More Junkmail from Bob!

September 2, 2003, #142
Important Stuff.

Transatlantic Model

Charles Lindbergh was not the first person to fly across the Atlantic non-stop. In 1927, Lindbergh was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic. Eight years earlier, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown flew non-stop from Newfoundland to Ireland.

They flew a Vimy IV:

Last summer (2002), some people decided to take the transatlantic model challenge and try to fly a radio controlled model airplane across the Atlantic. The total weight, including fuel, was to weigh less than 5 kg.

The project was written up by National Geographic and the Washington Post.

The models would use autopilot when they were out of radio range (just a couple of miles). They used GPS for navigation, and transmitted position and other telemetry data to a satellite so the team could monitor the model plane on its flight.

They launched three models, and none made it across the Atlantic. The first flew in circles over the ocean shortly after the autopilot was engaged. The second had an engine failure 17 minutes into the flight. The third probably went down in bad weather. Its last transmission was 479 miles into the flight.

On August 9th of this year, the team launched TAM 4.

It made it to 43 degrees west longitude, south of the tip of Greenland.

The next day they launched TAM 5, the fifth attempt across the ocean. It was flown by former AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) president Maynard Hill. 38 hours 53 minutes and 1,888 miles later, current AMA president Dave Brown landed the plane at Mannin Beach, Ireland, about 35 feet from its intended landing point. That is really impressive!

They set world records for model plane distance and duration.

Here's the transatlantic model plane in front of the Alcock and Brown Monument.

I've seen and heard lots of complaints about people who are being detained by the U.S. government without being charged with a crime. There are a few hundred or so witnesses, enemy combatants, and Doonesbury readers being held at Guantanemo Bay, Cuba, and Boatman, Oklahoma for purposes of national defense.

However, few people are aware that dozens of potential enemy aircraft are being held hostage in the Washington, DC area. Since March, 2002, Ultralight aircraft capable of carrying scores of deadly .22 caliber cartridges have been grounded by the federal government in order to keep us safe. Among the grounded fleet are aircraft that once fought in World War II. Even though these planes have no weapons, some of them did 60 years ago. You cannot be too careful.

Here is the rule for aircraft pilots and operators:

Planes inside the Washington area that don't have the communications equipment to meet the new requirements have not been able to fly for more than 17 months. Now, it's possible that the Department of Homeland Security will allow the owners of these lethal planes to fly them out of Washington.

It sure makes me feel safe to have had all these homebuilt, ultralight, and antique planes grounded for past a year and a half. I probably won't be able to sleep now that these lethal weapons are prowling the skies again. I'm not sure why the Washington planes are more dangerous than the planes in Oklahoma or North Dakota, let alone F350 pickups, but I might be branded a terrorist sympathizer if I question the wisdom of the Department of Homeland Security.

Turpen Time

Oklahoma was in the news last week!

Oklahoma filed 15 felony charges against MCI and six former MCI corporate officers for violating securities laws. Why Oklahoma? I wondered the same thing. Who would benefit from this lawsuit? MCI's Rivals? Maybe SBC?

Southwestern Bell is the predecessor to SBC Corporation. It was started with the government split up AT&T because of antitrust stuff. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission was started to protect the citizens of Oklahoma from the large, evil corporations.

For example, for years it cost more than twice as much for me to call Claremore, 20 miles away, than Seattle, 1,500 miles away. This is because the Oklahoma Corporation Commission protected me against Southwestern Bell in the local area-code calls but not on the interstate calls. Protection is expensive, you know.

Today, SBC stands to gain a lot if MCI goes out of business, because MCI is a major competitor to SBC.

Mike Turpen is a former Oklahoma Attorney General. Today he is a lawyer ("outside counsel") for SBC Corporation. Drew Edmonson is the current Oklahoma Attorney General. Turpen and his family donated $5,500 to Drew Edmonson for the 2002 elections, and Turpen's law firm donated more than $42,000 since 2001. [ Correction! Earlier I said that Edmonson is a Republican -- I goofed! He's a staunch Democrat. ]

Of course, it is purely coincidental that Edmonson has filed the only criminal charges of any state against MCI. The $47,500 had nothing to do with it. Attorney General Drew said, "I have had no discussion with Turpen, Verizon or anyone else about the filing we did yesterday."

Turpen was not available for comment.

I'm not sure whether MCI should be charged with felonies, but it seems to me that the any prosecuting should be done by the federal government, or possibly the City of Locust Grove, but certainly not the State of Oklahoma.

Here's a story from the Wall Street Journal from August 28. (It takes a subscription.),,SB10619980988453500,00.html?mod=home_whats_news_us


It seems like the stock market has been going up quite a bit lately, but I hadn't realized how much. The Nasdaq Composite is up 66 percent since its low last October.


On October 18, 1989, the Space Shuttle Atlantis flew up into the sky.


It carried, among other things, an Imax camera and the spacecraft Galileo.

      galileo.png        galileo.jpg

With a high school degree from Bethany, OK (and a PhD in biochemistry from OU, but that's not important) Shannon Lucid ( sent Galileo on its way to Jupiter. I think she had a little help from some people on the ground.

On its way out, Galileo passed by the moon and grabbed some gravity for acceleration. It also took some pictures.

In December, 1995, Galileo arrived in orbit around Jupiter. It sent back a lot of images of Jupiter and its moons. Here are the four moons of Jupiter first seen by Galileo (the person) in 1610. There are now about 61 known moons of Jupiter. These four, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, and are called the Galilean Satellites.


Here's part of Io...


... and Europa.


After orbiting Jupiter for 2 years, Galileo's primary mission was over, but since everything still worked, NASA kept using Galileo to explore Jupiter and its moons. Now, Galileo's fuel is almost gone. Soon Galileo will be unable to change trajectory or even point its antenna to Earth.

Last February, the Galileo team programmed the spacecraft to dive into the surface of Jupiter, finally ending its mission. In about 18 days, September 21, Galileo will crash into Jupiter.

I regularly hear about U.S. people getting killed in Iraq, about 1 every day or two. I haven't been hearing about the injured. About 10 U.S. troops a day were injured in Iraq in August, according to the Washington Post. I was surprised at the number.


Dick Grasso is getting $140,000,000 as the head of the New York Stock Exchange. I'd do the job for half that amount.

He's actually getting 20 years worth of deferred compensation, bonuses, and retirement benefits in one lump sum. The poor guy only gets an annual salary and bonus of $2.4 million.

After this was in the news for a few days, the SEC decided to look into it.

Pictures of Today!

Steamy Rockies

      dscn0601      dscn0602      dscn0613

South Fork Lake Creek Valley. That is a strange name!


The Ridge to Red Mountain.

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Ptarmigan (I think).


Bright Lichen


Twisted flowers


A Moon and a Mountain


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