Farewell F-117 ‘Til We Meet Again

The world’s first attack aircraft to employ stealth technology is slipping quietly into history.

The inky black, angular, radar-evading F-117, which spent 27 years in the Air Force arsenal secretly patrolling hostile skies from Serbia to Iraq, will be put in mothballs next month in Nevada.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, which manages the F-117 program, will have an informal, private retirement ceremony Tuesday with military leaders, base employees and representatives from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The last F-117s scheduled to fly will leave Holloman on April 21, stop in Palmdale, California, for another retirement ceremony, then arrive on April 22 at their final destination: Tonopah Test Range Airfield in Nevada, where the jet made its first flight in 1981.

The government has no plans to bring the fighter out of retirement, but could do so if necessary.

“I’m happy to hear they are putting it in a place where they could bring it back if they ever needed it,” said Brig. Gen. Gregory Feest, the first person to fly an F-117 in combat, during the 1989 invasion of Panama that led to the capture of dictator Manuel Noriega.

The Air Force decided to accelerate the retirement of the F-117s to free up money to modernize the rest of the fleet. The F-117 is being replaced by the F-22 Raptor, which also has stealth technology.

Fifty-nine F-117s were made; 10 were retired in December 2006 and 27 since then, the Air Force said. Seven of the planes have crashed, one in Serbia in 1999.

Stealth technology used on the F-117 was developed in the 1970s to help evade enemy radar. While not invisible to radar, the F-117’s shape and coating greatly reduced its detection.

The F-117, a single-seat aircraft, was designed to fly into heavily defended areas undetected and drop its payloads with surgical precision.

A total of 558 pilots have flown the F-117 since it went operational. They dub themselves “bandits,” with each given a “bandit number” after their first flight.

Feest, who is Bandit 261, also led the first stealth fighter mission into Iraq during Desert Storm in 1991. He said the fire from surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns was so intense that he stopped looking at it to try to ease his fears.

“We knew stealth worked and it would take a lucky shot to hit us, but we knew a lucky shot could hit us at any time,” he said.

Incredibly, not one stealth was hit during those missions, he said.

Source

Hong King schools close amid flu fears

Update from ABC News“Since March 6, health officials have recorded nine flu outbreaks,mostly at schools, affecting 532 people in the territory of nearly 7 million”

also, NP’s amyjudd reports

All kindergartens and junior schools in Hong Kong have closed early for their Easter holiday, after a flu-like illness killed three children.

The Education Bureau described the move as a “precautionary measure”.

More than 30 students from one school have showed flu-like symptoms and three children have died from apparently similar illnesses in recent weeks.


Experts are investigating a link to either bird flu or Sars
, a respiratory disease that hit Hong Kong in 2003.

Just when you thought flu season was over….

I went by the local hospital yesterday and asked them why they were extending the period for flu vaccinations. Normally flu season is over by the end of February, but this year, the CDC has extended the vaccination period to run through the end of March.
[cue spooky music]

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Last Lamb of the Season (Knock on Wood)

SwampMan gently woke me this morning by picking up my foot and shaking my whole leg like a pit bull would shake one of those lil’ sissy dawgs. I startled awake. He’s lucky there wasn’t a gun within reach.“The alarm didn’t go off, we’re LATE!” he announced as he headed off to take a shower.

Using some language my momma would have washed my mouth out for, I grabbed various articles of clothing and dashed outside to do the feeding. Then I dashed back inside and got a jacket. It was DAMN cold out there, and was still sprinkling from an overnight rain. DAMN.

Sploshing through the mud, all the sheep were out in the pasture raising three kinds of hell complaining about being out in the rain, and how come breakfast was late? Were they all out there just to raise hell at me? Then I heard the unmistakable high-pitched “maaaaaaaa” of a newborn. DAMN!

I dumped the grain for Breeze, gave her a quick pat on the neck, and ran for the sheep barn where the first time momma was drying her newborn. As soon as I set foot in the barn, the other sheep crowded in there, and the lambs started playing tag, dashing around and confusing the new momma and baby. DAMN!

