Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday Man Movie

I think that it was the movie Quigley Down Under that really made me appreciate Tom Selleck as anything other than a Magnum, PI character. Here, he plays American cowboy brought to Australia by land baron Marsden for a job that doesn't really work out the way that either had planned.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go practice some more with my .45LC

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dogs out on the town

This morning I had to take Murphy into the vet again for a reoccurring ear infection. And of course if I take Murphy anywhere, Belle has to come, too. So the three of us loaded up the truck and headed into town.

Once at the vet, the vet assistant told me to take Murphy's leash and collar off so that she could put their leash on him. I smiled and said "You haven't worked with this dog yet, have you?" She admitted that she had not, but she apparently didn't get the hint from my question because she told me again to unleash him. So I did, after putting Murphy in a "sit". He sat perfectly until she tried to put her leash around his neck, at which point, he ducked her and bolted, beginning yet another game of "catch me if you can, vet lobby edition".
I'll get the assistant credit; she did try gamely. But Murphy's really good at not being caught so he took her on a couple of circuits of the lobby and then once down the hall to the exam rooms and back again, somehow getting past her in that narrow hall. But as he came back out into the lobby again, still unleashed, I snagged him. You could almost hear him screaming "FOUL!" as he was properly leashed and dragged into the back. Sorry, buddy--it's for your own good.

Once free of Murphy, I went for breakfast and them down to the range to test one final modification to my .30-30 load.
It was also a test of Belle to see how she'd handle gunfire as I parked the truck behind the range shop, leaving all of the windows on the firing side up. I was the only one there, so the noise levels weren't too bad, but after I fired my test rounds, I went back to check on her and she was shaking and quaking and trying to hide behind the spare tire. Poor girl. Because she just wasn't digging it, I decided not to play with my AR-15 this morning. Instead, I just checked one new .45LC load for Point of Aim and discovered that a six o'cock clock hold on orange sporting clays at 25 yards will put a 255gr. bullet on the cay every time that I do my part. I'm as pleased with this round as I am with the .30-30 load.
This pistol was my concealed-carry piece for the day, too. (That is, if a full-size .45 Long Colt in a Cowboy-style belt holster with an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt covering it counts as "concealed" in your world.)

I then went back t the vet, picked up Murphy and his new medicine, parted with another hundred bucks, and took the dogs for a walk downtown because Belle was a peach and because the vet said that Murphy was well-behaved once I was gone. (Ass-dog.)

Here they are, walking down the street.
They work well together, seldom tangle, and move aside when other people approach. We did have a moment when a fire truck came by with it's siren blaring, though. Murphy naturally kicked into Howl Mode and began wailing right along with it, as he always does. I expected that so I wasn't surprised. what did surprise me though was when Belle suddenly pointed her muzzle skyward and began to howl as well. She's not done this before, far as I know. But the two of them sat right there on the sidewalk in front of the post office, yowling away in two-part dog harmony even after the fire truck was gone. Lucky me, I've got two siren monsters now.

On the way back to the truck, we stopped in front of the Needful Things store so that Murphy and Belle could pose with one of their favorite comic characters:
Yeah, it's been one of those pretty good days so far. And now we're home, and I have guns to clean, and...DAMMIT! I forgot to buy BEER while I was in town. And now I'm out.

This day sucks, man.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I've got to stop going places where these things are.

Because now I want one again--a Cessna O-2A.
A cooler-than-cool Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft from the Vietnam War, these old veteran can be found here and there today at reasonable prices and they've been tempting me hard for years.
Usually though, there's someone with common sense (*Koff!* Old NFO, Brigid *Koff!*) to thrw some ice water on my ambitions and talk me off the ledge before I jump. But this time, I met the Guru of the O-2, The A&P Yoda himself who resurrected most of the flying O-2s today from the Boneyard, and he not only talked me back up, but offered to inspect any aircraft that I find and do it's annuals at his hangar in Michigan. Worse yet, he knows the specific ones that I've been mulling and says that one in particular is a phenomenal deal if it's still for sale.

I didn't need that.
A wonderful twin-engine Cessna, this one would make my usual Michigan flights in under two hours, half the time it takes my current 172. It has two 230hp. engines, retractable anding gear, and constant-speed propellers.
It can haul practically anything, is rated for instrument flight, and most of them have Vietnam time in thei logbooks and residual patched battle damage, making them historic as well as practical.
Yeah, I can fly that. Just need my multi-engine rating..

