Monday, May 31, 2010

Today is Memorial Day - "Heaven was needing a hero like you." - Thanks!

This was made in memory of all those lost in war both past and present. I hope this video touches everyone who has lost someone in their lives. It's not only a tribute to those who put their lives on the line each and every day for we as a people, it's also for all the sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandfathers and grandmothers and our friends that were taken from us too soon. May their memory live on in our hearts for all time. If you've lost a loved one feel free to leave a tribute to them in the comments. Here's to all the heroes in heaven. May your memory never be forgotten.

Song is sung by Jo Dee Messina... lyrics below...

I came by today to see you
I just had to let you know
If I knew the last time that I held you was the last time
I'd have held you, and never let go

Oh, it's kept me awake nights, wondering
I lie in the dark, just asking why
I've always been told
You won't be called home
Until it's your time

I guess heaven was needing a hero
Somebody just like you
Brave enough to stand up
For what you believe
And follow it through
When I try to make it make sense in my mind
The only conclusion I come to
Is heaven was needing a hero
Like you

I remember the last time I saw you
Oh, you held your head up proud
I laughed inside
When I saw how you were standing out in the crowd
Your such a part of who I am
Now that part will just be void
No matter how much I need you now
Heaven needed you more

Cause heaven was needing a hero
Somebody just like you
Brave enough to stand up
For what you believe
And follow it through
When I try to make it make sense in my mind
The only conclusion I come to
Is heaven was needing a hero
Like you

Is Heaven was needing a hero
and that's you

Sunday, May 30, 2010

US Memorial Day - We will never forget

A message from an Aussie friend...

After bagging the Yanks............ It's time to reflect the way our world be today if these guys had not fought for our way of life in the 2 Word Wars...........

He writes: My lead flight attendant came to me and said, "We have an H.R. on this flight." (H.R. stands for human remains.) "Are they military?" I asked.
'Yes', she said.
'Is there an escort?' I asked.
'Yes, I already assigned him a seat'.
'Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck. You can board him early," I said.
A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us.
'My soldier is on his way back to Virginia,’ he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words.
I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat.
We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin. ‘I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board', she said. She then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia.
The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when she asked me if there was anything I could do. 'I'm on it’, I said. I told her that I would get back to her.
Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me.
Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the text:
'Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and planeside. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and planeside to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.'
I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, 'You have no idea how much this will mean to them.'
Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us.
'There is a team in place to meet the aircraft’, we were told. It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the copilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, 'Take your time.'
I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public address button and said, 'Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His Name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.'
We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.
When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft were clapping. Words of ‘God Bless You', I'm sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one.
Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.
I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these United States of America.
Foot note: As a Viet Nam Veteran I can only think of all the veterans including the ones that rode below the deck on their way home and how they were treated. When I read things like this I am proud that our country has not turned their backs on our soldiers returning from the various war zones today and give them the respect they so deserve.
I know every one who has served their country who reads this will have tears in their eyes, including me.
Prayer chain for our Military... Don't break it!
Please send this on after a short prayer. Prayers for our soldiers don’t break it!
'Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen.'
Prayer Request: When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our troops around the world.
There is nothing attached. Just send this to people in your address book. Do not let it stop with you. Of all the gifts you could give a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, & others deployed in harm's way, prayer is the very best one.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

X-51A Waverider breaks supersonic flight record

By Noel McKeegan

19:38 May 27, 2010

U.S. Air Force graphic of the record breaking X-51A Waverider

U.S. Air Force graphic of the record breaking X-51A Waverider

Image Gallery (3 images)

Boeing's X-51 WaveRider has made aviation history by completing the longest ever supersonic* combustion ramjet-powered flight. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flew for almost three and a half minutes in the skies off the southern California coast on Wednesday, reaching an altitude of about 70,000 feet and hitting hypersonic (Mach 5) speeds.

The X-51 WaveRider scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) is being developed for the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) by Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

The goal of the program is to create a free-flying, scramjet-powered vehicle capable of operating continuously on jet fuel and achieving continuous hypersonic speeds - a challenge which program officials compare to "lighting a match in a hurricane and keeping it burning."

During its first autonomous flight, the X-51 was launched at 50,000 feet from under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress before being accelerated to Mach 4.8 using a solid rocket booster from a U.S. Army tactical missile. The rocket then jettisoned and aircraft then flew under the power of its powered by its Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne scramjet motor for around 200 seconds, burning a mix of ethylene and JP-7 jet fuel.

The flight is considered the first use of a practical hydrocarbon fueled scramjet in flight and smashes the previous record for a scramjet burn in a flight test was 12 seconds in a NASA X-43, which has achieved speeds speeds of Mach 9.8, or 7,000 mph.

"We are ecstatic to have accomplished most of our test points on the X-51A's very first hypersonic mission," said Charlie Brink, a X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. "We equate this leap in engine technology as equivalent to the post-World War II jump from propeller-driven aircraft to jet engines."

