Friday, March 31, 2006

Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over in Toulouse...

It was widely reported today that Dubai based Emirates, one of Airbus' largest customers, has deferred its order for 20 of the Airbus A340 jets which it was supposed to take delivery of starting in 2007. Emirates is taking a wait and see approach to see whether Airbus can develop more improvements to make the A340 more competitive with the B777, which has only two engines to the A340's four.

This is but another snowflake in the blizzard of bad news that is starting to pile up all around the Toulouse aircraft manufacturing house lately.

The next few months before Farnborough are starting to smell like a train wreck in slow motion.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Memo to Richard Convertino: They're Hiring at the Landfill

In another chapter in an endless saga of mythic proportions, yet another federal attorney bit the dust today. Well, former federal attorney and prospective F. F. A. member-that's short for Future Felons of America.

Richard Convertino and one of his star witnesses Harry Smith were indicted for presenting false evidence and concealing evidence in one of the first federal terrorism trials-which ultimately fell apart. If convicted, Convertino could earn himself a stay in a nice Federal hotel among his former colleagues. If it's coed, he can bunk with Carla Martin of the TSA, who's also an F. F. A. pledge at this writing.

A feeding frenzy erupted among the members of the Michigan bar whose clients were convicted of everything under the sun at the hands of Convertino.

Convertino alleges all this is payback for the lawsuit he filed against his former employers back in February, 2004. I agree, to the extent that suing his bosses probably didn't help him win friends and influence people over at the Department of Justice.

Honestly. I'm stumped by the total lack of ethics related survival sense exhibited by these people. What could they have been thinking?

Just about the first thing I was ever taught in law school was set out by Art Ryman, an old Colorado lawyer with a bajillion cases under his belt. He said "Now lissen kid. Your law license is your meal ticket. Don't ever do anything that threatens it. Don't even think about it. Don't even think about thinking about it. No matter who tells you to and no matter how much they'll pay you. And especially, don't get caught doing something stupid that offends people." It was good advice then and now.

It was good advice at the boot camp third tier, not Ivy League, law school I went to. Maybe if these folks came up in place like I went to, some survival skills, if not ethical sense, might have been drilled into their heads by some people who knew something about life on the street.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Leasing Kahunas Tell Airbus: Redesign or be Marginalized

It has been widely reported today that Stephen Udvar-Hazy, the aircraft leasing Big Kahuna, has told Airbus what was widely known but not talked about-that the A350 is not in the same league as the B787 it was created to compete with, and that it ought to be redesigned. Udvar-Hazy was joined in this sentiment by Henry Hubschman, president of GECAS.

Udvar-Hazy suggested that the A350 that's on the drawing boards at this date is a good design but dated, and it is limited by the 30 year old elements of its design-the fuselage cross section and the wing design. However, continuation of the present design will consign Airbus to 25 per cent of the market for this class of aircraft.

These are ominous words from two of the larger customers with orders for the A350-ILFC with 12 on order and 8 options, and GECAS with 10 on order.

It was suggested that a decision on this could be reached in a few months by Toulouse. Airbus executive John Leahy also in attendance was unimpressed.

One thing that Udvar-Hazy said that was lost in the shuffle was that he expects the A380 to sell "at most 300 to 400 airplanes".

One thing that any greenhorn customer service clerk at Walmart can tell you is that when you're hearing static like this from some of your largest customers, you had better pay very careful attention. And that doesn't seem to be the way Airbus does business-at least, not when the media's around.

Look for a big announcement of some sort to recapture the momentum of last year's Paris Airshow at the upcoming Farnborough Grand Fandango, running from July 17-23 of this year. It may well be time for Airbus to fish or cut bait as my old man used to say.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Surfin' Bird 2: Emirates Goes Shopping.

It is reported today that Emirates-you know, the folks who've got the biggest A380 order on the books-are about ready to order an enlarged variant of the Boeing 787. According to ATW, what is most attractive to Emirates is the projected lower cost per seat mile and cargo carrying ability of the new composite airliner, as compared to the A380s they have on order. Singapore Airlines, another key A380 customer, is also looking at the 787-10.

