Friday, March 16, 2012

Bigger Than I Thought*

I wrote last week about the death of Carroll "Lex" LeFon and what he meant to me. In that post I mentioned that the regulars were all sharing stories and remembering a remarkable man. I knew he had followers and fans, but I didn't think there were so many. I'm not sure any of us did.

As of now, there have been over 1,500 comments on the "Open Thread." There have been over 150 blogs who felt it worthy to mention his passing and to memorialize him. A rundown of some of these blogs can be found here. Some of the regular commenters have set up a... well... let me just say this; "the first rule of super-secret Neptunus Lex Facebook club is that you don't talk about super-secret Neptunus Lex Facebook club." The Secretary of the Navy saw fit to personally comment on his death. The U.S. Naval Institute has pledged to preserve Lex's writings and publish the manuscript he wrote a few years ago.

The local paper in Fallon has 2 wonderful articles about Lex, that I think give a terrific insight into the community he built.

Of Friday and Saturday of last week, there were no fewer than 25 remembrance events (most a the same time) all across the country, from Bath Maine to San Diego California. The Wife and I went to the one in Lex's hometown of Alexandria. It was like meeting old friends you've never met before, if that makes any sense. There was laughter, tears, and Guinness. For strength.

*I wanted to open with a "that's what she said" line, but thought better of it. Lex probably would have liked it, though.

In space, no one can hear you say "Holy crap that's cool!"

For all of its faults, the Space Shuttle was still a marvel of engineering.

"The Stack" weighed in at a hair under 4.5 million pounds, and it took a lot of power to get that much mass into orbit. The fully loaded orbiter weighed 240,000 pounds, about the same as a 16"/50 Mk 7 gun barrel from an IOWA-class battleship.

That means roughly 95% of the total launch weight* was fuel to get the shuttle into orbit.

After the loss of the Columbia in 2003, NASA mounted external cameras on the External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters to monitor debris strikes during ascent. Not only did this improve the safety of the shuttle, it gives us stunning views like the one below.

The sound was re-mastered by Skywalker Sound, so I suppose George Lucas can be forgiven for some of the sins committed in the prequels. But not Jar-Jar.

* I'm well aware of the difference between weight and mass, nerd. This isn't a physics class.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Prowlers and the Big E

The U.S.S. Enterprise put to sea a few days ago on her last deployment, some 50 years after her first.

As is the custom, the Air Wing (all the planes) arrived a day or so later in what is called a "fly-on." At the end of this deployment, the air wing will depart the ship a few days prior to her arrival in Norfolk in what is not-so-surprisingly called a "fly-off."

Pretty cool plane pr0n, even if the only Hornet in the video bolters at the 2:15 mark. Yeah. I almost missed it too. Based solely on this video, it would appear that Carrier Air Wing One has one Hornet (still circling the ship), one Hawkeye, a few Greyhounds, and about 50 Prowlers. Maybe this is some sort of CHINFO disinformation campaign to lull our enemies into thinking that the "flying drumstick" is all we've got.

Or maybe scare our enemies.

Prowlers are pretty bad-ass machines, if I do say so my damn self, and the Growler is nothing to sneeze at.

In any case, ships come and go. A very good friend of mine served as a CAT Officer on the Big E back in the late 60's. Long hair, beards, Phantoms, A-3Ds, A4-s, and Spads. Shore leave in the Philippines.

When she is decommissioned, the U.S. Navy will be without a U.S.S. Enterprise either in service or in the pipeline for the first time in a VERY long while. As we dither about naming ships after people for the sake of political expediency and clout, we're losing sight of our heritage.

And that's a shame.Link