Monday, October 28, 2013

Air Show!

The base that I do my reserve duty at has an airfield as a primary part of its reason for existence; although it is now known as a "joint forces training base" up until the 70's it was a Naval air station and was quite active.  Now it is mostly used by Army National Guard aircraft although other services pass through here frequently.  I've even seen a C5 on the field!  I have seen a picture of the airfield during Iraqi War I with the ramp absolutely packed with C141s and C130s picking up supplies for transit to the Gulf.

Each year there is a combined aircraft and car show and this October my unit was tasked with providing support for the event.  So I got to attend the show and satisfy my drill obligation for the month. How cool is that?   Because of the heavily overcast conditions all over the coast many of the war birds that planned to fly in that morning couldn't make it but some flew in the day before and the B-25 shown here made a late morning arrival once the haze and fog burned off.

I took some pictures of some of the best and here they are for your viewing pleasure:

One of the few remaining flying H-21 helicopters in the world.  this helo started as a rescue bird for the B-36 in the arctic and then was adopted by the Army and used heavily in Vietnam in the early 60's.  I used to seem them flying when I was a kid.  We called them 'flying bananas'   Wonder why that was?

The O-1 Bird Dog observation plane used by forward air controllers in Vietnam.  I read an excellent novel about the plane and the pilots called "The Delta".  I highly recommend it.  These were only armed with spotter rockets to mark targets for ground attack aircraft.  
The 'Storch/Stork' liaison and spotter plane for the German army in WW2.  When I was stationed in West Germany in the late 70s I would see one of these sans wings sitting in a backyard along the autobahn.  Had it been there since the end of WW2?  The wings were resting next to the plane.  I wondered how the plane got there and how they were going to get it out someday.

Not a very sophisticated aircraft but its ability to land and take off in very short lengths was amazing
The F4U Corsair, used by the Navy and Marines from mid WW2 to the mid 1950s.  A phenomenal fighter and later ground support fighter-bomber

The Stearman 'Yellow Peril' student pilot trainer from WW2 and many were turned into crop dusters after the war.  The Missus bought me a ride in one for Father's day.  I couldn't stop smiling through the whole flight!

OK, so it isn't an airplane but it is cool anyway!
The B-25 getting ready to leave.  Love the sound of round engines!  The B-25 has to be the sexiest twin engine bomber of WW2 - I don't care what the Brits say about the Mosquito!

A video I shot with my digital camera of some of the aircraft leaving at the end of the day.  Notice how the props seem to be barely turning?  It is an optical illusion from the camera.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

RIP Hans Riegel

So, when we moved to West Germany in 1978 we discovered that not too far away from our river town of Kitzingen was a gummi bear factory and outlet.  Who knew that outlet stores existed for gummi bears and even better, that they sold gummi snakes, devils, coke bottles...all sorts of great things to stick you teeth together and pull the fillings right out of your molars!  Many factories smell bad - ever been near a paper mill for example?  Not a gummi bear factory; we could smell the sweetness of the bears several kilometers away from the place.  Yum!

The gummi bear baron himself recently passed away at age 90.  he, along with his brother, brought many smiles and some cavities to children and adults around the world.

Rest in peace Herr Riegel.

Delta Airlines Cares!

So, a couple weeks ago I posted one of my rants called "Does anyone care?" about the seeming collective indifference of the U.S. citizenry to the deaths of our service members in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

I was sent this video recently showing an honor guard of Delta employees who are present when the remains of a fallen service member return to the Atlanta airport.  The honor guard does it very well, with professionalism and dignity.

Bravo, Delta employees of Atlanta!


Mountain Lion alert

Younger daughter sent us this news article:

It seems that mountain lions have been spotted in a neighborhood about a mile from our humble abode brazenly strolling down the street in broad daylight!  Some good friends of ours live one street over from where this occurred but the lions didn't stop at their place so they didn't see them. 

