~ Archive for Uncategorized ~

Historical aviation weather for accident or incident reconstruction


A lawyer contacted me the other day looking for an aviation expert witness.  Ultimately I decided not to accept the engagement due to a lack of sufficient data for rendering an opinion, but I thought I’d write down what I learned about finding archived aviation weather, forecasts, and warnings.

The Plymouth State University Weather Center, run by good-hearted folks out of New Hampshire, offers archived radar and satellite images as well as surface charts.

Iowa State University offers archived pilot reports back to 2015 and National Weather Service text products, including aviation Center Weather Advisories back to 2008. NOAA itself, when not saving the whales, runs a “tape robotics” archive for NEXRAD and other data.

aviationwxchartsarchive.com offers a variety of charts and text products, including SIGMETs and SIGWX.

I couldn’t find anything for archived textual AIRMETs. If anyone knows of a source for these I would be grateful!

Service idea: A site where you can say “Give me a standard weather briefing as of Date X” Given that the NTSB already needs most of these data for its investigations, I’m surprised that the federal government doesn’t already run such a site (maybe the explanation is that the briefing web sites have been done by contractors and there is no point in a contractor innovating). The amount of data being generated per day is more or less fixed (old-school text format) and the cost of storage keeps falling, so this should become cheaper and easier to run over time.

Donald Trump and treason?


My Facebook friends are up in arms about Donald Trump committing “treason” by saying (or not saying?) something to Vladimir Putin. The only exception is a Ukrainian friend who is anti-Russian and anti-Putin:

Well, most Democrats never cared about Russia when it started doing sh*t in Ukraine. Maybe they care about it because it is now a way to dump on Trump and Republicans.

Although he would like to see the U.S. recognize Russia as an enemy and oppose Russian initiatives worldwide, he can’t figure out what Trump did wrong this week.

The New York Times accused King Donald of treason just two months after his coronation (see “‘There’s a Smell of Treason in the Air’,” March 23, 2017). Now he is accused of “double secret treason”?

I lived through one Russia scare in my lifetime (the 1960s-80s) so I can’t bring myself to invest time in learning about this latest one.  But maybe readers will educate me. What was Donald Trump supposed to say and do, in an ideal world, and what did he actually say or do?

Folks I want to meet at Oshkosh


This is mostly a note to myself, but others might use this too. Everyone listed here is speaking/teaching at EAA AirVenture 2018.

For 16 years, Ramona Cox has flown her Cessna TU-206 into highly remote and challenging wilderness airstrips SOLO air-camping for months at a time. She fishes daily and hunts with a recurve bow while dodging wolves, bear and mountain lion. (Why a 6-seat 206 for someone camping “solo”? Maybe the payload and space is for elk carcasses?)

Dick Rutan received his solo pilot’s & driver’s license on his 16th birthday. A fighter pilot in the Air Force, he flew 325 missions in Vietnam. After the Air Force, Dick joined his brother, Burt, at Rutan Aircraft Factory & flew test flight programs of many types of experimental aircraft. In 1981, he founded Voyager Aircraft to complete the first world flight.

Shaesta Waiz, founder of the non-profit Dreams Soar, Inc., flew around the world solo in a Beechcraft Bonanza A36 aircraft in 2017, becoming the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine aircraft. Born in an Afghan refugee camp, Shaesta is the first certified civilian female pilot from Afghanistan. [Afghanistan has a population of over 35 million.]

Gus Hawkins: After the May 2, 2009, crash of his experimental aircraft, Mr. Hawkins found that there were no readily available resources to help pilots overcome their doubts and fears and return to flying after an accident. Back To The Cockpit endeavors to provide multiple resources to help accident pilots. [Anyone can brag about his or her successes. But it takes real courage to come out and say “I built it. I crashed it. I am here to talk about it.”]

Mark Skoog, NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Principle Investigator for autonomy. Over the past 37 years I have supported numerous NASA and the Air Force fighter and UAV research efforts as well as initial flight test of the F-16 and B-2. Work has included integration of digital flight controls and avionics with high authority autopilots to automatically accomplish all phases of fighter combat missions as well as full vehicle autonomy.

