Saturday, July 26, 2008

Incident at Watertown Municipal

At about 3:45 pm this afternoon, a Cirrus airplane, reported to have 2 aboard, attempted a landing on runway 29 at Watertown Municipal Airport. The airplane appeared to abort the landing and lost control as it tried to climb out, veering to the left and crashing into a row of hangers. It is not known the extent of injuries at this time to those on board or any on the ground. It is very fortunate that the plane crashed there as it just missed crashing into 15 to 20 parked aircraft on the ramp that were assembled in preparation to travel to Oshkosh tomorrow. More information as I get it.

UPDATE: So far it has been reported that 2 people were aboard and both suffered non-fatal injuries although their exact condition is not known. This was a terrifying incident; Watertown was hosting a Piper Comanche gathering, and 3 dozen planes were parked on the ramp just behind my vantage point. Additionally there were several dozen people gathered in the main hanger for a barbeque. It could have been a disaster.

UPDATE 2: The occupants of the plane were a man and his wife. The injuries have been reported as non-life threatening. The plane was a Cirrus SR-22, which is equipped with seatbelt airbags. Those airbags may very well have saved two lives today. Very good news indeed.

FINAL UPDATE: A hero emerged from the incident yesterday. Curtis Loontjer, an employee of Wisconsin Aviation (the Fixed Based Operator), acted quickly and without regard for his own safety when he went into the crash and rescued the airplane's occupants. If not for his efforts, there would be no happy ending. A picture as published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel can be found here. As you can see, nothing remains but the engine and firewall. My favorite rental plane, a Cessna 152, is in the background. Also of note, the Cirrus is equipped with a ballistic recovery parachute powered by a rocket booster. During the incident, the booster cooked off and fired, causing some very scary moments. Something will need to be done to reduce the risk of cookoff in these boosters in the future.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Friday, July 25, 2008

Every Young Aviator's Dream

I have seen the Navy Blue Angels just once in my life thus far, back in 1982 at Lakehurst NAS, New Jersey. Back then they flew the old A-4F Skyhawk, not one of the more memorable jet fighters, but awesome all the same.

Brian Terwilliger is a film maker who has taken his passion for aviation and put it on film in his critically acclaimed "One Six Right". Earlier this year, he was offered a ride in one of the Angels' F/A-18 Hornets and he takes us along for the ride.

I'm off for vacation for a week, and I will be attending EAA Airventure Oshkosh for the very first time. It's yet another thing I've wanted to do my whole life. I hope to have plenty of material when I get back. Meanwhile, enjoy the film.

Flying Full Circle | A Dream Come True Ride with the Blue Angels

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

I had been looking forward for a long time for the opportunity to visit this fine ballpark. Oriole Park was groundbreaking as the first of the "retro-modern" line of baseball stadia built in the last 15 years. It's success launched a series of similar stadia with distinctive features and built in downtown areas that highlighted that city's classic buildings.

I found Oriole Park to be everything it's advertised to be. Other than some slight weathering of the seats, the park still shines like new.

By the way, can you name the players who wore those numbers for the Orioles?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Moon Day

Thirty-nine years ago today, mankind changed forever. Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, shares his thoughts.

Myself, I was a young lad of five. I distinctly remember where I was that day. It was at my aunt and uncle's cabin near a lake somewhere in New Jersey. The reception was a little shaky, but I was awestruck when the caption on the television said "Live From the Moon".

Tranquility Base | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine
We were no longer bound to one planet, one place, troglodytes adhering to the surface of Earth. We became a space-dwelling species.

Technorati tags: , , , ,


Thankfully, not one of the hotels that I stay in on the road.

Dothan, Alabama.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Grand Rapids

The central concourse of Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Smaller airports always more pleasurable than the large ones. Must have something to do with far fewer passengers per square foot.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mr. Steenland, You Want Me To Do What?

Doug Steenland is the CEO of Northwest Airlines. I received an email recently from NWA, asking for my help. I laughed so hard that I peed my pants. Here is my response:

Dear Mr. Steenland,

I am writing in response to an email you sent to me on behalf of your fellow airlines, asking me, one of your customers, to assist in your quest to have Congress act on your behalf to combat what you claim to be rampant speculation in the oil markets and help keep your costs down. You played to my feelings by suggesting that if nothing is done to curb energy prices, dire consequences are in store and that we must all band together in this time of need.

Are you fracking kidding me? YOU want ME to weigh in on YOUR behalf?

Ok, Mr. Steenland, let's make a deal. Before I do anything for you, you must agree to do some things for me. After all, I AM one of your customers.

You will remove hidden fees from your business model. If oil is high, just price your airfares to reflect that. Don't try to use services as a profit center. Fifteen dollars for the first bag, $250 dollars for rebooking. Some service. How do I know that you're not going to start charging me for the ability to change my seat assignment? You already charge extra for certain select seats. You know what this practice reminds me of? Yes, your attempt to have Congress make money for you by rigging the budget for the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Airspace System, even if it threatened to drive the General Aviation industry to extinction. You wanted to set up a controlling board, away from congressional oversight, that would impose fees at will on the general aviation industry for the use of airspace. Good thing we caught you on that, because it's clear this is where you would have headed with it.

Next, you will fly your schedule on schedule. Quit trying to put more than one plane on the same spot on the runway at the same time and hoping the weather cooperates. Maybe then you'll get your planes to their destination more than the current on-time rate of around 75%. You might save some fuel and make your CUSTOMERS a little happier.

Oh, I almost forgot. How about getting my luggage to my destination when I arrive? In the last year, I've taken roughly 100 trips, and my bag did not make the plane 3 times. That is completely unacceptable. So get my bag there, and you'll save some money on couriers and even save some gas in the process. Fancy that.

Mr. Steenland, you and your cohort have miles and miles to go before you convince me that this latest ploy was little more than a cynical attempt to play upon our emotions for your gain. You have shown no inclination over the last decade to do anything for your customer except demonstrate that you could not care less about us. I have my own interests to look after with the high cost of oil, but I'll be DAMNED if I'm going to go to Congress to help you out.

I hope this letter finds you in good health.


Richard Fraser
Technorati tags: , , ,

Monday, July 07, 2008

Minnesota Thunder

Huge amounts of energy are tied up in a thunderstorm. If there were only a way to harness it, a kind of energy harvester that moved with these storms to catch the lightning, the ice from hail, even a generator driven by the downpour. It can happen.

Willmar, Minnesota.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Old Glory

From the staff of "This Blog Title For Sale", we hope you enjoy the celebration of this, the 232d anniversary of the birth of our nation.