"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Thunderstorms and other things

  • Yesterday it rained. This might not sound like much. But you have to understand that I haven't heard the sound of rain pitter-pattering on the rooftops for months. I was asleep at the time; as I woke up, I thought some contractor was throwing gravel at my can (which I would not put past them. The latest KBR contractor game has been to wake up our night crew guys at 2 in the afternoon, insisting they need to come in and check our smoke detectors, an inspection which we'd arranged to do ourselves as soon as we deployed here. Night crew has been less than appreciative of this). I'd forgotten the fresh smell after a rain shower. Hopefully we'll get it a few more times while we're out here.
  • A couple of nights ago I had my second of three flights required to become an aircraft commander. This one was at night, in what we call low light level conditions (no moon, only stars and any cultural lighting to provide illumination for your goggles). I did a night warm-up flight two days earlier, and both were similiar: it was dark. Very dark. You'd think all the lights at an airfield would provide a lot of illumination, but you'd be wrong, since all those lights flood your goggles and blot out the details on the ground that you actually need to see. We were actually bouncing at a dirt airstrip south of the main runways, which has no lights save three very dim bulbs denoting the landing zone (which you can't see until you're almost on top of them). Those may well have been the darkest landings I've ever done, as I can't remember the last time I had so much difficulty actually seeing the ground. You couldn't pick up any detail until about 50 feet above the deck, so you'd better have the aircraft on a great landing profile at that point or you're waving off. And if it weren't for our FLIR (forward-looking infrared device) we wouldn't have had any horizon to reference, save on our instruments; on the the goggles, it was so dark you couldn't tell where the ground stopped and sky began (fortunately, the FLIR can, since at night the ground is warmer than the sky and the FLIR ball shows you what's hot and what's cold). All my landings on both nights were safe, which is what the instructor was looking for in an up-and-coming HAC; still, the whole ordeal was somewhat uncomfortable. There's a reason we don't fly missions on dark nights unless absolutely necessary: it's never good when the ground is a greater threat than your enemy.
  • For anyone who was keeping score, another of the Brown boys has decided to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. My youngest brother recently signed his contract with the United States Navy and will commence training in a matter of months. He's going after an NFO job (Naval Flight Officer), which requires you to sit behind or beside the pilot of a naval aircraft and press the buttons that make things go boom. Terrorists, your game is through, cuz now you have to answer to . . .

1 comment:

elay said...

wow..i had a nice time going through your blog. i hope that by the time you're reading this you and by the time i get back to your blog, you're finished with your aircraft commander check..and i hope to read more about it..c'yah!