Friday, March 14, 2014

Flight MH370 Destination: Coco Island?

US Patent 6529706: Aircraft satellite communications system for distributing internet service from direct broadcast satellites. Just a taste of the complexity of airline communications in the world.
The world is full of information. Data fills the air in this high-tech world. The world is trying to make sense of the scraps of information regarding 239 passengers and crew aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. Originally bound for Beijing, the Boeing 777-200 ER veered off course over the Gulf of Thailand.

You would think a giant airplane would be pretty easy to find in our high-tech age. DigitalGlobe is providing high-resolution satellite imagery of the search areas, with hopes that crowdsourcing by Tomnod will help in the search efforts. They are joining over 40 ships and 40 aircraft from 12 different countries. 

Yet we can't track the flight of MH370. Flight MH370 is still missing from action. The "human intervention" theory is a strong possibility due to the fact that the aircraft's transponder stopped about 12 minutes before the messaging system stopped sending as well. This sequential shutting down of communications occurred about the time it turned towards the Strait of Malacca at 1:30 am. The U.S. Government has said investigators are examining the possibility that the disappearance may be “an act of piracy.”
There is speculation that pings sent from the Rolls-Royce engines on the east coast of Malaysia indicate that the plane was strategically maneuvered across the Malay peninsula towards the Andaman Island chain (mostly Indian control).  The last signals were received at 2:40 am.

According to the Malaysian Insider, “Two sources said an unidentified aircraft that investigators believe was Flight MH370 was following a route between navigational waypoints – indicating it was being flown by someone with aviation training – when it was last plotted on military radar off the country's northwest coast.” This precise course would indicate the unidentified aircraft was being flown by someone with aviation training.
According to Malaysian Insider, “Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein “gave new details on the direction in which the unidentified aircraft was heading - following aviation corridors identified on maps used by pilots as N571 and P628. These routes are taken by commercial planes flying from Southeast Asia to the Middle East or Europe and can be found in public documents issued by regional aviation authorities.”
Interestingly, at the northern end of the island chain in the Bay of Bengal is a small island that the Mynmar government leases to the Chinese called Greater Coco Island. 
China has been leasing the islands since 1994. You can find reports online dating back to 2011, that the Chinese government was expanding the runway on the island for some unknown purpose. It has been proposed that the island has had SIGINT capabilities for listening in to Indian communications for some time. (Could there possibly be jamming capability as well?)

The runway on the island is listed on Wikimapia at 1,400 meters or about 4,593 feet. 
Looking at a Google Earth satellite view I took a reading of about 1,500 meters using the meters template with the satellite image. 

The plane was a Boeing 777-200ER, and if you take a look at the minimum landing requirements according to some online sources, it falls well within the requirements for Coco Island. According to ANA – Japan, the 777 requires a short 1,910 meters for takeoff and 1,780 meters for landing. 
The Boeing corporation list the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) landing runway length requirements (and the minimum distance) for a Boeing Model 777-200 as about 1,800 meters.
If a plane was coming in for a landing at minimum speed, without a severe ascent, and reduced fuel, spoilers fully engages and reverse thrust levels fully operational – it seems fully plausible that it could have landed on Coco Island. It would be interesting to know how much fuel would have been left knowing how long it was in the air, 239 passengers, guesstimate of luggage and flight crew on the aircraft. The flight was at night. Could the plane have landed on a remote island on a minimal length airstrip? According to the data, it could. This is just with a cursory search on the Web, and I'm looking for your input.

The two on-board with bogus passports were aiming at going to Europe. According to the Malaysian Insider, the last waypoint over the Andaman Islands using “Igrex” on route P628 carries passengers towards Europe.  Or, the Middle East. Take a look at the distance the Boeing 777 could have traveled with the fuel on-board and it could never have reached either the Middle East or Europe without refueling.
The red inner line is the proposed distance Flight 370 could have flown, about 25% less range, if flying at sea level starting at the Straight of Malacca.
According to one American Airlines pilot, a 777 flying as sea level to avoid radar would be burning about 20,000 pounds of fuel per our - thus limiting the range to about 800 miles or about 1,520 miles. Not enough fuel to make it to Coco Island. But, if the airliner stayed at 35,000 feet cruising range until the Straight of Malacca then dipped to sea level to avoid radar - it would have enough range (in theory) to make it to Greater Coco Island.

Should this be piracy or one of the men that had a fake passport was an asylum seeker.   He was an Iranian that was going to seek asylum in Germany.  Interesting indeed. The Diego Garcia Naval Support Facility (12,003 ft / 3659 meter runway) is also intriguing. This is a mystery of mysteries.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Apple iPad X-ray view of "The Fighting Heart of the Jeep"

John Howard predicted the future of the Apple iPad and its massive impact on medicine way back in 1944.

