Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Posted by JBanholzer at 11:42 AM
No Help From Above
Firefighting supertanker put on cargo duty
BY TONY EVANS
Evergreen International Aviation
Despite passing certification with the Federal Aviation Administration and signing a firefighting contract with the U.S. Forest Service last fall, the Boeing 747 Evergreen Supertanker will not be deployed in 2007.
Last week, nearly one million acres were burning in Idaho, including the 653,100-acre Murphy Complex Fire on the Idaho/Nevada border, which cut power to the Duck Valley Indian Reservation for a week. Could the world's largest water-bomber, capable of laying down a one-mile-long swath of fire retardant, have played a role in dowsing the largest wildfire in the nation?
"The work at NIFC is a kind of chess game," says Mike Apicello, spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. "People try to get to fires while they are still small in order to protect people and property. One part of the game is to get aircraft pre-positioned for firefighting."
Currently, the NIFC fleet of large tankers is comprised of 16 heavy air tankers, each capable of dropping 3,000 gallons of fire retardant in one fell swoop to aid firefighters on the ground. The cost of operating a conventional tanker is $5,000 per hour. By contrast, the Evergreen Supertanker has a payload of 24,000 gallons, eight times the C-130, and would cost the Forest Service as much as $20,000 per hour.
According to Kim Frederick of NIFC, air tankers of any kind can only be used effectively in combination with a strategy on the ground. "Ground crews are cutting narrow control lines with hand tools and chainsaws and then burning out the area inside the control line in order to deprive the fire of fuel," he says. "The air drops generally don't put fires out, but they can buy the ground crews time to build their control lines. It is a complex process, and timing is critical because ground crews may have to judge where a fire will be in four days time."
According to Frederick, the use of large tankers is best suited to grass and brush fires burning on flatter topography, a fit description for much of the Murphy Complex Fire, which began as five separate fires, eventually burning together. Yet Frederick points out that high winds would have rendered air drops ineffective during three crucial days of the fire in which 342,000 acres were burned.
"The Supertanker would be an expensive resource," says Pat Norbury, U.S. Forest Service National Aviation Operations officer. Norbury says the Evergreen Supertanker was developed in response to a call from federal firefighting agencies for innovation in water-bomber designs. The call went out after the 2002 crash of a conventional C-130 tanker in Nevada, which claimed three lives. A subsequent investigation by the Washington,D.C.-based National Transportation Safety Board grounded the entire Forest Service fleet of 36 1950s-era C-130 tankers, three of which had crashed in recent years because of wing stress fractures.
As a result of the investigation, national regulatory pressure came to bear on what had been a casual system of firefighting. It was a system that had previously involved entrepreneurial and intrepid pilots contracted by private companies to fly all manner of aircraft, including helicopters, tankers and single-engine airplanes.
"The NTSB determined after the investigation that the Forest Service was responsible for the continuing air-worthiness of any aircraft contracted to fight fires on federal lands," says Norbury. "Before that time, they had only to meet FAA requirements on their own."
Norbury's office has worked with NASA engineers and Sandia Laboratory officials in New Mexico to develop guidelines for maintenance standards for its firefighting fleet. As of this summer, only 19 of the original fleet of 36 heavy tankers have passed certification and are back in operation. None of them are C-130s, but have been replaced with P-2V Neptunes and P-3 Orions. NIFC is uncertain how many of the tankers, if any, were used in the Murphy Complex Fire.
Norbury has also worked with Evergreen for the past two years during the re-design of its Supertanker and says the airplane has received interim approval by the Interagency Air Tanker Board.
After testing the aircraft in California last year, Norbury was quoted in Aviation Week magazine saying, "The entire team was surprised at how maneuverable the 747 was in the confines of a fire traffic area. They concluded that the Evergreen 747 appears to be a very viable resource for fire retardant and water delivery. We expected much larger [flight] patterns and less utility in rough terrain. But it was actually quite maneuverable. It had no problem working with the lead plane [a King Air 90] and making drops."
"We are anxious to see what it can do," Norbury told BW last week. "The Supertanker fits one of our general strategies, which is to apply retardant in a long line, but the question remains: Can we tactically deploy that much fire retardant in a fire?"