We see raccoons and coyotes pretty often - if fact we saw two raccoons doing what looked like the foxtrot in a driveway last night when we were out for a walk - but so far no mountain lions.  Our next door neighbor claims to have seen a 15 foot python or boa constrictor in her backyard a month or so ago.  So far no Bigfoot sightings.

The mountain lions are getting pretty darn bold ever since hunting them was outlawed.  They have no fear of man and sooner or later something unpleasant will happen in a local backyard when someone hears little fluffydog being carried away by Mr. mountain lion and rushes out to stop it.

A couple years ago when I was driving along a forest service road about 20 miles up in the hills from here a mountain lion ran in front of my Jeep.  the speed of the big cat was simply amazing.  No way anyone would ever outrun one of those!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Brony's are tough but Big McIntosh is even tougher!

Ok, so this is pretty much inside baseball but I thought I'd post this for the Missus and Young Son who are both pony fans and YS is also a Brony.  If you don't know don't bother asking.

When someone has an AR-15 named after them, they gotta be one tough pony!

For those not familiar with the hardware in this image, shown below is an AR-15 receiver mock up with appropriate MLP oriented engraving.  Don't even think Brony's aren't manly or they may shoot your apples off!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Does anyone care?

During Iraq II the Left made sure everyone knew about U.S. service members killed in the war.  Some may have truly mourned the deaths of our finest but some, I think, used their deaths as a cudgel against George W. Bush and his administration.  Remember the events where a cross for each service member killed in Iraq would be placed on a beach or in a school yard to show the public the price for the war?  It was intended to shame Bush and turn the country against him and the war but I felt that the execution was noble even if the intent may not have been.  We should remember the sacrifice of each Soldier, Marine, Airman, Sailor, Coast guardsman, and Civilian killed in the service of our country.

The war in Iraq is over but the war in Afghanistan continues.  The Grandmothers for Peace from my church who gathered to protest the war in Iraq now protest violence. There is no mention of Afghanistan.   The activists that railed against the 'illegal' war in Iraq are silent about the war in Afghanistan.

Is it because it is Mr. Obama's 'good war'?  Is it because Mr. Bush is out of office?  No one notices the casualties these days except the loved ones left behind.  They know and they feel the unimaginable pain of the death of a husband, wife, son, daughter.  My son went to war in Iraq and survived.  My wife and I prayed everyday for his safe return and he did, whole of body and mind.  We were all lucky.

I watch the Internet news and when the death of a service member in theater is reported, I fly our flag at half-mast with the service flag of his or her formation.  It is the least I can do.  But, the mention of the death is reported on page six of the paper and perhaps a line on the Internet news that disappears the next day.  As if the soldier never existed.  As if no one cares. Sometimes the notice slips by even me, the dedicated Internet news junky.  No one notices except the family of the one who died.

 Shame on you, citizens of America for not caring.

Well, I care and you should also.  Honor their sacrifice no matter how you feel about the war in Afghanistan. 


Monday, October 7, 2013

Mystery rifle

A post about history and a mystery which unfortunately has no final answer.

Some years ago I stopped into a gun shop and spied an interesting looking rifle on the used gun rack.  I knew that it was rare - at least in this side of the pond and scooped it up with the approval of the Missus.  She is nice that way.

I brought it home and examined it.  It is a sporting rifle made by Birmingham Small Arms or better known as BSA.  Besides firearms BSA was known for a line of motorcycles which enjoy a cult following these days.  BSA was located in, wait for it, Birmingham, England!  They produced firearms for military and civilian use and many of the rifles were based on military rifle actions.  This particular rifle was their base model and made using new but obsolete pattern action and barrel of the Long Lee-Enfield rifle coupled with the bolt from the Lee-Enfield cavalry carbine.  The butt stock and forearm are nicely finished and checkered but are really only the military patterns adapted for civilian use.

The rifle's barrel is marked with the name of the retailer who sold the arm:  Army-Navy Cooperative Society.  This was a store that began as the means of outfitting British military officers who served overseas with the various bits of kit to make their sojourn less trying; this included firearms for hunting purposes because all work and no play makes Jack a dull, dull boy.  