Aaron's got more on it here.

Want, want, want...HELP!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tanks for the memories

While up at Thunder Over Michigan with Aaron and The Spud a couple of weeks back, we saw this nifty German Hetzer Tank Destroyer.
The Hetzer was a late-war production tank destroyer made to be small, nimble and hard-hitting. The lack of a turret made it much simpler and lighter, and the 75mm main gun that it mounted would do a number on all but the heaviest Soviet tanks and pretty much anything that the US and Britain put in the field.
These are still found today as many were built and survived the war, and also because after the war, the Swiss bought all of the existing models left from the Allied powers along with the machinery and tooling to make them, which was taken from the Czech Skoda Arms Works. The Swiss then put the old machines and newly-built versions into service as the G-13, and used them up into the 1970s, at which time they were sold commercially. Most of the ones you see rolling around today, like this one, are post-war Swiss machines.
The original German models had gasoline engines which were notably fire-prone and unpopular with their crews. The Swiss re-powered theirs with six-cylinder diesels like this one has today. Both German and Swiss models had a remote-firing MG-42 type gun that could be fired without the operator exposing himself to return fire. This unit has one (below).
It weighs just sixteen tones and stands just seven feet high, and the old German models could scoot along at 26mpgmph. The Swiss with the diesels were actually a few MPH faster. And making good use of sloped armor, it was a pretty tough little nut to crack.
I'm thinking that I could probably use one of these here in West Virginia. And the next time the county raises my tax assessment, I just might have to look into getting one and then "re-negotiating" that tax bill from a position of strength.

Monday, August 18, 2014

What federal goodies did your local police departments recieve?

If anyone is curious as to what your local police got from the federal 1033 program that doles out everything from boots to rifles to armored vehicles, this article had a searchable database that will tell you what was given to police departments in each and every county in America.

What did your police department get from Uncle Sugar?

I wish I could put the database here on this blog permanently, but I can't, so go to the one in the Detroit free Press article before it goes away.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Proud of him

All during the week that my mother and nephew were here, Murphy slept out in the living room instead of on his dog bed in my room. This was entirely his choice, and Belle, given the same choice, slept on her bed like normal. But I had guests in the house, one upstairs and one down, and Murphy, knowing this, chose to sleep out in the living room in a spot where he could watch the downstairs guest, the stairs leading up, and the door to my room as well as the exterior doors. He slept in that spot all week, even when I summoned him into my room one night just to see what he'd do. (He laid down on his nice soft bed for a few minutes then went back to his chosen spot in the living room.)

This is why I love this dog so much. Without being tasked with the job, he took it upon himself to spend his nights watching over everyone in the house, even though it meant giving up his own bed. I got up a few times during the nights to check, and he was always out there, watching quietly from his spot. And I went back to sleep knowing that nothing would happen in this house without him detecting it and sounding the alarm.

He's a good dog.
A damned good dog.

He din't do nuthin' wrong! He's a VERY good boy!

So sayeth the mother of a punk kid who was chased down and caught by a woman on New York City after he strong-arm robbed her of her phone.

Woman chases down, captures alleged thief
Clara Vondrich, 36, was taking a business phone call while standing in front of a Williamsburg coffee shop on South Third Street at 1:20 p.m. when the teen approached her with two pals.
The 13-year-old, whose name is being withheld by The Post because he is a minor, allegedly pushed her from behind, nearly knocking her to the ground.
He ripped the phone from her hand and fled, said Vondrich and police sources.
“I was all disoriented,” Vondrich told The Post. “My headphones almost came off.
“I looked up and I saw him running with my phone.”
Wearing a pair of thick wedges and a sundress, Vondrich chased after him.
Vondrich said the teen appeared to be out of shape and handed off the phone to his more nimble pal, who ran off.
But she kept after the slow boy, who was huffing and puffing down Wythe Avenue during the five-block chase.
The Wonder Woman grabbed hold of the teen at South Sixth Street and Wythe Avenue, wrapping her arms around his chest and pinning him against a car.
“He was so pudgy and was slowing down, so that’s why I caught up to him,” Vondrich said, adding she felt sorry for the kid.
Vondrich, who works in advertising, held him for two minutes before cops arrived.
The boy was cuffed and taken to the 90th Precinct station house, where he was expected to be charged with grand larceny, sources said.

