More Junkmail from Bob!

April, 8, 2003
Important Stuff.

Toothfish and Colossal Squid

There are two kinds of toothfish, the Antarctic toothfish and the Patagonian toothfish. They grow to about 6 feet in length. The Antarctic toothfish lives farther south than the Patagonian toothfish, near Antarctica. It has some anti-freeze proteins in its body, which come in handy because the water it lives in is frequently below 32F. The seawater doesn't freeze at 32 because of the salt.

Earlier this year some New Zealanders were out fishing in the Ross Sea off the coast of Antarctica in a "longliner," maybe similar to the Janas.


While they were winching in a toothfish, a big squid attacked it. So they winched in the squid too. The squid was a colossal squid, 6.5 meters long. That's big. Colossal squid are rare, too. This is about the 7th one caught since the first was identified in 1925. Most were found in sperm whale stomachs.

Since the longliners stay at sea for several weeks, it may have been a little while before they brought in their catch. Some articles said the squid was attacking an Antarctic toothfish, and some said it was a Patagonian toothfish. I think it was probably a crappie.,2106,2375953a11,00.html

Paranoia Reigns

The U.S. troops took over the Baghdad airport a few days ago and a C130 landed at the airport. Meanwhile, the Mayor of Chicago decided that the lakeside airport Meigs Field was a terrorist threat, so he tore up the runway. Literally. Actually, I think he had some city employees with bulldozers do the work. They ripped up a few X's in the middle of the runway. Good thinking -- you just can't be too careful.,0,

All but about 16 airplanes on the field managed to get away before Mr. Daley destroyed the runway. The last 16 eventually got special authorization from the FAA to take off from the taxiway. A judge somewhere issued a court order to stop the bulldozers from doing more damage until enough lawyers have made adequate money off the fiasco.

Mayor Daley, also worried about car bombs, ordered the bulldozers to tear up the pavement on Interstate 90. Unfortunately, nobody could tell the difference and traffic continued as usual.

Last week in Junkmail I mentioned that Mr. Daley went through some political hoops to get his very own aviation restricted area. I guess after that success he got a little ambitious.

Here's a picture of Meigs Field about 3 years ago, when I flew in to attend a trade show. I probably won't be back to McCormick Place.


Now some politicians in New York want a no-fly zone just like Iraq and Washington DC have. Like Washington's no-fly zone, the proposed no-fly zone in New York would affect only general aviation. That seems really dumb to me. I could do a LOT more damage with a car or a truck than I could with a small plane.

Here's a brilliant quote: "It is unacceptable that New York City, the site of the greatest terrorist attack in American history, still has not been given the same protection from general aviation aircraft that Washington, DC has." New York Congressman Steve Rothman is PROUD of the "greatest terrorist attack in American history?" Strange but true. And, of course, general aviation aircraft are notoriously evil, dangerous, and fattening. But they could barely dent most of the buildings in New York, and there are already special restrictions for general aviation flights within 30 miles of New York.

Maybe we should declare a worldwide no-fly zone and destroy every airplane on earth. That would certainly put a stop to terrorism! We didn't have problems with terrorists back in the good old days before airplanes. Back then men were men, women were women, and the U.S. life expectancy was 47.

Tinkering Around

It's a good thing we don't have people going off the deep end here in Oklahoma.
Or do we? I just got this email:

I am from Oklahoma, and was on vacation there with my family for spring break last week. While taking photographs of the aircraft on static display in a public park off (although directly adjacent to) the reservation, I too was detained. It seems I had taken a photograph of the gate. It seems that this violates the national security of our country.

While not taking any photographs of anything on the base, the e-6 that detained me and my family for 30 minutes told me that any photographs I took of the gate itself would jeopardize security and safety because it could "give someone information as to the procedures" of the post.

The funny thing is, this particular gate is ONLY for people who already have credentials. Visitors may not enter this gate. The procedure is as follows:
  1. You come to the gate and stop your vehicle.
  2. You present your previously authorized credential to the gate guard holding the loaded M-16 fully automatic rifle.
  3. You either match the credential or you don't, wherein you're either allowed passage or you aren't.

So, how much national security have I breached? Am I a dissident? Am I a terrorist? Or perhaps am I just somebody home on vacation whose son wanted a photo of the sign with Tinker Air Force Base. So far as I know, the United States government is not at war with Oklahoma.

Strangely, the sergeant who detained us couldn't tell us what rule I was violating, nor could his office when I called on Monday, April 7 when I returned home. If a law enforcement agent can't even cite the statute that I've allegedly violated, under what authority do they detain me?

