Monday, July 31, 2006

Report From SkyFest: Day Three & Four

The weekend at the Fairchild Air Force Base "SkyFest" was lots of fun for everyone. I talked to many of the demonstration pilots, including the Thunderbirds and, as mentioned in a previous blog, Bill Anders, an Astronaut on Apollo Eight.

In most cases, if not all, the people that came to the air show could look into the aircraft, but not actually sit in the cockpit. I think the R J Ranch helicopter was one of the few that was open to climb into ... and climb into it, they did! It seemed a very popular "photo-op" for parents. It was really fun to see the kids face light up with a big smile when they were sitting in the chopper (which just seemed to be a great size for kids) working the controls and imagined lifting off and flying away. If I could have charged twenty-five cents for every photo taken over the two days, I could have easily paid to fill my thirty gallon fuel tank with aviation fuel!

The Spokane newspaper reported 70,000 SkyFest visitors on Saturday and 55,000 on Sunday. It was a very busy two days.

"Big and Little"
The little RJ Ranch Chopper (1,300 lbs.) next to a B-52 (700,000 lbs.)

"Fast Movers" flying past a "Slow Mover."

"Okay Mom, snap the photo now, before we lift off."

"Hang On, let me show you what this thing will do!"
(Hmmm ... I'm not too sure about this!)

"Quick, Mom, put another quarter in the slot ... I want to go again."
(This buckle is Very interesting!)

"Oh Lord! I want one of theses!"

"Bandits at six-oclock!"

"I need to go potty."

And that was pretty much it ...

The only thing needed upon returning home was to replace the landing light switch, which was broken off. (No big deal ... it was worth it.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Report from SkyFest - Day Two

Today was practice day ... basically a mini-airshow. Lots of flying.

The R J Ranch helicopter is parked and waiting for the flood gates to open tomorrow. Because of extensive promotion, we're told to expect 100,000 - 150,000 visitors over the next two days. Hard to believe!

The real show starts tomorrow. Early to bed.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Report from SkyFest - Day One

Dateline: Fairchild Air Force Base, WA, Thursday, July 27, 2006

I was requested to arrive at FAFB at 1800 GMT (11:00AM). I landed just after an F-51 "Mustang," after a 42 minute flight from the R J Ranch.

After parking next to an F-16, (Very cool place to park!) I was taken to Base Operations to close out my flight plan and get greeted by the show coordinators. After a few minutes, the pilot of the F-51 strolled in while all the air Force folks gave him an overwhelmingly hearty greeting. (as compared to my "Welcome to Fairchild.") After the "smoke cleared and the kleg lights dimmed", figuratively speaking, the F-51 pilot settled close to me while enjoying the refreshments provided. I couldn't help but introduce myself and "slip in the fact" that I had flown an F-51, however briefly. We talked about the "Mustang" and other assorted flying stories - then I looked closer at his name tag on his Air Force flight suit: William "Bill" Anders.

I asked, "Are you related to the Bill Anders that flew F-89's at Hamilton Air Force Base in 1958?" "Yes I am and I know him well." I asked: "Are you that Bill Anders"? "Yes, I am."

Good Grief!

I said, "You were my Flight Leader at Hamilton!" I was a Second Lieutenant and Bill was a First Lieutenant. Small world!

But that is only part of the story: As Paul Harvey says, "Now here's the rest of the story:"

Bill Anders later was associated with NASA and was the third Astronaut aboard Apollo Eight, the FIRST manned flight around the moon! They proved the strategy for the later lunar landings. Apollo Eight was particular risky because virtually everything in Apollo Eight was unproven, including the booster rocket - which had a nasty history of failure. Additionally, if ANYTHING didn't work as planned, everyone would be lost! No rescue was possible! Fortunately, it all worked beautifully. (An interesting note: The Russians thought Apollo Eight had less than a 20% chance of success and was nothing more than a "stunt.")

After attaining the rank of Major General, in the Air Force, Bill later went on to be CEO of General Dynamics Corp., on of the largest corporations in the world.

