Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FAA History Lesson -- November 27, 2013

I am happy to report the only item in the FAA's history that mentions Thanksgiving is the following one from November 15, 2013. Let's keep it that way shall we?

For the non-controllers reading this, the day before Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest day of the year for air traffic controllers. We always pray for really good weather...or really bad weather. The rationale is (of course) safety. We want weather good enough for the inexperienced (or rusty) pilots. Or we want weather so bad that the only ones that will consider flying are the professional pilots. In short "got-to-get-there-itis" is the number one cause of accidents in aviation. Y'all be careful out there.

From the Update to FAA Historical Chronology 1997-2012 (A .pdf file)

"November 15, 2007: President George W. Bush announced an agreement between the FAA and DoD that temporarily released military airspace for Thanksgiving holiday travel. Under the airspace agreement, the Department of the Navy released airspace, above 24,000 feet, off the east coast from Maine to Florida. FAA was allowed to use that airspace from 4 p.m. eastern standard time on Wednesday, November 21, to 6 a.m. eastern standard time on Monday, November 26. The Navy continued to control airspace off the east coast below 23,000 feet for training operations."

For my long-time readers, you might remember this little piece of history happened shortly after I retired and I was able to weigh in on the subject. And thanks to James Fallows, a lot of people got to read about it.

Don Brown
November 27, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Need For a Photography Park

My wife and I went on a weekend trip with another couple to Carters Lake, in the North Georgia mountains. As always, the place we pick is a compromise. The girls want to shop. I want to take photographs. My friend wants to fish. Carters Lake is near Ellijay and looked like fun for everyone.

Carters Lake is a pretty place. It's an Army Corp of Engineers project. That made the encroachment of private homes somewhat surprising to me. Trophy houses in the mountains ceased to surprise me a long time ago. What did surprise me was how close they were to a Federal facility. The approach roads to the various picnic areas, fishing docks and boat ramps were littered with expensive homes. And they were, of course, visible from all over the lake.

I'll never accept the stupidity and arrogance of trophy houses. No one comes to the mountains to enjoy the view marred by trophy houses on the hills. Yet everyone wants to own (or rent) a house they know will ruin the view of others. And they'll keep building them until they have spoiled the very beauty of the place that attracted people to the area in the first place. Oh well. Let's get back to the subject at hand.

After arriving the first afternoon (check in time was 3 PM), I'm stuck with the typical photographer's dilemma: I need to find a place for the rapidly-approaching sunset and find a place for the sunrise. You have to think about the details. After sunset it's dark. To get to a place before sunrise, you have to be able to find it in the dark. There's nothing like getting up two hours before sunrise, driving (or walking) to an unfamiliar place, stumbling around in the dark, waiting for many minutes in the cold, and then finding out you've chosen a horrible place for a sunrise picture. Another detail that escapes non-photographers is that the Sun "moves". It doesn't set at 270º West and 90º East all year. Currently (around here) it rises at 115º and sets at 244º. (The U.S. Naval Observatory will calculate it for your location.) I carry a compass with me wherever I go so I can make an educated guess as to what might make a good sunrise/sunset location.

The trail from our rental cabin to the lake is about a 10 minute hike. Not a problem. My buddy and I take the short walk to the lake. The "big" view is to the north (with the trophy houses on the mountains) and a more limited view to the southeast. What are you going to do? By the time we unpack, grab our gear and walk to the lake, it's too late to get anywhere else for the sunset. I'll make the best of it and maybe it will work out for the sunrise. My friend fishes until the sunset and we both enjoy the view as the streetlights start coming on in the dusk. Nothing reveals the beauty of nature quite like a mercury-vapor lamp. (Or sodium vapor if you prefer.)

Sunrise was a little better than sunset. One thing you can say about a "little" view; there's less room for trophy houses.

The next day, we did a little scouting for better fishing/photography places. "Scouting" is an ugly process. You waste an awful lot of time and gas. I guess that keeps the guides (both fishing and photography) employed. (I'm pretty sure you could find a fishing guide for Carters Lake. Not so sure about a photography guide.) To make a long story short, neither Doll Mountain Recreation Area nor Harris Branch Recreation Area provided a place that was promising (that was also open.)

Once again, we were out of time so we just drove blindly down the road to whatever was next around the lake and run into this sign.

In case you were wondering, sunrise was at 7:18 (42 minutes before the park opens) and sunset was at 5:30 (30 minutes after it closes.) It was a nice sunset but there wasn't even a place to pull over off the road from which to photograph it. We drove home in the dusk dejected -- fishless and photoless.

