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Friday, December 02, 2011

KAL 007 Shoot Down or What a Difference The End of The Cold War Can Make

Background and Qualifications

I've been flying in airplanes since I was a kid.  I flew in a few small Cessna's in the late 1950's and even a bell helicopter that landed in our front yard in 1960.  I believe it was a Hiller like this one.

I went in the Navy in 1976 and flew in various prop and jet aircraft as both passenger and aircrew.  I flew in  C 131 Convair's out of Point Mugu, California like this one and in P3 Orion's.  

And Grumman E2 Hawkeye's like the one with the big radome  or rotodome cluttering things up on top. 

I've even flown in an A-4 Skyhawk  with a back seat  similar to this one at Point Mugu, California to take aerial photos of the antenna's on Russian Trawlers intercepting data from our missile launches.

But most of my time in the Navy has been in special Ski Equipped LC-130 F and R model aircraft like the one above.  I probably have over a 1000 hours on over water navigation flights from Point Mugu to somewhere halfway to Hawaii, flights from Point Mugu to Tahiti, Pago Pago, Christ Church New Zealand, and then McMurdo Station, Antarctica.  I've flown all over the Antarctic Continent.  McMurdo Station, South Pole, a Place called J9, the Russian Base at Vostok (Vostok is the South Geomagnetic Pole) and Molodyozhnaya Station, The French Base, Dumont D'Urville.  The proving flights to Australian base, Casey Station and I've spent hours flying up and down the Dry Valley’s and the Beardmore Glacier on ice sensing missions.  And unfortunately even time in a UH-1N Huey Helicopter during the recovery efforts of Air New Zealand DC 10 901 Crash

A little Right Seat Time.  (Note position of throttles) 

At Site D 59 where we recovered XD 321

A young and beautiful Shot of the Erebus Ice Tongue taken by the author in 1979.  The Tongue has long since broken off and reformed and no long exists in such a beautiful configuration as this.  You won't find another photograph of it like this anywhere else in the world.  It is here just for the enjoyment of Naam Bplah readers.

One Might think we were at the French base here but actually this was taken just after the Casey Proving flights in 1979 at the Australian, Casey Station

Russian Vostok Station 1978,  They couldn't have the Geographic South Pole,  America laid claim to that so the Russian's settled for the "Geomagnetic South Pole"   Which doesn't really exist as a piece of geography.  It is rather an intense geomagnetic force which "floats" in this general vicinity.

After the Navy I worked for a major defense contractor and spent the next 25 years racking up miles on commercial Airlines, Mostly on United, where I racked up over a million miles and then when I got transferred back east I started flying exclusively on North West, now Delta, where I have also accumulated over a million miles.  

So now on to the point of this post.   I think I've established or maybe over killed the fact that I do have some flight experience.
I usually fly out of Detroit on the older 747-400's and although we have in the past taken a Polar route to Narita Japan the flight route usually looks like this.  Note we stay well east of mainland Russia.

Twenty Eight years and a few days in change makes all the difference between life and death.  On November 30th 2011 I flew on one of my first flights back to Asia on Delta's new Boeing 777's out of Atlanta, Georgia.  About 7 or 8 hours into the flight I woke up and  looked up in shock at my in flight entertainment center "Follow the Plane" map as we headed down from the polar ice cap not through the Bering Sea down east into the sea of Japan and east of the Kurii Islands but right over the heart of Mother Russia.  Oh my Buddah!   Were we Ok?  Did our pilots file the proper flight plan?   No one briefed me on this change.  But then I am only a passenger.  That is hard to forget sometimes when you have the arrogance and background I do.
Flight Path of Delta Flight 281 Nov 30 2011

This was either a case of,  "Same Same but Different" as my Thai friends are so want to say and as is spelled out below.

Or this was and is a major new change.  As I said before twenty eight years and a few days in change makes all the difference between life and death. We have just passed the anniversary of the murder of the passengers on Korea's KAL 007.  These people weren't so lucky for being only a few hundred miles off course.  I wonder if any of them were monitoring the "follow the plane" map, as I was.  The Russians shot them down out of the sky without batting a eyelash.  After the Russian pilot fired his two air to air missiles up the rear end of the 747-400 he didn't look back but returned to base and probably got tanked up on some good Stoli.

You can see on one tiny little wave point set incorrectly at take off in an inertial navigation system (INS) can ruin you're whole day.

President Reagan's rather lengthy address 
to the Nation on the Russian Shoot down of KAL 00.  But you've got to love this man, as I did and do.  He didn't mince words.  He was nobody's patsy and the press hated him for it.  In 1983 they were well on the way to destroying him and his wife Nancy.

So the next flight you take back from Asia, check your "In Flight Map" and think for a moment of the lives or "soul's on board" KAL 007.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Waooo...so handsome guy!!!