I went out to feed the sheep in the trough in the pasture, and the overnight rain had swollen the little stream through the alleyway into a nice little obstacle that the adult ewes ”thought” they could jump over. Well, they were half right. It was a procession of LEAP! (SPLASH!) Cascade of cold mudwater sprays SwampWoman. DAMN! Leap (splash) DAMN!

The lambs arced into the air like little footballs being thrown into the end zone and mostly made it across. At least the ones that didn’t make it only got me wet from the knees down.

Hurriedly dumping out the feed, I rushed back to the new momma, dumped a little grain for her to distract her, caught her lamb, then tried to entice her out which she was amenable to doing just as soon as she damn well finished eating, thank you VERY much. By the time she had finished inhaling her feed, the other sheep were back in the barn jostling for the last corn kernels, and then momma started running around like only a demented new mother sheep can, chasing all the other lambs while ignoring the one maaaaaaaing in my arms. (I had to leave for work in 5 minutes at that point.) DAMN!

I finally got mom and baby in the pen, some fresh hay for mom, a nice fresh bucket of water for mom, and then took off at a run for the house just as fast as a middle-aged weight challenged woman in big rubber boots can run through ankle deep mud and water.

No time for a shower. I didn’t really have time to change into clean, dry clothes and wash the amniotic fluid smell off my arms and hands, but I did that anyway, and then off to work.

I couldn’t be late for proctoring the Florida FCAT math test! The FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test) is the test that tells how successfully educators have managed to stuff knowledge into resistant brains. The school grade depends on it. School funding depends on it. Teachers’ jobs depend on it. Administrators’ jobs depend on it. Then, when I see a student later and casually remark “hey, I’m sure you did well”, and he says “I HATE stupid tests! I Christmas treed it!” it takes all of my willpower to keep from tackling him while screaming “You WILL pass that FCAT or DIE TRYING! Do you UNDERSTAND ME?”

Anyway, after the tests were proctored and the kids (not the cute little cuddly kind, but the tattoed, pierced, and/or pregnant high school kind) were off to lunch, I had the leisure to wonder how well I really searched that barn. Was it a single lamb, or was there another one hidden there in the pre-dawn darkness sleeping that I hadn’t found? DAMN!

I tore out of there in the truck right at 3:00 with no regard whatsoever for speed limits (which are set by the state for people that can’t drive) and searched the barn. No newborn lamb body for me to feel guilty over.

I think I’ll go to bed now.

“It wasn’t a bank robbery. It was a domestic situation”

Update 2:  Matt Williamson has more…“Family in shock” 

Update 1: EJ’s John Surratt connects the dots in Thursday’s edition…..

A recent divorce became public and violent Wednesday morning inside Regions Bank in downtown McComb, leaving four people dead, including the bank’s manager and a customer who tried to intervene.
Police said Robert Lanham Jr., 35, entered the Main Street office of Regions Bank late Wednesday morning and shot two people before kidnapping his ex-wife and driving away.

Lanham allegedly shot bank manager Ronnie Larrimore, 38, and customer James Frederick “Jimmy” Fayard, 53, inside the bank with a 9mm handgun before chasing down his ex-wife, Rachel J. Lanham, 36, catching her in the bank’s back parking lot, forcing her into his pickup and driving away.

Rachel Lanham was killed when she was thrown from the truck after it struck a tree on Highway 51 in Fernwood, south of McComb.

Lanham then drove to Magnolia, where authorities said he shot himself in the head while driving, lost control of his Chevrolet pickup and crashed, with his truck coming to a rest in a ditch off South Prewett Street in Magnolia.

Larrimore and Fayard were pronounced dead inside the bank.
Rachel Lanham was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident in Fernwood.

Robert Lanham Jr. was pronounced dead on arrival at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center.

Autopsies have been ordered.

[…]The tragedy began just after 11 a.m. Wednesday, when Robert Lanham Jr. entered the bank, where his ex-wife works as an investment officer for the investment firm Morgan Keegan, which has an office in the bank.Hughes said Lanham entered through the back of the building, asked a secretary if Larrimore was in, went into Larrimore’s office and shot and killed him in his office chair.Lanham then went through the bank to his ex-wife’s office, where she was with Fayard, Hughes said.

Hughes said Fayard attempted to stop the gunman, enabling the ex-wife to momentarily escape.

