The Mil & Aero Blog
Thursday, December 31, 2009
  E-networking revolution highlighted 2009
Posted by John McHale

At Military & Aerospace Electronics in 2009 we dived right into social networking or as we like to call it e-networking. We have a fan page on Facebook, a group on Linkedin called the PennWell Aerospace and Defense Media Group, and gather our news content on Twitter under #milaero and avionics content on #avintel.

It's been a fun and successful way to push out our online news stories to new readers and start discussions. We've found the most interactive outlet to be on Linkedin, which started out as a professional networking site whereas Facebook was focused on more social or personal networking.

Although, yesterday I read a story in the Wall Street Journal that basically stated Linkedin needs to get more creative to keep-up with Facebook. According to the piece Facebook kicks Linkedin's rear in total members. However some analysts in the story say that lopsided memebrship numbers are misleading as Linkedin is strictly a professional networking service whereas Facebook is geared more toward professional and social communication.

I have also found that many people I talk to in the defense and aerospace industry say that their employers do not let them use Facebook or Twitter, but are more flexible when it comes to Linkedin because of its professional nature.

Twitter is its own animal. I've done quite a bit of tweeting while at trade shows. It provides immediate coverage -- albeit in 140 characters or less. I typically will tweet as I'm leaving a booth or sitting in a press conference or luncheon. Twitter allows me to not only push links to articles on our websites but get out little tidbits of info that would not typically make it into the print magazine or on a web story.

Also, much like with our blogs, Twitter allows us to take a different, sometimes lighter spin on current events than traditional news coverage.

What really seems to impress our audience about Twitter is its instantaneous nature.

For example at the MILCOM show this fall in Boston, I attended the first live demonstration of an OpenVPX system run by engineers at Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing in Leesburg, Va., and Hybricon in Ayer, Mass. I tweeted about the demo on my Blackberry while watching it. They were excited because they were videotaping the moment and placing it on youtube -- -- but got quite a kick out of the fact that I was immediately online with their news.

One person in attendance commented that the age of instant reporting is here.

E-networking media has definitely changed the way we do things at Military & Aerospace Electronics. I remember when all we used to have was a magazine. Now we still have the magazine, two websites, four conferences, webcasts, three e-newsletters, dedicated pages on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.

So be sure to check us out wherever you find yourself on the web in 2010.

Happy New Year!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
  Tiger Woods: please, just make it all go away

Posted by John Keller

As Americans we confront vigorous debates on how to deal with unemployment, how to finance real estate in a down market, government's role in health care and private business, and whether "global warming" is a legitimate threat or an elaborate hoax. So what dominates the front pages?

Tiger Woods.

For those of you just back from extended vacations on Saturn, Tiger Woods plays golf, and gets a lot of money for doing so ... okay, so he doesn't just play golf; he's the best of his generation, and one of the all-time greats, and this gets Tiger Woods a LOT of attention.

He gets so much attention, in fact, that big companies that make Nike shoes and Gatorade beverages have Tiger Woods selling their products -- for which the golfer also gets a lot of money.

Lately it's become known that Tiger Woods cheated on his wife with a lot of different women. Mr. Woods and his cuckolded wife, by the way, have small children, which makes his extramarital affairs that much worse.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I don't play golf, have absolutely no skills in golf, don't watch golf on television, and consider golf to be irrelevant to my life. I know people who are enthusiastic golfers, like to talk golf, and get a lot of enjoyment and personal rewards from golf, and I think that's just great ...

... but do I have to wake up every morning to Tiger Woods, hear about Tiger Woods on TV and radio, see his face on countless Internet pages and newspapers?

I'm tired of Tiger Woods. Unless he has something to do with me and mine, I don't want to hear about him anymore. I don't want to see his face anymore, I don't want to know how many mistresses he's had (I've already run out of enough fingers and toes to count).

Here's the deal -- what Tiger Woods has done, is doing, or will do, is none of my business, and I'd be grateful to keep it that way ...

... so no more. Please.


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Monday, December 7, 2009
  Vengeful American fighter pilots get their pound of flesh at Pearl Harbor

Posted by John Keller

Consider a couple of young hotshot fighter pilots on their dream assignment in Hawaii. Short work days, plenty of sun and sand, and parties ... think of the parties ... rooftop dinner-dances at Waikiki beachfront hotels, big bands, pretty girls, endless rum and tropical fruit drinks -- and always a poker game to be had in the wee hours.

Ah, that was the life, and it belonged to George Welch and Kenneth Taylor, second lieutenants in the U.S. Army Air Corps on their first deployments flying P-40 Warhawk single-engine fighters out of Wheeler Field near Pearl Harbor in early December 1941. Welch was 23. Taylor was two weeks short of his 22nd birthday.

So where else would you expect to find these guys on a balmy Saturday night, but at dance party near the beach, and a late-night poker game with buddies thrown in for good measure. The last poker hand was dealt as the day's first faint glow came in the east that Dec. 7, 1941. After having been up all night, the young pilots were thinking of a lazy morning in bed, with maybe a Sunday morning swim first to soften their hangovers.

