Tank killers – twelve o’clock level

It’s not often we find ourselves down-range of any weapon, let alone a large one. How about this for size and sheer make-my-person-and-entire-airplane-cease-to-exist-from-4000-feet-away potential: 30mm gatling cannon delivering 3900 depleted uranium rounds per minute. Now make it a flight of two and you have my undivided attention.

It was a busy day at Easton (KESN) last time I flew with Bill Finagin. We were going around the pattern on runway 22 and a flight of two A-10 Warthogs were doing a practice instrument approach to runway 4, i.e. in the direction opposite our landing. The tower controller was busy and did a good job handling everyone. The timing worked out that we were on final as they were over the airport. Bill handled the important stuff of talking and coordinating our part and directing me, while I just flew. (To help make sense of the radio traffic: Bill’s permanent call sign is “bug 1” and you can probably guess “wardog 1” is the pair of Warthogs.)

Pilots spend a lot of time and energy watching for other aircraft. The vast majority of traffic we encounter is “no factor”, meaning we see them (and they probably see us) and no action is necessary for either party. Very, very occasionally we might have to slightly change our direction or altitude briefly. Rarely (it’s never happened to me) do we find ourselves flying straight toward another airplane on a collision course. Even more rarely is it death-dealers like the Warthogs. It was a unique experience.

It was never a problem but everyone was on their toes making sure everyone was doing what everyone else expected.

Video: My first hammerhead turns

image of airshow performer flying a hammerhead turn

Hammerhead turn

The Hammerhead Turn is a fun maneuver. It’s a challenging combination of all three planes of motion, plus the fourth dimension of time: there are two quarter loop components to pull in pitch changes courtesy of the elevator, a roll component (to counteract torque at low airspeed and asymmetrical lift) to exercise aileron control, and of course the yaw component where we get to kick the rudder to turn around at the top. Plus it gets us close to the zero airspeed regime.

There is more going on here than I can keep track of now. For the moment the important parts are the pull up, the yaw turn around the top, and the pull out. Eventually I need to add these parts:

  1. Consistently hold the 4g pull from level to vertical
  2. Timing the turn around. Done correctly, the airplane pivots around its center of mass in less than a wingspan. Too early leaves the airspeed too high and the airplane “flies” through a wingover, instead of pivoting. Too late and it falls backward into a sloppy tailslide.
  3. Find the exact mix of right- and then forward-stick to keep the turnaround in the same vertical plane. The outside wing is traveling faster so it’s generating more lift, than the inside wing, which results in left-rolling tendency that is counteracted with right-stick. Forward-stick counters the gyroscopic force from the spinning propeller trying to pull the nose up.
  4. Timing the turn stop. Without right-rudder the nose will swing through the bottom, past vertical. The engine and propeller make an effective pendulum weight.
  5. Timing the vertical down-line and nailing the 4g pull-out to finish on target in both airspeed and altitude.

It looks so easy from the ground!

Here is video evidence of my first attempts…preserved for all time (at least until electrons are obsolete). I hope to look back at this clip 5000 hammerheads from now and shake my head at how anemic my skills used to be.

Fatty’s lunch ride is better than my lunch ride

It’s true. It just is.

I haven’t been bitten by the off road bug (and choose not to pay for a second bike)…until now. This trail makes me want to buy a fat tire, learn to ride it, and move to Utah! The Rush soundtrack brought back fond memories of high school, too. Thanks Fatty.

Here’s a link to his post with the video.
So how was your lunch yesterday?

Sos – running in beautiful rural France

We were lucky enough to vacation in France this year. We spent a few days in Paris and a few days with friends. They are in a tiny town in the southwest called Sos. It’s a 4.5 hour ride from Paris on the 190mph TGV train, and then an hour drive from Agen. It really is in the middle of nowhere…and it’s wonderful.

I got in a couple runs and it was a great way to see the scenery. They were sightseeing runs more than training runs. One hilly and one flat; the narrow roads were all mine.

Highlights included:

  • The hilly one showed me a fabulous view of the town from the next ridge. With the early morning sun at my back lighting the town with warm light, I wished I had the camera.
  • Bored cows whose heads came up in unison, in what I’m sure is their version of giddiness at this new excitement in their morning, heads slowly pivoting to follow my progress like 30 white-faced mimes.
  • A just-barely-not-turned ankle at the turnaround of an out-and-back run. Read: as far from home as possible. I was sure I was screwed but after a minute with the weight off it and a few minutes walking it wasn’t painful and got me home with no problems. It was very slightly swollen that night but, with no pain and no lingering inflammation, I feel lucky.

We were amazed at the number of runners we saw in Paris! I was hoping for an early morning, pre-crowds, run around Notre Dame and along the Seine but it didn’t work out.

60-minute NapTown run with Tim

It feels good to run long again! It’s been almost a year since I started having foot pain on long runs. I ended up bagging that marathon and a half Ironman later in the summer. I was bummin’.

Tim and I had a good hour this morning and I’m feeling good after it. My 10k PR, at the Camp Letts turkey trot, is only 2 minutes faster.

This is my first long run since losing 10 pounds and boy does it make a difference! Even at my fittest, long runs were usually over 10-min miles. I’m way less fit now but the mass reduction lets me keep up with Tim in the 9:15-9:40 range much easier! (He’s still waay faster. He PR’d in the 10k last year under 8 min/mile.)

Two hour easy spin

It’s been a mild winter here but I haven’t been motivated to get my ass out on the bike much. Now that I’m planning for the Columbia olympic in May, naturally I have some fear of failure as motivation.

It felt so good to be out today. About 40F at start and 45F at finish, sunny, clear, with just a bit of breeze. I worked diligently to keep from going too hard and it mostly worked.