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Plan B… No, Make it Plan C

Plan A… Yesterday we had signed up for the civilian fly-in at the Columbus Air Force Base.  We had our standard government paperwork filed to land at CAFB and we were excited about spending the day around the jets on base and spending some time in the simulators. The weather was looking good until we arrived at the Raymond Airport to depart… heavy fog.  We waited as long as we could for it to clear, but no luck and our time ran out.  In order to land at CAFB, we had a designated slot time for arrivals and if we were not “wheels up” by 0715 from Raymond, we would not make the slot.  At this point we threw up our hands and drove to Starbucks for coffee and a muffin and to come up with Plan B.

Plan B…  One of the things you learn as a pilot is to always have an alternate plan.  Our Plan B, was to go to the fly-in and camp out down at Pineville, LA (2L0) and check out the planes and eat lunch.  We have been to Pineville for their monthly breakfast several times, but not to the fall fly-in.  I started looking at the weather south of here only to see that it was still socked in near Pineville.  1/2 mile visability and 200 foot ceilings still  plagued south Louisiana, so we decided to rub on the plane for a while until the weather broke at our destination.  2 hours later and a call to the automated weather system at Alexandria confirmed the poor computer reports… It’s still low IFR.  Now we are getting stir crazy and ready to go somewhere.

Plan C…  We had been invited to fly to Starkville with some friends to watch Mississippi State play Tennessee, but had decided that flying home after an 8:00 game was not for me.   But, this is the south and 90% of the fun of college football is the pre-game campus environment.  So, Plan C turned out to be flying to Starkville, MS (KSTF), eat lunch at our old favorite place, Oby’s, and walk campus before the game.  This was perfect, after a great lunch, we spent some time shopping in the book store, visiting the Student Union, watching other college games on various TV’s and tailgating with friends.  After walking miles and covering the beautiful MSU campus we flew home to just in time to catch our Bulldogs on ESPN.

#HAILSTATE…  After waking up at 0500, this had been a long day… We were tired, but wide awake in front of the TV until 2330 when our beloved MSU Bulldogs defeated The Tennessee Volunteers 41 to 31.  Our now 15th ranked Bulldogs are 6 & 0 for the first time in many years and should be 7 & 0 when they roll into Tuscaloosa on the 27th of October to play the #1 ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama – GO DAWGS!

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Un-manned Aircraft vs. The Rest of Us – Another UAV Bites the Dust…

PAUL’s first rant…

It’s only a matter of time… before one of these UAV’s comes into contact with another airplane.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big of a “technologist” as anyone, but the level of technology required to keep these things separated from “the rest of us” is NOT THERE YET!  Most of the UAV’s of the world are piloted by a guy in a mountain cave in Colorada in front of a computer screen with a joystick.  Some, are flown locally from an inconspicuous trailer in the Walmart parking lot, but they all require a radio signal to the UAV via a satellite data link… that is where the problem starts!  The system latency of a long distance, point to point satellite signal can be several seconds AT BEST… imagine a 400 MPH vehicle being controlled by someone who only knows where it was 3 or 4 seconds ago.

Skin in the game…  When we are flying the RV-9A around, we are always looking for other planes, even if we are on an instrument flight plan.  The most basic rule of flying is “see and avoid”… I don’t think this can be done as effectively from a cushy seat in the Colorado “bat cave”… what does he have to lose?   If the drone, Captain America is “flying”, “scrapes paint” with my little plane or God forbid a 737 with 184 souls on board, he goes home a little upset and the rest of us get shipped back in a pine box!

LANDED – WTF???…  Details of todays incident in Maryland can be found at this link on USA Today.  You gotta love the mainstream media’s view of what happened.  Look about 2/3 of the way down and see the quote “CNN says the drone landed in a marshy area near Salisbury Md.”…. LANDED!!!, I was always taught that a great landing was one you could walk away from  and a good landing was one that you could still fly the plane after.  Apparently, CNN thinks that any drone in a SMOKING HOLE has landed!

Time and a Place… Don’t get me wrong – I think these things have a place “in theater” during war time and “off shore” for for testing.  But, PLEASE don’t put me face-to-face with this 176 Million dollar RC plane operated by Captain America until his seat is rigged with a little C-4 plastic explosive that is set to go off when we make contact!

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