Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Crime Against Future Generations

I worked in Cebu (Mactan) for over a year as a Dive Instructor many eons ago. I have had the unfortunate experience of being in the water when  dynamite was being used. I was at over 100 feet with a student when it went off on a wall and I believe that the overhang above us saved us from most of the pressure shock. Needless to say, it hurt a great deal and it is an experience I do not wish to repeat. 

Upon surfacing (suitably red faced and put out), I saw my banka boy with wide eyes (yes we had a dive flag up) and the perpetrator chugging rapidly off in the distance. Obviously my banka driver had been asleep and was awoken with the loud bang (he probably got wet form the water spout) and told the guy who dropped the bomb that we were down there so he left rapidly! 

Me being me, I did not particularly want to let this rest so I started digging around and found the family responsible. It did change my view quite a bit. A few of the male family members had lost hands in the practice of their fishing method which meant they then had to be supported by the rest of the family. I did get an apology regarding my incident and they showed me their living conditions. Turns out that they resorted to dynamite fishing when there were no fish left to catch, only garbage. You should see the layers of the garbage in the thermo-clines off the walls in Cebu, absolutely amazing. Layer after layer of plastic bags and very few pelagics swimming by. 

The family gave me a simple explanation, dynamite fish or stave. They were not selling their catch, such as it was, but using it to survive. How can you ask a family to stave. None of us would allow our kids to stave. 

What I did was to hire some of that family as workers in our operation that gave them money to go and buy what they needed at the market. They turned out to be great employees. Problem in that area solved!!

I also had a number of experiences in Coron (Northern Palawan) where we used to take the Coast Guard with us (they did not have their own boat) in an attempt to apprehend people using dynamite. On the odd occasion we were successful, it turned out to be the same story, just a guy trying to feed his family and no fish around to catch by traditional methods.

The lack of education with the local population about the damage (long term) that it dynamite does definitely does not help. I know a number of dive shops have started education programs with Kids to show them that if they leave it alone, the fish will come back.

Another more sinister experience involved Cyanide Fishing (generally used to take live fish) This is 100% commercial and absolutely the dregs of society are involved. It takes out vast patches of reefs, kills everything. We used to dive on a beautiful reef called Coron Reef. One day, we jumped in and we were greeted by this vast forest of white Coral, and no fish. It was eerie. It actually took my stunned mind several minutes to comprehend what had happened, Cyanide!  The good news is that several years later, I was passing through on a boat and took the time to have a look. The reef was regenerating, new coral, small fish, which bring in the bigger fish. Nature can be very resilient if given a chance. The Cyanide left all the building blocks intact so the Coral could regenerate and there were lots of hiding places for the small fish. The Cyanide fishers (incidentally from Samar and Leyte, they had destroyed all their fish stocks, according to the coastguard) moved on. This is commercial rape of the reef in its worst form. 

There are many sides to this story, commercial rape, corrupt officials, cash provided for regeneration projects (too tempting to many), men trying to feed families and survive, a very complicated set of circumstances and the chain of events has to be broken. I believe it is with education of the kids. The big question is, will there be anything left other than in an aquarium for the kids to look at on our reefs?? Is there still time?? I really feel that it is running out for the Coastal reefs of the Philippines ..

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 On This Day On Hold

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Tuesday August 26, 2008: On This Day On This On This Day

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On This Day:
Tuesday August 26, 2008

This is the 239th day of the year, with 127 days remaining in 2008.

Fact of the Day: women's equality day

Women's Equality Day was first celebrated in in 1971, marking women's advancements toward equality with men on the anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) which granted American women full suffrage. Annually since then, women have observed the day with events that celebrate women's progress toward equality.


Feast Day of St. Bergwine, archbishop of Canterbury, St. John Wall, St. Mary Desmaisieres, St. Pandonia, and St. Teresa Jornet Ihars.
Namibia: Heroes' Day.
United States: Women's Equality Day.


