Archive for September, 2007

Anti-Ballistic Missile: MDA or DCA

Friday, September 28th, 2007


Boeing’s ICBM interceptor took out a target missle launched from Alaska.  The article says the “warhead” was tracked, intercepted, and destroyed.  That was quite an achievement.  We crewdawgs know that warheads aren’t very big.

They’re calling it the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system, and the Missile Defense Agency (commanded by an Army Maj General) runs the system.  It sounds more like a Defensive Counter Aerospace system.  Aerospace includes the environment from the surface of the Earth upward to infinity.  I was almost ready to say it should be an Air Force project, but we’re not “aerospace” anymore.  We’re “air and space.” It’s a shame.  

 We abandoned the traditional term during General Foggleman’s tenure as COS for unknown reasons, then returned to our aerospace roots under General Ryan, after a polite but insistant group of doctrineers impressed upon him the value of the term.  However, after he left office, we returned to the Air & Space verbage, much like a dog returns to its vomit.

So Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system . . . bun by the MDA it is. And it’s a $49 billion investment over the next five-years.  That’s a good business for Boeing, and part of a good system to make terrorist-nation’s ballistic missiles a poor investment. 

Along the way, I hope we don’t shoot down too many of our own ballistic missiles.  In a terrorist-infested world, we don’t have many to spare.  It just makes sense.

Lost Nukes: I Wonder

Thursday, September 27th, 2007


Michael W. Wynne, the Sec AF, responded to “The Saga of a Bent Spear” this morning in the Washington Post.  Yeterday, Doug sent around a copy of the article and a piece of the EXTERIOR INSPECTION checklist 1B-52H-30-1 (Apr 2000):

1.d. AGM-129 Missiles – Checked
(1) Nose Protective Guard – Checked removed
(2) Payload Marking – Checked: Check proper payload is installed for the mission
(3) Evidence of Missile Fuel Leaks – Checked

Mr. Wynne states the investigation will be completed within several days.  He also covers four issues that show the AF is not waiting for the results of the investigation:
1) Weapon inspections at all similar installations as Minot and Barksdale.
2) ACC did a stand-down to review munitions policies, regulations and procedures.
3) dialogue with the Sec Def and his inspectors
4) Mr. Wynne has visited both bases and looks at the “dedicated professionals working with our munitions.” 

He finishes with declaring the USAF owes a comprehensive, detailed investigation with results that will be transparent and accurate.

I read in the AF Times that he’s called Gen Welch to help look at things, not sure if that is as a formal part of the investigation.  I wonder how an older B-52 general, former CINC SAC, COSAF would be impressed with the reorganization of the bomber force under the leadership of weapon-school grads, that being the most important qualification for leadership? Gen Welch was a doer, I had a conversation with him back in the summer of 1987 that resulted in copilots being called pilots and pilots being called aircraft commanders . . . yes that was my idea, but he made it happen.

I wonder if an objective look will be made at a system that is a political faternal-order of school graduates which has literally defused our nuclear bomber force from any resemblance of the professionalism that was once common place.  Remember when every unit had one or two idiots on the team, but they weren’t the guys in charge?

I wonder if a hard look will be made at how many “pumping-gas into your mini-van” safety briefings were made during our myriad “safety/training days.”

I wonder if a hard look will be made at what really goes on during a mission planning day or on the nearly non-existent critque days.

I wonder if job proficiency will ever become a priority for advancement in the bomber-force.

I wonder if the inspectors will perform a comprehensive psychological and intelligence review of the crop of weapon-school leaders that control the bomber force.  Then I wonder if they’ll conduct a similar test of the crew force that serves them.

I wonder if the investigation will reveal the “brains” behind the process that gutted the aircrews’ ability to follow checklists or recognize nuclear weapons in a 6 out of 12 line-up.

I wonder if the USAF will clean up the leadership disease, and in doing so will they recall the generals who allowed such as virus to infect our Air Force and hold them accountable for the fruits of their labor.

I wonder how frustrated Michael Wynne must be as he tries to deal with the excrement he inherited.

I wonder if there was anything else I could have done while I was on active duty to have prevented this mess – a mess we all saw coming.