Each firearm sold by the store was engraved with an inventory number which I found on the bottom of the trigger guard.  Some research on-line revealed that the inventory of firearms sold by the A&N Co-op are now held by the University of Glasgow and for a reasonable fee a copy of the inventory page for your arm would be sent to you.  You bet I got it!

The inventory page that I received revealed that my rifle languished in inventory for several years before being sold in November of 1914.  It provided the name of the purchaser:  J.W. McGowan Esq.

Now for the mystery:  who was J.W. McGowan Esq., and why was the rifle sold in November of 1914 when the British military, desperately short of arms were obtaining everything that could possibly launch a rifle bullet from the gun trade?  Why was it sold to an individual rather than to the government?

First, who was J.W. McGowan?  The A&N Cooperative Society primarily traded with military officers so the assumption is that McGowan was either an active service or retired officer.   My research which could only be done through open source sites on the Internet turned up three J.W. McGowans:

1. J.W. McGowan the younger, an active attorney in the 1880s
2. Captain J.W. McGowan residing in London in 1905
3. Pvt John William McGowan who died in France in 1915 and is buried at the Le Touret memorial.  Pvt McGowan was in the Border regiment.

Who bought the rifle in November of 1914?  Captain J.W. McGowan?  Was J.W. McGowan Esq the father of Captain McGowan or Pvt. McGowan?  Was the rifle bought to take to France but it never went (the condition of the rifle is way too nice to have seen use in France in wartime).   Was Pvt McGowan a 'gentleman ranker'  someone of the upper class who served as a private in the Army rather than take a commission?  Was the rifle intended for him when he returned but he never did and it was sold from the family?  The rifle shows very little use and mostly the wear of nearly 100 years of life.

An additional mystery:  the muzzle of the rifle is threaded for a sound modulator or 'silencer'. These devices are popular in the UK where it is considered polite not to disturb the neighbors when stalking game.  In the U.S. they are tightly controlled and are considered the tool of assassins although this is more due to movie villains than actual evidence to this.   The theory was advanced to me by an author of a book about this model of rifle that rifles of this type were purchased by the Royal Navy during the early days of WW1 for use by the Royal Marines as sniper rifles with silencers.  There are no military markings to indicate this and I think this is not very likely but, who can say at this point?

At this stage I have gone as far as I can with this mystery.  The answer eludes me and I fear that I will never know the actual chain of events that stretch from the gun counter of the Army and Navy cooperative store to a gun shop in Glendale California to the gun safe at Grouch estates.

The rifle
The pride of J.W. McGowan
Threaded muzzle for a silencer

Pvt. John William McGowan's resting place.  Was he the intended owner of the rifle?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Approaching the finish line....

So, I have only 2 months to go before my Master's degree program is finished...assuming that my final paper is deemed acceptable that is.  I have three months to go until my time with the state guard is finished.  Funny, I've been looking forward to both finishing as I will gain leisure time now spent in homework and preparing for the weekend drills and being at the weekend drill but now that the end is in sight I'm feeling a bit sad.  It is possible that I will not see either group of folks again after both commitments are ended and I've grown fond of all of them.  Both the 5 folks in my Master's cohort and the 100 or so in my reserve unit are great people and people that I will remember for the rest of my life but the time is coming to move on.

I will think of them often and I hope that they think of me with the same fondness that I have for them.  Great people one and all.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Vote for us or we'll bite you!

So, Younger Daughter is lobbying to have her two Malinois dogs featured in the upcoming Malinois rescue calendar.  Since both of her dogs are rescues, both are very cute, and both are really good dogs (they would never bite you, even if you don't vote for them) please use this link:  to go to the vote for the cutest Malinois dogs for a nice calendar website and give five stars for them!  Those with the most 5 star ratings get to be in the calendar.
After they were so good posing for this picture, they deserve a five star rating!  Only one vote per IP address so make your vote count!