Later we talked about the Ravens and he wanted to get together with me later to learn more about the Ravens ... Unbelievable!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

PHOTO'S OF THE DAY - 7/25/2006

Just keeps on working

Monday, July 24, 2006

PHOTO OF THE DAY - 7/24/2006

"Just Follow Me"
Mother and chick - revisited.
Still looking for food.
(CLICK photo for larger image.)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

PHOTO OF THE DAY - 7/23/2006

Mom and her chick out looking for food.
Based upon the size of the chick, about 2" long, we guess it's about two days old.
(California Quail)
(CLICK photo for larger image)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

PHOTO OF THE DAY - 7/22/2006

Day laborers are hard to come by, but when you get one ...
They usually are a "Keeper!"
(Jacquie driving a 3" x 1/4" screw to secure two 2 x 12's together.) It's not easy, but she put 20-30 screws in, all before noon.
(CLICK photo for larger image.)

Friday, July 21, 2006

SkyFest 2006

Next weekend, July 29 & 30, Fairchild Air Force base (Spokane, WA) is hosting "SkyFest 2006." Along with many aircraft exhibits, flying demonstrations and the USAF Thunderbirds, the RJ Ranch Robinson Helicopter will be on display. Yes ... It's true: You can see the famous helicopter and (used to be) daring pilot. The RJ Copter will be one of several helicopters on display, but it will be the ONLY privately owned helicopter. (I really wanted to put on a flight demo, such as demonstration autorotations, but my aircraft insurance company said "No-No, unless you'd either like to double the premiun or cancel the policy") So, not liking either option, I'll just sit on the tarmac, looking "cool" and spin a good tale about what I "might have done" and all the combat missions flown around Pullman!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

PHOTO OF THE DAY - 7/20/2006

Mother & Daughter - The First New Fawn Of The Year

Monday, July 17, 2006

Barn Update

We put a lot of work in today. Jacquie has wriiten about it, see "R J RANCH" link on side panel.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday barn update

Patrick drove down from Spokane and spend much of the day helping with the heavy lifting. We were able to get all eight 2 x 12 x 18' rafters installed. (Two single rafters on the ends and three double sets in the middle.) It was a good workout! (See --> "LIVE PHOTOS" on right sidebar)


Next will be screwing on the fasteners that hold the lateral 2 x 6 stringers. (Call perlins.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

This Is What I Think #1

(From time-to-time, I will be posting thoughts and ideas that I have. Some will be political, most probably not. These posting will be more like after-dinner-talk. I reserve the right to change my ideas, at a later date, without bias or guilt, based upon whim or from learning from others. Feel completely free to comment.)

Anyway you look at it, whether you agree or not, the US is usually at the forefront of world problems, hopefully to make matters better ... not worse. To list just the first ones that come to mind: (The real meat to this Idea comes at the end,)

Iraq: What can I say about that except to repeat what my dad said, shortly after learning about the invasion, "We have no idea what a mess we're getting into." How prophetic! How much money is this costing us? There is NO WAY to really know because money is leaking out all over and further, I simply don't trust the government to ever admit the cost.

Iran: Just a seriously festering boil, one that could rupture at any time. If it comes to a head, the monetary cost to the US will be huge, to say the least. Even if it doesn't end in conflict, the US will probably spend a ton of money appeasing the Iranians by giving them expensive hardware and services.

North Korea: Here's a little cadre of "Leaders," firing off multi-million dollar, multi-stage intercontinental ballistic missiles ... all the while they can't even feed or care for their own people. I'm sure they feel pretty secure doing this because all it would take would be One Word from the Little Ruler to virtually obliterate Seoul, So. Korea ... in about one hour. (It is reliably reported that N. Korea has "thousands" of conventional artillery pointed at - and easily within range - of Seoul.) There would be no way to stop it, short of "scorching" N. Korea in a total obliterating, first-strike attack ... and that ain't gonna happen! What will eventually happen is the US and other countries, (Mostly the US, of course.) will pour millions/billions/terra-illions of US taxpayers dollars into North Korea, to try to topple the little fiefdom and prevent another ridiculous underling from doing the same thing.

US Border protection: We've got to secure our borders. When we secure the south, the north will be "discovered" as porous. Why haven't the borders already been taken care of? Reason One is we "need" the workers ... and they "need" us. What will solve this problem" MONEY ... and a lot of it. Reason Two: We can't afford to do what's needed. Do you think sending caravans of US Dollars to Mexico will help? I don't, but I bet we try it.

Already we are learning of major US programs being cut back or eliminated. Many US agencies are having their budgets cut substantially. The reason is simply that our cost to defend our nation - and it has to be done - is spirally out-of-control.

Also spirally out-of-control are "entitlement" programs such as Medicare.

