Not every thing in there can be taken at face value (his rant against the paint locker on the Sea Shadow for example... it's really the 'toxic solvents and chemicals locker'), but still full of gold.
For example, they had into all sorts of problems wielding titanium for the first time. Chlorine would wreck all sorts of havoc on the plates they used, which they discovered when someone drew on a plate with a ball-point pen. And then they completely ripped their hair out when the municipality increased the chlorination in the water they were using to clean the plates.
I thought the passage about "600 mph birds" was particularly humorous because that was the first thing my young hacker mind thought of during a training section on the radar cross-section of the aircraft I was working on. It went something like this:
Instructor: "So the radar cross section is reduced considerably to approximately the size of a small bird"
Me: "So why don't they just look for a small bird going 600 mph?"
Some years after, an F-117 was shot down during the Kosovo War, reportedly using this method (I had nothing to do with it :). I think this was probably a big learning lesson in regard to stealth technology.
And no disrespect to my instructor, he was a professional and a god of his domain.
It was a bit more complicated than that ;-)
The full account how they managed to shot down a "stealth" F-117A with some modifications to cold war era Russian missiles, microwave ovens as radar decoys and in-promptu installed landlines can be read here: http://xmb.stuffucanuse.com/xmb/viewthread.php?tid=6376
I can believe the rabbit story in that link. ECM radiation is nasty.
>The spies and observers enabled Zoltan to keep his radars on for a minimal amount of time.
Reminds me of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.
I do get the impression Skunkworks is not what it once was.
His book Sled Driver is selling for ~$2500 USD on amazon, and The Untouchables (which I haven't heard about) is here:
(Disclaimer: I own one of the regular ones, and didn't pay $200 for it. But it's a large form factor hardback printed on high quality glossy paper -- full of breathtaking colour images -- so even if they reprint it, don't expect to see copies on sale for less than $50.)
Which takes you here where you can purchase a limited edition for ~$400 USD
Pretty much anything Shul writes is excellent and readable.
I love that he accidentally overshoots the refueling in Gibraltar -- and ends up next to Sicily.
The more detailed Libya stuff is at the end, though he summarizes it in the beginning.
"On a typical training mission, we would take off near Sacramento, refuel over Nevada, accelerate into Montana, obtain high Mach over Colorado, turn right over New Mexico, speed across the Los Angeles Basin, run up the West Coast, turn right at Seattle, then return to Beale.
Total flight time: two hours and 40 minutes."
Puts the speed in such great perspective.
I'd guess that the author is correct in that the controllers copied the delivery of the voice of the space program from Houston, but those controllers were usually former test pilots or members of the military flight programs themselves, so we're probably still thinking of the same unflappable voice.
"Yep. You're so far behind the plane that you won't show up to the accident until ten minutes after it happens"
It's a great phrase. I think flying is absolutely the best hobby anybody can have. I could read stories like OP all day long.
It gets this name because it's a single engine plane, which attracts wealthy hobbyist pilots (like doctors) but it's fast. Much much faster than what these hobbyist pilots are used to. This causes "the plane to get in front of them", and for them to crash.
Another airplane with the killer epithet because of its on average high power to wisdom of pilot ratio is the Piper Malibu and its later brother the Mirage. Again, a beautiful, fast, well-designed plane that gets out in front of you if you let it.
Growing up, my father flew thousands of hours in both of these planes with me in the right seat, and he was always careful to warn me about having respect for the plane's power lest it get away from you. In a way, I think he was reminding himself as much as me.
"Luftwaffe losses totaled 110 pilots" -- production run: 1,122 F-104G airframes.
There are a number of things you need to process as you fly, from radios to maps to situational awareness. For less experienced pilots, or when you have passengers than are pointing out all sorts of shit, this can take time. During all this time the aircraft is moving and the condition is changing.
You need to not only know where you are now, but where you will be in the future. If you lose this, you find the aircraft getting to places faster than you can prepare for, and that can be nasty.
To relate, it's very similar to driving a car for the first time. There seems to be so much more to check, from mirrors to gauges to the road. The reaction for new drivers is to slow down to give yourself time to catch up.
Another analogy would be sports. If you play a team sport with those that have played for years, you can find yourself reacting to things after they have happened. This isn't because you don't know what to do, but more so because by the time you've figured it out and acted, the event has already occurred.
As you gain experience, you can spend much less cognitive attention paying attention to what's going on in the game. So actions become reflexes, and suddenly you're catching up. And then you run up against an opponent who's like you were a couple months ago, and pwnage commences.
And so on. Everything when you're flying is checklists.
Letting the plane get ahead of you means that things are happening before you're ready for them. This problem is made much worse in fast planes (like the bonanza) because things happen much more quickly.
I worries me a little, but we're not doing anything nuts in the thing.
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1247709 (good amount of discussion)
There's this SR-71 Blackbird stooging around Cuba on a top-secret mission, at FL500+ and Mach 2+.... when they get a call requesting them to change heading "because of traffic at your altitude".
Traffic at THEIR altitude ??
Anyway, they comply, and shortly, yes, there's an Air France Concorde out of Caracas (Air France flew there in the early days) slowly sailing across their flight path.
Just imagine... two guys in bonedomes and full pressure suits, in a cramped cockpit, watching something like a hundred people in shirt sleeves or summer dresses, sipping their champagne and maybe just starting on their smoked salmon hors d'oeuvres, flying at their altitude and nearly their speed....
Pop over to the East Coast for the day, head home in time for dinner.
"Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground."