Bits of Stone
Christmas tree is on its 24-day trip from Colorado to White House
For young children who think Christmas is too long arriving and for adults who think it gets here too soon, the 73-foot Englemann spruce which will decorate the White House grounds began its trip from Colorado to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 2. It is scheduled to be concluded Nov. 26 following stops in 28 cities.
“The People’s Tree” is a traveling exhibit for clean diesel technology. Harvested from White River National Forest, the trip is under the supervision of the U.S. Forest Service. It will be decorated with 5,000 ornaments made by Colorado school children.
The Diesel Technology Forum is a “Forester Sponsor” of the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour and will provide daily Twitter and Facebook updates on its trip across the country on a SmartWay-certified, custom-decorated MAC Pinnacle Axle Back model sleeper clean diesel truck.
The truck takes advantage of improved fuel and technology: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and admissions-control systems. The nationwide availability of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel gave the Forest Service flexibility in planning the trip. The visits closest to East Tennessee are Nashville on Monday, Nov. 19; Atlanta, Ga., on Tuesday, Nov. 20, and Asheville, N.C., on Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Thinking of traveling? Here are some far-out destinations
With all of the serious problems facing the nation, it is often good to read a few things on the lighter side. An acquaintance sent me an interesting item involving the use of words in the event one is thinking of traveling.
He found he had never been:
• in cahoots because you have to be there with someone.
• in cognito because he had nothing to hide.
• in sane. They don’t have an airport, you have to be driven there.
• in able to get to conclusions because you often have to jump and he is not as agile as he once was.
• in doubt, much because it is a sad place to go.
• in flexible, except when it was very important to stand firm.
• in an uncomfortable place as in capable, one he visits more often as he grows older.
• in a place he likes as well as in suspense. It really gets the adrenalin flowing.
• in continent in a country whose name he could not remember.
• in solvent because that is currently his status.
Now, its time to get back to worrying about all the problems we can’t solve instead of where we might think about traveling!
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has very interesting history
First recorded athletic competition between college teams was an 1852 rowing meet between Harvard and Yale.
Things got out of hand in football’s early days. They were actual battles featuring stretcher bearers and death. In 1905, the college football death toll was 18 with 11 more in both 1906 and 1907 and 13 in 1908. The toll reached 26 in 1909 and dropped to 14 the following year.
Deaths on the gridiron brought a national cry to abolish football. It came from politicians, academics, editorial writers and the popular president, Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy did something about it.
Following two White House conferences, the NCAA predecessor was established March 31, 1906. It took its present name in 1910 and in the 1980s the 1,281 members adopted women’s competition in sports. An organization we take for granted is very important to our amateur sports today.
First U.S. victory over WWII Nazi plane occurred in Iceland
Aviation History magazine reports that America’s first WWII aerial victory against the German Luftwaffe was far from Europe, off the coast of Iceland on Aug. 14, 1942.
On Aug. 10, 1938, a civilian version of the Focke-Wulf Condor had flown from Berlin to New York in 24 hours and 56 minutes. Nazi Germany had neglected developing long-range bombers, concentrating on planes to support ground troops. Suddenly in need of long-range planes, it modified and strengthened the civilian Condor.
It was such a Condor that was apparently flying reconnaissance over Iceland checking on changes in security following the July 1941 U.S. Army replacement of British forces in Iceland. Neither British nor U.S. forces had been successful in downing the German planes that usually escaped into regularly overcast skies there and continued to bomb merchant shipping in cooperation with Nazi submarines. After an extended battle involving other U.S. planes, the pilots of the P-38 and P-39 downed the first German plane.
Antarctic record, Black Box, nuclear dirigible stories recalled
After 43 years of serving the U.S. permanent settlement, Antarctic Research Center at McMurdo, in 1999 VX-6 turned over the duty to the Air National Guard. One of the early pilots described landing the ski-equipped Douglas R4D Dakotas before the days of the C-130 in 1961. Landing in deep snow was like landing on a bed of feathers. Touching down on glacier ice was like landing on hard rock. McMurdo is staffed with more than 1,000 scientists, military and logistical personnel.
The 50th anniversary of an Antarctic flight distance record is at hand. A Navy LC-130F Hercules, during a series of Deep Freeze flights, took off from McMurdo Station, flew over the Shackleton Mountains before returning 10 hours and 40 minutes later.
Aviation History further details the invention of the Black Box which resulted from the research by James “Crash” Ryan. It led to the modern flight data recorder which has greatly contributed to aviation safety. His mechanical foil-and-stylus machines that measured and tracked time, airspeed, acceleration and altitude led to the required solid-state flight Orange Box and cockpit voice recorders. These devices are outstanding in helping determine the cause of crashes.
The same issue records some of the plans to build a 980-foot-long nuclear-powered dirigible in 1964. It was designed to transport 400 passengers in luxury but was never built. It would have had 1,000 horsepower turbines, a large ballroom and big cargo capacity.
Lockheed’s long-lived C-130 Hercules is considered the perfect airlifter by many. It still serves some 60 nations in a variety of roles. In 1963, it became the largest, heaviest aircraft to land and takeoff unassisted from a carrier.
50th anniversary reveals 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis details
The 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis has revealed figures of which many Americans were not aware. The current issue of the VFW magazine offers some details.
As early as August 1962, our high altitude U-2s as well as Navy and Marine planes, flying 500 feet above the ground at 600 mph, confirmed the presence of 158 tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba.
The crisis continued through the U.S. blockade which ended Dec. 31, 1962. At the peak of the crisis, 233 ships, including seven aircraft carriers, 31 naval aviation units, six minesweepers, two Seabee battalions, and a detachment of Naval Beach Group were involved.
Civilians at Guantanamo, the U.S. base on Cuba, were evacuated and Marines strengthened the base. Another 25,000 Marines and 100,000 Army troops in Florida were on standby. The carriers Enterprise and Independence had closed the island and had received their orders about where to start firing.