Sunday, July 31, 2011

Free chopper air show today in Amarillo ..

Special thanks to the folks at Tac-Air who let us shoot from the ramp.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lockheed unmanned blimp crashes -

PITTSBURGH— An unmanned, remote controlled airship, launched from Akron, Ohio, crash landed Wednesday morning, just outside of Pittsburgh, Pa.

The High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator, also known as HALE-D, was designed by Lockheed Martin, based out of Akron.

It launched just before 6:00 a.m. at the air dock in Akron.

"It was huge, it was massive! It was also as big as the hangar," said Kailee Thompson of Akron. Kailee and her dad witnessed the launch.

"I've lived here 38 years, and I've never seen anything like this before," added her dad, Richard Thompson.

"When it took off, there wasn't any sound because it's not motored. But there was a lot of joy from people down at airport when it let it off! They were clapping and real excited," said Kailee.

According to Lockheed, the airship reached an altitude of approximately 32,000 feet, however, a technical anomaly prevented the airship from attaining its target altitude of 60,000 feet.

That is when the HALE-D team decided to terminate the flight.

The aircraft crash landed into the woods just after before 8:30 a.m. in Greene County, Pa.

"Wow! They crashed it already? A million dollar tin foil ball is laying in Pennsylvania? Great, wonderful, our tax money at work," said Ray Ficere, of Akron.

"Guess they can try again! Doesn't matter if it fails if they got that much money to throw away!" added Pete Crums of Arkon.

Lockheed Martin is in the process of recovering the airship and will conduct a full evaluation.

They say the airship was supposed to land in central Ohio and was never going to be used again.

Lockheed Martin says they are pushing the boundaries of aviation, and have learned a valuable lesson.
Copyright © 2011, WJW-TV


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"UFO" captured on Dallas tower cam

Editor's note: I'm thinking bug ...

Early on the morning of Monday, July 25, 2011, a local NBC affiliate in Fort Worth, Texas captured images of a UFO on their tower camera. The unidentified flying object appeared as an erraticaly moving spot of light on the upper right hand corner of the video.

According to Bruce Felps, the owner/operator of the East Dallas Times: "Speculation in the NBC DFW newsroom ranged from bug to UFO." Comments on the video indicate that some local residents witnessed the same, or similar, phenomena nearby. Others seem to embrace the theory that the unidentified object was actually light reflected off an insect.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Yellow Jacket" flies ...

Aviation Week ARES BLOG:

Posted by Amy Butler at 7/22/2011 12:42 PM CDT

Boeing is apparently developing a new fused intelligence system called the "Yellow Jacket" for potential use in the insurgent fight in Afghanistan.

Army Lt. Col. Dean Hoffman, product manager for the service's Medium-Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, mentioned today in a telecon with reporters on the Boeing-led Emarss program that the company's work on this Yellow Jacket had provided lessons.

Yellow Jacket first flew July 13, and another nine flights are slated in the coming weeks. It is thought the program may be a rotorcraft designed to carry a payload capable of fusing multiple intelligence systems -- such as Masint, sigint and imint. But, I haven't gotten official confirmation of the program or its mission.

Perhaps the buzz at Boeing isn't just around the Hornet family (sorry ... a bad joke was begging to be made).

Meanwhile, Hoffman formally announced the Army's June 16 decision to lift the stop work order on Boeing's $323 million Emarss contract. Originally issued in November, the past nine months have been consumed by protests from losing bidders L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin/Sierra Nevada and Northrop Grumman.

The GAO's final decision can be found here.

The original Emarss program called for fielding the first aircraft 18 months after contract award; nearly nine months have passed owing to the protests. Hoffman says they are reassessing how soon they can get the aircraft fielded, but he is hoping to deliver the soldiers a "Christmas present in the late 2012/early 2013 time frame."

Note: Yellow Jacket is suspected to be a drone designed to help detect improvised explosive devices.

Afghan militants slammed ...

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- At least 80 militants were killed in a series of operations involving Afghan and NATO forces during a day-long firefight last week in the country's restive southeast, Paktika provincial governor Mukhlas Afghan said Sunday.

NATO said it could only confirm 50 insurgents were killed in the fight.
The operation, which began Wednesday and spanned the night into Thursday, was fought in an "known Haqqani network" area.

