Wednesday, December 28, 2011

P-3 Orion Touch and Go

It happens everyday around the United States.  The men in charge of protecting this nation practice their profession.  Pilots need to keep proficient and be ready for the day they are needed.  Today, I just happened to have my camera and be in the right place at the right time.

A Navy P-3C Orion, flying from Whidbey Island NAS, made some touch and goes this morning.  My daughter and I were fortunate that our location and schedule permitted us to watch him make a few passes.

After a quick perusal of the NAS Whidbey Island site, I suspect this one is from VP-40, the Fighting Marlins.  Of course, the military is notoriously tight-lipped about such things, so getting a straight answer is unlikely.  Believe me, I tried calling.  I'm not certain what good that kind of information could do anyone with bad intentions, but I would not want to put any fighting men/women at risk, so I'll leave it at that.

 The P-3 is an anti-submarine maritime patrol aircraft.  When hunting submarines the tail boom is used to search for magnetic anomalies, which a submarine would qualify as, since it is a large chunk of metal in an otherwise, non-metallic area.  To track a submarine they can also launch sono-buoys, which can either actively or passively listen for the movements of a large underwater vessel and transmit what it hears back to the aircraft.  You can see where sono-buoys are launched from, the area of dots inside the rectangle near the tail.

As a patrol aircraft, it's duty is to go for long flights over vast distances.  Why they train over land is beyond me, but I am certain it has something to do with availability of runways.  Who knows?
 Never let it be said that the boys in uniform are just taking it easy.  These guys were working hard today!  I just wish they'd drop me an email so I could be prepared with my camera!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Seventy Years Ago

It has been 70 years ago, today, since the Japanese Empire sent naval units and aircraft to attack units of the United States Navy.  Though the Japanese planners had hoped to catch the US carriers in port, they instead succeeded in changing the way the US Navy fought its wars.  By placing the US Pacific Battle Line on the bottom, the Japanese opened up a chance for US planners to use an, up to then, unproven technology as the main way for the US to take war to the enemy.  Of course, I am speaking of the Aircraft Carrier.

There was another way that the USN took the war to the enemy.  Unrestricted Submarine Warfare.

Still, even though it took four more years to finish the war, our first bloody nose was a painful one.  Though the experts never seem to agree, I go with this number:  2400.  2400 men.  Two thousand, four hundred men lost their lives.  The United States armed forces, both the Navy and the Army, were caught with their pants down.  You can talk about conspiracy theories all day long, that doesn't matter.  In the long run, 2400 families lost loved ones that day, and that was only a drop in the bucket.

That is why I think it appropriate that we all spend a few minutes and think of the men and women who either gave part of their lives, themselves, or died for our country and their fellow soldiers.  I would like to personally thank every one of them, but that will never happen, so I'll do it here.  Thank you.  And to you who serve now, Thank you.

I also value the inanimate.  I think of the battleships on Battleship Row.  Arizona, you gave all.  Oklahoma, you sailed again, but under tow and only to founder after the war.  West Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, California, and Nevada you all went back to sea and even managed to bring some much needed revenge back to the enemy who holed you.

Always remember the Day of Infamy.