Ten Years Ago Today…

Transcript of conversation between Capt. Sullenberger and LaGuardia Departure Control:

15:27:32.9 Sullenberger: MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY. Uh this is uh Cactus Fifteen-Thirty-Nine [sic] hit birds, we’ve lost thrust (in/on) both engines we’re turning back  towards LaGuardia.

15:27:42 LaGuardia Departure Control: OK uh, you need to return to LaGuardia? Turn left heading of uh Two Two Zero.

15:27:43 (sound similar to electrical noise from engine igniters begins.)

15:28:02 Skiles: Airspeed optimum relight. Three hundred knots. We don’t have that.

15:28:03 Flight Warning Computer: Sound of single chime.

15:28:05 Sullenberger: We don’t.

15:28:05 LGA Departure Control: Cactus Fifteen-Twenty-Nine [sic], if we can get it for you do you want to try to land Runway One Three?

15:29:28 Sullenberger: We’re gonna be in the Hudson.

15:29:33 LGA Departure Control: I’m sorry say again Cactus?

15:29:53 LGA Departure Control: Cactus Fifteen-Forty-Nine radar contact is lost you also got Newark Airport off your two o’clock in about seven miles.

15:29:55 Ground Proximity Warning System: PULL UP. PULL UP. PULL UP. PULL UP. PULL UP. PULL UP.

15:30:01 Skiles: Got flaps out.

15:30:03 Skiles: Two hundred fifty feet in the air.

15:30:04 Ground Proximity Warning System: TOO LOW. TERRAIN.

15:30:06 Ground Proximity Warning System: TOO LOW. GEAR.

15:30:06 Skiles: Hundred and seventy knots.

15:30:09 Skiles: Got no power on either one? Try the other one.

15:30:09 Radio from another flight: Two One Zero uh Forty-Seven-Eighteen. I think he said he’s going in the Hudson.

15:30:15 Ground Proximity Warning System: CAUTION TERRAIN.

15:30:16 Skiles: Hundred and fifty knots.

15:30:17 Skiles: Got flaps two, you want more?

15:30:19 Sullenberger: No let’s stay at two.

15:30:21 Sullenberger: Got any ideas?

15:30:22 LGA Departure Control: Cactus Fifteen-Twenty-Nine [sic] if you can uh. . . you got uh Runway uh Two Nine available at Newark it’ll be two o’clock and seven miles.

15:30:23 Ground Proximity Warning System: CAUTION TERRAIN.

15:30:23 Skiles: Actually not.

15:30:24  Ground Proximity Warning System: TERRAIN TERRAIN. PULL UP. PULL UP. (“Pull Up” repeats until the end of the recording.)

15:30:38 Sullenberger: We’re gonna brace.

15:28:05 Skiles: If three nineteen. . .

15:28:10.6 Sullenberger: We’re unable. We may end up in the Hudson.


Jimmy Carter's UFO Sighting

On September 18, 1973, future President Jimmy Carter filed a report with the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena about something he and ten other people had witnessed in Leary, GA. It was “very bright [with] changing colors and about the size of the moon,” he said, adding that, “The object hovered about 30 degrees above the horizon and moved in toward the earth and away before disappearing into the distance.”

He promised never to ridicule people who claimed to see UFOs.


Had the Internet existed then, Carter might have quickly determined that NASA had been used short-range rocket to launch a payload of barium, strontium, and cupric oxide—typical firework chemicals—into the upper atmosphere so that scientists could better understand high-altitude air currents and cloud movement.

If he believed NASA, that is.

During his 1976 presidential campaign, he promised that, if elected, he would release “every piece of information” about UFOs available to the public and to scientists. After winning, however, he decided against the release of information on the grounds that it might pose a threat to national security.

Related Link: Dispatch from Area 51

Motor Car in Contest of Speed with Airplane

At the Canadian National Exhibition in 1918, the daring aviatrix Ruth Bancroft Law, flying a Curtiss Pusher, took on a Duesenberg driven by racecar driving champion Gaston Chevrolet.

Here's how it went down:

Of note, 100 years ago today, Law—alternately known as Mrs. Charles Oliver—flew her Curtiss Pusher non-stop from Chicago, Illinois to Hornell, New York, a distance of 590 miles, shattering the previous long distance flight record of 452 miles.

She was greeted by marching bands, garrisons on parade and a crowd of fifty newspaper reporters, one of whom asked, "You have made the longest flight a woman ever made, haven't you?" She replied, "I have made the longest flight an American ever made." President Wilson would call it, "the greatest flight ever made in America," adding that Law was "a great little flier."

