November 11, 1918

“Peace has been declared! No more fighting!” he shouted. “C’est le finis de la guerre!”.

Without reply, I dropped the phone and turned and faced the pilots of Squadron 94. Not a sound was heard; every eye was on me but no one made a movement or drew a breath. It was one of those peculiar psychological moments when instinct tells everyone that something big is impending.

In the midst of this uncanny silence a sudden BOOM-BOOM of the Archy battery outside was heard. And then pandemonium broke loose. Shouting like mad, tumbling over one another in their excitement the daring young pilots of the Hat-in-the-Ring squadron sensing the truth darted into trunks and kitbags and drew out revolvers, German lugers that some of them had found or bought as souvenirs from French poilus, Very pistols, and shooting tools of all descriptions, and burst out of doors. There the sky over our old aerodrome was aglow and shivering with bursts of fire. Searchlights were madly cavorting across the heavens, paling to dimness the thousands of colored lights that shot up from every conceivable direction. Shrill yells pierced the darkness around us, punctuated with the fierce rat-tat-tat of machine guns that now added their noise to the clamor. Roars of laughter and hysterical whoopings came to us from the men’s quarters, beside the hangar. Pistol shots were fired in salvos, filled and emptied again and again until the weapons became too hot to hold.

At the corner of our hangar I encountered a group of my pilots rolling out tanks of gasoline. Instead of attempting the impossible task of trying to stop them, I helped them get it through the mud and struck the match myself and lighted it. A dancing ring of crazy lunatics joined hands and circled the blazing pyre, similar howling and revolving circuses surrounding several other burning tanks of good United States gasoline that would never carry fighting aeroplanes over enemy lines. …

Another pilot, this one an Ace of Squadron 27, grasped me securely by the arm and shouted incredulously, “we won’t get shot at anymore!”

Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker, Fighting the Flying Circus

Fallen Warrior

My pal Fighter Pilot Pundit wrote to tell me that his friend Kelly Hinz was one of the Marine pilots killed in the recent midair collision over Iraq. FPP was also friends with Kelly’s Dad, Don Hinz who died last year. Hinz collected and restored antique warbirds. As FPP tells it the elder Hinz “crashed his P-51 Mustang (experiencing an engine failure), in a vacant lot to avoid houses. Rather than dissipate energy by gliding to a safe landing speed, the trajectory of which would have put him in a residential neighborhood, he put the Mustang on the ground hot, and no one was hurt but him.” When he died he had two sons in the Marines flying F-18s.

FPP says “The only good news here is that Don and Kelly fly together again.” He asks: “Please pray for the Hinz family which has sacrificed so much for our America and for the freedom of Iraq.” I pass that request on, and not just for the Hinz family, but all who have lost their lives or been injured in this war, and their families.

General Ted Serong, Iraq and “… intelligence spontaneously offered by the population “

Instapundit links to this piece from StrategyPage about how attempts to launch terrorist attacks during the recent Shia religious festivals were thwarted. The key passage:

…an increasing number of Sunni Arab religious leaders have changed their minds about armed resistance to democracy, and coalition forces. This has made it easier for Sunni Arabs to pass on information to the police.

This reminded me of something I read recently. Please permit a seeming digression. I’ll bring it around. I was looking for something comprehensive on the Australian military participation in OIF. This led me to the Australian Defense Force Journal. This led me to a review of a book about General Ted Serong, a man I had never previously heard of. He was, in a way, the Australian John Paul Vann. This led me to this article, “`Get Me Ten Years’: Australia’s Ted Serong in Vietnam, 1962-1975.” (This is a brilliant article which you should read, but which I will not elaborate on here.) Serong was one of the last people off the roof of the US embassy. He had been in Vietnam for 13 years. He was a counter-insurgency and jungle warfare expert. His ideas were not heeded, unfortunately. As you will recall, the communists won that one.

One passage jumped out at me. In 1962 Serong gave a presentation to the Americans, saying that all their calculations of why they were winning were wrong:

You could get impressive figures by counting missions flown, casualties taken and inflicted, stores delivered and ammunition expended, he said, but the only real indicator of progress in a war of counterinsurgency was the volume of intelligence spontaneously offered by the population, since this was the indicator of whether or not the people believed you really could offer them security.

I thought: There is Rumsfeld’s missing “metric”. It has been supplied by General Serong, God rest his soul. And it is favorable.

Sounds like we may actually be winning in Iraq.

Aerial Euro-bashing?

In his post below, Shannon states that there are serious questions about the Airbus 300/310 safety, but that European political considerations and prestige might prevent a comprehensive investigation ino the matter. Those are pretty heavy allegations. Now if you look at the post Shannon is linking to, and that obviously has inspired him to make these allegations, the basis for them does look pretty flimsy:

…we have Canada whose rather vicious cycle of lies of late would made the Clintons blanch; and the world-wide left still ticked off that we have an embargo against the socialist worker’s paradise.

I can see why it’d take a week for this story to break; It’d take ’em that long to figure out how to spin it.

It’s become clear, though that the 310 is an accident waiting to happen… And the EU and it’s apologists don’t want that info getting public. They may not, however, be able to hold it off, this time.

It’s quite clear that Eric has a political axe to grind here; he doesn’t offer a shred of evidence for his accusations. There’s also a lot of interesting information in the comments section that runs contrary to the thrust of Eric’s and Shannon’s posts.

It also has to be considered that the A 310 has been around since 1983, so its track record doesn’t look bad at all. It’s not as if there hadn’t been any problems with comparable models by Boeing during that same period. The Boeing 737 had problems with its yaw damper and the rudder system in general:

Over the years, pilots around the world have filed hundreds of reports of 737 flights disrupted by uncommanded rudder movements.
Many safety experts believe the most extreme of such movements – an uncommanded hardover – is what caused two highly publicized and unsolved 737 crashes in the U.S. this decade. United Airlines Flight 585 dived from the sky into a park near Colorado Springs on March 3, 1991, killing 25 passengers and crew members. The plunge of USAir Flight 427 near Pittsburgh on Sept. 8, 1994, killed all 132 on board.
Since the Pittsburgh crash, there have been more than 70 reports of 737 flights briefly thrown off course in a manner that suggests rudder malfunctions.

A complex system like a commercial airliner simply can’t be made 100 % safe, the risk can only be minimized, so calling Airbus unsafe on the facts known so far is uncalled for.

Here’s an interesting debate on the matter at a forum frequented by airline pilots, for some additional information.

Flying on National-Prestige Airframes

So last Sunday, an Airbus 310 flying from Cuba to Quebec lost the entire control surface of its rudder (picture). According to BitsBlog (via Instapundit), even though the plane was in US airspace at the time, the pilot elected to return to Cuba rather than declare an in-flight emergency. He did so after conferring with the plane’s owner, Air Transat.

This is the third incident involving a A300-series’s rudder. One of the incidents resulted in the crash of American Airlines flight 587 in November of 2001, which resulted in the deaths of all 265 lives aboard. This raises legitimate questions about the safety of the A300 airframe’s revolutionary use of composite materials. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Airbus or any competent authority is taking the matter seriously. I think they are not tackling the problem because of matters of national prestige.

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