The resulting struggle damaged the blinds and broke a window pane in the office.

“He (Lanham) tried to pull her out of her office,” Hughes said. “That’s when the customer tried to intervene and protect her, and that’s when he got shot.”

Lanham caught up with his ex-wife in the back parking lot and drove off with her.

“It was a contentious divorce,” McComb Police Chief Billie Hughes said concerning a possible motive for the shootings.

“You have a contentious divorce, people arguing over property … emotions build up and take over and someone does something that they wouldn’t normally do.”

Shirley Guy, who was with a bank officer inside the building during the shooting, said she heard the shots.

“At first, I didn’t think it was gunshots,” she said. “It sounded like fireworks or someone hitting something with a hammer.”

She said she made a comment about the noise to the bank officer, who suddenly ducked under a desk.

“I ducked down, too,” she said. “Then I heard a lot of confusion and screaming and begging, then I saw a woman running toward the back of the building.”

After catching his ex-wife, in the parking lot, Lanham drove out of town, heading south on Highway 51, veering off the highway south of Fernwood Grocery and striking two cedar trees.

Rachel Lanham was thrown from the truck during the accident, dying from her injuries there.

Initial reports said she had been shot, but officials have not verified that.

“The accident happened in the front yard of a house,” Pike County Sheriff Mark Shepherd said, adding that Lanham then drove off toward Magnolia.

He said that sometime before shooting himself, Lanham called and left a message on his stepfather’s telephone in Ohio.

The stepfather, he said, contacted authorities about the call. Shepherd declined to describe the contents of the message.

I was in the bank this morning. This hits way too close to home. From the Enterprise Journal ….

01.jpgThree people were killed late this morning after an apparent domestic dispute that began at Regions Bank in downtown McComb, and the suspected shooter died at the hospital, police said.
“It wasn’t a bank robbery. It was a domestic situation,” Police Chief Billie Hughes said.

Hughes said an armed man he identified as Robert Lanham Jr. walked inside the bank on Main Street, fatally shot bank customer James Frederick Fayard, 53, of McComb, bank manager Ronnie Larrimore, 38, of Tylertown.

The gunman then left with his ex-wife, Rachel J. Lanham, who worked at the bank, as a hostage.

“The guy’s ex-wife worked at the bank. They were divorced,” Hughes said. “He came in the bank, and so far there is a bank customer that has been shot and killed. There has been a bank employee that has been shot and killed.”

Authorities found Rachel Lanham’s body along Highway 51 near Fernwood a short time later, though Hughes said it remained unclear how she died.
Robert Lanham Jr. apparently shot himself while driving in Magnolia, and lawmen found him in a vehicle on Prewett Street.

He was taken to Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center, where Pike County Coroner Percy Pittman said Lanham died.

My neighbor was telling me the skinny about all this, just a little while ago. He’s the pastor of the church the Lanham’s attended before their divorce. “You know, these days you don’t just have to look out for the criminals that came up here after Katrina, you’ve got to be aware of crazy people too. The customer in that bank could have been me or you,” he said.

Dang. Ain’t it the truth.

Happy Birthday Melissa!

Nuke’s daughter turns 21 TODAY!!!

Happy birthday Melissa.

You make me very proud!

Love,

Dad

Web 3.0 is closer than you think

After Google, what’s next? Writing at Times (UK), Jonathan Richards talks to the “real” inventor of the world wide web (sorry Goracle), Tim Berners-Lee, and speculates on the future of the internet. A fascinating article indeed. Here is an excerpt:

The semantic web is the term used by the computer and internet industry to describe the next phase of the web’s development, and essentially involves building web-based connectivity into any piece of data — not just a web page — so that it can “communicate” with other information.Whereas the existing web is a collection of pages with links between them that Google and other search engines help the user to navigate, the “semantic web” will enable direct connectivity between much more low-level pieces of information — a written street address and a map, for instance — which in turn will give rise to new services.

“Using the semantic web, you can build applications that are much more powerful than anything on the regular web,” Mr Berners-Lee said. “Imagine if two completely separate things — your bank statements and your calendar — spoke the same language and could share information with one another. You could drag one on top of the other and a whole bunch of dots would appear showing you when you spent your money.

Read it all

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