The Haqqani network is an insurgent group loosely affiliated with the Taliban and is believed to be based in Pakistan's lawless frontier territories.
The raid included Afghan special forces and engaged "multiple groups of insurgents" who were armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and heavy machine guns, NATO's International Security Assistance Force reported Friday.

Multiple insurgent groups were holed up in areas that included caves and fortified bunker positions, ISAF said.

Sunday's announcement coincides with formal ceremonies marking the handover of security to Afghan forces in parts of Kabul and Panjshir province.
They are the fifth and sixth areas to be transferred to national forces.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Fishfood's" last ride ...

Click to enlarge:

MH-47G of the 160th SOAR was in Amarillo today. About as bad a ride as you can get.

(C) Steve Douglass

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Terror Alert: al Qaeda targeting utility infrastructure

July 20, 2011

Sabotage by an insider at a major utility facility, including a chemical or oil refinery, could provide al Qaeda with its best opportunity for the kind of massive Sept. 11 anniversary attack Osama bin Laden was planning, according to U.S. officials.

A new intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security issued Tuesday, titled Insider Threat to Utilities, warns "violent extremists have, in fact, obtained insider positions," and that "outsiders have attempted to solicit utility-sector employees" for damaging physical and cyber attacks.

"Based on the reliable reporting of previous incidents, we have high confidence in our judgment that insiders and their actions pose a significant threat to the infrastructure and information systems of U.S. facilities," the bulletin reads in part. "Past events and reporting also provide high confidence in our judgment that insider information on sites, infrastructure, networks, and personnel is valuable to our adversaries and may increase the impact of any attack on the utilities infrastructure."

In the materials recovered after the Navy SEAL operation that killed Osama bin Laden in May, officials found evidence bin Laden sought to repeat the carnage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on or around its ten year anniversary.

"The only way you can actually kill the large scale number of Americans that [bin Laden] literally was calculating was through the use of this critical infrastructure," Chad Sweet, former DHS chief of staff and co-founder of the Chertoff Group, told ABC News

Space Shuttle Atlantis home - end of an era.


Atlantis is home," said NASA control moments after its arrival at 5:56 a.m. ET. "Its journey complete. A moment to be savored."

In its final act before beginning the long journey home, Atlantis sent a small payload into orbit on Thursday.

As an era comes to a close, nearly 200 satellites, probes and spacecraft have emerged from the cargo bays of NASA's five space shuttles since the Columbia launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 12, 1981.

"We really wish we could share with everybody this really cool glow," Commander Chris Ferguson radioed as he and his crew entered the Earth's atmosphere in a plasma of heated air before touching down. "We're doing fantastic."

The perfect landing is bittersweet. As sorrowful employees greeted the fabulous flying machine for the final time, plans for NASA's next grand venture remain largely on the drawing board. United Space Alliance, one of the space program's largest employers, will lay off about 2,000 employees on Friday.

President Obama has charged NASA with finding a way to transport astronauts into deep space, either to Mars or an asteroid, but that flight could be a generation away.
Most of the nation's baby boomers can remember the thrilling moment Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, inspiring a generation of kids who idolized astronauts and devoured space science.

The Generation X grew up on the space shuttle, which astronomer and former NASA historian Steven Dick says provided little in the way of ground-breaking exploration and discovery, but great engineering breakthroughs.

"It's definitely the end of the era," Dick said. "The shuttle has been a magnificent flying machine, an engineering marvel, but it has consigned Americans for two generations to low-Earth orbit. I think that's a negative."

Without the excitement of a heart-pounding launch of astronauts blasting toward the stars, America's space program seems destined for a decade of obscurity. American astronauts will hitch rides to the International Space Station on the Russian Soyuz until commercial space companies develop the rockets and capsules to transport humans.

"I hope we won't lose a whole generation. Kids get excited by exploration," Dick said. "I think NASA, in some ways, is doing the right thing by off-loading the routine work of the space shuttle. The only problem is we're a long way from getting something that will take us out of low-Earth orbit."
Until then, NASA is hoping to capture American imagination with telescopes, probes and and unmanned spacecraft.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pakistan doctor who sought bin Laden's DNA detained

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani security forces have detained a doctor who is suspected of helping the CIA try to collect DNA samples from people who lived in Osama bin Laden's compound before the terrorist leader's death.
A senior Pakistani security official confirmed the detention to CNN on Tuesday, but did not identify the doctor. The news was first reported by Britain's Guardian newspaper.