Unlike Groom Lake, this particular Air Force Base is completely within the city limits of Oklahoma City, Del City, and Midwest City, and is in full view of anybody around the base. There is no privacy fencing, and no effort is made to keep the activities of the base private.

Tinker officials have told me they'll get back to me. I assume that this will only occur after numerous FBI, police, and military security checks have been run.

Civil Liberties, we don't need no stinkin' Civil Liberties....

I wonder when the Dozers will come out to Wiley Post Airport.

Live, from the Closet

In Swaziland, the state run radio station ran live news reports from Baghdad by reporter Phesheya Dube. He was gunning for the Pulitzer Prize, but for some reason he wasn't on the list this week. Maybe it hurt his chances when they found out he was really broadcasting from a broom closet in the Swaziland parliament building.;?storyID=2486267

Pulitzer Photography

I get a little tired of seeing artistic rather than informative photos from Iraq. It's almost all the photographers there are only interested in publishing a prize-winning photograph. A lot of the pictures I've seen have the colors so enhanced they don't look real. Others are kind of pretty, but are of such limited subject that they don't really show anything.

A guy named Brian who worked for the Los Angeles Times published a couple of photos the other day. However, he combined the two photos into a single one in order to make it look like a U.S. soldier was threatening an Iraqi man holding a young child. The U.S. soldier was much larger in the doctored photo, too. Another newspaper was running the picture 6-columns wide when they noticed that some of the Iraqi civilians were in the background twice.

The Los Angeles Times fired Brian. Brian said he doctored the photo just to improve the composition. The U.S. soldier was really warning the Iraqi civilians to take cover from gunfire from Iraqi soldiers.

Here are the three pictures:

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I also saw a picture with a caption that said some soldiers were searching for possible booby traps, but I don't believe it. I think they were searching for real booby traps. Maybe I should adopt the popular war newspeak and say the "probable U.S. soldier was reportedly warning the apparent Iraqi civilians to take cover from the unconfirmed gunfire." I could even add that, "It is unclear at this time if the Iraqi forces were using chemical weapons in the exchange."

Centrino and Pentium M

I was looking at some new notebook PCs and was surprised to see the new Intel Centrino systems run at 1.6 ghz instead of the 2.0 to 2.2 ghz you see with the Pentium 4 and Pentium 4M systems.

I have finally figured out that the Pentium 4 laptops are fast, but the fan makes quite a bit of noise. P4m systems use the mobile chipset that gives off less heat and need less air. They are a lot quieter.

A Centrino system includes the Pentium M CPU, the 855 chip set, and the 2100 wireless network hardware. Without the Intel wireless chips, it's called a Pentium M system instead of Centrino. The Pentium M and Centrino laptops are faster and use less power than both the Pentium 4 and Pentium 4M laptops.

The Pentium M CPU is similar to the Pentium 4M, except it's better. A 1.6 ghz Pentium M system runs about as fast as a 2.2 ghz Pentium 4M system. This is because of a shorter instruction pipeline and more instructions per clock cycle (IPC), a 400mhz bus, and a 1mg level II cache. And the Pentium M systems takes about half as much battery power as the older notebooks.

PC World recently did a review of 5 new laptops. The three 1.6 ghz Pentium M systems all outperformed the 2.4 and 2.0 ghz Pentium 4M laptops.,aid,110015,00.asp

In their first Pentium M notebook test, PC World said, "Two of three test notebooks using the new 1.6-GHz Pentium M processor outran all previously tested notebooks.",aid,109606,00.asp

NTSB Reports for March

Small planes really can be dangerous, but usually it's dangerous to the people inside rather than outside the plane. I made a quick read-thru of the NSTB reports on fatal plane accidents for the month of March. There were 27 fatal airplane accidents and 58 fatalities in the U.S., according to my infallible in-the-head calculations.

About half, 13 of 27 accidents and 30 of 58 fatalities, were weather related. That's a higher percentage than alcohol-related auto fatalities (41%)

Why so many? Do people intentionally fly into bad weather? Not really, but sometimes people don't use good judgment when they decide to fly into bad weather, sometimes people don't use good judgment with they continue flying into unexpected bad weather, and sometimes the weather is just a contributing factor. Occasionally a plane crash that has nothing to do with the weather happens in bad weather.

Here's a quick run-down and links to the fatal plane accidents of March 2003. My comments are based on the NTSB reports, and if I am less respectful than I should be, I'll claim it's because I didn't have enough information.

