Episode #357

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Episode #357

Postby IBEWguy » Fri May 16, 2014 4:03 pm

Hi Guys,

Thanks for another great podcast - I just have one clarification based on Ben Rich's book SKUNK WORKS wherein he details Francis Gary Powers last flight in the U2 and all the backdrop surrounding the controversy. According to Mr Rich (Skunk Works successor to the brilliant Clarence "Kelly" Johnson) Francis Powers U2 was never hit by a missile, but the shock wave from the missiles detonation actually broke off the U2's fragile tail section, the missile never actually hit the airplane. He also goes on to say that Gary Powers was the TOP pilot in the program, which is why McNamara picked him to go on the SAME route they has flown 10 times before (and that the Russians knew well). He basically said Gary Powers was "hosed" by McNamara who sent him on an impossible mission. The folks at Lockheed felt horrible because they knew he was put in an impossible position so they actually hired him as a test pilot after his release!

He would gain a reputation for cutting it close on fuel and later died when the news helicopter he was flying ran out of fuel!!


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Re: Episode #357

Postby Landis » Fri May 16, 2014 10:12 pm

Above FL600 is Class E airspace. Can cancel if you want. Whether the operators cancel when they get up there is something to ask a U-2 pilot. But there's certainly not much in the way of weather to worry about.

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Re: Episode #357

Postby TomBrusehaver » Sat May 17, 2014 11:16 pm

Way back 8 years ago or so, I worked on ERAM. The project was interesting, but like many software projects, was given an impossible deadline. There were several "rebaseline" iterations, but even still, the deadlines were very tight. Most of the people who worked on it aren't working on it any more, so we got on facebook and speculated what code might have broken.

This article has the best layman's explanation of the trouble: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101663613

Using that article, and some other information I was able to get from friends, this seems to be the best technical explanation:

URET is a bit of code that was an add on to the HOST computer. It looks at ad-hoc flight plans (when you are offered direct routing, that plan probably went through URET to make sure you aren't causing any conflicts with other flights). URET is built in to ERAM, and allows the controllers to stay on the same screen and make the same ad-hoc tests of the route you might want.

This U2 may have had a composite flight plan (composite, parts IFR and parts VFR). The plan was a little more complex than your typical GA plane that wants to do VFR on top. There were enough waypoints in the plan to cause the system to overflow (Jeb's array not big enough was a good guess). This caused the one system to crash, when it restarted, it reloaded all the flight plans, including the U2 plan, which caused the system to crash again. The plane didn't have an altitude entered in the plan for the VFR section, so it was being compared to all the flights that were crossing it's route. The system just ran out of memory trying to do all the comparisons.

The HOST computer might not have crashed in this case, since the URET system is separate. With URET in as part of the ERAM system, they crashed together.

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Re: Episode #357

Postby Scofreyjet » Sun May 18, 2014 2:23 pm

Great comments folks!

To John (IBEWGuy) I would only say that if your airplane falls out of the sky because a missile that was intended for it blew up nearby, whether it actually struck your plane or not is a distinction without much of a difference! :)
I can't remember which (of the many) magazines I read it was in, but I recently saw a picture of Powers and Johnson chatting not long after Powers returned from his TDY in Russia. This must have been during his employment at Lockheed - so thanks for the explanation of how that photo came to be!

And Tom, I was yelling at my smartphone (as I often do while listening to UCAP) during the discussion about high altitude airspace. I knew that it reverted to either E or G (and now we know, it's "E") above FL600, and that the U2 would have had to have filed and flown IFR going up through the Class A, but could conceivably have flown VFR once above that. And now we know that, too. Interesting info on the ATC systems in question. As an engineering project manager, I'm intimately familiar with project schedules that are disconnected from the reality of the work to be done. :evil:
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Re: Episode #357

Postby champguy » Sun May 18, 2014 9:30 pm

Anyone who drives an F-series Ford, ought to be flying a C-172 Cessna. Both handle like "All American" rock solid.

Comparing a Spit to a P-51, from a guy who thinks the PBY, or well maybe the C-41 was the plane that won the war, well hats off to the pilots who won the "Battle of Britain" and took off every night, in the dark, to fly over their homeland to defend their homes, families, and girlfriends.

As for finding a lost plane in the Indian Ocean, I've been there, it's a big place, sorry but good luck.

Cheesy Poofs, well I fly 1600 miles each way every summer for my treat, thanks guys.

See you all at OSH.
Remember, not all who wander, are lost.

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Re: Episode #357

Postby C_A_S » Thu May 22, 2014 2:27 pm

Just a few quick notes about the Spit V Mustang discussion.

Tom Cruise owns a P-51, but Brad Pitt bought himself a Spitfire this year.

There are 37 flyable Spitfires left. Contrary to the discussion, they were all metal (other than the wingtips and control surfaces of early models, though Hurricanes were constructed with wood/fabric), but I think I read about magnesium rivets being used for wartime availability and lightweight, but not longevity, with the rivet lifespans at 1-2 years actually longer than the expected lifetime of the airframe in combat. Restorers had to replace all of these fairly quickly, just one of the challenges for Spitfires surviving the war.

Key to the debate is the model type evolution, along with engines. The Mustang was deeply underpowered with an Allison, getting Packard-built Merlins is what made it. Spitfires ended up with monster Griffon engines.

Can't believe you didn't mention that of those 37 flying Spitfires, the latest purchase of one was by Brad Pitt. He's keeping it with these guys, who maintain training in type for the Spitfire including dual seat trainers.


See, you can take the conversion course, for only somewhere around 70 grand


Only known Spitfire flight school.

Last summer, up in Scotland, I took the kids looking for bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth. And found my self alone, watching a single Spitfire, practicing for a tribute flight the next week, pulling off the most incredible acrobatics, pulling high g turns, pulling out of dives just meters above the water, the engine roaring, in the most amazing scenery. I will never forget it, and I grew up at OskKosh around warbirds.

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Re: Episode #357

Postby Scofreyjet » Tue Jun 03, 2014 4:52 pm

C_A_S, we're all jealous of your Spitfire encounter!

Funny you should mention Boultbee Flight Academy - they were just interviewed in the May 2014 episode of the Flaps Podcast

And in a recent trip to Glasgow, I got to see one of those late-model Spits - the Mark 21 Spitfire with Rolls-Royce Griffon 61, hanging (unfortunately, rather than flying!) at the Kelvingrove Museum.
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