About Me

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I live in the Florida Keys. I've been in the military and worked inside the Beltway. I've had 22 technical books and two novels published. I fly, boat, dive, shoot, and swim pretty damn well.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A "PRACTICAL" Nuclear Power Plant

Here is a great article about a " micro size Nuclear Reactor that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs."
"Toshiba expects to install the first reactor in Japan in 2008 and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009."
Hey man, I had a hard enough time getting the local building inspector to sign off on a 15KW gas generator. Think I'll go into a city council meeting and tell them that the condo I'm putting up on the beach is going to have its own nuclear generator!
The sociology will be more difficult than the technology. But, I admire the technology. SEE THIS LINK for the story. (And a tip of the hat to Jonathan Schmidt for the story).


The folks at SONEX have put together a proof-of-concept flying version of a practical electric airplane. Okay, it's "practical" if 45 minutes is your typical flight profile. Hey, I know a lot of builders of experimental aircraft who get less flight time than that! It would work for me in the Keys.

You go out and fly for half an hour in the morning, bypass the fuel pump on landing, plug it in, and go fly again in the afternoon.

The engineering is fascinating. The motor is the size of a coffee can. Well, yes, the batteries do take up a bunch of room. See it at THIS LINK. A video is HERE.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Flying Cars -- A Reality (?)

Is there a pilot who does not love the concept of a flying car? These guys have a cmplete concept and even a little movie to back it up. Light sport? Zow... See THIS LINK to "Wired" Magazine.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Has anyone seen a good discussion of "other than internal combustion" power for GA aircraft? My reason for asking is this quote: "Honda claims that their current V-flow fuel cell stack, 100 kW electric motor and Li-Ion battery weigh the same or less than a conventional hybrid powertrain producing less power."

THIS ARTICLE is talking about alternative sources of automotive power, but they are working at about 130HP. If you know of any aviation discussion threads on fuel cell or hybrid power for GA acft, please let me know. You can email me directly at fderfler@gmail.com

Wonderful Sci-Fi Art -- Promoting Science and Aviation

Remember when fiction and the popular press promoted science and aviation? That's before the liberal arts writers decided to use their presses to make fun of those who made more money and contributed more to society than they did.

Anyway, I digress, this link will take you to some great old Sci-Fi art. Really neat stuff. Much of it Russian, by the way!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Red Baron Team is Dissolved

Oh goodness -- the end of another era. My family and I have enjoyed their air shows in many venues. One day last year I landed at Peter O. Knight in Tampa right after these guys, taxied in with them, chatted with them, and admired their planes. A truly nifty squadron. But, I'll admit that in my mind they did more for aviation than for the company's pizza. The story is from AOPA online and contains a link for more information and a video from AOPA.

COMPANY DISSOLVES RED BARON PIZZA SQUADRONCiting changes in the retail grocery industry, the Schwan Food Company on Dec. 3 abruptly discontinued sponsorship of the Red Baron Pizza Squadron after 28 years in order to "refocus" the Red Baron marketing program. Director of Flight Operations Jayson Wilson said his first priority is to assist the 16 employees who supported the team's airshow performances, and then to dispose of the team's assets, including seven flyable Boeing Stearman aircraft and an additional four museum-quality Stearmans. "It's kind of a sad day," he added. He said some of the pilots had dreamed of flying for the team since their youth. Senior Editor Al Marsh flew with them last spring along with AOPA Pilot photographer Chris Rose. Read the feature and see a video clip of the flight on AOPA Online.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The "Lost Patrol" of the Devil's Triangle is Remembered

The "Lost Patrol" ... long a favorite of sci-fi and other world wackos.. is remembered. Note, however, that the caption on the picture demoted the Naval Lieutenant in the ceremony. This is the 51st anniversary of their flight. See the story here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A View on the Sliding Dollar

I note that tourism is up because of the sliding dollar AND that several foreign companies are looking at starting manufacturing plants in the US because it now makes economic sense for them.

My son-in-law and I recently discussed the sliding dollar as we were eating dinner out with a zillion other people eating expensive dinners in Tampa. (Observation; the high price of gas has not slowed down dining out in this area.) Later, by chance, I came across this excellent article on the dollar's slide. .. with comments. See This Link for the whole story.

Zodiac Dreams -- When I grow up!

We had a great aeronautical display sponsored by EAA Chapter 1241 in Marathon, FL on Nov 1. See this link for more information.
We have many great planes on the tarmac for the civilians to see. In the picture below, ONE airplane is mine. The others are not. (There is NO prize for figuring out which one is mine!) But, the question is, what is in the 601's mind while she is sitting there next to the Mustang?

Santa Tracking on NORAD

I can't verify this story, but I can verify that it is being officially published by Google. Interesting trivia and something to do with children or grandchildren. --FJD

Posted by Carrie Farrell, Veteran Santa Tracker
It was more than half a century ago, on Christmas Eve in 1955, that a Sears Roebuck & Co. store in Colorado Springs advertised a special hotline number for kids to call Santa. What the company didn't know at the time was that they had inadvertently misprinted the telephone number. Instead of Santa's workshop, the phone number put kids through to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace defense of the U. S. and Canada. Worse, it wasn't just any number at NORAD: it was the commander-in-chief's operations hotline. In the spirit of the season, Colonel Harry Shoup, the director of operations at the time, had his staff check radar data for any indication of a sleigh making its way south from the North Pole. They found that indeed there were signs of Santa, and merrily gave the children who called an update on his location. Thus, a tradition was born, and NORAD has continued to help children track Santa on Christmas Eve ever since.

It just so happens that Colonel Shoup is my grandfather, which is why I'm so excited that, 52 years later, Google is joining the effort. This holiday season, NORAD has partnered with Google to use technology including Google Maps, Google Earth, iGoogle and YouTube to track Santa. I can remember tracking Santa with my grandfather as a child, and I'm so proud to see my company carry on his vision of doing something this special for kids around the world.

The countdown begins December 1st on NORAD's website , where families can find a new kid-friendly game or activity every day until December 24th. And starting at 1:00 am PST on December 24th, you'll be able to track Santa's trip in real time. You can download Google Earth and add the NORAD Tracks Santa iGoogle gadget to your iGoogle page anytime, but make sure to come back to www.noradsanta.org\u003c/a\> on December 24th to download the special Santa Tracking file for an enhanced 3D Santa-tracking

Harry and Carrie.

Politico Ads and TIVO

We have both TIVO for cable and a DirecTV PVR for satellite. We only have the DirecTV for the NFL package, but that is a different story.

We will NEVER watch a political campaign ad. Do you think that the candidates will "get" that NO ONE is watching their ads EXCEPT those poor slugs who don't have a TIVO-like PVR? I do not know what that demographic of ad-watchers is, but I do know that it isn't me or anyone I know.

Of course, each candidate's media advisor gets a percentage of the media spending. SO, that media person will never tell the candidate (who has no clue about the real world) that no normal person will ever watch their ads. -- FJD

Florida Doesn't Have Enough Sunshine for Solar Power

An interesting article saying that, despite the chamber of commerce hype, "Florida can't produce that much renewable power because the state's solar potential, or the level of sunshine, is average compared with other states, according to the Department of Energy. And the wind in Florida isn't strong enough to justify building huge wind farms"

Read it all here.

The article doesn't discuss harnessing tidal forces. That idea is gaining some strength in the Keys.