A May 2 raid by U.S. special operations forces killed the al Qaeda leader at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The Guardian said that in the course of gathering intelligence for the raid, the CIA recruited a Pakistani doctor to run a vaccination program in the area. The goal was to try to obtain DNA evidence from bin Laden family members, the newspaper said, citing unnamed Pakistani and U.S. officials.

Any DNA obtained from the people in the compound could then be compared with a sample from bin Laden's sister, who died in Boston in 2010, as evidence the family was in the compound, the newspaper said.

Neighborhood residents told CNN that two women who appeared to be nurses visited homes and offered free vaccinations.

Shazia Bibi, 27, said she was vaccinated for hepatitis B in April when two women came to her home near bin Laden's compound and identified themselves as health workers.

"Whoever gets this vaccination will never get hepatitis B," said one of the women.
Bibi said the health workers spoke in a local dialect and asked for detailed personal information and said a vaccination would not be possible without the information. She said the women were accompanied by a man who stood outside their house.
Bibi received one injection. The rest of her family was not at home at that point. She said the women left behind two vaccines but that her relatives refused them. The vaccines are still sitting in her refrigerator.

The Guardian said it isn't known whether the CIA "managed to obtain any bin Laden DNA, although one source suggested the operation did not succeed."
CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood declined comment.

After the raid, Pakistani officials took into custody several people who are suspected of helping the CIA. The doctor is one of them.
One rented a safe house to the CIA in Abbottabad, a Pakistani source familiar with the arrests said last month

NORAD intercepts 3 aircraft over Camp David ...Obama retreat

YAHOO: US fighter jets have intercepted three small planes in separate incidents this weekend over Camp David, the US presidential retreat, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has said.

Two F-15E fighter jets scrambled to intercept a Cessna 182 aircraft on Sunday morning, said the bi-national US and Canadian command, which is responsible for the air defense of North America and responding to unknown or unauthorized air activity.
It was forced to depart the area and landed at nearby Carroll County Regional Airport, said officials, without giving additional details or whether the incident in Maryland represented a threat.

On Saturday two light aircraft were intercepted and escorted away by military jets in the space of seven hours.

Last Saturday, NORAD intercepted without incident a small passenger plane flying near Camp David, where President Barack Obama was relaxing, US military officials said.

This has GOT to be one heck of a rush - jetman in the Grand Canyon

Friday, July 8, 2011

Amateur intercepts video from last space shuttle ..

God's speed Atlantis! Last shuttle blasts into orbit.

Atlantis' journey to the International Space Station is NASA's 135th and final mission in the space shuttle program, which began 30 years ago.

(CNN) -- The space shuttle Atlantis lifted off Friday morning on the final mission of America's 30-year space-shuttle program.

The four-member crew blasted off on a 12-day mission just before 11:30 a.m. The four -- all shuttle veterans -- are on their way to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

The possibility of storms had raised doubt about whether the launch would take place as planned, but NASA gave the shuttle a "go" for launch a few minutes before liftoff.
Thousands of people, including some who came to Kennedy Space Center three decades ago for the first launch, were gathered to watch. Almost a million people were expected to be on hand to witness the historic event.

One onlooker flew in with a friend Thursday from New York. Unable to find a hotel, the men went to a Walmart and picked up a tent, air mattresses and some tortilla chips and camped out on a nearby spit of land to wait for the launch. Seeing the shuttle blast off, they said, will let them check an item off their things-to-do-before-you-die bucket list.

Watch the last shuttle launch live!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Laser Hooliganism" in Russia

Moscow (CNN) -- In a series of potentially serious incidents, aviation officials in Russia say, two commercial airliners have been targeted with laser pointers while landing at a Moscow airport.

The crews of a Tupolev Tu-204 flying from Istanbul and a Boeing 737 flying from the east Siberian city of Yakutsk reported seeing a green laser beam in their cabins. The beams came from the ground as the planes were preparing to land, four minutes apart, at Moscow's Vnukovo airport shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday, said Sergei Izvolsky, a spokesman for the Russian federal air transport regulator Rosaviatsia.