Walter Fellows, Owner, Composite Creations Business-Gweduck Amphibian Aircraft Kit Sudied Aeronautical Engineering at University of Washington after retirement Instrument rated private pilot Previous career international and domestic investment and commercial banking

Kate Sampson, NOAA (see “Merry Christmas to the Sea Turtles“), giving Thursday and Friday afternoon talks about sea turtle flying.

Gao Yuanyang is the director of General Aviation Industry Research Center of BUAA (Beihang University of Aeronautics and Astronautics).Ph.D.,a famous general aviation industry expert,China Private aircraft owners and pilots Association (AOPA-China) deputy secretary general (talking about GA in China)

Dick Cole, the last of the Doolittle Raiders. (What kind of bravery do you need to take off from an aircraft carrier in an aircraft not designed for carrier operations and knowing that landing at an airport is unlikely?)

Readers who are going to Oshkosh: Which presentations and presenters are you excited about?

What will the federal government do with children for whom no DNA match can be found?


From a friend:

Government is DNA testing kids so as to reunite them only with their actual parents. I wonder how many fathers are going to find out their kid is not related to them.

Following arrests for crossing the border illegally rather than asking for asylum at an official entry point, roughly 3,000 children were separated from adults claiming to be their parents by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (source). Toronto’s Globe and Mail gives estimates of non-paternity at between 5 and 10 percent (“Mommy’s little secret”), so that would be between 150 and 300 of the 3,000 total children, assuming that all migrant claims of parenthood are sincere.

When all of the DNA testing is done and most of the children have been paired off with parents, but there are still a bunch of adults and children in the “no match found” category, what happens?

(Is 3,000 the actual number that has most of Facebook riled up? How does that compare to what goes on in local family courts? “Litigation, Alimony, and Child Support in the U.S. Economy” finds at least 16 million children who are products of separated parents since the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement manages cashflow associated with these children. Back in 2000, Heritage Foundation:

Each year, over 1 million American children suffer the divorce of their parents; moreover, half of the children born this year to parents who are married will see their parents divorce before they turn 18. Mounting evidence in social science journals demonstrates that the devastating physical, emotional, and financial effects that divorce is having on these children will last well into adulthood and affect future generations.

The U.S. population in 2000 was 282 million. Today it 328 million. So we should expect roughly 16 percent more children today in any given category compared to 2000. (One thing that is questionable is the phrase “the divorce of their parents” since much litigation around custody and associated child support profits occurs between the never-married.)

But let’s take the Heritage Foundation’s number from 2000 and adjust it for population growth to 1.16 million. Then consider that roughly 2/3rds of children who are put through a winner-take-all family court system are permanently separated from the loser parent (data referenced within). The most heavily populated states, such as California, Florida, New York, and Texas, haven’t adopted the 50/50 shared parenting rules that prevail in, e.g., Arizona or Nevada. So let’s assume that 80 percent of children whose parents are currently separating will be in winner-take-all jursidictions and therefore roughly 53 percent of all 1.16 million children will be permanently separated from a parent by a state-run family court. That’s 612,480 children per year. If family courts operate 6 hours per day, 250 days per year, that’s 2450 children per day or 408 children per hour who are cut off from one parent for the rest of their childhood, if not life.)

Update 7/17: “With a deadline looming, the US can’t find parents of 71 children it may have separated” (CNN)

Let’s meet at Oshkosh on Wednesday after my talk about helicopters


Aviation enthusiasts who are going to Oshkosh this year: Let’s meet at Oshkosh on Wednesday, July 25 after my talk about helicopters (8:30 am-9:15 plus questions; Forum Stage 6; slides).

Also, due to advanced age and wimpiness, my companion and I paid up for the “air conditioned oasis” of the EAA Aviators Club. I should be there Tuesday through Friday hiding from the heat and humidity!

I’m happy to meet with readers at any other time, but let’s have that Wednesday morning at Forum Stage 6 as a default.

