15 August, 2013

3 Basic Flying Rules to Live (and Keep Alive) by

Flying in all its forms is remarkably safe considering the unforgiving nature of the environment pilots operate in. A fundamental way to keep operations as safe as possible is to be mindful of and adhere to three basic rules. These apply to normal as well as unusual and emergency situations. Following them will go a long way to keeping normal flying from becoming emergency flying.

The rules are:

2). COMMUNICATE - and-

I've presented them in descending order of priority, but a pilot or crew absolutely has to do all of them. Here's how it works:

Aviate. Simply put, someone must always be flying the airplane. This means tending to the basic stick and rudder functions and the care and feeding of the systems that keep you aloft and in controlled flight. With more than one pilot, it is crucial (but unfortunately not sufficiently obvious) that someone has to be unambiguously responsible for flying the airplane. You can rely on automation to relieve some of the second by second workload, but can never abdicate control of your fate to an autopilot. The monitoring and assessment tasks you perform as a pilot are identical irrespective of whether you are hand flying, using a wing leveler, or a full-blown multi-axis autopilot. The rule applies to your Cessna-150 or a Boeing 747. One area of special emphasis is your response to abnormal flight situations. The temptation is powerful to devoting all the brainpower in the cockpit to solving a systems problem. This temptation has to be avoided by a one person crew as well as a multi-member crew. And one person has to be clearly in charge.

This brings us logically to our next rule;

Communicate: This is how everyone knows who is in charge, who is doing the flying ("I have the airplane", is a good declarative statement to make. All the better when it is clearly and promptly responded to: "Roger, the airplane is yours."), and what the gameplan is. Communication is a fundamental and essential element of effective resource management for a multi-person crew. Another dimension of communication is external to the cockpit. You have to ensure that ATC personnel and, as appropriate, other users of the airspace, know where your are, where you're going, what your situation is, and any other factor that forms what we will refer to as "your intentions." If you have passengers, it is certainly helpful to apprise them of the situation and your intentions.

And this leaves the final rule;

Navigate: By this I mean more than X marks the spot on a sectional chart. You must navigate successfully through the landscape that is your total situational awareness. Knowing about the terrain below you; relative range and headings to airports, fields, and other landing opportunities, and their conditions; and the location of nearby traffic is critically necessary but not sufficient. You must also address things like your fuel situation, weather, and aircraft system status. When you're successful navigating, the intentions you formulate will always be within the capabilities of your crew as pilots, and of your aircraft.

12 August, 2013


Whitey Bulger, notorious Boston organized crime figure, informant, and long-time fugitive, was found guilty of racketeering, conspiracy, and murder today. He was acquitted of a lesser federal offense of dancing with a mailman. Auspiciously, his guilty verdict comes on the same day as Elon Musk's disclosure of the plans for his Hyper Loop transportation system (some assembly required).

This got me to thinking about all the technological wonders and societal developments we are on the very verge of...

When Whitey is sentenced, his story might very well go *something* like this:

1). Federal Marshals on Segway scooters will escort him to a central transportation mode where;

2). He will board a hyperloop "train" to the node nearest the federal prison where he is to serve out his sentence. He will arrive at his destination 16 minutes before he left.

3). Transport from the node to prison will be via a Tesla Model W sedan that will make use as required of supercharger stations along the route. For security reasons, robotic battery swaps will not be used. Marshals have been instructed to make judicious use of air conditioning and headlights and to ensure that New York Times (paradoxically enough now owned by Elon) reporters and the gang from Top Gear are kept at least 300 miles from the planned route which will be cleared of the typical hordes of Google self-driving cars that have not yet collided with each other due to subtle bugs in their Ubuntu 17.04 operating systems.

4). Electricity to power the chargers will have been derived from room temperature fusion contained within a 1000mL laboratory beaker augmented by a Kenner Easy Bake Oven purchased off of Ebay and slightly modified in Italy. If accomplished entirely during the daytime on a sunny day, or if conditions in the region are suitably blustery, the option exists to power the journey entirely with renewable energy. In this event, Bulger will be credited with a $2500.00 green energy rebate.

5). Federal agents will keep to their tight delivery schedule by frequently consulting Apple Newton devices.

6). If Bulger misbehaves while in the custody of his terrestrial prison, he will be transferred to the Bigelow Inflatable Incarceration Facility (BIIF) in geostationary orbit over Devil's Island.

7). He'll be boosted up there aboard a Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser lofted by a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. The winged Dream Chaser will then be recovered after an autonomous horizontal landing at Mohamed Morsi National Airport (named for our 47th President who presided over the expansion of the US to 57 states and the District of Baghdad - which is still safer than the District of Columbia). Airspace safety will be ensured by a fleet of Lockheed Martin RQ/4Q2-297 hunter-killer drones set to maximum aggression/indiscriminate wedding party crasher (IWPC) mode.

8). After becoming somewhat acclimated to the micro-gravity environment, Bulger will be offered work as a Helium-3 miner on an asteroid that was captured and moved to low earth orbit.

9). If he accepts such work, Bulger will be paid the federal minimum wage of $17,500.25 per hour. Obama Care (now called Hillary Care for some reason) will address all his health insurance needs at no cost and he will earn the Incarcerated Person Income Tax Credit of $300,000,000.00 annually.

10). Over time, and with good behavior, Bulger will be entitled to quarterly conjugal visits. His partner will use the Dan Goldin Better, Faster, Cheaper Memorial Space Elevator to make the round trip to and from orbit. If Bulger opts for a non-carbon based partner, his right to do so is protected by Constitutional Amendment Ninety-Five, the Protection of Robosexual Marriage Act.

11). Irrespective of the sentence Bulger receives, there's always the possibility of parole sometime down the line. In this case, Bulger will be assigned to a halfway house in Detroit. A number of properties have already been purchased against this eventuality at an average cost of $147.38 each.