Episode 57 – Air Racing and TSA Blogging

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Dan, Rob, and Max are joined this episode by two guests:  Chris Webb, who directed and co-produced the documentary film, Air Racer: Chasing the Dream, and Blogger Bob from The TSA Blog, a very active site.

This week’s news:

As always, we have a report from the boys down under at the Airplane Geeks Australia Desk.  Steve and Grant, by the way, now have their own podcast, Plane Crazy Down Under. We also have a This Week in Aviation segment.

Don’t forget to send us your ideas for Airplane Geeks T-Shirts and we’re still collecting good United stories so send them in by email, voice mail, or mp3.

Follow the Airplane Geeks on Twitter as @AirplaneGeeks, send us email at thegeeks@airplanegeeks.com, or leave us voice mail at (812) 757-4252.

This episode’s opening and closing music is provided by Brother Love. You can visit his site at brotherloverocks.com.

8 thoughts on “Episode 57 – Air Racing and TSA Blogging

  1. Jeff

    Blogger Bob is so open, fresh, and down to earth. I hope more in the government follow his lead. Great job fellow geeks!

  2. maxflight Post author

    [Roy writes…]

    I’ve recently found your podcast and got listening to your interview with Blogger Bob, I was quite surprised that he’d Blogged about travelling for Diabetics. I thought it would be pretty low on peoples awareness who weren’t diabetics. I’m a Type 2 diabetic so just use tablets, I live in the UK so have to deal with the CAA rather than the FAA & TSA and AFAIK they don’t have a blog like the TSA. Whilst the Blog is good, it seems to concentrate on Insulin, needles pumps etc, but doesn’t mention what the policy is on carrying large quantities of tables. I typically take 3 times the amount that I need for a holiday and wondered what the guidelines were around the world for people with large numbers of tablets in hand luggage.

    keep up the good work.

    PS I loved the video about United breaking guitars !

  3. maxflight Post author

    [Jaime sends in another amusing story:]

    Older but still funny …

    In addition to communicating with the local Air Traffic Control facility, all aircraft in the Persian Gulf AOR are required to give the Iranian Air Defense Radar (military) a ten minute ‘heads up’ if they will be transiting Iranian airspace.

    This is a common procedure for commercial aircraft and involves giving them your call sign, transponder code, type aircraft, and points of origin and destination. I just flew with a guy who overheard this conversation on the VHF Guard (emergency) frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai .

    The conversation went like this…

    Iranian Air Defense Radar: ‘Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.’

    Aircraft: ‘This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.’

    Air Defense Radar: ‘You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!’

    Aircraft: ‘This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter. Send ’em up, I’ll wait!’

    Air Defense Radar: (no response …. total silence)

  4. maxflight Post author

    [Jaime, our most prolific fan, forwards this…]

    In 1970, while assigned to the71st FIS at Malmstrom AFB, Montana , its pilot ejected during an inflight emergency. The pilot somehow got himself into a flat spin — considered generally unrecoverable in an F-106 — and he did what the flight handbook said to do — get out of it, i.e., eject.

    After the pilot did just that, 58-0787 recovered itself from this ‘unrecoverable’ situation. In a vain attempt to break the spin, the
    pilot had lowered half flaps, rolled in takeoff trim, and throttled the engine back to an approach power setting.

    After the ejection, the aircraft recovered from the spin on its own, and established a wings level low rate descent under reduced power to the ground. Ground effect broke its rate of descent, and it settled into a near-perfect gentle belly landing in a farmer’s snow-covered cornfield.

    When the local sheriff came upon the scene, the engine was still running. The aircraft was situated on a slight incline, and was creeping forward slowly under the thrust of its still-running engine, as the snow compressed to ice under it. Concerned about where it might be headed, the sheriff didn’t think he could wait for the recovery team to get there from Malstrom which, was about 50 miles away; so he got himself connected to the aircraft’s squadron for engine shut down instructions before he entered the cockpit to secure the engine.

