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Hell Hounds
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About erco

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    Broken Arrow, OK

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  1. erco


    Lol- glad you're having fun! I've found the airsoft folks to be (generally) top-notch folks. Being kitted out correctly is the way to go. You're right, BA, great tactical simulation PLUS exercise. Playing soldier is great fun when nobody has to get buried.
  2. erco

    Career In Aviation...

    Where are you looking for work? I know an outfit (or two) that might need a 45 guy. In the last few weeks I've had clients from Malawi and Morocco. The guys from Malawi thought their lot pretty good, living like kings, after a fashion, they said. From what I've heard, Morroco isn't bad. I've friends working 1900 and 350 contracts in Afghanistan, and they don't seem to mind it. Though the night life is lacking. As for the ORIGINAL post... Sales broker can be a lucrative line of work. Most are paid on commission, and the ones I've known have done well. Of course, aviation is the ultimate cyclical industry, so there will be lean times. Make sure you're in with a good company, the longer-established the better. That said, can you sell? And what sort of aircraft are you wanting to sell?
  3. erco


    That's some wishlist- nice gear! I hear you on the knee protection! I'll be a mighty sore dude tomorrow night! Where in MI are you? I used to live in da UP, at the old KI Sawyer base.
  4. erco


    Until I can buy a REAL Thompson, then this one will do just fine. No FFL issues, cheap ammo, and I can use it in a somewhat prototypical fashion. Heck, the most expensive airsoft gun I'm aware of is a replica BAR, and it's only $1200 or so. If I had a REAL Tommygun I'd likely only get to fire it 2-3 times a year. I'm going tomorrow, maybe I'll get some vids to post. On an somewhat unrelated note, my airsoft gun is a heck of a non-lethal weapon for home defense. You will NOT advance through the hail of BBs this thing can fling at your face (or other soft parts). Unless, of course, you have a pretty high pain tolerance. And if you do, we've got that eventuality covered as well.
  5. erco


    Definitely go for it! Most airsoft outfits have guns for rent, so you can try things out before you start spending money. Two suggestions for when you do: Use the full-face mask, and wear somewhat thickish gloves. You'll thank me later.
  6. erco


    The M1A1 can be had for $140 at Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Thompson-M1A1-Full-Metal-Body-airsoft/dp/B001B4QVMA/ref=sr_1_sc_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1329166104&sr=8-2-spell The battery life is quite good with the stock battery.
  7. erco


    My son and I both have Cybergun Thompsons- in the video below is his M1A1, and I have the Chicago Typewriter. Both function very well, and are nearly all metal, though the stocks are plastic. They shoot 300FPS plus, have adjustable hop-ups, and are very accurate.
  8. erco

    Air France 447 Crash Cause Discovered

    ~S~ Cap'n Jack, great post! (btw, I saw the Dreamlifter in Wichita the other day) One of my continuing gripes is that we all profess to 'train like we fly, and fly like we train', and then concoct training scenarios that are good, primarily, for checking the boxes on the syllabus. The FAA doesn't help, seeming to subscribe to the philosophy that adding ever more one-size-fits-all training events is the way to safety, all the while ignoring that the more events they add, the more our training events become check the box exercises. Every so often you'll run across an instructor, like you, Jack, who will give you situations that challenge your abilities in a more real world way. In addition to the flight instrument failure you describe, one of my favorites is having the student purposely fail to add power after leveling at an MDA, and then dealing with the resulting low altitude stall (after a five count at the shaker, to simulate the 'huh?' factor). A far better way to deal with the 'landing configuration' stall. Like you say, when the chips are down, you will fall back on your training. Isn't it better if your training consists of more than canned situations? I've started teaching, as an offshoot of CRM, methods of coming to grips with those situations that lie outside of your training. Presently, the heart of the strategy is to collect good information, discover the shape of your problem, and then relate it to relevant elements in your training/experience. It's a work in progress, and any thoughts you have would be most welcome.
  9. erco