What does this suggest? A lot if you're paranoid.

We've already seen that Emirates has been getting a little squirrely about their position with the A380, Lufthansa's been in Seattle ogling the 747-8, and Singapore has dumped orders for a lot less cause than they have with Airbus right now.

All of this suggests that the ice is getting thin under the A380 business case right now and unless the Surfin' Bird exceeds the performance expectations of the customers who've ordered it, there could be some desertions from the fold, and some trading of delivery slots. If Airbus does not pull a rabbit out of the hat soon, the opportunity may be missed.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

We Gotta Get Out of This Place IV: What's Next?

According to the preliminary reports, Airbus has accomplished what looks like a successful emergency evacuation simulation test on the A380 today. This is one heck of a milestone in the certification process, and what it means is that a whole lotta technical folks can start working on other stuff because this one's in the bag. It's also a pretty big feather in the cap for Goodrich, the folks who make the emergency evacuation slides.

Now. What comes next? We here will be watching the order book and the delivery schedule for slippage, just as everyone else who thinks the A380 has a weight and payload problem will.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Summer of 1976 a True Story

...and Frank and I were on the last leg of circumnavigating Nova Scotia on our motorcycles, he with the ever reliable Honda Four, and me with my temperamental BSA Thunderbolt. We had been on a pub crawl ever since we started and had spent a happy week cruising and boozing, all in the pursuit of improving international relations.

The last day, we had some time to kill and went out to this lighthouse on a peninsula. It was built up fairly high, and there were a lot of huge boulders that had been dumped to keep it from washing away I guess. We were there by ourselves wandering around, middle of the day, waves crashing on the rocks and Frank says to me, "Is that someone thrashing around in the surf?"

I looked down and I could see a person in a lot of distress and could barely hear cries for help.Down we went through the boulders and there was a girl, desperately trying to climb out of the surf and getting washed off and struggling. So Frank gets himself wedged in good and grabs my leg at the ankle. I reached out as far as I could and when she got thrown forward by the next wave I grabbed her and Frank reeled us both in.

It was a fine looking Canadian bird, and when we struggled back up to the parking lot and attended to the cuts bruises and scrapes all over her knees and hands, she went to her hotel to get shaped up and met us later in a bar where we all got royally smashed.

She'd be about fifty now.

Sometimes on one of Poe's midnights weary when I've got As It Happens on and there's some nobody from Moncton going on about the yanks this and the yanks that I wonder whether she's sitting up in bed somewere in Ontario, house all quiet except for the radio humming softly in the background listening to the same program, the old man snoring away beside her...I wonder whether she ever thinks that if it hadn't been for a couple of gringos on a pub crawl, none of this would have existed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

We Gotta Get Out of This Place III-Zero Hour Looms

Those fine folks at Flight International finally got around to releasing the article I talked about, and it contains some interesting facts. As advertised the Big Show will take place on 26 March, because that is when Airbus plans to throw open the exits, pop the slides, and tell 853 people to get the hell out of the airplane.

Generally speaking, the results of the simulations have historically been pretty close to target. In the case of the MD11, the target was 411, and they did reach 407 and that is what the aircraft was certified for.

But this one's going to be different.

First, the upper deck slides are going to be pre-deployed. I'm not entirely convinced that makes for a fair representative test, and the volunteers will be missing a lot of the sturm und drang that goes along with blowing a door and a slide together. But nevermind.

The most interesting part here, getting back to my theme, is that although there will be 873 people in the test and the interior will be configured for maximum cattle hauling, Mister Guimera, the A380 safety director, says that if they get 750 people out in the alotted 90 seconds, they'll be happy, and if they dive under 650, they'll have to retest.

What it sounds like to me, is that Airbus is ready to accept a test result that gives a certification maximum of 650 passengers.

We've already discussed the weight problems that are showing up in the published information.

Could it be that this atypical equanimity on Airbus' part be because they know the plane can't carry anywhere near that without exceeding zero fuel weight limitations?

Supreme Court to Declare Open Season on Battered Women

It is reported in the Los Angeles Times that the Supreme Court of the US is getting ready to hand down decisions in two cases that, if the decision goes as it may, will place battered women squarely under the thumbs of their batterers.

