of the first uses of glider-borne infantry was in the opening phase of the Western Campaign of 1940, at the Belgian fortress of Eben-Emael.

According to Wikipedia:
With the treaty of Versailles preventing any other form of pilot training in Germany, large numbers of gliding clubs and schools were formed there after World War I. Later, when planning the invasion of France, the German military was faced with the problem of the Belgian fort of Eben-Emael which dominated the River Meuse. Someone (according to some reports, Adolf Hitler himself) pointed out that the top of the fort was a flat grassy expanse on which gliders could land.
Eight DFS 230 gliders, carrying 85 Pioneers under Leutnant Rudolf Witzig, landed on the roof of the fort in the early hours of May 10, 1940. There had been no declaration of war, and they achieved surprise. Using the new shaped charges, they disabled the fort's guns and trapped the garrison inside. The assault cost only 21 casualties.
In the aftermath of this episode, the Allies formed their own glider forces, as part of their airborne forces. Before they could see action, the Germans had made their largest airborne operation, the attack on Crete. Their glider troops and paratroops suffered heavy casualties, and the Germans decided that this mode of warfare was too costly.
German DFS-230 Military Glider

Fort Eben Emael Today
When I was stationed in Germany, I had the opportunity to visit Eben Emael. It remains pretty much what it looked like after the Germans were done seizing it. I remember vividly the shaft leading up to one of the upper gun positions, the walls were still scorched from the German satchel charge detonated there on the 10th of May in 1940!

One advantage glider borne infantry had over their paratrooper cousins is that they could carry more equipment with them. Such as jeeps and anti-tank guns, so they tended to be better able to take car of themselves once on the ground. However, they were always considered to be poor cousins to their jumping cousins, the paratroopers. According to Wikipedia -
In both the British and American armies, there was a sense that the glider infantry were poor cousins to the more glamorous paratroopers. In the British Army, whereas paratroops were volunteers, airlanding units were line infantry units converted without any option (although they were entitled to wear the same maroon beret as the Parachute Regiment). In the US Army, glider troops did not receive the extra pay awarded to paratroopers until after the Normandy invasion (where glider troops provided essential support to the parachute regiments and fought on the front-lines alongside their parachute brethren). This blatant inequality of treatment came to the attention of U.S. Airborne High Command and from that point forward the glider troops were issued the same jump boots and combat gear as paratroopers (including the M1A1 carbine with folding stock) and earned the same pay until the war ended in Europe. There are numerous examples of glider troops volunteering as replacements for paratroop units but very few, if any, examples of paratroopers volunteering for the gliders.

In one respect the American and British armies differed. The British Glider Pilot Regiment were not only trained aircrew, but also well-trained infantry, most of whom would have been junior or senior NCO's in other units. By comparison, the American glider crews were treated as mere drivers.
U.S. Glider Infantryman's Badge

British Glider Pilot Regiment Cap Badge

US Glider Infantry
Another of the famous "glider assaults" was that of the British Airborne attack on D-Day at the Pegasus Bridge (actually the bridge over the Caen Canal between Caen and Ouistreham, renamed in 1944 for the symbol of the British 6th Airborne Division, the winged horse of legend, 

Pegasus Bridge, note the British gliders in the background
British Airspeed Horsa Military Glider

Other World War II Glider Operations (From Wikipedia):
Sicily The Allies first used gliders in the invasion of Sicily in 1943. This first experiment was disastrous. Poor planning and bad weather resulted in the gliders being scattered in the air. Several landed in the sea and 200 men drowned. Few gliders reached the intended landing zones, and only 73 men (from most of a brigade) reached the intended target, the Ponte Grande bridge south of Syracuse.

Normandy With better intelligence and planning, the glider landings in The Battle of Normandy were far more successful. In particular, one coup de main force in six Horsa gliders seized vital bridges over the River Orne by surprise. The British 6 Airlanding Brigade were in action early on following concentrated landings, and prevented early German attempts to counter-attack the Allied landings. American landings were more scattered, but still more successful than many planners had hoped for.

Arnhem In Operation Market Garden, the British 1 Airlanding Brigade were landed on the first day of the operation. The landings took place in daylight and were unopposed, but the only landing and drop zones thought suitable for such a large force were a considerable distance from the vital bridge which was the objective. No attempt was made to mount a coup de main attack by glider (although this was largely due to the haste with which the operation was mounted). A jeep-mounted reconnaissance squadron brought in by glider failed in the mission.In the subsequent fighting, the airlanding brigade and the Glider Pilot Regiment suffered heavy casualties.

Rhine Crossing The last major operation involving gliders was the crossing of the Rhine in 1945. To avoid the long delay in relieving the airborne troops which had been a major cause of the failure of Operation Market Garden, the landings were made close to the German front line defences. The landings took place in daylight once again, and heavy German anti-aircraft fire took heavy toll of the vulnerable gliders. Most Allied casualties were incurred by the glider pilots.

Far East The Chindits, a large force operating behind Japanese lines during the Burma Campaign, were flown by the 1st Air Commando Group to landing zones which had been secured by advance guards landed by glider on March 5, 1944. This operation, although successful, also incurred heavy casualties. This was partly because the intended landing ground was changed at the last minute. Also, the distance flown and the loads towed by the tug aircraft were greater than anything met in Europe. Many gliders had to be released over enemy territory or mountains. Others crashed on landing on the unfamiliar landing zone. However, enough construction equipment was landed to make the landing ground fit for transport aircraft.
After the war the glider infantry units were all disbanded. They have been replaced by helicopter borne infantry. But for the period of World War II, the whistling near-silent approach of an incoming enemy glider must have filled the nightmares of a number of Belgian and German survivors of the war.

And how about this monster? The Messerschmidt Me-321 Gigant (giant) -

Me-321 Gigant