55 B.C.E. - Roman forces under Julius Caesar invaded Britain.
1429 - Joan of Arc made a triumphant entry into Paris.
1791 - John Fitch was granted a United States patent for the steamboat.
1847 - Liberia was proclaimed an independent republic.
1883 - The volcano Krakatoa erupted in the largest recorded explosion.
1939 - WXBS of New York City televised the first major league baseball games.
1957 - Ford Motor Company unveiled the Edsel.
1968 - As the Democratic National Convention began in Chicago, thousands of antiwar demonstrators protested the Vietnam War and its support by presidential candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
2002 - Earth Summit 2002 begins in Johannesburg, South Africa.
2003 - Columbia Accident Investigation Board releases its final reports on the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.


1743 - Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, French chemist, known as the "Father of Modern Chemistry."
1874 - Lee De Forest, American physicist, inventor, considered the "Father of radio."
1906 - Albert Sabin, Polish-born American polio researcher.
1920 - Brant Parker, American cartoonist.
1940 - Don LaFontaine, American voice actor.
1960 - Branford Marsalis, an American jazz and classical saxophonist.


1930 - Lon Chaney, Sr., American actor.
1974 - Charles Lindbergh, American pioneer aviator and first person to fly solo, nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.
1978 - Charles Boyer, French-born American actor.
1980 - Tex Avery (born Frederick Bean Avery), American cartoonist. On This Day
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Flying said to be safer than ever

Airline passengers throughout the world are safer today flying around the globe than at any previous time in aviation history, according to a newly-released study.

Six million passengers travel by air daily, and are reported to be 22 times safer traveling in an airplane than they are in a car on the road, according to a joint study published by Boeing and the U.S. National Safety Council.

Air safety records have seen steady improvement since 1960, from 45 fatal accidents for every one million departures to a rate currently that stands at less than one for every million, as the industry has learned from accidents and technology has made significant strides.

Topping the areas of the globe where it is safest to fly are the U.S. and Europe, while Africa had a somewhat worse safety record.

Qantas has consistently rated as of the world’s safest airlines, and until July of this year, had an unblemished safety record.

An incident that occurred on a Qantas flight between Hong Kong and Melbourne on one of the carrier’s Boeing 747s left a huge hole in the side of the fuselage and forced the jet into an emergency landing at the Manila International Airport, in the Philippines.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thankfully we only have Trikes to deal with on runways in the Philippines ..

Thankfully we only have Trikes to deal with on runways in the Philippines ..

Sunday, August 3, 2008

1917 Flying Corps newsletter (Hilarious)

Excerpts from Royal Flying Corps monthly report of December 1917.

The report was signed C. St. John-Culbertson, Royal Flying Corps Colonel and was dated 21 December, 1917.


Another good month. In all, a total of 35 accidents were reported, only six of which were avoidable. These represented a marked improvement over the 
month of November during which 84 accidents occurred, of which 23 were avoidable. This improvement, no doubt, is the result of experienced pilots 
with over 100 hours in the air forming the backbone of all the units.


Avoidable Accidents

There were six avoidable accidents this last month.

  1. The pilot of a Shorthorn, with over 7 hours of experience, seriously damaged the undercarriage on landing. He had failed to land at as fast a speed as possible as recommended in the Aviation Pocket Handbook.
  2. A B.E.2 stalled and crashed during an artillery exercise. The pilot had been struck on the head by the semaphore of his observer who was signaling to the gunners.
  3. Another pilot in a B.E.2 failed to get airborne, by an error of judgement, he was attempting to fly at mid-day instead of at the recommended best lift periods, which are just after dawn and just before sunset.
  4. A Longhorn pilot lost control and crashed in a bog near Chipping-Sedbury. An error of skill on the part of the pilot in not being able to control a machine with a wide speed band of 10 MPH between top speed and stalling speed.
  5. While low flying in a Shorthorn the pilot crashed into the top deck of a horse drawn bus near Stonehenge.
  6. A B.E.2 pilot was seen to be attempting a banked turn at a constant height before he crashed. A grave error by an experienced pilot.

Unavoidable Accidents

There were 29 unavoidable accidents from which the following are selected:

  1. The top wing of a Camel fell off due to fatigue failure of the flying wires. A successful emergency landing was carried out.
  2. Sixteen B.E.2's and 9 Shorthorns had complete engine failures. A marked improvement over November's fatigue.
  3. Pigeons destroyed a Camel and 2 Longhorns after mid-air strikes.