Under the guise of confronting the accuser, the Court may end the practice of using 911 taped recordings or live mic recordings as an alternate source of information if the victim later refuses to testify or is run out of the territory.

Yes, yes, I know, this is supposed to be an aviation blog. But this is big.

When I prosecuted domestic violence crimes, it was the practice of the local cops to take the squad car with the video equipment to a reported domestic. When they arrived they'd leave the video equipment running and they would thus have a live mic when they interviewed the parties. As usually happened, the victims would refuse to testify, but there, it did not matter because we had excited utterances which are a well recognized exception to the rule against hearsay.

What the Court seems to be getting ready to say is "If you beat her, you better intimidate her as well and make sure she doesn't show up-then you'll be home free."

Friday, March 17, 2006

We Gotta Get Out of This Place II

Some new information has come in about the Grand Fandango and 'y'all come' that will be held by Airbus in a few days. Of course, I'm talking about the pending emergency evacuation test of the A380 which was, the last time I looked, set for the 26th.

The last Grand Fandango to be, the Asian Aerospace exhibition in February has come and gone, and the A380 order pad has been gathering dust. Does it seem like a lot of people are waiting for something to happen?

The significant questions to be answered are how many will be seated for the occasion, and how many will actually make it out in 90 seconds.

If a fellow googles A380 evacuation in the news section there WAS a Flight International article that seemed to suggest there would be 750 in the test, but this article was scrubbed by Flight International and they won't let you look at it-all of which is food for thought for the paranoid.

According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer article, a rule change was instituted in December by los Federales which allows Airbus to predeploy the slides.

In my experience that should give Airbus an 8 to 10 second head start that Boeing and McDonnell Douglas did not have when they tested the 747-400 with 540 on board and the MD11 with 407, as blowing the main door and slide on the MD11 took about that long. It will, of course, also deprive the occasion of some much needed sturm und drang, panic, fear and alarm.

The process was initiated when the emergency handle was pulled, as that opened the valve between a source of high pressure nitrogen and a powerful impact motor. The door WAS going to open, and the slide WAS going to deploy. According to some information I have, the A380 will use an electric door mechanism powered by some monster capacitors. Whether that will give the kind of neck snapping speed at which the MD11 main doors opened is not known, and it is unknown what kind of electric motor can produce the kind of torque that the emergency door motor in the MD11 did.

Even with this bonus, it'll be an interesting event and no doubt tongues will be set wagging for months on end thereafter. The Airbus wordsmithing and historical revision department should have a field day. What, for instance, do we mean by '90' and 'seconds'? What do we mean by 'people' and 'exit'?

St. Patrick's Day and Other Bad Ideas

Today is, as nearly everyone except three people in Greenland who've been out of communication for a while, St. Patrick's Day, wherein all those who have a claim on Ireland, no matter how specious, join to celebrate and otherwise indulge themselves.

I'm no different, and my claim is better than some, because my mom was born a Gallagher, and her birth people were Irish by way of Nova Scotia-so I get to claim Canada as well.

However, this day is also famous for another Bad Idea, and I am indebted to The Scotsman for bringing all this to my attention. The Scotsman is a most interesting news service ( I commend it to you) and it graces my cyber table along with the Los Angeles Times, Der Spiegel, and Animal Net for my daily fare.

Of course, it goes without saying that our Scots brothers take their history very seriously indeed, because a lot of it ended up rather badly with many Scots folk getting smitten, slain, looted, stripped of their raiment and otherwise laid out as cold as last week's haggis.

March 17 was also the birthday of James IV of Scotland. Why is that significant?

It is because James IV, crowned head of Scotland, invaded England on behest of the French, crossing over into Northumbria in August 1513. At the Battle of Flodden Field, the Scots army, reduced by desertion, got itself a severe whuppin' at the hands of the English. James himself died in a self destructive attempt to bring Surrey, commander of the English, to a personal trial of arms.

What James IV ignored to his detriment was the advisability of taking the side of the French against Englishmen. This has been a bad idea nearly every time it has been tried, and people who ignore this rule or discount it generally end up badly.