I hope the need for a photography park is obvious from this little story. I also hope it's obvious that the needs of photographers can coexist with other park users. You can fish in a lake designed for photography. You can picnic in a park designed for photography. As a matter of fact, these things would only enhance a photography park. Sailboats are photogenic. People playing in a park are a favorite subject of some photographers. Kites look spectacular in photographs. People riding horses? Yes please.

But all parks are not conducive to photography. As a matter of fact, many seem designed to prevent decent photographs. Wether it's utility wires strung willy-nilly, trophy houses littering the view, blindingly-white boat buoys visible from two miles away on the lake, day-glow yellow trash cans, reflective trail markers or sickly-green street lights....there are hundreds of fixable things that would make a park more photogenic. But that wasn't the most important lesson I learned this weekend.

I didn't get a great photograph. My friend didn't catch a single fish. But the weekend was deemed a resounding success. Our wives found tons of junk to buy. If I have to make a photography park commercially viable, I'll have to work trophy houses and an outlet mall into the master plan.

Don Brown
November 26, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

FAA History Lesson -- November 19, 2001

From the Update to FAA Historical Chronology 1997-2012 (A .pdf file)

" President George W. Bush signed into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (Public Law 107-71), which, among other things, called for the establishment of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the Department of Transportation, to be responsible for security at airports. The act also broadened AIP eligibility to include costs for additional security-related activity required by law or the Secretary of Transportation. The period of eligibility for such projects was for FY 2002 and could include only those additional costs incurred from September 11, 2001, to September 30, 2002. February 13, 2002, TSA took over responsibility for aviation security from FAA. (See October 18, 2001; December 6, 2001.)"

Don Brown
November 19, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Photography Park -- Economic Data

One of the things I'll need to "sell" this photography park idea is the economic portion of it. So do me a favor and be on the lookout. If you see some economic statistics that might be of interest, do me a favor and just pass along a link to me.

Here's a "for instance" I stumbled upon the other day when I was looking for a chuck wagon cook off.

Cowboys and Chuckwagon Cooking

"Pigeon Forge Mayor, David Wear met with the City Hospitably Association stating, "Every business sector was up having a phenomenal year during 2012."  Gross receipts total were $905.8 million for last years tax revenues breaking their previous record of $872.5 million 2007 prior to the recession."

"Pigeon Forge, with a population around 6,000 attracts over 10 million tourist each year nested on the banks of the Smokey Mountain range."

If you stumble across some stats like that in your daily reading, do me a favor and email me a link to the web page. You can find my email under the "View My Complete Profile" link on the righthand side of the page, or if you're comfortable enough just typing it in, I'm still using atcsafety@ the gmail domain (amongst about 5 other addresses.)

Specifically, I'm looking for the economic impact of:

Photography -- the entire industry, outdoor photography, professional photography and/or amateur photography.

Parks -- Pigeon Forge (for those that don't know) is a gateway town to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. A billion dollars for being located next to a park tends to get the Chamber of Commerce's interest.

Thanks for whatever help you can provide.

Don Brown
November 16, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Photography Park

Some of you may have caught the hint a week or so ago. It doesn't matter. I think I have hit upon a simple -- yet unique -- idea that I would like to pursue. And under the heading of "no good deed goes unpunished", you my faithful readers get to follow along as I think out loud on my blog.

Come now, you've followed me from Safety Rep to retiree. You can follow along this path too. Because, the more I explore this idea, the bigger the possibilities seem. The more avenues I see it can go down. The more possibilities of all sorts.

I want to build the first park dedicated to outdoor photography. That's your first challenge (should you care to check.) Is there another park purpose-built for photography? In a quick (and very casual) search I didn't find one. I'm all for being the fist guy with the idea (and this post is indeed my claim stake saying, "Hey! Look at me! I was first!). But it isn't really important to the idea whether I'm first or not. And, as you'll quickly realize, anybody could steal this idea. Instantly. So what? So what if every single State in the Union wound up with their own photography park? That would be a good thing, right?

So, back to the idea. The photographers that follow me already have this idea in their head. There's no need to even explain it. They get it. Instantly. The General Public needs a little help. "Aren't all parks photography parks?" That's understandable. So here's an explanation. Follow along for a moment.

I photograph the sunrise every single morning (that my body will let me.) I'm fortunate enough to have a neighborhood where I can do that. But suppose I wanted to photograph the sunrise in the local park? Most parks are closed. I need to be on location one hour before sunrise. A lot of parks don't open until after sunrise. A lot of parks close at "dusk". That's the first thing that would be different about a photography park -- the hours. You'd be able to get in long before the sun came up and stay until long after it had gone down.