Today iPads are leading the way in an information revolution. You're going to see more kiosks with permanently attached touchscreens in hospitals so patients can look up information. Apps are leading the way in this growing industry. Patients charts are streamlined and work flow is improving thanks to iPads in Hospitals.

This practical and elegant solution is also influencing the next generation of doctors in medical education. iPads are now becoming the primary source of medical teaching at many institutions. They are an ideal means of teaching in small environments.

As in the Jeep / heart image - one of the top apps out called the Airstrip Cardiology, that allows health care professionals to review a patient's ECG history and can forward key information to the client with the swipe of a button.

Kudos to John Howard in his amazing insight into seeing the future of medicine by looking deeply in the heart of a Jeep 4x4.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Brand Stewardship in Action

If you've been tracking the success of A&E's Duck Dynasty show - you've seen it has had a rapid rise in popularity. The recent snafu with Phil Robertson and his short-term "suspension" has only propelled the show into new dialogues of the social sphere. In the end, A&E was swayed by a viewer boycott and rapid loss of viewership after indefinitely benching the elder Robertson. It just so happens Duck Dynasty is A&E's top-rated show after carelessly shooting themselves in the foot they quickly patched things up and "un-suspended" the conservatively minded patriarch.

It turns out the dedicated followers of the Duck Dynasty show are socially savvy. They put their collective power to use and quickly quelled any notions of canning the lucrative show - as it could not have gone on without the elder Robertson. In the end the nearly 12 million viewers got what they wanted and were "happy, happy, happy."

Swing your semi-auto gaze to another field filled with passionate duck lovers. In our world of high-tech tracking and gadgets that follow our every move - even ducks and geese are not immune to the eagle eyes of hunters, biologists and wildlife refuge officers. has slick Waterfowl Migration tracker - sponsored by Ducks Unlimited and Remington that gives reports on the status and movement of the quacking sort.
Looking up a report in my neck of the woods near Toledo, Ohio shows a report by Gerry Mazur, Avery Pro Staff. His report gives a glimpse to the trials and tribulations of being a duck and goose in the wild when temps are sub-zero.

Hunting: Has been too dangerous to be out.

Species/Numbers: Ducks and geese are working the rivers for open water and near salt piles to stay alive.

Weather: Starting a slow thaw from the dangerous could the last 4 days. wind chills were in the -40 below category and some spots close to a foot of snow.

Let me first say - this is why I prefer a coat with down vs. synthetic. No other material in the world has the insulating properties of down. Human skin is rather lacking. A bit better with beards like the Robertson's, but still lacking. The National Weather Service reports that exposed skin can get frostbite in as little as 10 minutes with wind chill reaching -40 to -60 degrees Fahrenheit. Yikes.
Equally impressive is the fact that Gerry Mazur was out and about checking on the status of ducks and geese in this frigid weather. This kind of dedication is commendable. A real die-hard for ducks.

So what is this "Avery Pro-Staff" designation alongside Gerry's name? Turns out it is a special program for outdoor-minded individuals (aka hunters) that use Avery Outdoors equipment and want to become more than a consumer, but a team member (brand steward). They have very strict criteria for their staff and expect a certain level of dedication to the cause. An application process is posted on their message board, where they stress, "being part of this special team is hard work and will require a commitment of time and energy that many cannot make." They stress being a team player and the seriousness of the calling. has a Pro-Staff page that includes biographies of each Staff Member on their site and it appears to be a big part of their marketing program. This empowerment of the masses to be brand stewards and promote the good of duck hunting as well as their own brand is noteworthy.
Proud duck dog from North Texas.
My hope, as a writer and brand steward of the Jeep brand, is that as Gerry is trekking through the tundra tracking ducks along the migratory waterways of Michigan and Ohio -- he would be doing it in a Jeep 4x4. I applaud Avery Outdoors for their nurturing of brand stewards that actively monitor their pro-staff flyways and represent their brand. Well-done and happy spotting!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pete Rose - soft heart for Jeep 4x4s

Came across this 1978 article from Jeep News about Pete Rose and his gifting of 10 Jeep CJ's to his friends on the Cincinnati Reds. It was a "thank-you" for supporting him in his 44 consecutive game hitting streak.

I'm reprinting the article here for easier reading:
"Pete Rose Gets 44 Hits and 10 Jeep CJ's"

   "It is no coincidence that Pete Rose and Jeep vehicles are two of Ohio's most famous products. They both have world-wide reputations for being tough, reliable performers in the field no matter where they happen to be playing, they both have rugged good looks, and they both seem to draw a crowd of admirers wherever they go. Nevertheless, this Jeep News reporter (Russel Sehnert), was quite surprised to learn that his boyhood hero, now an old timer at 37 in the baseball world, bought ten Jeep CJ's to present to certain people in appreciation for what they did for him during his outstanding career with the Cincinnati Reds.
   Rose's love affair really began in 1975 after he won the Most Valuable Player Award in the World Series that year. 'They gave me a choice of products from American Motors,' Rose said. 'And I was just drawn to the Jeep CJ. I liked driving it around with the top off, and it was great for taking on fishing trips with some of the other players and coaches.'
   'The big reason I decided to give Jeep CJ's to my friends on the Cincinnati Reds was that I wanted to give them something instead of cash. They all could use a Jeep, as most of them fish or hunt, and several live on farms, and drive in snow in the winter. I even got two tops for the guys who live in the north...I asked them if they'd like one, and everyone said, 'yes!' "