"When such a laser beam reflects off the multilayer glass of the pilot's window, it creates a bright spark that can momentarily blind the crew for several seconds or even several minutes," he said. "At that point, the pilot might be disoriented. He might not be able to see the plane's dashboard or the airstrip on which he is landing. This is a navigation obstacle and, ultimately, a direct threat to both the crew and the passengers."

Izvolsky said there has been a sharp increase in "laser hooliganism" against passenger jetliners in Russia.

"Since the beginning of 2011, there have already been 56 such cases registered, compared to just five for the entire last year. Most of them took place in Moscow and in some southern parts of Russia," he said.

In all of the incidents, officials say, the planes have managed to land safely.
On Monday, a 17-year-old boy was arrested in connection with a laser incident reported Sunday in the southern region of Chechnya, the first and only case thus far in which a "laser hooligan" suspect has been identified. On Tuesday, Russian state TV continuously played a dressing-down that the regional police chief gave the teenager, who admitted his guilt, in front of his relatives and reporters.
"That was very bad conduct. More than a hundred were on board the plane, including women and children. You could have killed all of them," Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said.

The boy's mother said, "I didn't expect my son could do anything like that. In the future, I promise I will keep a close eye on him.

TSA is gonna love this - bombs hidden in boobs and buttocks!

The Guardian:

American officials have warned airlines that they believe al-Qaida is developing "Belly, Breast and Buttock bombs" to beat airport security and allow suicide bombers to launch terror attacks on board passenger planes.

The department of homeland security has sent a bulletin to airline executives saying it has identified a potential threat from terrorists who could "surgically implant explosives or explosive components in humans".

Although many airports use advanced imaging technology that can "see" through people's clothing, the technology might not pick up a bomb which is hidden inside a body.

"Due to the significant advances in global aviation security in recent years, terrorist groups have repeatedly and publicly indicated interest in pursuing ways to further conceal explosives," said Kawika Riley, spokesman for the department's transport security administration.

"As a precaution, passengers flying from international locations to US destinations may notice additional security measures."

Experts say the explosives could be implanted in abdomens, buttocks and breasts allowing suicide bombers to pass undetected through airport body scanners. Explosive compounds such as pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) could be implanted, then the person's wounds allowed to heal, making the material difficult to detect. On board the plane, the material could be detonated by injection.

US officials have been on high alert for terror attacks since US forces killed al-Qaida's leader, Osama bin Laden in May. They say there is no intelligence about a plot, but US and international carriers are being urged to consider the threat.

The bombs are thought to be a particular risk in Europe and the Middle East where full body scanners are not as widely used as they are in the US.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Feds secretly bring suspected terrorist to NYC to stand trial

Federal officials say a senior member of the al-Shabaab terror group was secretly brought to the U.S. Monday night to stand trial after spending months giving "valuable intelligence" about al-Qaida's operations in Somalia and Yemen.

Senior administration officials say Ahmed Abdulqadir Warsame was arrested April 19 by the U.S. military and kept on a Navy ship at sea, where he was questioned by a team of U.S. interrogators.

"He gave us very valuable intelligence," one official said. Warsame was in a special position to talk about both al-Qaida's operations in Somalia and its operations in Yemen, the official added.

The officials say he was a go-between for both groups, and he's accused of providing both groups with money and training. They say he was in Yemen last year for more than a year, and that the information he provided "has been used to get a better understanding of what we're up against" with al-Qaida in Yemen.

The officials say he was questioned for weeks before he was given any kind of Miranda warning, at which point his cooperation stopped.

He was brought to New York late Monday night and charges were unsealed Tuesday afternoon in New York.

Mystery surrounds South Korean skyscraper tremor -

Authorities in Seoul, South Korea, ordered the evacuation of a 39-story office building Tuesday after occupants reported that it shook for about 10 minutes, local media reported.

There was no seismic activity reported at the time of the tremors, which began about 10:10 a.m., according to a report in The Korea Times.

"I fled the building with everyone else while it was shaking up and down. It almost made me feel dizzy," Lim Joon-hee, who works on the 20th floor of the building, told the Yonhap News Agency.

About 3,000 people were in the building at the time. All were evacuated, and the building, whose tenants include offices, retailers and a theater, will remain closed for up to three days while it undergoes safety inspections, local media reported.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day! Here's a shot I took down at Cannon AFB a few years back when the F-117 was still flying. Enjoy and have a happy 4th!

-Steve Douglass


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