When reached at her home, the boy’s mom chided Vondrich for grabbing her son.
“She has her hands all over him,” she said when she saw photos of the bust. “Why is she touching him like that?”
“He’s a very good boy,” the mother added.
Yep. Because "good" boys always attack and rob women. And if you look at his picture, this 13 year old is no little kid. But in his mom's eyes, he's the victim here.
Betcha his mom knows the name of the other hoodlums involved, too. And double or nothing says that she won't tell the police who they are.

And of course Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are likely now enroute to New York to denounce this woman as a racist and Obama will be weighing in shortly on behalf of the boy just as soon as he gets back from his latest vacation.

Flying, flying, part 2.

On departure from Detroit City Airport, Proud Hillbilly aboard, we saw this thousand-footer entering the Detroit River off Lake St. Clair.
She's the Presque Isle, built in 1973. We've seen her before, and she's actually a tug/barge combination, not a single ship. You can see that better in this shot:
Downbound fully loaded.
She's huge any way you measure her though, at 1000 feet long, 104 feet wide, and drawing a depth of 46 feet when loaded. She can haul 57,500 tons of iron ore, and her diesels put out 14,840 horsepower. We saw her on the river last September, too.

Here's Belle Isle, a long-neglected city park that became a haven for drinking, drugs and other crimes under Detroit City Council's watch.
Now the State of Michigan is running it and it's cleaning up nicely with Michigan State Police in charge. Of course the usual suspects are complaining about the State Police doing what the city police never did: enforcing the law and maintaining the order.
Downtown, and the Renaissance Center. Built by Ford Motor Co., and now owned by General Motors, courtesy of the US Taxpayers, who took quite a bath bailing GM out.
Here's the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. (That's in Canada, for you Obama voters.)
Here's a nice Canada/US memorial in Windsor.
Nice to know that they've apparently gotten over both the War of 1812 and the last few hockey seasons where US teams have shellacked theirs.

And back on the American side, we see a famous landmark to urban blight and decay, the old Michigan Central Station.
It was so beautiful once.

Continuing downriver, we spot the cement barge St. Mary's Cement II being pushed by her dedicated tug, the Sea Eagle II.

And here's another one of my favorites, the self-unloading steamship Mississagi.
She was originally launched in 1943 as the Hill Annex. She cost 2.2 million dollars back then. She spent much of her time sailing as the George A. Sloan and she was converted into a self-unloader in 1965/66.
We've seen her before, too. She still looks pretty raggedy, but she'll always be a Great Lakes classic. Long may she sail.

Here's the little tanker Algocanada heading upriver.

And here's the southern end of the river, with the shipping channel down the center clearly visible.
Flying along than channel--and staying well on the US side of the invisible line in the sky which is the international border--we can see some old sunken barges hidden back in the swampy center of the islet.

Coming off the river mouth, it was so clear that we could see the cooling tower of the Davis-Besse nuke plant on the Ohio side of the lake. That's seriously above-average visibility.
Here's Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island again. Much nicer conditions than the visit last week.
We came ashore just west of Vermillion, Ohio. Here's a nice little marina community with it's own channel and breakwater. If you love your boat, this'd be a cool place to live.
We went south of Cleveland and I'd planned a mid-flight landing at Beaver Valley Airport just to get out and stretch, but then I saw Barbour Airport, a neat little grass strip at Alliance, Ohio. Heck, why not just land there? So we did. I loves me some grass strips.
Glad we did, too. They were skydiving there. we stayed to watch a bit.
Taking off again, we flew north and west of Pittsburgh as the sun was setting.
Then it was about an hour over the mountains until we were coasting down for a right-traffic approach to my home field's Runway 26. The sixth landing of the day was practically perfect, and after putting my trusty Cessna to bed, we enjoyed a fine Thai dinner in town at a nice place that PH knows well. I got home 13 hours after I left, pacified two wild dogs, and racked out. It was a very good day, indeed.

