2021 TO DATE:
So far, up through the end of September this year, the record now stands at 7 fatal accidents, with 8 fatalities, 6 pilots and 2 passengers, with 2 accidents listed as info not available, as listed below from the NTSB web site. A summary of the fatal accidents will be completed for the December issue, and with any luck, the NTSB might have more information for us on the two accidents currently listed as N/A.
FOR INFORMATION ON ALL ACCIDENTS/INCIDENTS THAT OCCURRED LAST MONTH, REFER TO JIM TIMM’S ACCIDENT SUMMARY HEREIN.
Fred’s Perspective –
Ghost fire in the sky near Franklin, WV.
Fire Rainbows: A Rare Cloud phenomenon
“Fire Rainbows” or “rainbow clouds” are neither fire, nor rainbows, but are so called because of their brilliant pastel colors and flame line appearance. Technically they are known as circumhorozontal arc—an ice halo formed by hexagonal, plate-shaped ice crystals in high level cirrus clouds. The halo is so large that the arc appears parallel to the horizon, hence the name. Brightly colored circumhorizontal arc occur mostly during the summer and between particular latitudes. When the sun is very high in the sky, sunlight entering flat, hexagon shaped ice crystals gets split into individual colors just like in a prism. The conditions required to form a “fire rainbow” is very precise—the sun has to be at an elevation of 58ᴼ or greater, there must be high altitude cirrus clouds with plate-shaped ice crystals, and sunlight has to enter the ice crystals at a specific angle. This is why circumhorizontal arc is such a rare phenomenon.
Fred’s Pop Quiz…
Interesting read, and I answer all the questions this time…
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.
Why was that gauge used?
Well, because that's the way they built them in England, and English engineers designed the first US railroads.
Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the wagon tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
So, why did 'they' use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that same wheel spacing.
Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break more often on some of the old, long distance roads in England . You see, that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads?
Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.
And what about the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match or run the risk of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore, the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.
So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with this?', you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' asses.)
Now, the twist to the story and its connection to aviation:
When you saw a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there were two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs were made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.
So, a major Space Shuttle design feature, of what was arguably the world's most advanced transportation system at that time, was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of two horse's asses.
And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important?
(My thanks to Chuck Bendixon, an old and dear friend up here in Flag, for passing this off to me)