I wonder if the true test of leadership really is “knowing when to follow” or is it “knowing when to fall on your sword.”  The personal results is about the same in each case, but the institutional results might have been better.  I wonder if it just makes sense.


Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

To our own web log . . . our blog.  Hopefully, this will serve our needs.  I recommend you change your password if you haven’t already done so.

 I had my admin geek post last months comments on this site.  If needed, we can post many of the other old ones . . . or instead look to the future with our discussions that will come.

 Look around, make a post, comment on someone else’s post.  This should be fun.

For now, all the posts look like our monthly updates.  In time, we’ll probably make the posts “subject oriented” and then we can all comment IAW that subject.  I’m open for suggestions on how to do this better.


The Chuck

11 September: Andy

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007


Well, it’s my turn, I think…

Wow, the 11th…when someone mentioned it in my store, hard not remembering where one was when it happened…generating airplanes for “alert’ duty…

Yea, I heard the news about the nukes form my potentially new boss.  I couldn’t wait until I got home to read the MSNNBC version of it.  Wow, it was unbelievable!  I was floored…When I was teaching the CFIC candidates; I use to stress the importance of knowledge & following procedures.  I would try to get across to them that there is a general lack of knowledge that if they (the candidates) didn’t pay attention to the details, that someone was going to get killed.  I would even predict that within five years of our age group retiring, that there would be a major BUFF accident and that I hope they would prove me wrong.  But this?  Yea, it was coming I guess with all the short cuts and to check off the requirement for Nukes. 

Yea, Elwood, a bit peeved about the pilots over RN for promotions comment, but it was the truth then and we lived with it…but we RNs took it just as seriously.  Yep, SAC had it right but the fighter folks won the day and has been trying very hard to get rid of us dinosaurs.

On with other stuff…the job at 8th is still on the horizon.  ACC released the PRF August 24th with a due back August 30th.  Everyone was hoping that a decision would be made last week since the start date is 19 September.  So we’ll see what happens.  In the meantime, there might be something with the WST too.  I’m working that angle as well.

So, in the meantime, our CVS store has moved lock stock & barrel into our new location…nothing like 70 hour weeks for 45 hr pay…O wait a second I feel like a Nav again in SAC, we did all the work and pilots got promoted! LoL

Kitchen 99.5% done, Heather has to paint the modeling & trim to call complete.  Having the house re-sided in vinyl versus aluminum. He-111 model still unfinished.

Reed, bought a Remington 11-87, camo version, for hunting this year.  I sold a few of my dad’s guns that I’ll never use plus the camper shell.  O’ my Canadian goose I shot in January was delivered last week…it’s a cross breed of a Canadian-lesser & a speckled belly

James, glad to hear the news about your dad…still praying

John; yep, 19 is too young to get married!  Told my daughter the same thing last year, no grands kids for awhile.  Also told her I’m not a pap-paw, pee-paw or what other southern name they come up with.  It’s Grandpa, Granddad, or Gramps.

DB & Doug; welcome.

Chuck; great articles love reading them even in the email version.

Until next time…cheers!


11 September: Bob

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Hi BOB,           

Thanks for the updates and I wish everyone a wonderful week.  I do not have any exciting news like y’all.            

This will be short and I apologize now, as I have a ton of homework and research.            

If anyone knows where Walt Ledford, Lance King and Alan Parmeter are I would appreciate their email.            

I have volunteered to help pro se Veterans with their appeals at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims.  I saw the request in a VFW Magazine.  I also am preparing a MOTION TO COMPEL in the same court vs. the VA, as I won a case there in July and the nice VA folks have ignored the Judges ORDER to expedite the actions.              

A sad point is the person who helped me go to Law School (Kevin Ross, Montgomery AMVETS) passed away this last weekend.  The Houston AMVETS folks were nice enough to call me today to let me know.  Kevin was a retired Chief that was a kind and nice person.  He saw past my blindness and later low vision (2 surgeries) to help me stay out of a VA home and fight for rehabilitation.

Hey I have found out how to be a political delegate, let me know if you are interested in serving at your state, and I will tell ya what I have been told.            

As far as the nukes, the CG for one should have been off a little bit, and I wondered how the appearance of the weapons differed.  We did not see the warhead, it was covered.  I was involved on one project that looked at those things and replacing the material with a conventional war head.  So for the aircrew, it should have been paperwork.  But for the guys loading and moving they have a problem.  If you hear who loses their jobs please let us know.            