While the flight is being hailed as a success, the terabytes of telemetry data transmitted by the X-51A to both ground systems and an airborne U.S. Navy P-3 Orion is yet to be analyzed.

"This is a new world record and sets the foundation for several hypersonic applications, including access to space, reconnaissance, strike, global reach and commercial transportation," said Joe Vogel, Boeing director of Hypersonics and X-51A program manager.

The Air Force officials plans to fly the three remaining X-51A flight test vehicles this year on virtually identical flight profiles.

* Supersonic speeds are defined as being above the speed of sound (Mach 1).

Via Boeing and USAF.

Friday, May 28, 2010

AirAsia offers ‘free seats’ on select international destinations to boost tourism in Thailand

According to a report in, as an initiative to recover tourism in Thailand, AirAsia is offering ‘free seats’ wherein passengers will have to pay taxes and other fees from its international destinations to its Bangkok hub for online bookings starting from tomorrow till June 1, 2010, for travel period from June 7-August 31, 2010.

The international destinations included in the promotion are Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Penang), Myanmar (Rangoon), Cambodia (Phnom Penh), Singapore, Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi), China (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Macau, Hong Kong), Taiwan (Taipei) and Indonesia (Bali, Jakarta).

Additionally AirAsia, through its travel holiday division, is also offering guests travelling into Bangkok free night offers for hotel stays in Bangkok, including free transfers and free half-day city tours.

Tony Fernandes, CEO, AirAsia Group said that the airline will aggressively market Bangkok, as well as its other Thai destinations with low fares and attractive promotions. “We’re giving our 110 per cent to help Thailand’s tourism bounce back,” added Fernandes.

Bijleveld Tassapon, CEO, Thai AirAsia added, “We’re working hard with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to reposition Bangkok as a major tourist attraction. We’re confident that the travel and tourism industry will get better from here.”

Thai Army's Airship deal expected to receive go-ahead

The army's inspection panel is expected to approve the delivery of a controversial airship even though it has failed its standard flight test, an army source says.

The airship inspection committee is expected to eventually approve the 350 million baht airship's delivery, the source said, despite the fact it cannot fly high enough to avoid ground fire.

The third flight test of the US-made Aero 40D airship showed it had a maximum ceiling of 3,100 feet.

This was within the range of an M16 rifle fired from the ground, the source said.

The airship was supposed to be able to fly above 3,280 feet, or 1km above the ground, which would make it safe from ground rifle attack.

The airship is intended for aerial patrols over the lower South.

The latest flight test was carried out yesterday at the Bo Thong airstrip at the 15th Infantry Regiment in Pattani's Nong Chik district, where it has been kept during the inspection.

"The committee will in the end have to accept the airship delivery," the source said.

The airship deal was expected to be sealed before army chief Anupong Paojinda retires at the end of September.

He has defended the purchase despite criticism over its cost, and whether the airship will be of any use.

The inspection committee is made up of three lieutenant colonels from the Department of Army Transportation.

There would, however, be more tests before the committee announces its final decision on the craft's delivery, the source said. The tests will be aimed at proving if the cameras mounted on three helicopters supporting the airship would work both night and day.

Tests will also be carried out to see if the cameras can capture pictures at different angles and whether broadcasting signals to the airship and a number of ground control centres can be synchronised in real time.

The airship also needs costly helium refills, the source said.

The cost of a helium refill ranges from 170,000 baht to 2.5 million baht.

The cabinet in March last year gave the army its approval in principle to buy the airship for about 350 million baht.

The craft was to have been delivered last August.

The handover has been delayed repeatedly because of problems in fulfilling the purchase contract on the part of the supplier.

2nd Iceland volcano issues warning

Scientists say powerful Katla is ‘close to failure’

Image: Volcanoes in Iceland
An April 17 NASA image shows the Eyjafjallajokull volcano to the west and Myrdalsjokull ice cap, beneath which slumbers the mighty Katla volcano, to the east.
AFP - Getty Images
updated 11:16 a.m. ET May 27, 2010

LONDON - A second, much larger volcano in Iceland is showing signs that it may be about to erupt, scientists have warned.

Since the start of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which caused cancellations of thousands of flights in Europe because of a giant ash cloud, there has been much speculation about neighboring Katla.

An initial research paper by the University College of London Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction said: "Analysis of the seismic energy released around Katla over the last decade or so is interpreted as providing evidence of a rising ... intrusive magma body on the western flank of the volcano."

"Earlier seismic energy release at Katla is associated with the inflation of the volcano, which indicates it is close to failure, although this does not appear to be linked to seismicity around Eyjafjallajökull," it added.

"We conclude that given the high frequency of Katla activity, an eruption in the short term is a strong possibility," the report said. "It is likely to be preceded by new earthquake activity. Presently there is no unusual seismicity under Katla."