Now here is the meat of this blog entry: What the heck are we doing spending astronomically high amounts on the "Space Program?" We're still spending more money than the law will allow on the "International Space Station." Yeah ... "International" ... international in concept, but paid for mainly by you and I. To top this off, many say the space station is virtually useless in any further scientific sense and will probably be shutdown shortly after the "save-face" completion. So why are we doing it? The answer, as reported in Aviation Week is so our joint venture buddies can send and attach their equally worthless modules to the station. (We talked them into this giant boondoggle-sink-hole-for-money, so we've got to let them at least get their marbles on the table, before we kick the table over.)

Next in line is establishing a "Moon Station" where astronauts can actually live ... but why? (Think about it: See below!)

We're told that we need to send someone to Mars, also, with the idea of building a "Mars Station." (Think about this, too: See below!)

On one hand, we're told that the space program has developed technology that benefits us all. (The only example that I've heard actually coming directly from the space program is "Velcro.") On the other hand, we're told that the computers in our new automobiles are better than those in the shuttle. So it begs the question of who really is developing new products: The space program or commercial businesses for consumer and industrial users. I submit it ain't the space program!

My sneaky distrust of "government honesty" (an oxymoron) comes from twenty years of first hand experience with a "major user of government provided airplanes." I learned that if something doesn't pass the "smell test," you simply hid it away someplace with a different name.

Does all this expensive and seemingly worthless-to-mankind space program have another, undisclosed, agenda? I wonder: Perhaps some think-tank has decided that the way the world is headed, one day our rosy little planet will suddenly become uninhabitable ... like in nuclear radiation or an unsolvable rampant virus, either of which might be accidental or intentional.

Now: Wouldn't it be nice if there was a nice leather seated rocket all fueled and ready to "ark-away" the key leaders, with a wave and hearty exclamation, Santa Clause like, "Don't worry folks, we're going' for help!"

Bottom line: The Captain goes down with the ship! Any military man knows that if you're in a serious battle, you fight much harder and smarter if there is no way to escape.

With the state of the World and US affairs, we cannot afford to waste money (Think North Korea) shooting rockets to the Moon and Mars. We need the money here at home. Badly!

And that's what I think.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday Barn Update

We didn't get as much done today as we would have liked ... Too many errands. What we did get done was the final sheet of 3/4" plywood in place and nailed. We still have eighteen bolts to drill and place.

Tuesday will be a "dark day," as we both have business in Spokane.

See hourly photo updates: "LIVE PHOTOS" on the sidebar of this blog.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Watch It Grow

(For progress, look at "LIVE PHOTO'S", on the sidebar of this blog. The field-of-view will change as we progress.)

We're doing a major addition to the barn, by adding a shed on the west side. Basically it's a DIY project, with help from Patrick, next Wednesday. (We have some 18' 4 x 12 rafters to install and we need a little muscle. Thank you, Patrick!)

Today, Jacquie and I removed some of the metal siding and started construction of one of two shear walls. (A shear wall supports the structure laterally and prevents it from collapsing, domino style, in case of earthquake (not likely here) or very strong winds.

The shear wall consists of six sheets of 4' x 8' 3/4" plywood (very heavy) pancaking two support columns and internally braced at joints with a lamination of four 8' 2 x 4's. Then the whole structure will bolted together for strength. We were short one sheet of plywood, so we'll finish the wall Monday. (Tuesday is an off day, as we both have other other things to do.)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

PHOTO'S OF THE DAY - 7/8/2006

As reported on the "R J Ranch Blog," (See sidebar for link) we visited Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, this last weekend. Even though we vowed, "NO MORE PROJECTS," we couldn't help but plan our own little "Ohme garden" rocky hillside project. So: We've started by planning a water fall over a rock outcropping and a dam and pond in our half year creek. (We can pump water when the creek is dry.)

Yesterday, we started the hill planting with a couple of cedar trees we bought at Ohme and a Ginkgo tree we bought locally. (Very rare and unusual tree.)

It's small ... but it's a start: After all the Ohme's started 50-years ago with a steep sun-blistered piece of virtually worthless land and Vo'ila: Now a masterpiece

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

PHOTO OF THE DAY - 7/5/2006

(CLICK photo for larger image)

Monday, July 03, 2006

PHOTO OF THE DAY - 7/3/2006

We just returned from Wenatchee and Lake Chelan, where the cherry harvest is in full swing.
(CLICK photo for a larger image)

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