Jim I pray your Dad continues to improve.  Oh your daughter’s school got a $11.5M remodeling contract awarded by Texas.  She will be gone by then.  For me the entire school is under renovation and parking is bad.  So with that being my major concern,. Life is good.  Thanks everyone for the updates, I really enjoy them. 



11 Sep: Doug

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Well I appreciate the invite to the group. I know I have been in touch on occasion with some of you through work addresses but I think this is real nice to see where everyone is. I am still up at Langley working for Lockheed Martin and running the BLUE FLAG Exercise program in A3J. I picked this up after working  from the TRSS up here my final 3 years before retirement. It is good steady work but I am still in the military in many ways and feel a need sometime to be free of things and move on.    Nancy and the kids are still up here with me. Two have fallen out of the nest on their own and I still have a ten year old. We will be the oldest parents when she graduates from high school. I sometime may get to go back to Barksdale this year and will let you guys know if I do. This place is still crazy (housing market wise) and we have not been able to settle on a home yet. I know California has us beat but the sticker shock of moving from KBAD up here still smarts alot. I run into alot of old head bomber guys up here and will pass them on to you when I do.

    As for the remeberance of 911 I remember many of us were sitting on the ramp up at Minot will full loads on board. Remember the joy of gettig to still real BR alert while the Minotians got to go home. I remeber finally getting to be realeased from the Alert shack and going on base to get some hot wings. What  a fun ten days.

    No news fromm the fallout of the missile issue. We here at the all consuming command have heard of no other heads coming off. I do know that COMACC went up to Minot the other day. Not sure why. If I get word I’ll pass along.


11 Sept: Elwood

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Guess I’ll be the first to tell you, John—ACM can only go on a pylon, won’t fit on a CSRL in the bomb bay.

And welcome to the soap opera “Marriages of the Young.”  I would say young and stupid, but I’ve had leading roles in that soap opera twice and don’t want to cast myself in that role anymore.  Cheer up, he’s smart enough to pick your daughter.

And DB, I can just about guarantee it was target-arms, Minot always used a pair of RN patch wearers for weapons preflights, call sign “Ogre”, short for OG.  Blame will be spread around, but I’m sure there is plenty of blame to cover the toast.

James, that’s great news about your father, hope the rebound keeps going.  As far as double wing commander jobs, it’s usually because they are too young for BG by the time their initial command job is up, and it’s tough to work them into staff when they are coming off the wing king job, so they give them the same job at top wings until they are in synch with their year group for general-ship.

Cheers to all (man, it’s great hearing from everyone!)


11 September: James

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

img_1182.JPGimg_1157.JPGimg_1140.JPGimg_1126.JPGHello BOB,
Welcome Doug Barnard!  Doug was my aircraft commander for awhile at Castle and I still recall that the instructors had a great time and the students received great training.  Being in SAC didn’t have to be hard!
Thanks to everyone for the thoughts and prayers concerning my father.  They really do help.
Chuck, I fully expect to see you on CNN/FOX/CBS/NBC/ABC discussing military issues soon.  Why not?  Your opinion is at least as good as anyone else’s on the news shows.  The