Law went on to break more records, including, in 1919, altitude (14,700 feet), and earned as much as $9,000 a week for exhibition flights, In 1920, at age 32, she retired from aviation. Why? "Because I'm a normal woman and want a home, a baby, and everything else that goes with married life," she said. "Why, I've been married for almost 10 years to Charlie Oliver, the man who has managed my exhibitions, and scarcely anyone knew who he was. And the poor boy was so worried about me all that time that every time I went up he lost a pound. Of course, I'm just crazy about flying, but one's husband is more important."

RELATED LINKSAn Attempt to Fly Under the Eiffel TowerOnce a Spy

My Own True Pirate Yarn

William Thompson

William Thompson

As a kid in Connecticut, I had a pirating plan. It started with getting in good with the pirate captain William Thompson—an ancestor of mine, I thought—and finding out where he hid the Treasure of Lima. Capt. Thompson spelled Thomson the wrong way (with a P) but pirates weren’t known for their literacy. Another issue was he died in 1825. But if you’re eight, you can stare out to sea and believe there’s a pretty good chance your pirate ancestor’s masts might appear on the horizon, and that he might row ashore and say to you, “Kid, I need you to go on an adventure to get gold.”

Twenty years later, that was basically the premise of my first novel, Pirates of Pensacola: A land-lubbing accountant’s life is anything but exciting until his estranged pirate father shows up after twenty-some years in jail and says, “Let’s hit the sea, lad, there’s treasure to be got.” And the adventure is under weigh.

Today I’m thinking: Why not actually find Capt. Thompson's treasure?

Here are our clues: In 1820, Jose de San Martin was leading his rebel forces toward Lima. The Spanish colonists occupying Lima were worried he’d seize the gold and jewels they’d earlier seized from the natives, including solid gold roof panels worth $12 million (in 1820!) and a life size jewel-studded golden Virgin Mary. So the Spaniards hired then-trustworthy British sea captain, William Thompson, to stow the treasure on his brig Mary Dear, sail around for a few months until San Martin had moved on, then return the haul to Lima. The Spaniards sent a few of their men along to make sure Capt. Thompson stayed trustworthy. Thompson and his crew killed them all and turned pirate.

Almost immediately, dozens of Spanish men-o’-war were scouring the Seven Seas for the Mary Dear. The well-known roof panels and the life-size jewel-studded virgin would’ve been tough to fence under the best of circumstances; Thompson and his first mate secured the loot in a cave on an uninhabited island three hundred miles west of Costa Rica. They planned to return for it when things cooled off. Problem was, they died of Yellow Fever. The rest of the crew was caught by a man o’ war and sent to hang out with Davy Jones.

The island is now called Cocos, and it’s still uninhabited. Thompson did draw up a map. Copies of it are around because, over the years, numerous people have tried to find the treasure, including Franklin Roosevelt on two separate expeditions. The cave was clearly marked on the map, but no one ever located it because of severe shoreline erosion. Likely the cave is now covered by ocean floor.

The thing is, none of the previous expeditions had the advantage of the sonar technology commonly found on modern dive ships. If you’ve got that sort of rig, talk to me. Alternatively we can acquire one somehow.

Related links: Pirates of Pensacola

"Space Debris" or NASA Cover-Up?

NASA classifies it as space debris. It was first spotted by Astronaut Gordon Cooper during his twenty-two-orbit Mercury-Atlas 9 flight in 1963. A spacecraft or satellite or some sort, he believed, much larger than any other man-made satellite of the time.

It was seen, on radar, by multiple witnesses at a NASA tracking station near Perth, Australia. The only official explanation given was that Cooper had breathed in too much CO2, giving him hallucinations. Which was all the confirmation UFO-cover-up-conspiracists needed. It became known as TBK—The Black Knight.

Then in 1987 the Endeavour Mission, STS-088, turned in these photos:

So what TBKF is it?


The Best Landing Ever?

As the old adage goes, any landing you can walk away from is a good one. But one landing has to the best. Here's a candidate: On December 7, 1941, an Army B-17 flying over the Pacific was hit by strafing from Japanese Zeroes.

The flare box caught fire, filling the fuselage with smoke. The captain, Raymond T. Swenson of California, tried to hide in clouds. But the smoke proved overwhelming.

Swenson tried to fly to Oahu, Hawaii, making it as far as Hickam Field. Where this happened:

Weakened by the fire, the bomber broke apart while landing. Landing without further injury to captain and crew, however!

RELATED LINK: Unbelievable Glider Landing