Slouching Toward the Abyss II: Hamas Speaks

It is reported this day that the folks from Hamas are ready to submit their list of cabinet nominees to el Presidente Abbas. That ought to be a fun meeting.

As something of a postscript, Khaled Meshaal, leader in exile of Hamas said this from the safety of his bunker in Damascus:

"Being in power is only a means to an end for Hamas. Power is not our ultimate goal. We and the Zionists have a date with destiny. If they want a fight, we are ready for it. If they want a war, we are the sons of war. If they want a struggle we are for it to the end."

I'm all for friendship and amity. The tenor of this, however is unmistakably obvious to anyone with the intelligence of a potted geranium.

I do not think the Jews want a war. Nobody with a shred of sanity wants a war. Hamas, however, should be under no illusions-if they want war they will get it in the Extra Large Economy Size Party Pak, with compound interest, and the end may come in ways that they do not acknowledge.

Events in Jericho have proved recently that if it is needed, Israel will act in its own self interest, and do what is necessary for the protection of its citizens and for the punishment of its enemies, Hamas or no Hamas, sons of war or no sons of war. The date with destiny that Khaleed Meshaal speaks of may not be at his choosing, and it may not be at all what he expects.

Apologists and those in the appeasement camp will say "But gee, Sparky-if we could just make a deal with these Hamas fellows, they'll be reasonable and they haven't said they're going to the mattresses, have they?"

As a practical matter, what is more likely is that, like a lot of reformers before it, once in office, Hamas will find the graft and corruption smorgasbord laid out for them altogether too tempting to turn down. And that, in the end will put paid to them.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Memo to Carla Martin: Clean Out Your Desk

It is reported that Carla Martin, a $120,000 per year attorney for the Transportation Safety Administration, was involved in an episode of what we here in Iowa call witness tampering.

What, pray tell, did Carla do?

While involved in assisting prosecutors who are arguing that one Zacharias Moussaoui should receive the death penalty, Federal style, for his alleged role as one of the September 11 conspirators, Martin sat in the courtroom, took notes on her laptop, and forwarded her trenchant observations to people who were slated to testify in the case, including helpful hints on how to testify and excerpts of testimony-all in clear violation of the court's express orders.

Whether this will make any real difference is doubtful. Even though the witnesses that Martin contacted were barred from testifying in this penalty trial, Moussaoui is a marked man. Whether he gets the needle or hangs himself with his jockey shorts in a few years or chokes on his oatmeal at the age of 90 in a federal prison somewhere is unimportant.

For the Federales it is different, and Jon Turley characterized the case as a "sucking chest wound".

For Martin, the situation has serious professional implications.

First, she got caught, and one should NEVER get caught while engaged in subterranean work.

Second, in getting caught red handed, she gutted what should have been a lead pipe cinch for the prosecutors in this case. That will not be forgiven.

Third, she lawyered up subito. That can't be good-people who are convinced they've done nothing wrong don't clam up and take the fifth this early in the game if they're team players.

That also stinks of a coverup, which seems to suggest that she really WAS put up to it.

One wonders who could have been so concerned about the outcome of what should be a slam dunk hearing that they thought it was necessary to stack the deck against Moussaoui.

This is something that even greenhorn law students have heard about-you just don't try to influence the testimony of witnesses, particularly when the judge has said you don't talk to them. And when you're a lawyer, you give a wide berth to anything that even remotely threatens your meal ticket, a/k/a your license to practice law.

So. You're left with two outcomes, neither one very nice. Either she's the biggest dope since Mortimer Snerd, or she was put up to it and got nabbed.

Either way, she could be looking at a hitch in a federal hotel.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dead Motor Boogie

Every once in a while you come across something that sends you off on yet another trip down memory lane.

I was paying homage to the muse the other day and the book the photo is in was on the tank. Something about the picture reminded me of the other picture-which shows yours truly with a Garrett TPE331-3U-303G with a nice big hole in the gearcase. I believe it came from the airplane in the picture-anyway, it was an early round window Swearingen Metroliner and there were very few of these made.