Oh, and Proud Hillbilly has more pics on her page here, including some of a darn cute kid.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Flying, flying....

Took off under a broken ceiling at 5,000 feet with a bit of haze, aircraft just under gross weight with a reduced fuel load. And the plane was letting me know that it wasn't too happy about it as we climbed up to altitude to cross the first 80 miles of mountains. It has been well cared for but this aircraft turns fifty next year so I pay attention when it responds differently, like it's doing today. We've got a bit of a headwind this trip, as is usual on the western legs, and a fair bit of convective currents coming up off the mountains and down out of the small cumulus clouds that we're skinning the bottoms of.
Here's a nifty old abandoned train bridge north of Paw Paw, West Virginia. I need to go back on the ground and find it.
But after an hour, we're clear of the mountains and over Pennsylvania farm country.
Here's the remains of an old railroad roundhouse at Vanderbuilt, PA. I'd bet that it saw countless old steam engines back in it's day.
Here's a little town called Perryololis, PA. I was struck by the layout of it's town center.
Eight streets run right into that common plaza. Look how they do that.
Then it was over the Monongahela River, and a place with some river towboats in drydock.
What the hell is that?
It's one of the Metife blimps, either Snoopy One or Snoopy Two. And even though he's in my way, being an airship, he's got right-of-way, so I have to change course. But I'll get pictures, so it's good.
And to think that I saw it on over Mulberry Street!

Here's the shuttered Weirton Steel plant in Weirton, WV. Built in 1909, it used to employ thousands of men. Now like many other aged and inefficient steel plants, it sits virtually unused as we import much of our steel from Japan and Europe. Damned shame.
Time for lunch. There's a neat little restaurant at Carroll County, Ohio's Tolson Field(TSO).
Four RVs were in there, too. It's a popular fly-in spot for a burger.
We had lunch on the outdoor patio, then I put a bit more gas in and we were off again.

Heading northwest now, once out from under Pittsburgh's Class B airspace, I let my mom fly for a bit.
And I thought that she was a bad driver on the ground...eek!

Here's another railyard, this time with what appears to be a functional turntable.
Ohio, west of Cleveland, just south of Lake Erie. The high pressure air has come in and pushed the clouds away. Unlimited visibility and silk-smooth air from here on.
And here's Camp Perry, aka, Disneyland for red-blooded American shooters.
Sorry for not being closer, but I'm grabbing some altitude for a crossing of Lake Erie. I want plenty of sky below in case I have to glide for it.
And I crossed the lake, going "feet-dry" again at Monroe, Michigan. There I shot a touch-and-go at Monroe Custer just because it was there, and then flew up to Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti. I just passed overhead there because I had to to get around Detroit's airspace, but the tower guys were nice enough to let me overfly the Yankee Air Museum's outdoor airpark.
Seen above, bottom to top: Boeing B-52, A DeHaviland C-7 Caribou transport, A Martin RB-57 Canberra, and a PB4Y, the single-tailed version of the B-24.
And in a parking lot nearby, a Soviet Antonov An-2 biplane transport (Those things were and still are aviation wonder workhorses worldwide) and an F-101 Voodoo jet fighter.
And upon landing at Plymouth Canton's Metettal Airport(1D2) to drop my mom and The Spud off, I spotted this militarized Piper Cub. Neat, huh?
I cut my passengers loose, them took off again, this time heading east for Detroit City Airport (DET) to pick up Proud Hillbilly. Coming off the runway suddenly much lighter, it took me a minute to adjust to the aircraft's changed handling characteristics and a headwind that was now a tailwind. But before I could go to City, I made my usual orbit of my father's gravesite.
There aren't any vertical markers there but I know right where it is. Miss ya, Pop.

Off to City Airport, this time with a tailwind. Here I am, flying down Six Mile Road at 119 knots over the ground. That's 140mph.
My city, my Detroit. I used to live and work here. And I used to think it was bad then, but it's much, much worse now. What, other than fifty years of corrupt Democrat rule, happened?
Final approach to Runway 33 at City Airport. Best tower controllers I've ever head the pleasure to talk to, every time I'm in here.
City's old terminal, now abandoned. I remember when this was the terminal and tower.
The workhorse gets a drink, more oil, and a clean windshield, all double-checked by me.

Return flight follows.