Quick, if I was to come spend the night with you and said, "I need a place to shoot the sunset", where would you take me? What location? Unless you're a photographer (or happen to be very, very lucky) I bet any place you take me would have either a utility wire or a streetlight marring the picture. Especially on the East Coast, it is hard to find a vista without a street light in it. In a park built for photography, there won't be an overhead wire. Or a streetlight. Getting the picture?

I've broached this idea with a few people already. I talked to a painter today. He, like photographers, immediately "got it". If a park is created to be "photogenic" you can be assured that painters will enjoy the scenes just as much. I'd be interested in hearing whether you "get it". Or not. I don't know where this is going to take me, but I'm excited about the journey. I've got a hundred ideas about it already but I think the first thing I'll need to look at is non-profit vs. not-for-profit. I don't know a thing about it. If you do, I'd love to hear from you. And then there's the fundamental problem of all ideas -- what do you call the thing? Well talk more. A lot more.

Don Brown
November 15, 2013

FAA History Lesson -- November 15, 2001

From the Update to FAA Historical Chronology 1997-2012 (A .pdf file)

" FAA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made a new tool available to convey advanced storm information to pilots. The National Convective Weather Forecast (NCWF) product, designed and developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory, in Lexington, Massachusetts, provided pilots with a plotted map depicting the current location of convective hazards and where they would be an hour later. Pilots, federal aviation weather briefers, air traffic control specialists, and airline dispatchers who routinely made operational decisions associated with thunderstorm hazards routinely were turning to the NCWF for essential information."

If you'd like to see my opinion on how this bit of history played out, read this.

Don Brown
November 15, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

FAA History Lesson -- November 11, 2008

From the Update to FAA Historical Chronology 1997-2012 (A .pdf file)

" The new Indianapolis International Airport opened. Construction funds came from $120 million in federal grants, airport revenue bonds, and passenger head taxes. More than 1,100 residences were bought for the $220 million project, which started in 1987. Parallel runways opened in the 1990s, and after 9/11, the terminal design changed to accommodate improved security. A new air traffic control tower and TRACON opened in 2006."

Don Brown
November 11, 2013

Saturday, November 09, 2013

FAA History Lesson -- Nov 9-10, 1965

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996

"New York's La Guardia and John F. Kennedy airports were forced to shut down when the overloading of a switch at an electrical generating plant in Ontario, Canada, set off a chain reaction that caused a massive power failure in the northeast, blacking out for 13 hours or longer an 80,000-square- mile area. The power failure hit during the evening rush hour, but several factors combined to head off disaster: clear weather, a moonlit night, and the fact that FAA's air route traffic control centers in the blacked out area continued to operate. Relying on secondary commercial suppliers, the ARTCCs guided aircraft to Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, and other airports not affected by the failure.

Prior to the blackout, the agency had believed that a standby engine generator was not as desirable as a second source of commercial power when two or more such sources were available, for the simultaneous loss of multiple sources was considered highly improbable. The power failure, however, demonstrated the need for generators at individual facilities. On Mar 2, 1966, FAA announced a program to install standby engine generators to power essential services at 50 airports in the contiguous United States. The 50 airports, chosen on the basis of their activity and location, would receive standby engine generators capable of powering a control tower, airport surveillance radar, approach-light system, instrument landing system, and runway lights on the primary runway.

The following year, FAA began planning a similar program for the air route traffic control centers. Over the past three years, ARTCCs had suffered more than 1,300 power failures lasting long enough to impair the operational use of critical equipment. Recognizing that power loss would be a potentially more serious safety threat in the future due to increased reliance on automation, FAA planned to equip all 20 centers in the contiguous U.S. with adequate auxiliary power sources and uninterruptible power units. (See Jun 27, 1969.)"

Don Brown
November 9, 2013

FAA History Lesson -- Nov 8, 1991

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996

"FAA notified Congress of an Auxiliary Flight Service Station Plan adding 26 permanent and five seasonal auxiliary stations to supplement the 61 automated flight service stations already planned (see Oct 2, 1981). The Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act (see Nov 5, 1990) had mandated the project. (See Feb 12, 1986, and Feb 15, 1995.)"

Feb 15, 1995: Commissioning of the final Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) capped FAA’s flight service modernization plan. On this date, all AFSSs also had the Model 1 Full Capacity system. By fiscal 1995’s end, 286 flight service stations had been consolidated into 61 AFSSs, 31 auxiliary stations, and one remaining conventional station. (See Nov 8, 1991.)