Anyway, here's the story. It had belonged to Scheduled Skyways and it had a landing gear leg collapse as Metroliners were wont to do on the slightest provocation, or if someone looked at them crosseyed. The right hand gear collapsed, the number 2 prop struck the runway, a blade broke off, it lanced through the fuselage and out the other side, through the cowling of the number 1 engine, and broke the gearbox housing.

Dave Corwin at National Flight Service had landed the repair job for both engines, but the insurance company pulled them out when they heard that National Flight Service was not a factory approved TPE331 repair center, and Kal Aero was. That's one of the benefits of having a boss who was known in the wreck recovery business. A shop in Fort Wayne, Indiana had gotten the sheet metal repair job, and Roger Jenkins and I spent a bit of cab time in the company pickup truck going back and forth to Fort Wayne to get it right.

Most of the engine was salvageable, and the insurance company just happened to have a runout TPE331 for parts that was provided. The engine ran fine after a complete teardown and build by yours truly, and I decided I was going to see just how strong magnesium was. It is mighty stout stuff, and no matter how many times I hit the old gearcase with a big stout ball pein hammer it was impossible to break a hole in it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Claude Allen's Five Finger Discount

It is reported that Claude Allen, former adviser to el Presidente, had a thing going on.

Here's how it worked. Allen would go to a chain store, buy something he wanted and then go home or whatever. A few days later he'd take the receipt to another branch of the same chain (usually Target), select the identical item off the shelf, mosey up to the returns counter, present the article and the saved receipt, and collect himself a refund.

Now. Allen was popped for theft in front of a Target store in Maryland back in January with things he'd unaccountably neglected to pay for. A mere bagatelle? Perhaps, according to his attorney.

However, as the saying goes, inquiring minds want to know. The subsequent police investigation revealed 25 or more previous instances where Allen had done more or less the same thing, sometimes while the cameras were turned on him. The result was two felony theft charges and the investigation is ongoing.

The only question in my mind is this: what was a guy making $150,000 per year doing this for, and where do I sign up for a job like that?

On Coffee

There's nothing I like better than fresh coffee, and few things that offend me more than this penchant for flavored coffees that corrupts the atmosphere in the coffee section of the super. Coffee does not need to be dosed with refuse from the essential oils industry.

I'm speaking in particular of the folks from Millstone, who promote flavored coffees that smell like a whore's armpit. Now I know where all the surplus pine tree air fresheners go-they're ground, roasted and sold as Millstone Hazlenut coffee. As if that wasn't enough they have a row of bottles of some ungodly synthetic glop strategically placed so that you can assault any stray granules that have unaccountably escaped dousing in Millstone pimp oil.

I prefer freshly ground and brewed coffee. I keep the beans in the freezer and run it through a Kitchenaid burr mill. Then it's doing its thing while I'm shaving.It goes off flavor in about thirty minutes so out it goes. The worst mistake that can be made is to use the grinder in the coffee section-it is invariably polluted with Millstone Ground Pine Tree Air Fresheners, and it will ruin anything that gets passed through it.

Once you start grinding your own at the point of use you'll never go back to preground stuff like Folgers. I buy moderately priced arabica stuff, nothing fancy (8 O'Clock, 39 ounces of beans for ten bucks) at the super.

Back in the day when Mother went to the A&P they'd grind the coffee for you at the checkout in a great hulking Hobart mill-a civilized custom that made the store smell really good. That was before people decided that they wanted coffee that smells and tastes like a pine forest.

Get your own Kitchenaid A9. A burr mill works a lot better than the cheapie beansmashers. It evenly sizes the grounds and doesn't overheat them. You won't be sorry about this, trust me. Plus it was designed by Egmont Arens, famed industrial designer of the 1930s and it is a nice piece of machine age sculpture.

Mine's from 1940 but it's just about the same as the new ones.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sgt. Robert Bayless IV: Then and Now

I do not know whether this is the end of the story-it may be, but I'm not sure. It was raining and bitter cold yesterday, but I had decided to go to Perry. The pictures are of Robert and Maxine in Clarinda-it would have been in the middle 1920s, the business that Robert started on Rawson street then and now, and Robert's simple pink granite headstone where he sleeps.

