Moments in History, Uncategorized

May 28, 1906 – San Francisco in Ruins

San Francisco in Ruins (Clicken to enbiggenate)

 

This amazingly detailed, panoramic high resolution photograph shows just how completely devastated 4 days and 4 nights of fires left San Francisco after the Great 1906 Earthquake.

6 weeks later smoke still hangs in the air as people begin the long, mammoth task of cleaning up.

More […]

Military-Grade Awesome, Uncategorized

Top Gun Day – Behind the Scenes (Visual Effects)

Famous Control Tower at NAS Miramar - aka Top Gun

Famous Control Tower at NAS Miramar – aka Top Gun

 

Today, May 13 marks the 7th annual “Top Gun Day”, where you too have permission to buzz the tower and quote cheesy lines from the megahit 1986 jet-fighter flick.

(or better yet, just mill about yelling “DANGER-ZONE!!” at random)

And in celebration of this “Need for Speed” filled day, may we present to you a behind the scenes look at how the movie was made. The entire series is fascinating, but the visual effects portion is the most intriguing. Be warned however, it’s kinda like peeking behind the screen in the Land of OZ… a little bit of the magic gets revealed in the process… however the technical aspect is still just as cool. Continue reading Top Gun Day – Behind the Scenes (Visual Effects)

Uncategorized

Saturday Morning Cartoons – The Man of a Thousand Voices

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPUUZ2XETI8[/youtube]

This morning’s cartoon feature is less about the cartoons themselves, and more about the man behind them, Mel Blanc, The Man of a Thousand Voices. The man behind nearly all of  our favorite  vintage cartoon characters.

An entertaining film in its own right, it is also fascinating to see behind the scenes, how things […]

Pushing Boundaries, Uncategorized

Forked-Tail Doctor Killer: The Beechcraft Bonanza

V-Tailed_Beechcraft_Bonanza

At the end of WW2 men who had been trained by our nation’s military to fly wanted to continue flying as a hobby. As they found employment and disposable income they began buying aircraft. Two companies saw the coming general aviation boom and prepared for it. Cessna built their Model 195, which was basically a continuation of their pre-war designs. It had a high wing, tailwheel design a radial engine. Beechcraft, on the other hand, designed an all new plane with a metal low-wing, monoplane design using Continental’s E-185 horizontally opposed six cylinder engine, and retractable landing gear.

Continue reading Forked-Tail Doctor Killer: The Beechcraft Bonanza

Uncategorized, User Input

User Input: Holiday Predictions

Ladies and Gentlemen, if I could have your attention for just a moment. It seems Gartner Research has released a lengthy statement this week, announcing that, everyone, don’t panic, but smartwatches will not be the hot gift item this year.

For myself, as both a tech junkie and a watch aficionado, I actually wouldn’t […]

Military-Grade Awesome, Uncategorized

Christening of the Next Generation Aircraft Carrier – Gerald R. Ford

USS Ford

This morning the new “Next Generation” aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) was christened during ceremonies in the Newport News Shipbuilding facilities, Hampton Roads Virginia… you can watch a replay of the ceremonies here.

At 1,080 feet long, 100 feet high, a beam of 134 feet and 250 feet wide at the Flight-Deck, this behemoth used around 47,000 tons of steel and will have over 90,000 tons of displacement.

Replacing the ex-USS Enterprise, it is the first entirely new class of U.S. aircraft carrier in 45 years since the Nimitz of 1968. The island is 140 feet further aft than previous designs and its three aircraft elevators are electromagnetic – doing away with the traditional cable-hoisting. (I wonder if they are still keeping the old-style warning horns? Those things were cool.)

But the BIG news is the Navy’s new EMALS system, which translates into landlubber speak as the “Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System”. This modern technology does away with the steam-powered catapults that have flung aircraft into the sky for the last half-century, which is both exciting and a little sad. Continue reading Christening of the Next Generation Aircraft Carrier – Gerald R. Ford

Uncategorized

Flickering of Magic candles, USS Midway’s 70th Birthday

Fleet in NY Navy Day celebrations 27Oct45

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Carrier USS Midway’s (CV-41) keel being laid, 27 OCT 1943. Known as the “Midway Magic” she went on to have a long, famous and distinguished career that saw action as recently as Desert shield & Storm.

To celebrate, here’s an amazing photo of my first ship in her first year of service. This was taken a mere 2 years later, also this date 27 OCT, during the post-WWII celebration “Navy Day” of 1945 in New York Harbor. Continue reading Flickering of Magic candles, USS Midway’s 70th Birthday

Moments in History, Uncategorized

“LEFT FULL RUDDER!”

Carrier donuts

Carrier donuts

U-turn!

USS Coral Sea (CV-43) – the 3rd and final ship of the WWII era Midway class Aircraft Carriers, shows off with a demonstration of just how incredibly maneuverable these ships were, 1953.

Along with her older sisters USS Midway (CV-41) and USS Franklin D Rosevelt (CV-42), these triplets were the US Navy’s first “Super-carriers” as they were then known, a superlative that would eventually come to describe the much larger Forrestal design, and even more so those that followed. But for nearly a decade, these three remained the largest and most capable warships in the world.

They had some inherent sea-keeping issues such as a low freeboard – the flightdeck wasn’t very high so bluewater (unbroken waves) would regularly crash over the bow in high seas. And they tended to bob like corks… especially the Midway which had its hull widened to address the freeboard issue, only to create an even bigger monster with a fast roll center, which also caused the ship to corkscrew in rough weather.  It was such a wild ride our system’s gyros would regularly go on the fritz during storms, necessitating a trip up the aft radar tower to fix them, in the rain, in the dark, with only a red penlight to see with, trying not to short anything out or electrocute yourself while planes tried in vain to land down below you. Good times!

These 3 sisters were known to cause the sea-legs of even the saltiest sailors to wobble as they chewed on crackers, even more so than the smaller escort ships that accompanied her (which we joked went over one wave, then under two). They certainly put hair on the chest of all who sailed upon her decks.

BUT, they could also turn on Neptune’s dime.

Nearly 40 years after the lead photo was taken, in February 1991 we would have some fun with that maneuverability Continue reading “LEFT FULL RUDDER!”

Airborne Awesomosity, Bizarre Powerplants, Uncategorized

Belphégor

Today’s entry in our freaky French flyers™ series is the wonderfully-named Aérocentre N.C. 3020 Belphégor. Of absolutely no import in the aviation world, we’re posting the Belphégor as an example of the spiral of shame into which a poorly-conceived program can easily spin. Continue reading Belphégor

Military-Grade Awesome, Uncategorized

The Labyrinthine History of Secret Swiss Bunkers

Empires rise and fall, alliances swarm and splinter, and for five hundred years, the Swiss have remained armed and neutral, dangerous to any invader. Popular wisdom holds that Switzerland doesn’t have an army or forts, Switzerland is an army, the country itself is a fortress. The Alps in their natural state can be as forbidding as any place on earth, and enormous though invisible military improvements have been built deep in the mountains.

Continue reading The Labyrinthine History of Secret Swiss Bunkers

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