Accidents during the last three months of 1917 cost 317 pounds, 10 shillings sixpence, money down the drain and sufficient to buy new gaiters and spurs 
for each and every pilot observer in the Service.


No. 1 Brief
No. 912 Squadron, 3 December 1917
Aircraft type B.E.2C, No. KY678, Total Solo - - 4.20 Pilot Lt. J. Smyth-Worthington, Solo in type - - 1.10

The pilot of this flying machine attempted to maintain his altitude in a turn at 2,500 feet This resulted in the airplane entering an unprecedented 
maneuver, entailing a considerable loss of height. Even with full power applied and the control column fully back, the pilot was unable to regain 
control. However, upon climbing from the cockpit onto the lower mainplane, the pilot managed to correct the machines altitude, and by skillful 
manipulation of the flying wires successfully side-slipped into a nearby meadow.

Remarks: Although, through inexperience, this pilot allowed his airplane to enter an unusual attitude, his resourcefulness in eventually landing without 
damage has earned him a unit citation.

R.F.C. Lundsford-Magnus is investigating the strange behaviour of this aircraft.

No. 2 Brief
No. 847 Squadron 19 December 1917
Aircraft Type Spotter Balloon J17983, total solo 107.00 Pilot Capt. ***, Solo in type 32.10

Capt * * * of the Hussars, a balloon observer, unfortunately allowed the spike of his full-dress helmet to impinge against the envelope of his balloon. There was a violent explosion and the balloon carried out a series of fantastic and uncontrollable maneuvers, while rapidly emptying itself of gas. The pilot was thrown clear and escaped injury as he was lucky enough to land on his head.

Remarks This pilot was flying in full-dress uniform because he was the Officer of the Day In consequence it has been recommended that pilots will not fly during periods of duty as Officer of the Day.

Captain* * * has requested an exchange posting to the Patroville Alps, a well known mule unit of the Basques

No. 3 Brief
Summary of No. 3 Brief dated October 1917
Major W. de Kitkag-Watney's Neuport Scout was extensively damaged when it failed to become airborne.

The original court of Inquiry found that the primary cause of the accident was carelessness and poor airmanship on the part of a very experienced pilot.

The Commandant General, however, not being wholly convinced that Major de Kitkag-Watney could be guilty of so culpable a mistake ordered that the court should be re-convened.

After extensive inquiries and lengthy discussions with the Meteorological Officer and Astronomer Royal, the Court came to the conclusion that the pilot unfortunately was authorized to fly his aircraft on a day when there was absolutely no lift in the air and could not be held responsible for the accident.

The Court wishes to take this opportunity to extend congratulations to Major de Kitkag-Watney on his reprieve and also on his engagement to the Commandant Gereral's daughter, which was announced shortly before the accident.


Horizontal Turns
To take a turn the pilot should always remember to sit upright, otherwise he will increase the banking of the aeroplane. He should never lean over.

Crash Precautions
Every pilot should understand the serious consequences of trying to turn with the engine off. It is much safer to crash into a house when going forward than to sideslip or stall a machine with engine trouble.
Passengers should always use safety belts, as the pilot may start stunting without warning. Never release the belt while in the air, or when nosed down to land.

Engine Noises
Upon the detection of a knock, grind, rattle or squeak, the engine should be at once stopped. Knocking or grinding accompanied by a squeak indicates binding and 
a lack of lubricant.


The First Marine Air Wing had this write up in their safety publication, Wing Tips of an AAR board's comments some 40 years ago:

It was conceded by all that the pilot had accomplished a brilliant piece of work in landing his disabled machine without damage under the circumstances. It is not with intent to reflect less credit upon his airmanship, but it must be noted that he is a well experienced aviator with over 40 total hours in the air, embracing a wide variety of machines, and this was his seventh forced landing due to complete failure of the engine.

It was doubly unfortunate that upon alighting from his machine he missed the catwalk on the lower airfoil and plunged both legs through the fabric, straddling a rib, from which he received a grievous personal injury.

Some thought should be devoted to a means of identifying wing-traversing catwalks to assist aviators in disembarking from their various machines