A.E. Housman's as good for Robert as it was for my father.


Stay, if you list, O passer by the way;
Yet night approaches; better not to stay.
I never sigh, nor flush, nor knit the brow,
Nor grieve to think how ill God made me, now.
Here, with one balm for many fevers found,
Whole of an ancient evil, I sleep sound.

A.E. Housman

Desperately Seeking Shamu: Lufthansa Goes Shopping

It is reported that the CEO of Lufthansa, one of the larger customers for the Airbus A380, is in Seattle taking a gander at the proposed Boeing 747-8.

For the three guys from Greenland who've been up on the polar icecap for the last couple years and have not been watching the news lately, the 747-8 is a product improved and stretched version of the sixties design that is intended to take what little wind remains in the sails of the A380 by presenting a credible alternative to the Airbus offering in the lower end of the configuration spectrum.

I haven't yet run the weight/payload numbers for the 747-8 but you can be sure that's what is at the heart of this odd journey. The numbers for the A380 simply do not add up to anything more than a payload and fuel limited aircraft even when you use the Airbus numbers, as I discussed on 28 February.

I am informed by a usually reliable source-a DER who has worked in the aircraft certification and weight engineering fields for many years-that the figures that I extracted for the weight of the A380 interior from published data may well be unduly optimistic. I'm not prepared to say more than that, even though having worked under his tutelage for a couple of years I've found his weight estimate work to be very accurate. As I recall, we cooperated on one 731 Jetstar weight estimate that was exactly to-the-pound correct, and within .1 % calculated MAC in the CG department.

If that situation remains unchanged, this trip by Mr. Mayrhuber to Seattle may not be the last one that we see.

As a postscript, if I worked in the A380 marketing department I'd have some serious heartburn about this development. It's one thing for someone in south Asia to be kvetching about this stuff, but Germany is a core country in the Airbus empire. That's got to be a real concern to those fine folks in Toulouse.

In a lot of ways, the coming shakeout this year may well be more interesting than the orders parade was last year. I think we can declare the 2005 aerospace post-coital afterglow officially ended.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Memo to Ahmadinejad: Read the Book

It is reported in the Toronto Star that on Monday, Jews the world over will celebrate Purim-the holiday celebrating their deliverance from a Persian prime minister who sought to ethnically cleanse the Jews out of existence. James Rudin, author of the opinion piece draws the flamingly obvious parallel between Haman, who ended up on the gallows for his trouble, and Mr. Ahmadinejad of Iran, who's been busy reinventing history inside his head.

There's one school of opinion that holds that Ahmadinejad's victory in the polls was the result of a crooked election that snatched victory from the moderates. That's the one that the westernized Iranians seem to hold to. I'd probably file that while humming "Wouldn't it be nice?"

The other school, which includes myself, believes that the results of elections are a reasonably representative slice of what voters want in a country, and that, as Jefferson intimated, people generally get the kind of government they ask for. That being the case, there's no reason to expect a change of heart any time soon from whoever's running the show in Teheran these days.

I'd suggest that Mr. Ahmadinejad take a seat in his favorite easy chair, put his feet up, and read the Book of Esther. I am quite sure if a copy can't be found in Teheran someone in Israel, where they have a special department to keep an eye on guys like Ahmadinejad, weill send him a copy to refresh his memory. People who put too much stock in ethnic cleansing generally end up badly, and there's no reason to think the great weight of history would make an exception for this fellow.

As a footnote, perhaps many of today's Jews ought to take a seat in their favorite easy chairs, put up their feet and read the Book of Esther carefully as well. It is a stern and bloody tale not well suited to kids dressing up as Harry Potter.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Sour Grapes Make the Best Whine

It is reported in Flug Review that the idea of making a commercial aircraft of carbon fiber composites was a European idea, after all. It is also reported that the idea that Boeing would produce an aircaft out of such material was, in the words of Professor Breitbach, a political challenge to the Europeans.

However, not to worry, as the good professor, who's 100 per cent funded by Airbus by the way, informs us that Airbus will, of course get it right, and will let Boeing go ahead and take the lumps that being first will earn. Meanwhile, the A350 is only 2-no! 3-wait a minute, we're going to redesign the cockpit! 4 years behind the 787.