Is it reasonable for Trump to demand that Europeans spend more on their military?


“Trump suggested NATO countries double their defense spending goal” (CNN). Why does this make sense? Wikipedia shows that France and Germany together (forget the rest of NATO!) already spend more than Russia, the hypothetical military opponent.

I don’t think that the answer can be “the Russians are inherently super efficient at everything and therefore we have to out-spend them by 20:1 to have any hope of holding our own.” When you want to buy something in Russia that is produced to international standards the costs are fairly similar to what you’d pay in the West.

Honda removes a feature with a software update


Our Honda Odyssey had a spectacularly broken implementation of CarPlay (see “Honda and Apple CarPlay“). I conjectured that Honda couldn’t leave the car out there with such an embarrassing failure, at least not if it wanted anyone ever to buy another Honda, and, sure enough, recently a software update became available. I accepted the update (nose the car up close to a WiFi source) and CarPlay indeed seems to work without crashing.

However…. the car no longer beeps if you’re about to back into something. It did this on the test drive and I marked that down as a plus for the car (since the world is full of kids, stuff, and other obstacles). It did this during the first months of ownership. Now it just shows you a picture of what you’re about to slam into. The Honda web site shows that “Body-Colored Parking Sensors” are a feature supposedly only on the Touring and Elite models. We have an EX-L. But maybe the hardware is actually present on all Odysseys? They just disable it via software for the LX, EX, and EX-L? But the same programmers who couldn’t implement Apple CarPlay successfully also couldn’t disable this feature the way that the marketing people told them to?

Readers: As consumers, what do you think of this? We were never asked to sign anything that said exactly what the car would and wouldn’t do. Why wouldn’t we expect whatever it did on the test drive to keep happening? Is it reasonable for Honda to disable stuff progressively via software updates and then tell unhappy consumers “Well, if you’d read every piece of our marketing material carefully you’d have seen that the car wasn’t supposed to have that capability to begin with.”?

Great New England Air Show this weekend at Westover


Readers: If you can get organized to fly into Westover (central Massachusetts) by 8 am (airport is closed after 8) this weekend and/or get there by car no later than 8 am (traffic is insane), you’ll be able to enjoy the Great New England Airshow.

We attended the breakfast preview event this morning and got a few photos:

Colonel Scott Durham, the base commander, was fun to listen to at breakfast. A maintenance expert (the true challenge with the C-5!), he seemed like the kind of guy that anyone would be happy to work for and was a natural with impromptu jokes.

The guest speaker was Catherine Coleman, a retired astronaut who spent nearly half a year in space. She is an MIT graduate and has a PhD in polymer science. Being a nerd, I would have loved to hear her talk about (a) what she did when in space, (b) what she did in graduate school, (c) technical challenges for future space missions, etc. However, aside from the obligatory thank-yous, her talk was 100 percent devoted to the subject of diversity. She described how not all astronauts “looked like me” and that this was a challenge she overcame by being “brave and open”.

(Can NASA astronauts legitimately claim to be experts on diversity? If astronauts are all young, perfectly healthy, fit, highly intellgent, and technically educated, how is that a diverse workforce, regardless of gender ID or skin color? Colonel Coleman, Ret., seems to have spent most of her time in space on a mission that was staffed with 100 percent young white astronauts, in any case. Her previous Space Shuttle mission was also 100 percent young astronauts. Could it be about someone who identifies as a woman serving in an air force? Hanna Reitsch was a test pilot in the Luftwaffe in 1937. American women were flying high-performance combat aircraft (albeit not in combat) starting in 1943 (see the WASPs). If anything, NASA seems to be known primarily for a retrograde (so to speak) attitude toward staffing, e.g., in the book/movie Hidden Figures.)

After Colonel Coleman’s talk, a Lockheed Martin executive (she appeared to identify as “female”, but did not say that this had any relevance to her job) handed over the keys to a refurbished C-5M plane (take a C-5B and add $100+ million; the result is longer range due to more efficient engines and the ability to fly LPV approaches). The plane will be named the “Spirit of Chicopee,” after the town in which Westover resides.