Minot nuke thing is perplexing.  I don’t have a lot of sympathy after being the PRP monitor.  Just dealing with the paperwork of people’s temporary medical suspensions kept me hopping for at least an hour a day.  I can’t imagine the inattention to detail involved in sending warheads without authorization.  John, you must be the busiest retired person around.  With your 100 mile commute, new house, new wife, new school year and personal trainer jobs, you definitely exceed the retiree limits.  AARP will not be happy:)  Congratulations?! on your daughter’s wedding.  I hope great things happen for them.  Andy, is the 8th AF job you are interested in connected to the IW command being fought over by Texas, California and Louisiana?  Jim, researching your family history must be fascinating.  Meeting your distant, unknown relative at the library is incredible.  I agree with your comment on the white top in front of the alert aircraft to make sure everything goes okay.  My brigade commander when I was an ALO who is now LTG Whitcomb used to say that if a commander wants his vehicles to work properly, he has to spend some time at the motor pool.  Bob, if I ever need an attorney, I’d hire you!  Britt, that’s interesting about the Kentucky white squirrels.  I wonder if one of them crossed the border into Ohio and migrated to my mother in laws house.  I imagine the F-35 pilots you train are pretty happy about flying a brand new plane.  Reed, I had to wince while reading about your snow shoveling back injury.  Good luck on the Edwards job.  I remember Tom Jones from another one of his Diego deployments in 2003.  Doug, sounds like you’ve had a great time since retirement!  Congratulations on making it to Europe finally. 
Does anyone know if Stan Buelt, Tom Tighe or Eric Johnson ever made it to the airlines?  Any news on them at all?   I just found out that Col John Robinson is CV at Whiteman.  I know that Lance King is looking at a job in
Germany too.
I’m going to the Whiteman change of command on 14 Sep to see my friend, Gary Harencak, take command from Greg Biscone.  John and Melvin, I’ll say hello for you!  Anybody know why Whiteman is a place where guys who have been successful wing commanders at other bomber bases get another wing command?  It’s obviously considered a step up, but I really don’t know why.  I’m not being sarcastic, just wondering.
Lynn and I went to Mike Geasley’s daughter’s wedding (Mike was a friend of mine from Blytheville) in Pensacola on the beach.  I was skeptical of a beach wedding, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Everyone was so laid back and the setting was beautiful.  We also visited the Naval Museum at the NAS and enjoyed it very much.  Even my daughter liked the museum which is very unusual.  My favorite plane was the Corsair – just a beautiful aircraft.  They also had a model of a Breguet XIV B2 with a 96 BS patch on it.  The 96th Daylight Bombing Squadron flew them in World War I.
My father has recovered from his urinary tract infection which is a real killer for geriatrics and he actually seems a bit stronger than he was before.  Unfortunately, he just lays in bed now and only responds to questions occasionally.  Some days are better than others, though.  For example when I saw him today and asked how he was, he said, “Okay, son.”  Doesn’t sound like much, but his response showed that he knew how he felt and he at least knew that I was one of his sons.   
It’s time to start ramping up for the Tybee (Savannah Beach) Half Marathon in February.  I usually only run 3 miles at a time, but I’ll start adding a mile a week to the daily run.  If anyone is interested in joining in on the half marathon, let me know.
Our move to the new apartment is now 2 October.  We’ve had our stuff boxed up for over a month now in preparation, so we’re more than ready to get the move over with.
I finished Bruce Catton’s, “Reflections on the Civil War.”  I liked his style so much that I’m reading his “Stillness at Appomattox” now.  I’d like to eventually read the entire Army of the Potomac trilogy (Mr. Lincoln’s War, Glory Road, Stillness at Appomattox).
I’ve included a few pictures of our Pensacola trip.  Talk to everyone next month.

11 September: Johnboy

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007


Hey Guys, Man it is great to hear from all of you. Almost like being back in SAC in the gunner’s lounge shootin’ the shit on Friday. Of course I was also stunned at the happenings at Minot. Who on the world did the weapons preflight for the crew (I imagine weapons were on a CSRL) and signed off the forms?  My wife called me from LA and told me about it and I just couldn’t believe it. I remember when I retired the message was it was more importatnt to know tactics than your airplane and weapons and how they all worked. NUKE was just another checkmark and not a pirmary mission. Guys would show up for CFIC and not know the operating limitations of the aircraft or equipment. It was pathetic, and now that CFIC has practically gone away, I can only imagine how unprepared some of the folks are. I just hope we don’t have a significant accident with loss of lives one day attributed to lack of knowledge.

 On the brighter side, we are closing on our house finally next week.  Getting kinda tired of living in a dinky 1 bedroom apartment for the last year. You guys all know that if you ever come to Charleston you have a place to stay and beer to drink!