Hmmm. Since when does applied technology have nationalist and political context? Isn't this about using the best material for the job?

Found! Now you can drink the milk!

James D. Barnett has emerged from the swampy back country of south Florida, where he is a practicing veterinary surgeon. He did his time in purgatory-as all of us who were in aviation did.

He's doing well in his chosen profession and living like there's no tomorrow.

I may have to spend a little more time in purgatory myself-at least, if I stick with what I'm doing.

For both of us it was a long hard road from the factory floor at McDonnell Douglas.

How did this happen? He stumbled over my blog.

The wonders of the internet, huh?

Thanks to the folks at eblogger. I'll buy the beer.

Sgt. Robert Bayless III

Here are two photos of Robert. The first is as a young man, perhaps a teenager. The second is Robert with his wife on October 29, 1950.

Sgt. Robert Bayless II

Here are some more of the things I found. There's a Vmail from Christmas 1943, unit patches from the 14th Air Force (Flying Tigers), a picture of Robert in China, an Airacobra with a landing gear problem, and a newspaper article that describes how Robert died.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A little indigestion, perhaps?

It is reported that Boeing's former chief Harry Stonecipher received $11.5 million in bonuses and all the other stuff that high priced executive talent gets when the company figures out that it's time for the former Mr. Wonderful to go on special assignment. To Antarctica, perhaps. That had to hurt, no?

It seems that the dear departed was something that Boeing acquired along with other McDonnell Douglas hot properties. Mr. Stonecipher, it seems, was dusted off to clean house after some well publicized scandals involving Boeing people in high places. Think KC767 and Lockheed and 25,000 stolen documents and you get my drift.

Well. Stonecipher had himself a little business going on the side with a female Boeing manager, and he had to be fired lest the aroma around HQ became even more nasty than it was already.
Well, maybe there's a place for Robert Hood at Boeing after all. He'll do a great job for them.

As distressing as all this may be for some, I view the entire subject with a certain amount of equanimity and more savoir faire than Jean Paul Belmondo could muster on a good day. I just may have more levity and bonhomie for my fellow man than is at all seemly at this time.

A380 Marketing Department Fight Song

Aficionados of obscure rock bands will immediately recognize the following as Surfin' Bird, recorded in the middle sixties by the Trashmen, one of the Twin Cities' more interesting garage bands. It seems to fill the bill for the A380 folks.

A-well-a everybody's heard about the bird
B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, the bird is the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a don't you know about the bird?
Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word!
A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word

What you haven't heard is when those two Singapore Airlines birds are going to get delivered. It is reported in today that Airbus says they'll absolutely positively make its deliveries by the end of 2006. Of course, numbers are plastic around the Airbus marketing department these days as we saw in the January scrum that ended up-you guessed it-handing the order crown to Airbus. So, it depends on what Noel Forgeard means by 'the end of the year'-and what that is is anyone's guess.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sgt. Robert Bayless

Did you ever get the idea that you knew someone although it was impossible to have ever met?

That's the story about me and Robert.

Last summer I was at an auction and I bought a box of old photos and memorabilia. The old fellow whose auction it was told me that the photos were of his wife's first husband, and when she died his sons didn't seem interested in hanging on to any of the old stuff.

In the box were some photos, copies of V-Mail from India and China where Robert served in the Army Air Corps. There were a few .50 caliber rounds, a survival mirror, a compass, a hand tooled wallet that says "RB" on it and some unit patches.

A dutiful son, he wrote the folks at home regularly. Toward the end of 1944, his letters to home were darker-he seemed to think that the war might never end.

Well, it did, and he survived it. Robert landed in Perry, Iowa where he started and operated a cleaners and raised a family.

He died in March 1964. He'd been on his way to work when he witnessed an elderly woman slip and fall on an icy sidewalk and break her hip. He got out of his car and picked her up to transport her to the hospital, when he suffered a massive heart attack and died.

I like to think that that was the kind of person he was. That, and every picture of him in the collection showed that same smile which says something.

He is buried in Violet Hill Cemetery in Perry, Iowa.