Saturday, August 30, 2008

Moon Landing Hoax Claims Tackled by TV series Mythbusters!

I am 48 years old as I write this article. I was nine years old when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The moon landings came to an end with Apollo 17 – when I was in the 6th grade. And as a young boy, I felt betrayed by my country when the news came out that there would be no more moon landings. Skylab came and went – the Russians were back to racking up long endurance space records with their space station program. Then came the long stand down from Apollo program to the Space Shuttle program which re-launched American's Manned Space Program.

Then came the two space shuttle disasters. The last one – the Columbia's commander, Rick D. Husband, was a former Texas Tech University Air Force ROTC classmate of mine. My one and only claim to infamy I can make.

The turn of the century takes place and it seems to me that more and more people are claiming that the United States of America never did land on the moon. That it was filmed on a sound stage (ala “Capricorn One” – the movie), or that it was filmed out in the desert near what is now known as Area 51! Or that... well, insert possible claim here to try and explain how it could be done without actually traveling to the moon.

I don't know how else to explain it, but that I was born before the age of Watergate, etc. The baby boomer generation of which I was born at the tail end thereof, and Generation X which came after, have been 'programmed' from the mass media to disbelieve EVERYTHING that the US government does or says.

Being a avid listener to Coast to Coast Am radio with George Noory, every now and then he would invite Dr. Phil Plait who goes by the name of “The Bad Astronomer.” His website, Bad Astronomy, would every now and then take on the folks who claim that the moon landings were hoaxes. Well one day, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage who both worked as special effects people for the movies and now are hosts to the Discovery Channel's popular TV series “MythBusters,” decided that now was the time to try and take on that project – to dispel the dispellers. I don't have access to cable or satellite TV anymore and thus unable to view the program when it aired. I only heard about it on Coast to Coast AM when Noory was interviewing Dr. Plait. But on posted there dated August 26, 2008 that went into some detail. The program itself aired on August 27, 2008 on the Discovery Channel.

They went about determining which myths that needed and could be tested here on earth. Hyneman and Savage settled on three major subject areas that the hoaxers claim support their argument. One – How light reflects off the lunar surface. Two – How the astronauts appeared to move in the low gravity of the moon. Finally, how items behaved in an vacuum.
The part of the article that I liked the most was about the American Flag and how it was “able” to wave in the airless vacuum. First off, I actually remember the TV coverage of the moon flights and the experts who came on for every mission. For Apollo 11, I remember one man who explained how there was a tiny cross wire that stuck into the top of the mast that allowed the flag to be stretched out to full as if it was flying in a full breeze back on earth. MythBusters went to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. And at Marshall, they were able to obtained copies of the original plans for making the lunar flag and how to assemble it.

I had fun looking at the offical government website with the Apollo 11 images and chose one of the few images that show Neil Armstrong in it to go along with this article. It shows him working near the Lunar Module's desent stage and the American Flag out on the surface of the moon. Remember, almost all of the other Apollo 11 pictures that were shown to the public were the ones that Armstrong took of his companion Buzz Aldrin.

Other Reference websites:
( )All photographs on this website are courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, specifically the NASA History Office and the NASA JSC Media Services Center.
Photograph AS11-40-5886 (Neil Armstrong works at the LM )

Sunday, August 17, 2008

9th Annual T-38 Jet Rally (August 13-16, 2008)

One of my hobbies is playing with radio control model airplanes and the club that I belong to help put on, what in the past was a big money maker for our organization, the T-38 Jet Rally. This year, the 9th year of the event and with gasoline prices being what they have been; it was a very low key affair. Members of our hobby that have the need for speed and can afford it – fly model airplanes that are equipped with either a duct-fan or an actual, miniature turbine.

This article will be broken up into two parts.

The first part deals with the hobby of flying model airplanes, with a focus on turbines, but will include regular duct-fan and electric duct-fan power aircraft. Recently, in the August 2008 issue of Model Aviation which is put out by the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics), there were several articles about model jets. One article by Pete Oochroma detailes how someone can get into the Turbine part of the hobby (“Turbine Modeling Made Easy,” page 51). In another article (“Instant Jetification” by Curtis Mattikow on page 41) deals with electric duct-fans. Finally, for larger electric jet models, there was an another article written by Curtis Mattikow entitled “Large EDF Comes of Age” on page 65.

The easiest way into the jet part of this hobby is the electric ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) or now, the two new boys of the store shelves RR (Receiver Ready) and PNP (Plug and Play). Most of the models in this class are foam models. Such models would have all the radio servos, wiring, speed controller, and the motors and duct-fans already installed. To power these models, Li-Poly batteries are used. In this mode, just the basic components are used to make it fly. It is up to the modeler if he or she wants better performance, then they can upgrade the speed controllers, motors, etc. Curtis Mattikow included a list of RR models. Those include a F-15 from E-Do, a F-18 RTF(Ready to Fly) from StarMax. Kyosho has both scale and sport model electric jets such as the F-16 and the A-6 Intruder. A sport scale model jet is something that looks cools, but was never made into a full scale aircraft. Hobbico offers a electric duct-fan called the Diablo. It offers upgrades that take you from novice to a ace with the same airframe. GWS offers a electric duct-fan kit of the F-15 Eagle.