Then it was time for the Golden Knights parachute team, Bill Stein in a Zivko Edge 540, a World War II heritage formation, and a couple of F-35s arriving to rattle the windows. The Thunderbirds started their practice at 2 pm.

[Logistics tip for future years: If you’re doing the Friday breakfast option as a family, I recommend skipping the “breakfast” part of the breakfast and arriving at the gate at 8:59 am (supposedly guests must arrive by 9). McDonald’s will sell you fresher eggs and the kids will need only about one hour of patience before the action starts. Go off base for lunch at Chick fil-A and then park near the FBO to watch the Thunderbirds practice from outside the fence. Stay with the Thunderbirds team at the Hampton Inn Chicopee.

If you don’t want to bake, consider the Rhode Island Air Show in 2019. Right next to the ocean is a lot cooler than Westover’s inland location. Also, the Rhode Island folks leave the airport open until at least 10:00 am for a show that starts at 10:25 so it is a much less grueling experience. Despite the stellar line-up, the Rhode Island show attracts a smaller crowd and therefore, if you can’t fly in, you aren’t likely to get stuck for five hours on the Mass Pike as we learned happened to one breakfast attendee in a previous year (he had three kids in the back of the car!).]

Summer travel idea: the public aquarium in Lisbon to see the Takashi Amano show


Here’s a summer-to-fall travel idea: go to the Oceanário de Lisboa to see a “temporary exhibit” of planted aquaria by the world’s greatest-ever artist in this medium: Takashi Amano (1954-2015). Inspiration: my photos from September 2017.

The permanent exhibit is more conventional, a huge tank representing “one ocean” with additional habitats represented by smaller tanks. What’s remarkable about this aquarium, at least at the time of my weekday afternoon visit, was the peace and quiet. Instead of a continuous roar of screaming kids, the environment is hushed and conducive the contemplation.

Lisbon itself is a fantastic place to enjoy life. Here are some folks dancing after 10 pm on a weekday at the Time Out Market (not to be confused with the “Times Up Market” of sexual harassment litigation!).

[Portugal is a great place to spend money, since the weather is beautiful, the people are friendly, and prices are much lower than in the UK, France, or Scandinavia. Unfortunately for locals, Portugal is not a great place to earn money. See “Why is Portugal’s economy so sluggish?“]


Reasonable to force children to learn Danish?


“In Denmark, Harsh New Laws for Immigrant ‘Ghettos’” (nytimes):

When Rokhaia Naassan gives birth in the coming days, she and her baby boy will enter a new category in the eyes of Danish law. Because she lives in a low-income immigrant neighborhood described by the government as a “ghetto,” Rokhaia will be what the Danish newspapers call a “ghetto parent” and he will be a “ghetto child.”

Starting at the age of 1, “ghetto children” must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments.

Is this reasonable? Danish is spoken by 5.4 million people. Denmark is part of the EU and therefore once immigrants to Denmark gain citizenship they can relocate to another EU country where Danish language skills will be useless. If Denmark’s mission is to help migrants, wouldn’t it make sense to educate their children in the language of the parents’ choice, not only from age 1 but right through high school graduation?

[Separately, why are there political disagreements about these “new Danes”? We are told that even the lowest-skill immigrants boost an economy and lower a country’s crime rate (see “Germans shutting down immigration because they are tired of getting wealthier and enjoying lower crime rates?“). Danes now have years of direct personal experience with the positive benefits of immigration. Why wouldn’t voters be clamoring to get more immigrants?]


  • “How Not to Welcome Refugees: With its new immigration law, Denmark is once again sending a blunt message to migrants.” (Atlantic, January 2016): On Tuesday, the Danish parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill seemingly designed to solidify Denmark’s reputation as Western Europe’s least attractive country for refugees—a hard-earned title at a time when many of its neighbors are tightening border controls … recently, the government proposed moving refugees from urban housing to camps outside cities, an initiative that would “shift the focus of government immigration policy to repatriation rather than integration,”


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