    Air France 447 Crash Cause Discovered

    Madfish, please don't construe the following as any sort of personal attack, but it's clear that your understanding of commercial aircraft operations is rudimentary. The following is only meant to increase your understanding of the many factors at play, all of which contributed to the accident. "First of all the crew ignored basic training by not checking the weather and planing ahead" This is incorrect. An airline flight is planned by a team, which includes licensed dispatchers, meterologists, and others, who generate a release that contains the flight plan, NOTAMs, fuel planning and a weather package, in addition to many other bits of info. This information is reviewed by the captain (and often the rest of the cockpit crew) who then signs the release before the aircraft is allowed to depart. Additionally, the captain conducts a flight crew briefing to discuss the flight, including any areas of significant weather. Enroute turbulence is of special importance to the cabin crew. Thus, there is no possibility that the crew was unaware of the existance or possibility of severe weather. "Yes, the pitot tubes iced - but this is not a Cessna flying at low altitude in sunny weather. It was at an altitude of 10.000m or so and climbing to over 11km in the middle of a tropical storm" Pitot heat is required, by certification, to be capable of keeping the pitots ice free under moderate icing conditions. While severe icing is, by definition, icing that overwhelms the anti and deice capabilities of an aircraft, AF447 was not in severe conditions and yet had pitot icing issues. Why was this? The pitot heat was faulty. This was a known issue, that had caused similar failures on other A330 aircraft, and the faulty tubes were replaced as aircraft came in for scheduled maintenance. Significantly, Airbus chose not to issue an Airworthiness Directive (AD) that would restrict the operation of A330 aircraft until the faulty pitot tubes were replaced. Why? I can only speculate, but it seems to me that Airbus was thinking to avoid the negative publicity that follows a fleetwide grounding and/or that the risk wasn't worth the cost of a fleetwide grounding. Bottom line: the tubes should have worked, were known to be faulty, and a conscious decision was made to not mandate immediate replacement. This places at least some of the blame upon Airbus. "If under such conditions a pilot initiates a course change (drag), reduces throttle and then, when the speed indicators fail due to ice over pulls the nose up instead of keeping it level... that's nothing but pilot error. After this they keep climbing, ignore the stall warning...............The whole thing goes on - even after the captain returns and hears a stall warning he doesn't believe it's necessary to check the AoA at all. This whole ordeal is unbelievable" The old guys all say that the first thing you should do when faced with an emergency is wind the clock, or wind your watch, or sit on your hands- the point being that to begin fixing a problem before you know what the problem is, is a recipe for disaster. Take some time to determine what's going on before you start doing things. Here then, is where blame can rightly be assigned to the crew- they made control input before they understood what was happening. But it isn't that simple. Consideration must be given to how the crews were trained, to the design philosophies of Airbus, and to the specific flying qualities of the A330. Consider this opinion, from an experienced A330 pilot, published in the June 6, 2011 issue of AVmail: I would like to offer my comments and perspective with regard to the Air France Flight 447 accident. I have been a A-330 captain since 2003 and have over 4500 hours in the aircraft. While many A-320 pilots undoubtedly have more series time, I believe this probably makes me one of the most experienced A330 pilots in the world. When asked how I like the aircraft, I tell people that there is likely no easier airplane to take over an ocean, and that the systems design and presentation is superb. That said, the automation is more complex and less intuitive than necessary, and the pilot-aircraft interface is unlike that of a conventional aircraft. Most important with regard to this accident is the fly-by-wire sidestick control. The sidestick itself has a very limited range of motion, making inadvertent over-control very easy. Of even greater significance, the stick itself provides no "feel" feedback to the pilot. That is, unlike a conventional aircraft, the pilot does not get a sense through pressure of how much input is being sent to the control surfaces. The most important advice I give to pilots new to the Airbus is to treat the aircraft not as an airplane, but as a video game. If you wait for the sidestick to tell you what you are doing, you will never get an answer. Taking into consideration that Air France 447 was at FL 350 (where the safe speed envelope is relatively narrow), that they were in the weather at night with no visible horizon, and that they were likely experiencing at least moderate turbulence, it does not surprise me in the least that the pilots lost control of the aircraft shortly after the autopilot and autothrust disconnected. Let's keep in mind that these are not ideal conditions for maintaining controlled flight manually, especially when faced with a sudden onslaught of warning messages, loss of autofllght, confusing airspeed indications, and reversion to "alternate law" flight control, in which certain flight envelope protections are lost. A very bad Airbus design feature is thrust levers that do not move while in autothrust. They are instead set in a detent which would equal climb trust in manual mode. If the pilots did not reset the thrust levers to equal the last cruise power setting, they likely eventually ended up in climb power, making it difficult to reset the proper cruise power setting and adding to what was likely already a great deal of confusion. But the real problem probably occurred immediately after the pilot flying grabbed the sidestick and took over manually. Unfortunately, airline pilots rarely practice hand-flying at high altitude, and almost never do so without autothrust engaged. As a result, we forget that the aircraft is very sensitive to control inputs at high altitude, and overcontrol is the usual result. Because the Airbus sidestick provides no feedback "feel" to the pilot, this problem is dramatically compounded in this aircraft. I believe the Air France pilot grabbed the sidestick, made an immediate input (because as pilots, that's what we tend to do), and quickly became quite confused as to what the aircraft was truly doing. This confusion likely was exacerbated by fixating on airspeed indications that made no sense while trying to find a power setting with no airspeed guidance. When transitioning from autopilot to manual control at altitude in the Airbus, the most important thing to do at first is nothing. Don't move a thing, and then when you do, gently take hold of the sidestick and make very small inputs, concentrating on the flight director (which, in altitude hold, should still have