    The attached photos show pretty much what the sheriff beheld on that fateful day. A depot team from McClellan AFB recovered the aircraft and it was eventually returned to service. When the 71st FIS was disbanded in 1971, 58-0787, now famously known as the “Cornfield Bomber,” was transferred to the 49th FIS, where it finished out its operational service life. Pilots of the 49th FIS would occasionally run into ex-71st FIS guys at William Tell and rag them unmercifully about the “emergency” so dire that the plane landed itself.

    58-0787 is now on permanent display in its 49th FIS markings at the USAF Museum at Wright Patterson AFB, where its story is told in the exhibit. While the 49th FIS Eagle jocks are reportedly glad to see their squadron immortalized in this way for millions to see, they would prefer to see it made more clear that it was the 71st, and not one of theirs, who jumped out of this perfectly good aircraft.

    [The photos show the jet sitting in the cornfield just like it had been gently placed there.]

  5. Blogger Bob


    Large quantities of pills are OK. If you’re like me, you travel with your meds in your carry-on luggage in case your checked luggage is lost. Pills are a regular item at TSA checkpoints, and our officers are used to seeing them on a daily basis.

    Now if you came through with a bag of pills taped to the inside lining of your luggage, that would cause suspicion… 🙂 If you have any more questions, please let me know.


  6. maxflight Post author

    [Ian made this request…]

    Could you try and hold the podcast to under 80 minutes?

    This would allow them to fit on a CD so that I can listen to them on my commute.


  7. maxflight Post author

    [Rich sends this along:]

    There has been what I could only consider to be a significant shakeup of the top heads at UAL. Glenn Tilton has been bumped down from President, Chairman and CEO, to just Chairman and CEO. This certainly seems a step in the right direction, and coming very abruptly after United’s announcement of a 300-something million dollar Q2 loss, it seems as though the board has finally had enough of Glenn’s awful mismanagement. Now that United is very much so between a rock and a hard place, the board might be trying one last ditch effort to right to company, by doing what everyone in the industry has been clamouring to see for about 5 year: Getting rid of Tilton.

    John Tague has been named President in Glenn’s place:

    “As president, John has responsibility for all airline management functions, from sales, marketing and revenue management to the quality of customer service and products, as well as the safe and efficient operations of the airline, including United Express. John continues in his role as executive vice president of UAL Corp. and also serves on the Executive Council of the corporation.

    In May of last year, John assumed operations responsibilities in addition to his revenue responsibilities and will build on the work under way in his new role.

    “John is leading the work to drive performance across our airline — focused on delivering sustainable improvements across the operations to benefit our customers and driving consistent cost and revenue results,” says Glenn Tilton, UAL Corp. chairman, president and chief executive officer. “John and the team have made solid progress against our goals by leading the industry in cost control and by making operational improvements, including finishing first in on-time arrivals for the first five months of 2009. John is responsible for driving results that will continue to improve our customer satisfaction scores and will position United as an industry leader across all key metrics.”

    We also lead the industry in important new revenue streams.”

    Glenn’s own resonse to this is somewhat curt, and in that strange politician’s way of saying a lot without actually saying anything at all:

    “Dear colleague:
    As we move forward in what continues to be an extremely challenging industry environment, decisive leadership together with extraordinary execution and effort from all of us are needed to ensure our continued sustainability and progress.

    To that end, I am pleased to announce that we have named John Tague to the position of president of United Airlines, in addition to his role as executive vice president, UAL Corporation. Kathryn Mikells has also been named executive vice president of UAL Corporation and continues in her role as chief financial officer.

    Complete details of the appointments are available in NewsReal.
    As we are seeing from the recent round of financial results and other industry news, these difficult times show no signs of easing. While doing all that we can to maximize revenues, we should note our success in doing those things that we can control — maintaining adequate liquidity and, in fact, leading the way in cost reduction and reliability among our peers.
    I want to thank each of you for your role in these achievements and ask that we work together closely to continue to distinguish ourselves from our competition.


    Here’s looking forward to Glenn getting fired sometime soon.

    See you guys later,

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