IFR, IMC, and VFR.
IFR stands for instrument flight rules, which means that limited cloud ceiling and/or visibility requires an IFR flight plan and previous IFR certification for the airplane and pilot. IMC is Instrument Meteorological conditions. It's sometimes used interchangeably with IFR, rightly or wrongly. VFR stands for visual flight rules, and is also used for weather conditions with visibility and cloud ceilings that don't require Instrument or IFR flying.

Three people were killed in a TBM-700 that crashed on approach into Leesburg Virginia. The ceiling was reported to be a little below minimums just before and after the crash. It looks like maybe the plane got too slow and was not following the localizer very well. I read that it was their second attempt at the approach, but the NTSB report doesn't mention that.

4 of 7 on board a Piper Saratoga were killed. They diverted from their intended destination of Keene, NH because of icing, cancelled the IFR flight plan and tried to go VFR to Westfield, MA.

VFR into IMC is a familiar phrase in plane crashes. This occurs when a plane is not under an IFR flight plan, but flies into the clouds (or other limited visibility conditions) anyway. Many times this involves someone with limited or no IFR training. I believe it is impossible for any human to keep an airplane upright in straight and level flight in the clouds without referring to instruments. You can be in a spiral dive with 1-g of force and not feel any difference inside plane.

2 dead, VFR into IMC, Piper PA-28

1 dead, VFR into IMC, Cessna 320D

2 dead, VFR into IMC, Piper PA-38

3 dead, VFR into IMC, Cessna 172

1 dead, VFR into IMC, Cessna 172

3 dead, VFR into IMC, Cessna 177

Five people were killed in a Bonanza that took off in night IFR conditions. Taking off at night into IFR is not necessarily bad, but night IFR is substantially more dangerous than day IFR or VFR flying, according to general aviation statistics.

2 were killed in a Bonanza that encountered icing. They tried to divert to a nearby airport but crashed 4 miles short.

When you fly an instrument approach, you generally fly down to the minimum altitude, and if you can't see the runway or runway lights, you go back up and do a missed approach procedure. Sometimes you might bungle an approach and start your missed before you get to the minimum altitude. In fact, I'm liable to do a missed approach if anything happens that I don't like or if something confuses me. But if you flew down to minimums once and couldn't land, there's not much point in doing it again unless you expect the weather to change.

One person in a Bonanza crashed and died on his third instrument approach into Milledgeville, Georgia. Maybe he had a good reason for trying three times, but sometimes people will bust minimums on subsequent approaches, and when that happens there is little or no room for any sloppiness or error in the pilot or in the plane.

Two peopled died in a Mooney after they tried a visual approach, couldn't see well enough, and headed for the initial fix for the instrument approach. The crash may not have been directly caused by the weather.

1 person died in a crash on a night IFR approach, but I'm not sure what caused the crash.

You can see all the accidents for March here:

Here are three interesting items that luckily did not involve fatalities.

A King Air was flying into Kremmling, Colorado at night. They flew a normal pattern around the runway and crashed into a mountain. There were three minor injuries. The were a mile and a half from the airport on their downwind leg, a little more than a thousand feet above the runway. So was the mountain. At night in the mountains, the mountains are invisible. You can't tell whether a mountain is 10 miles or 1000 feet away. The pilot should have checked the terrain around the airport before this flight, and it's a good idea to use an instrument approach flying into a mountain airport at night, even if you have to call it a visual approach in order to get into Aspen.

An American Airlines MD-82 landed on a taxiway at Seattle-Tacoma International. I bet they are embarrassed. And possibly unemployed.

A Skywest Airlines turboprop ran off the runway at Cedar City, Utah. They pilot and copilot were distracted by an ice warning light on the takeoff roll. The plane had been de-iced twice. It makes me wonder what would have happened if they went ahead and took off.


The Seattle Airport had a security problem. Someone turned in their personal pepper spray so they could get on an airplane. The security guard tossed it into the trash. It went off. People got peppered.

The Bridges of Kentucky State

See one of Kentucky's beautiful covered bridges. But see it in New Hampshire. The Kentucky Department of Travel made up a travel brochure, complete with pictures of covered bridges in their fine state. There was one problem. One of the bridges in their brochure was in New Hampshire. And at first, they denied it!

Pictures of Today!

Amy (Mikes baby daughter) doing some serious piano work about 18 years ago.

Here are a bunch of pictures of Mount St. Helens I took last summer from the Aircam, about 22 years after its eruption.


Downed Trees
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Logs are still floating on Spirit Lake.
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Legal Notice

(-) Copyright 2003, no rights reserved. Any unauthorized duplication or distribution of this fine tripe, whether electronic or with a camera obscura, is fine with me.

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I'm Bob Webster and I can usually be found at Have a nice day!