 My Daughter got married on August 24.  Kinda pissed because she didn’t tell me but a week prior and she and her new husband are only 19! What is she thinking? At least they are both working and going to school full time, but it still worries me!! I told her I am too young to be a grandfather, so don’t even think about it!! I have attached a picture so you can have a few laughs. Ok fellas, time to finish lesson plans! Have a great day and looking forward to hearing from all of ya next month!! JB

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11 September: DB

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Howdy all

Since this is my first monthly update, I guess I should give you all a quick recap of where I’ve been since I left KBAD.  Marcia and I flew out to Anchorage a couple of days after my retirement ceremony.  I was expecting to spend the entire winter being a ski bum.  I did manage to get a couple of days of cross-country skiing in, but then a pineapple express came roaring in and melted all the snow.  From Jan 03 until spring it did nothing but rain, which made Anchorage a very dark and depressing place (in fact Shreveport was cooler than Anchorage that winter).  We did manage a 10 day visit to New Zealand in March 03, and that is one place that I would recommend everyone visiting at least once (the natives are friendly and the environment is pristine).
In May 03 we relocated to Ramstein, Germany (Marcia took the job as the Civilian Personnel Officer for the wing).  I spent most of my time at the wood skills shop building tables, adirondak chairs, and rockers.  And I did a lot of skiing during the winters.  I joined one of the local ski clubs and got to ski Austria, France, Switzerland, and Italy (funny though, I didn’t make it to one slope in Germany).  Also did a lot of traveling around Europe.  The best discount airline, Ryan Air, flew out of the old fighter base at Hahn and we could get to most major European cities from that location.  I guess our best deal was flying to Vienna for one Euro cent per ticket each way (of course, there were taxes added on but the total ticket price was less than $30).  All in all I had a great time in Europe, I think that it’s kind of humorous that I tried all my military career to get over to Europe and was never successful, but then I retire and within 6 months there I am in Germany.
Relocated back to the states in May 06.  We probably would have spent an additional two years over there, but we had to move from our first house in Jan 05 (nasty divorce of our landlords — German law required that we move when the landlord requested the house back even though we were on a lease) and we ended up moving to a remote village that was so small that it didn’t even have a bakery in it (moving in the winter sucks because there’s no housing available–all the GIs move during the summer).  The commute to the base was at least 30 minutes which was about 25 minutes longer than the commute from our first house.

Marcia was assigned to the Air Staff in the A-1 directorate, but left the Air Force in Oct 06 to become the Assistant Director for Personnel Services for the Washington Headquarters Service (the HR people for the Secretary of Defense).   Notice that I haven’t once mentioned work for myself.  Right now I’m still not working, or I should say, I’m still retired.  I was asked to fill one of the rated officer staff positions at USAFE, but declined because I was having too much fun skiing and traveling.  Things may change in the near future; the cost of living in the DC area is still steep and

Virginia likes to tax everything to the max.

I also was stunned to see the article in the Post concerning the latest AF gaff.  My neighbor retired from the Department of Energy (a Senior Executive Service  – BG equivelent) and asked some pointed questions on how that mistake could happen.  It’s going to be interesting to see the in-fighting between STRATCOM and ACC on who is at fault and where the training shortfall occurred.  I can see the Wg/CC, the OG and the MX commanders at both locations getting the axe, along with the responsible Ops Sq/CC (MMS/CC is already mort).  Chuck is right when he stated that in SAC we all were expected to be experts in the weapons, tactics, and procedures.  It parallels what Chesty Puller said about leadership, no six month academic school will replace the experience of being in the field with the troops.  What are the odds that the AC and/or the RN were target arms?

Well I guess that’s about it from this end of the world.  Take care and keep in touch



Blame Game

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Once the fingers start pointing, the Air Force is in for a reorganization of epic proportion 

Back in SAC, when a wing failed an ORI, the commander was fired.  Even though everyone knew that a wing could bust an ORI for a lot of things that were probably beyond the immediate control of the wing commander, it was certain that the commander was gone when the wing failed, for three reasons.

First of all, if you ever do it, nuclear warfare will be the most serious thing you ever do.  Do it wrong, and you may kill multitudes that don’t need to die, or worse yet, you’ll leave the wrong people alive, who in-turn, will kill multitudes that don’t need to die.  That’s serious stuff.

The second reason for firing a commander is that the blame was easy to assign.  The commander at any level is the reason the commanders below him have their jobs.  If he didn’t have confidence in them, he’d replace them.  So at the very least, the commander displayed incompetence by trusting the wrong people to handle things for him.