He was an amazing player. I still remember traveling across country in our Ford LTD listening in as Pete extended his hitting streak day after day. Quite an amazing run.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The King of Jeep Grand Wagoneers

 I wrote an article and took photos of Leon Miller aka "The Wagonmaster" back in 2000 for the Jeep News Magazine. He warmly greeted me at his Kerrville Texas home and wove a wonderful story of how his love of the classic "Woody" drew him out of retirement. The last Grand Wagoneer rolled off the assembly line in 1991 and there was no replacement on the horizon that had the same qualities as this full-size Jeep 4x4. Leon was encouraged by Brooks Stevens, the chief designer of the Jeep Wagoneer, to renew low mileage models and sell these rolling works of art to discriminating buyers. Low mileage Wagoneers have been harder and harder to find but Leon's business has been going strong for the past 13 years. A testimony to his strong research skills and loyal customers - especially in the New England area. He still tries to keep his vehicles to 70,000 miles or less which is pretty amazing considering many date back to the 1970s.
A pristine 1988 Grand Wagoneer that is currently for sale on Leon's site. It has under 54K and is selling for $41,000. 

Here is the reprint of the original article:

"It started out purely as a hobby," says former Texas cattleman, Leon Miller. "It was accidental; I had no desire or even dreamed about doing what I am doing today." What he's doing is buying high-quality pre-owned Jeep Grand Wagoneers, restoring them to near-mint condition, and selling them at the rate of 125-plus units a year. Miller has sold over 680 "Woodys" in a little over eight years from his business in Kerrville, Texas. In these parts, he is the Wagon Master. Even though Grand Wagoneers are getting harder and harder to find, Miller insists on only starting out with the best vehicles. All the vehicles on his lot have less than 70,000 miles, with no damage and absolutely no rust. After a thorough history check and vehicle inspection, Miller's four-man detail crew will spend 2-3 weeks "renewing" these classic 4x4s - at an average cost of $4,000 per vehicle - to get them up to his high standards. 

"Early on it was a Realtor wagon ... they loved the 360-degree vision all the way around," Miller said when asked for insights on Grand Wagoneer buyers. He also offered insights on the wood-looking vinyl siding that the Grand Wagoneer is known for. "It was really out of necessity for some major ranchers in south Texas," Miller said. "Supposedly, they wanted a close four-door (vehicle), done up nicely, with a tough vinyl siding to keep from destroying or damaging the paint." The Jeep brand responded to these requests and added the wood looking vinyl siding and trim which helped protect the side paneling from the sagebrush and prickly pear that dot the Texas landscape. 

Today, many of Miller's Grand Wagoneers are sold to architects and interior decorators who want a classic look that stands apart from the rest of the SUVs on the road. Much of that business begins at - Miller's Web site. About 80 percent of this vehicles are sold sight unseen, including many Grand Wagoneers that are shipped overseas to people who saw the vehicle in the movies or on television. Miller has also come to depend on his Web site for people looking to sell their precious older vehicles. Roughly 80 to 90 percent of his inventory comes from people who have visited his site on the Internet. 

Thanks in part to Jeep innovation, Miller isn't dabbling in a hobby any more. "They were so far ahead of the industry when they designed this vehicle," Miller said. "The Grand Wagoneer is without a doubt the most copied SUV in the industry, and rightly so. That is why I can do what I am doing, because this vehicle was so well done."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Jeep Wrangler Doors Hard to Close?

Once in a while I run into someone who shares that their Wrangler doors are hard to close. I just smile. That's a good thing. It tells me their new to the whole Jeep thing and just need a little insight to why Wrangler doors are different. In a Wrangler form follows function. There are many unique features on a Wrangler / Wrangler Unlimited with a hardtop that set it apart from all other vehicles:
  • The relatively lightweight doors are removable for open-air driving, and lighter weight doors require more effort to close.
  • Keeping things simple, Wrangler doors only utilize a check strap in lieu of a heavy mechanical system which aids in closing effort.
  • The door opening has no weather seal so you have a clean opening for entry and exit from your Wrangler. The door has a seal with some rubber inserts that helps keep out the wind and water in some challenging locations, such as where the windshield header, hardtop Freedom Panel and door all come together.
So there you have it. Long story short - Jeep engineers had to decide what was more important: an easy to close door, or a door that would seal out the wind and water. They chose the latter. So next time you close the door on your Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited give a little bit more effort as you enjoy your purpose built adventure machine. And enjoy the ride.