Before they could get settled, however, they heard the first ominous sounds that would change their lives -- and the lives of a nation -- forever. Explosions, gunfire, the roar of aircraft at Wheeler field. Fighters and bombers with the distinctive red-ball markings of the Japanese Empire shrieked over the base, firing machine guns and dropping bombs in the beginning of the Japanese attack on U.S. military bases in and around Pearl Harbor.

Welch grabbed a telephone to call an auxiliary airfield at Haleiwa -- 16 miles away by winding road -- where their P-40 fighters were parked. They told ground crewmen at Haleiwa to get their fighters fueled and warmed up; He and Taylor would get there as soon as they could.

They drove in Taylor's car at speeds sometimes reaching 100 miles per hour up winding roads, dodging strafing from attacking Japanese aircraft several times. They might not have known it, but the battleship USS Arizona and many other U.S. Navy ships docked at Pearl Harbor were burning and sinking behind them.

Finally Welch and Taylor reached their fighters idling beside the grass strip at Haleiwa. Without much of preflight inspection, the two pilots jumped into their cockpits, strapped in, and streaked into the air, where almost immediately each pilot shot down a Japanese bomber. Taylor saw another Japanese plane heading out to sea, went after it, and shot it down.

Meanwhile, Welch's plane was hit, yet he maneuvered through a cloud, broke out, and pounced on an Aichi D3A dive bomber and shot the Japanese attacker down. Taylor and Welch both had already shot down two Japanese planes apiece, and were running low on fuel, but they weren't through for the day.

Despite continuing attacks, the two pilots landed at stricken Wheeler Field beside the smoking wreckage of the ships at Pearl Harbor to refuel from an undamaged gasoline truck. Ground crewmen ran into a burning hangar to get them ammunition, and soon Welch and Taylor were airborne again.

They climbed through a cloud of Japanese planes on the second-wave attack, and each shot down one more. By the time they landed for good that day, Welch had four confirmed kills, and Taylor two. Most likely the two pilots probably shot down at least 10 Japanese attackers between them.

Now consider this: The Japanese lost only 29 aircraft in their attack on Pearl Harbor. Welch and Taylor probably accounted for one-third of that. Both pilots won the Distinguished Service Cross for their actions at Pearl Harbor. For his heroism that day Welch was denied the Medal of Honor -- if you can believe it -- because he took off without orders.

Welch had other hard luck in his life. He probably broke the sound barrier in 1947 while flying an XP-86 Sabre jet fighter two weeks before Chuck Yeager did it in the X-1, but Welch's plane was in a dive, and didn't have reliable speed-measuring equipment, so it didn't count. He was killed as a test pilot at age 36 in the crash of an F-100 Super Sabre jet fighter.

Taylor fared better. He retired from the service as a brigadier general in the Alaska Air National Guard. He died in Tucson, Ariz., in 2006 at the age of 86.

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Welch and Taylor were not the only heroes in the Japanese attack that happened 68 years ago today. There were plenty of heroes. Please take a moment today to remember them all.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
  IITSEC not as busy this year but the technology is as cool as ever

Posted by John McHale.

Traffic at Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando, Fla., this week is a little less and the exhibit floor is a little smaller -- seems like a whole hall is missing -- than last year, but the technology showcased is as cutting edge and just as plain cool as it always was.

The annual trade show focuses on technology for training the warfighter such as flight simulators, avionics trainers, vehicular simulators, training systems for avoiding and detecting improvised explosive devises (IEDs), flight displays, image generators, rugged laptops, etc.

While many exhibitors say that traffic is slower than in years past, they see the military simulator the market as strong with military funding for training systems continuing to remain steady for new systems as well as retrofits.

Highlights for me at the show aside from my fun with the Rockwell Collins heads-up display pictured here, included a demonstration of manned and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) teaming from L-3 Communications.

L-3 engineers showed that a UAV teamed with an Army Stryker unit, a rescue helicopter, and an attack helicopter can effectively work together on a mission through streaming video that all have access to. They can train either in the same room or thousands of miles apart.

The L-3 concept will enable warfighters to get this type of team training much earlier than in the past, better preparing them for when they deploy, L-3's Michael Rapavi, told me.

The concept that intrigued me the most was the COMBATREDI portable training system for dismounted soldiers from Cubic in Orlando. The system is worn by the soldier -- run by a computer on his back -- and uses sensors located on his body to determine if he is running, crouching, jumping, etc. Sensors also detect the position of his weapon. The sensors communicate wirelessly with in the system.

Soldiers can use it anywhere even in their living room if need be.

Another thing that I learned in my meeting with Cubic was a new military acronym ... just when I thought I'd heard them all.

I asked whether or not the COMBATREDI system will be able to update its scenarios with real-time intelligence from the field and was told that that will be a P3I , which stands for pre-programmed product improvement... in other words new capabilities that will be added later.

I heard a story once that an engineer once wrote an entire paragraph using only acronyms... verbs and all.

I believe it, the military industry has an acronym for everything.

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