Fire retardant is only a retardant. Without ground crews working on the fire lines, the fire can just burn right through.
"We are interested in anything that appears to be viable in fighting fires," she says. "But this aircraft has not been out on a fire, even for a test. And it won't be until it has satisfied all our criteria. The company still needs to develop a continuing air-worthiness program‚ which is a maintenance and inspection system to monitor specific stress points on the aircraft under operational loads during fire fighting conditions. We don't know if they [Evergreen] are going to be staffing this."
Garrett Brown of Evergreen Aviation says his company has spent more than $15 million in the development of the supertanker before taking it off contract this summer with the Forest Service, and re-fitting it for cargo use in the Middle East. "We will make it available again in May of 2008," says Brown, though he would not comment on the final deliberations he faced before terminating Evergreen's contract. Instead, he said only that his relationship with the Forest Service was still a good one, and that the details of he decision are "proprietary information."
While federal officials in Idaho are still developing policies for certifying a new generation of firefighting planes, California officials, unhindered by federal procedures, moved forward in 2006 with a supertanker of its own.
Tin Tanker Corporation's DC-10 jumbo jet was flown for the first time last year under contract with Cal Fire. The DC-10 carries about half the payload of the proposed 747, but according to Bill Payne, chief of flight operations for Cal Fire, "It's been fantastic. We used it last year on six fires and dispensed 200,000 gallons of retardant. It carries 12,000 gallons of retardant and can lay a mile line 50-feet wide. It has absolutely been a success."
The DC-10 will re-deploy next week under contract with Cal Fire after being grounded for several weeks for repairs. Earlier this summer, the DC-10's left wing clipped through pine trees on a ridgeline while fighting the White Fire in southern California, yet the airplane was landed successfully without injuries.
Posted by JBanholzer at 11:35 AM
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
"One day my teacher fired a sudden question at me, and finding that I was not paying attention, hauled me out for corporal punishment. It was really the feeling of his cane that first turned my thoughts in the direction of multiple mind concentration. I did not want to give up my daydreams, but on the other hand, I had a distinct aversion to corporal punishment. So after a while I got into the habit of letting one part of my brain wander into the realms of inventive fancy whilst I kept the other alert for an enfilade fire of questions from the teacher."
"Mr Kahne smiled.
"Perhaps you’re right", he said. :It is very hard work. In the two shows of ten minutes duration which I give every evening I calculate that I use up as much mental energy as the average brain worker expends in an 8-hour day. But I soon recover. I spend all the rest of my time in play and relaxation and never allow myself to worry. It’s worry that kills --- not mental effort. I attribute my clarity of thought not so much to a good memory, but to what I call a good ‘forgettery’. In my daily life I erase all unpleasant thoughts from my mind. And on the stage my ability to forget is an equally important asset. Unless I were able to wipe out from my memory the words given me at the first performance, I might easily confuse them with those called out at the second house. Then where should I be?"
I said that I did not know. Then I asked Mr Kahne if he could explain the method by which he has trained his memory.
"Well, in the first place, most people have a wrong idea of the faculty commonly called memory. Some regard it as a sort of adhesive jelly upon which facts will stick and remain until called for. Others look upon it as sort of card index where thoughts are sorted, to be retrieved at will by pulling a sort of mental ‘tag’ --- the ‘tag’ being what is commonly called ‘the association of ideas’. But such methods of memorizing are automatic rather than systematic."
"Then what is the secret of remembering several things at a time?" I asked.
"Focus", replied Mr Kahne promptly. "If you take a camera with a new roll of film and expose it five times at random, you get five blurred images. But if you focus the camera carefully upon a given object and then make the sixth exposure, you get a distinct image. So it is with the brain."
Posted by JBanholzer at 9:29 PM
Friday, August 10, 2007
World Tibet Network NewsPublished by the Canada Tibet Committee
Thursday, September 8, 2005
Dalai Lama host bares his soul in new memoir
By Tony Evans
For the Express
Idaho Mountain Express and Guide
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Following his address to the Wood River Valley on Sunday, Sept. 11, His
Holiness the Dalai Lama will give a private address to a group of elite
money managers at the home of investment banker Kiril Sokoloff. The title of
this meeting on Sept. 12 is "Compassion is Good for Business."
