March 14, 2013


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photo by Donald Kinney

The conspiracy theory of contrails--some kind of secret government spraying program--is more than adquately debunked at The site does a great job of explaining how contrails are formed.

Never-the-less, I am usually less than thrilled when I see a military jet leaving a line across my blue sky. I am sure it all costs a bloody fortune.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Continuing on our bloody quest for skywriters, this and the next two images are not new. This (above) were snapped October 12, 2012.

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photo by Donald Kinney

These (above) were snapped October 8, 2010.
IMHO, the best spot in Marin to "shoot" the Blue Angels from Marin is at Cavallo Point, in the Fort Baker area.

Uh oh, stand by for another "Army" story...   [this one is 44 years old]
God bless Mr. M******* [a beloved friend of our family who worked as a civilian at Fort Ord in the Personnel Assignment Detachment]. Had he not (presumedly) pulled some strings behind the scenes I probably would have ended up slugging it out in Vietnam.

But as it worked out, out of Basic Training I was assigned to AIT (Advanced Individual Training) involving training me (at substantial expense to taxpayers) on two anti-aircraft systems, 1) the mobile Chaparral heat-seeking ground to air missile launcher, and 2) the Vulcan 20mm high-speed rotary cannon (Gatling gun) which served as cover for the vulnerable Chaparral missile launcher.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I ended up inside the Chaparral mobile launcher one fine morning at the Donna Anna range at White Sands, New Mexico, trying my best to "lock on" to a tone ringing in my ears--the infa-red signature of a heat source being towed by a pilotless aircraft.

"You are clear, fire at will, Kinney". Hell, I couldn't miss--by then the missile guidance system was already locked on to the target--this thing hits the target 99.95% of the time--a slightly better percentage, coincidently, than Ivory Soap. I had total confidence.

When I pulled the trigger I was expecting a jolt and smoke but instead I got a strong whiff of rotten eggs--sulphur, big-time. The electrical generator for the Chaparral's guidance section was "gas driven", had ignited and was burning away doing its job, but the main rocket-motor failed to ignite. From the bunker I was told to "stay where I was", and there I stayed for the next 15 or 20 minutes.

Never mind the 22 pounds of high-explosive 3' outside my plexiglass canopy. We had been schooled that the warhead could not "arm" (and thusly self-destruct if target was not engaged within a certain number of seconds) unless a detent-pin on the missile is actually sheared off as it clears the launcher.

And although I was said to be white-as-a-ghost at that point, I still had faith in the system. I got the go-ahead to try it again. I "tracked" on another towed heat-source target and this time my missile zig-zagged this-way-and-that but did, as expected, hit its target. Nobody doubted it for a moment.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

This (above) was snapped October 10, 2008.

Blue Angels, over San Francisco Bay. They put on quite a show each year.

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1 comment:

photowannabe said...

Fascinating story Don.
I do like those contrails and the Blue Angels.

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