been providing good guidance). Of course, this is much easier said than done with bells and whistles going off all over the place, moderate turbulence and a bunch of thunderstorms in the area. As I said before, treat it like a video game. So why did the Air France pilot find himself at the limits of sidestick travel, and then just stay there, maintaining a control input that simply could not logically be correct? When things go really bad and we are under intense pressure, it is human nature to revert to what we know from previous experience. Remember, the Airbus flies like no other aircraft in that the sidestick provides no feedback to the pilot. It is a video game, not an airplane. I believe the Air France pilot unintentionally fell back on all of his previous flying experience, in which aircraft controls "talked" to him when he moved them. Distracted by many confusing inputs, he instinctively expected to be able to control the aircraft by "feel" while dividing his attention to address other matters. I've seen it happen in the simulator, and in an Airbus this is a sure way to lose control of the aircraft and is possibly the most dangerous aspect of Airbus design philosophy. One last note: Airbus pilots often claim that the aircraft "can not be stalled." When the flight controls are in "normal law" this is a reasonably true statement. However, in "alternate law," as was the case here, stall protection can be lost. If we ever practiced this in the simulator, I don't remember it. Lest anyone think I am blaming the Air France pilots for this accident, let me be clear. Despite all of my experience in the aircraft, I am not the least bit certain that I would have been able to maintain control under the same circumstances. I do feel certain that were you to spring this scenario on pilots in a simulator without warning less than half of them would have a successful outcome. Safely flying the 320, 330 and 340-series Airbus requires something of a non-pilot mindset. The crew was in fact screwed in that very special way that only an Airbus can screw you- by the design philosophies that underlay it's developement. Understand that I hold the abilities of the Airbus design and construction engineers in high regard, but they have a worldview that causes them to use their considerable talents in ways that can lead to disaster. And what is this mindset? Let me explain. The airline that I flew for was the lauch customer for the Dornier 328Jet, and our initial crews were trained in the Netherlands by some of the same engineers who designed the aircraft and it's systems. One of our captains asked what would happen if the flight displays all failed at the same time? The engineer confidently replied that this was not possible, and proceeded to demonstrate why, using the systems diagrams. He was supremely confident in his work, and was certain that he had considered every possibility. The captain who had asked the question, a month or so later, experienced a total flight display failure shortly after entering an overcast. It is impossible to consider every eventuality. Or, Ernest K Gann put it in his superlative 'Fate is the Hunter', every now and then "...some totally unrecognizable genie has once again unbuttoned his pants and urinated on the pillars of science". How does this relate to AF447? Consider that the A330 will stop displaying AOA information, and stop sounding the stall horn below certain airspeeds. Why? In short, because some engineer decided that below a certain airspeed, AOA and stall warning were not needed, likely because no one would ever fly so slowly. It was impossible. Impossible, until AF447, that is. The crew made an ill-considered control input, and because the aircraft went outside of the design engineer's conceptual flight envelope, were deprived of information that could have led to their salvation. And this is the 'European model' that I reference. This idea that we can consider every eventuality and train for it, and design for it, and eleminate it. Bullshit. We can't. Thus, the design philosophy of the A330 must share some of the blame. You reference the safety record of carriers like Lufthansa and Air France, and they are quite good, but consider this: the path to the right seat of an airliner is very different for a Lufthansa first officer and ANY U.S. carrier's first officer. The Lufthansa pilot candidate will have been thoroughly screened prior to being hired, then sent to an ab-initio school in Arizona where he will recieve absolutely excellent training, and upon completion of that trianing, with approx 300 flight hours of experience, will complete his type-specific ground and simulator training, also absolutely excellent, and then will be in the right seat flying passengers. Lufthansa has had excellent results with this method of training. It produces pilots who have had excellent training, but little experience. The US carrier's pilot candidate will, typically, begin his training for a private pilot's license, whether at some FBO or at a formal flight school, because he wants to, and as long as he has the funds and perform at some minimal level. He then progress through his instrument rating, and finally obtain his commercial certificate and multi-engine ratings. He will have about 300 hours flight time. From there, he will typically follow one of two tracks- either a flight instructor's certificate and a starvation diet, or flying freight in ill-maintained aircraft in any and all flight conditions, late at night. And a starvation diet. As our prospective airline FO builds his time and experience, he hopefully aviods killing himself, and eventually finds himself with a corporate flying job, or flying charter, and eventually at a regional airline. From there he will build still more time and eventually present himself for an interview at a major carrier with an average of 5000 hours of flight time. This is the American model. It produces pilots who have had uneven training- some excellent, some terrible, but have a much greater store of experience. And remember that experience isn't simply a log of hours, but of what you experienced during those hours. And, knowing that we can't think of everything, that we can't train for everything (Air France released a statement that it wasn't the flight crew's fault, because they weren't trained for this particular situation) which pilot would you rather have? The pilot with excellent training whose ability to meet a situation is limited to what's in the airline's training syllabus, or the one that, in addition to his airline's syllabus, can remember that one time, back when he was flying clapped out Cessna 206's, when he suffered a wierd instrument failure on dark and stormy night? Compare the CVR transcripts of AF447 with United 232. United 232 had a total hydraulic failure that Douglas' design engineers calculated at odds of a BILLION TO ONE of occuring. Al Haynes and his crew were able to call upon their training, and their considerable experience, to devise a workable solution to their predicament. Air France, Airbus, and the crew all contributed to what happened that night. To think otherwise ignores the facts.
  10. erco