Sokoloff is the man behind the Dalai Lama's visit to Idaho and is a close
personal friend of His Holiness. Sokoloff's memoir, "Personal
Transformation: An Executive's Story of Struggle and Spiritual Awakening,"
is introduced by the Dalai Lama and features him on its cover, perhaps
revealing a link between those working to make a difference in the world and
those charged with making a killing in the markets.
"Personal Transformation" is a series of evocative sketches on friendship,
love and loss by a successful investment analyst willing to bare his
"Russian soul" after many years of isolation and despair due to late-onset
deafness and a heart-rending divorce from his wife, Katie. Even as the
author's hearing diminishes, further isolating him from his world of music
and conversation, his deep studies of history and economics bring him, and
many others, great fortune and success.
Born to a Russian 魩gr頦ather, who fled the Russian Revolution, and his
American composer wife, Sokoloff was an only child, raised on the classics
to appreciate European art and culture. Introverted and bookish, he suffered
from an "inferiority complex" made worse by late deafness, which struck
during his college years.
As a young man, Sokoloff learned about the world at the feet of his uncle,
Jim Hunt, an investment banker who worked for the Office of Strategic
Services during World War II and later at the CIA, eventually becoming Head
of Intelligence for Western Europe.
"My uncle said that the securities business and intelligence were the most
interesting of all careers," writes Sokoloff. "It's all a question of
judgment. Who do you believe? ... What is disinformation? What's real?"
As an investigative reporter for the Business Week Letter during the stock
market bust of the early 1970s, Sokoloff began a study of discarded "13D
These are reports filed by company stockholders with a 5 percent or more
interest in corporations. By studying the habits of these large "catalyst"
investors, he amassed a database that uncovered the successes of Warren
Buffet, Larry Tisch, Carl Icahn, Henry Singleton and many others.
In 1983 Sokoloff went public with an eight-page memo of his findings. The
information proved invaluable to institutional investors and was reported on
by the New York Post and Forbes Magazine.
The client list of 13D Research Inc. grew and evolved through the study of
emerging markets, and bankruptcies and distressed securities, and by
following boom-bust cycles in Germany, Brazil, China and the Americas.
Sokoloff describes himself as "agnostic with regard to change," and he is
known as a "contrary thinker" who spots changes in markets early. Following
the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Sokoloff followed his friend and fellow
investment advisor Dick Strong to the Himalayas for an audience with His
Holiness the Dalai Lama. The subsequent meeting changed his life.
When asked what humanity was most in need of at that time, the Dalai Lama
responded by saying, "Peace of mind ... Peace of mind ... Peace of mind."
When asked why the terrorists have perpetrated such "evil," the Dalai Lama
explained that they have a highly developed intelligence, but their hearts
remain cold. "We have to work on developing the heart."
So began Sokoloff's spiritual journey, alongside various philanthropic
endeavors revolving around the survival and expression of Tibetan culture.
In his paper "The Huge Danger of Destructive Emotions," (available to paying
subscribers of his newsletter at 13D.com), Sokoloff describes the negative
emotions, such as fear, anger, greed and jealousy, as the bane of rational
thinking and disruptive to the mind's equilibrium.
"The essence of destructive emotions is excessive focus on the self," he
writes. "Throwing your ego into a cause or purpose much greater than
yourself, on the other hand, leads to happiness."
How this all shakes out in one's investment portfolio would be a good topic
for future writings. When does "risk-averse" investing become the negative
emotion of fear? When does the desire for increased profits become the
negative emotion of greed? And how closely can the Buddhist doctrine of
"Right-livelihood" be followed in the myriad of transactions of today's
As a memoir of deafness, "Personal Transformation" will be a welcome gift
for the 10,000 hearing-impaired individuals to whom Sokoloff is contributing
free copies. Although his book suffers at times from poor organization and
sentimentality, it is a welcome plea for trust and compassion from within
the culture of investment banking.
Sokoloff's stated ambition is to "restore trust in corporations," and to
help others transform themselves through love and compassion. Perhaps he
will succeed by drawing attention to the place where all great change
begins-within the human heart.