Icelandic President Ólafur Grímsson has warned governments around Europe that a significant eruption at the volcano is close. "We [Iceland] have prepared ... it is high time for European governments and airline authorities all over Europe and the world to start planning for the eventual Katla eruption," he said.

The UCL scientists, engineers and statisticians also criticized the response to the earlier eruption.

"The impact of the eruption on regional airspace could have been predicted and better prepared for as the growing problem of aircraft-ash cloud encounters has been recognized for decades," the report added.

"Similarly, the potential for ash clouds, specifically from Icelandic volcanoes, to interfere with air traffic in UK, European and North Atlantic air-space was appreciated by the aviation industry well before the start of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption," it said.

"The response to the ash cloud’s arrival in UK and adjacent airspace was entirely reactive and therefore less effective than it should have been."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

USAF at Ubon Thailand RTAFB - Vietnam War Era

Thanks Michael, formerly of the Royal Australian Air Force at Ubon, for these Vietnam War Era photographs! They say a lot...and maybe we can help write the history books!

Royal Australian Air Force use of Ubon

On 31 May 1962 the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) sent a detachment of eight CAC-27 Sabre fighters to Ubon RTAFB. This detachment was later expanded and designated as No. 79 Squadron. The Australian facilities were known as RAAF Ubon.

The mission of No. 79 Squadron was to assist the Thai and Laotian governments in actions against communist insurgents during the early years of the Vietnam War. With the deployment of United States Air Force fighters to Ubon, the unit also performed joint exercises and provided air defense for the USAF attack aircraft and bombers based at Ubon.

No. 79 Squadron did not, however, fly any operations over nearby Cambodia, South Vietnam or Laos. The unit's strength during the entire period was about 150-200 men.

Sir Edmund Hillary visited the base on 25 January 1967.

The Squadron lost Sabre A94-986 aircraft due to engine failure at 1043h on 3 January 1968. The aircraft crashed on approach into farms outside the town (1.2 nautical miles from the runway at 249 degrees true). The pilot, Pilot Officer Mark McGrath was killed. A three year old Thai girl named Prataisre Sangdang later died from burns sustained in the accident. The homes of Mr Nuan, Mr Krasam, Mr Thongkam and Mr Tue were totally destroyed. That of Mr Sok was partly destroyed. Ten pigs belonging to Mr Sok were killed as were 15 belonging to Mr Oh. Outbuildings beloning to Mr Wiruch and to Mrs Sim were also damaged.

The Squadron re-deployed to Butterworth in Malaysia on 31 August 1968.

[edit]United States Air Force use of Ubon

From 1965 to 1974, the base was a front-line facility of the United States Air Force (USAF) during the Vietnam War. Ubon was the location for TACAN station Channel 51 and was referenced by that identifier in voice communications during air missions.

The APO for Ubon was APO San Francisco, 96304

[edit]8th Tactical Fighter Wing

The 8th Tactical Fighter Wing arrived at Ubon on 8 December 1965 from George AFB, California as part of the US deployment of forces for Operation Rolling Thunder and became the host unit.

At Ubon, the 8th TFW's mission included bombardment, ground support, air defense, interdiction, and armed reconnaissance. The operational squadrons of the 8th TFW were:

Squadron deployed from 33d TFW Eglin AFB Florida. Transferred to 432d TFW at Udorn RTAFB. Replaced by 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, also from 33d TFW 25 May 1968 - 5 July 1974 (F-4D Tail Code: FA)
McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom Serial Number 66-0234 of the 476th Tactical Fighter Squadron with laser guided bombs on a mission north. This aircraft survived the war and eventually was sent to AMARC for scrapping 29 September 1989

On 23 April 1966, the 8th TFW scored its first MiG kills of the Vietnam War, shooting down two MiG-17 fighters. By the end of June 1966, after only six months in the theater, the wing had flown more than 10,000 combat sorties, achieving a 99 per cent sortie rate for which they received many commendations.

Beginning in May 1967, new F-4D aircraft from the 4th TFW at Eglin AFB were delivered to Ubon, re-equipping the 433d, 497th and the 555th TFSs. This gave the wing the distinction of being the first in Southeast Asia to be operationally equipped with F-4Ds.

In May 1968, the wing was the first to use laser-guided bombs (LGBs) in combat. During its final years of combat, the 8th TFW used B-57s for night attacks, AC-130 gunships for ground support and armed reconnaissance, and F-4Ds for fast-forward air control, interdiction, escort, armed reconnaissance, and other special missions.

After North Vietnam invaded the Republic of Vietnam in March 1972, the 8th TFW was augmented by additional F-4 units. To make room for these forces, the B-57 squadron moved to the Philippines. The wing continued combat in Vietnam until mid-January 1973, in Laos until 22 February 1973, and in Cambodia until 15 August 1973.

The last scheduled F-4 training flight occurred on 16 July 1974, and on 16 September the wing moved without personnel or equipment toKunsan AB, South Korea, where it absorbed resources of the 3d TFW.