Don Brown
November 8, 2013

Thursday, November 07, 2013

FAA History Lesson -- November 7, 2011

From the Update to FAA Historical Chronology 1997-2012 (A .pdf file)

"United Airlines flew the first-ever commercial domestic flight using a blend of 40% biofuel mix created from algae by Solazyme, a San Francisco based company and traditional jet fuel. (See September 13, 2011; December 1, 2011.)"

Don Brown
November 7, 2013

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Real Deal

The Real Deal by Get The Flick
The Real Deal, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

Well that's interesting. This was the #1 picture on my Flickr page yesterday. Ahead of all the cowgirl pictures. I'm not sure I know what to think about that.

Don Brown
November 6, 2013

FAA History Lesson -- November 6, 1998

From the Update to FAA Historical Chronology 1997-2012 (A .pdf file)

"President Clinton dedicated the new Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Highfill, Arkansas. He told the audience his administration was working to make the national aviation system better able to handle the anticipated 50-percent increase in global air travel in the coming seven years. He added that FAA and other agencies were working together “... to convert our air traffic control system to satellite technology, to change the way we inspect older aircraft, and most important over the long run, to combat terrorism with new equipment, new agents, and new methods.""

Don Brown
November 6, 2013

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

FAA History Lesson -- November 5, 2010

From the Update to FAA Historical Chronology 1997-2012 (A .pdf file)

"November 5, 2010: FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that, when finalized, would require each certificate holder operating under 14 CFR part 121 to develop and implement a safety management system (SMS) to improve the safety of their aviation related activities. A SMS included an organization-wide safety policy; formal methods for identifying hazards, controlling, and continually assessing risk; and promotion of a safety culture. (See October 7, 2010.)"

Don Brown
November 5, 2013

Monday, November 04, 2013

Fade to Black II

Fade to Black II by Get The Flick
Fade to Black II, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

Sorry guys. I've been busy processing rodeo images.(30 pics so far.) I'll get back around to ATC again soon.

This is my favorite image so far. I liked it so much that I even did a little retouching on it (which I rarely do.)

I also have another (even greater) distraction I'll write about soon. Nothing that won't wait though.

Don Brown
November 4, 2013

Friday, November 01, 2013

You Can Never Have Too Many Flags

All rodeo folks, click on the picture and it will take you my site on Flickr. You'll have to check back because I'll be putting up more pictures over the next few days. I have a lot of them.

If you can't figure out how to navigate around Flickr after you get there, click here and it will take you to a different page that's easier to navigate from.

Don Brown
November 1, 2013 (Just barely. It's almost midnight.)

FAA History Lesson -- November 1, 2010

Who knew? Evidently, November 1st is Wake Turbulence Reclassification Day at the FAA.

From the Update to FAA Historical Chronology 1997-2012 (A .pdf file)

"November 1, 2010: An interim FAA requirement mandated that planes landing after Boeing's 747-8 jumbo jet stay at least 10 miles behind went into effect. The FAA said the interim standards were based, in part, on guidance received from international regulatory organizations that studied the wake vortices of the Airbus 380-800 in 2006. After those studies, the International Civil Aviation Organization issued a 10-mile separation standard for the A380 superjumbo jet. This was later relaxed, but a separation of 6 to 8 miles was still required for the A380, depending on the size of the aircraft behind it. Prior to its Boeing 747-8 ruling, the U.S. requirement for large airplanes was just 4 miles separation from other heavy jets and up to 6 miles from light aircraft. (See August 17, 1996.)"

But wait! There's more!

"November 1, 2012: FAA implemented new wake turbulence categories for aircraft separation standards. Under the re-categorization, aircraft models were placed in one of six categories (labeled A-F) based on considerations other than maximum gross takeoff weight, such as approach speeds, wing characteristics, and lateral control characteristics. FAA split the heavy category (including the “super” Airbus A380) into three wake categories, “A” (super); “B” (upper heavy); and “C” (lower heavy) aircraft. When a lower heavy jet followed an upper heavy jet into an airport, the separation standard remained at four miles. When an upper heavy jet followed a lower heavy jet, the separation could be reduced to three miles. The former method of wake turbulence categorization was based solely on maximum gross takeoff weight. (See November 1, 2010.)"

But wait! There's EVEN MORE! From today!

Wake re-categorization begins at Louisville

"The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has expanded wake re-categorisation (RECAT) standards to Louisville International Airport-Standiford Field, writes Focus FAA."

Don Brown
November 1, 2013