Now we make the jump up to larger jets. The ones that use glow motors inside a duct fan or actual turbines. The leader of the pack is Bob Violett Models (BVM). He offers both sport scale and scale jet models. For the past few years, his scale models have finished quite high in the standings at a event known as Top Gun. Sport scale models that he offers are the Bobcat, Kingcat, and the Ultra Bandits. BVM's scale offerings include such aircraft as the F-4, F-86, the F-16. BVM is also working on conversion kits for their big models that can be switched over to electric power. Now, there are other jet companies out there such as Composite-ARF, Aviation Designs, Jet Hangar Hobbies, and more. Companies that build and sell the turbines are several in number. Jet-Cat Turbines, WREN Turbines, Jet Central Turbines, and others. But, here in the United States, in order to operate a turbine power model airplane, the modeler must go through a process of training in order to secure for themselves what is known as the AMA (Turbine) Waiver. This helps supplement your home owner's insurance in case something goes wrong. This is basically a notarized form that is sent to AMA headquarters in Muncie, Indiana. As a bit of trivia for you – there are about 900 turbine waiver holders in the United States right now. To learn more about this and other issues dealing with model aviation in general, go to their website (

Part Two will cover the 9th Annual T-38 Jet Rally in particular. Lets begin with a little history behind our local jet rally.

Our club (WINGS Miniature Aircraft Society) was able to use the main runway of the former U.S. Air Force base west of Lubbock, Texas, that was known as Reese Air Force Base. Now it is known as the Reese Technology Center. From the late 1990s up until the early 2006, our club was able to operate out of there since Reese Technology Center no longer operated full scale aircraft. Now, when Reese Air Force base was operational, it was a training base operating T-37s and T-38 jets. Reese had three north-south runways. The shorter, eastern most runway was closest to the flight line. The other two runways were longer and further west. These latter two runways were used by the T-38s and thus, that is where the name for our jet rally came from.

In 2006, rumors of the runways being purchased by Wal-Mart or some other group for storing shipping containers came true and the happy times of flying out there on Reese's runway came to an end. Our club eventually located a runway near the small town of Abernathy, Texas, that welcomed us. Different rules had to be observed since the Abernathy airport is still a active airport. With that in mind, WINGS Miniature Aircraft Society began site improvements with the pouring of concrete pads with little taxiways going out to the main active runway. As time and as additional money comes in, additional site improvements will be made.

Now, as for this year's Jet Rally, the weather played havoc with us during the overnight hours, but gave us some great flying weather in the afternoons. Friday, there were crosswinds for the flyers to deal with. The rest of the time, the wind was usually out of the south. For the onlookers and support people, we would usually stick under the tents or the pop-up shelters to beat the afternoon heat. Saturday evening, the Contest Director Mike Danchak handed out the wooden plaques to those who flew and or help out with putting the event on. Eahc plaque had a metal plate with the T-38 Jet Rally logo on the bottom and on top, behind a clear plastic cover, was a photograph of the person with one of the jet planes that was present.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

“Leprechaun Alien”

A small creature was photographed and the results were published by the Sun newspaper online on August 3, 2008. Lloyd Deneau is a 41 year old from Florida who was visiting Lake Tahoe with family members. While taking the pictures, he did not see the creature until later when he downloaded his digital camera to his computer.

It was his children who referred to the creature as the “Leprechaun Alien” when they were shown the picture. Here is the link to the news article and photograph ( ).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

White Knight Two Unveiled!

The twin fuselage four engine jet plane known as the White Knight Two was unveiled on July 28, 2008 at Scaled Composites. That facility is located in Mojave, California. Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites designed and built the Virgin Galactic's mothership, nicknamed “Eve” after Sir Richard Branson's mother. Eve Branson was also present for the debute of the large aircraft. Burt Rutan, the aircraft designer and is also still working on SpaceShipTwo. SpaceShipTwo is a larger version of the famous SpaceShipOne that tested the sub-orbital vehicle concept several years ago. SpaceShipTwo will be able to carry eleven people up into sub-orbit.
But the WhiteKnightTwo can also launch other spacecraft such as satellites, and other projects (manned and unmanned) in the future. SpaceShipTwo will ride between the twin fuselages of the mothership.
(ref. article by Leonard David posted on July 31, 2008).

Friday, August 1, 2008



It was announched yesterday (July 31, 2008) that the Phoenix Lander on the planet Mars had indeed discovered water when the sample was tested in one of the lander's mini ovens.

Great news for those of us who support the idea of colonization of outer space and of the moon and Mars. I will add additional details to this posting over the weekend as time permits.