Finally, replacing a commander is the best way to flush any system.  When a new wing commander came to power, he was certain to clean out any of the subordinate commanders who had not lived up to the trust of their previous commander.  Self-preservation is a powerful instinct.  Another ORI was certain to come over the horizon after he had been given adequate time to rebuild his organization.

During my last few years in the Air Force, many of the aviators who grew up in SAC were often dismissed as dinosaurs of a by-gone era.  The new bomber aviators were assimilated into a near-clone of the system that the fighter community was comfortable with.  They referred to SAC as the “S-Command” and were bold enough to say they didn’t want to hear stories about the water-wagons we used to fly or the alerts we used to pull.  The mantra was, “the only thing you need to know about the N-mission, is that it’s easy.”  And we learned to silently accept nearly blasphemous statements like, “We’re sick of hearing how it used to be done.”  Or even the occasionally slam, “We didn’t really know much in those days.  We’re much smarter now.”  And one of the surest ways to get them riled up was to say, “Back in SAC . . .”

Well, let me reminisce for a moment. 

In days of old, when SAC was bold, and nothing was more important than the status of your weapons; we verified the numbers and settings and checked them every day.  We were good at it.  And we took it seriously.  It wasn’t a secondary mission.  We didn’t need a small group of certified experts to tell us how to use them or to count them for us.  We were all experts in our weapons, tactics, and procedures, and our commanders expected nothing less than that.

Unless we find a criminal very close to the crime scene, how can we stop the blame from marching right up the chain of command, through the wing, the numbered air force, the major command and even higher when we lose a load of nuclear weapons?

Before the Air Force starts figuratively lobbing the heads off of commanders, who are operating in a system they were force-fed since the dissolution of SAC, we need to take a serious look at why we changed just about everything we used to do.  Maybe we’re not so much smarter now.  Maybe the dinosaurs weren’t so dumb, and maybe they had some of it right. 

It just makes sense.

11 Sep: Mel

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Greetings all! It’s been a few months since I’ve posted, but I have read yours–good reading. My retirement date was 31 Jul: 23 yrs, 0 mos, 0 days. I went on terminal leave on 18 May. Had my retirement ceremony on Mon, 11 Jun; Kelvin’s ceremony was Fri, 15 Jun–I got to roast him! My plans for a whirlwind trip to Kelvin’s in Albuquerque and then to N.C. for a few weeks came to a big halt. Terri broke her wrist the previous Saturday (she refused to use the handrail on the stairs) and I found out the morning of my ceremony that she was sched for surgery the next day (when we were supposed to leaving). Anyway…surgery went ok, Kelvin’s ceremony went ok, and we spent the rest of terminal leave here in NE.

Terri is now in an adult day care program; taxi picks her up at 0730 and drops her home around 1620 or so. It’s all out of pocket until her Long Term Care Insurance kicks in. It’s a big relief not worrying all day long–the best relief since Dec 1991: almost 16 long years! On a positive note, I got a job offer just a few days into terminal leave. Company is Management Technology (ManTech). Kelvin works for Camber; I call him Caster, he calls me ManChild. Did I mention that I work in J7 (Exercises and Training) about 4 cubicles from where I sat while active? Anyway, started work on 6 Aug, and it’s been ok. I’m doing computer/network Information Assurance. Good job, good folks. The kids are doing ok. Taleisha is in grad school (Psychology), Randall is a junior at UNO (Business) and on his own,
Victoria is a senior at Bellevue West HS (specific college is TBD).

As for me, I’m ok. Just finished installing a sprinkler system: parts, mostly from eBay, less than $1K. Labor: priceless! About a $2K savings. Suggest you invite at least 2 friends to the party.Bomber incident: Doug E. Doug: we were on the same crew at

Minot on Sep 11. Anyway, for us here at STRATCOM: if we get a query, refer it to STRATCOM PA. I looked at the articles and almost laughed. Exercises at KBAD were a joke–a scary joke. CCP was essentially “critiqued to 100%.” The nuke mission wasn’t even secondary–it was more or less a hobby. Well, I guess that folks will now pay attention. Wonder if they will hold leadership accountable, or will they not want to disrupt any Academy grad careers?Let’s see: we tried to bomb the Kannapolis Resevoir dam, and now we can’t do a decent weapons preflight. Hmmm…. Mel