    Air France 447 Crash Cause Discovered

    Pilot error? Certainly, but there's so much more to it than that. From defective pitot tubes, (a known issue that Airbus decided didn't merit a mandatory fleet grounding for replacement, choosing instead to replace them as each aircraft came in for inspection) to design philosophy (where the pilot is a technician, an equipment operator; where an engineer is believed to be able to anticipate EVERY eventuality) to a training philosophy that believes training can substitute for experience. To lay this solely at the feet of the crew ignores so much- but it is an ignorance that benefits Airbus, Air France, and the European model of commercial aviation.
  11. erco

    The Hobbit Movie

    I still think Tom Bombadil got a raw deal in the LOTR films.
  12. erco

    Salute To Bg

    BG, you've done a great job with so much in your life, this squadron is just another example of your talents applied. I won't be able to drop by later on TS, nor make the trip in person, but I want you to know that this world has surely been better because of you. You've built up everything that you've touched, but most importantly, you've built up everyONE that you've touched. That's the mark you've made, your legacy, and that's pretty special. Thank you for making my life a little better, a little happier. There's one other thing- I used to needle you about being senile, a joke of course, in light of your obvious intellectual gifts, but stopped when I found out that it bothered you. God, man, do I ever wish now that you'd get the chance... Take care, m8, and until we meet again, happy landings!
  13. Here's a little ditty that pretty much covers the corporate pilot's life:
  14. A shame I've missed this discussion, for now all I'll add is that our garden tripled in size this year, and will triple again next year. That, and not only have gun and ammunition sales gone through the roof, but sales of reloading equipment have as well, that's the real kicker!