Sonic Wind & Constitution LSRV
It has been a very busy month for me and I am a bit yappy tonight so get a cup of Joe or tea and enjoy this latest update. I have been working on acquiring the tube for the chassis of Freedom and finding a certified welder. I will be hiring a local guy who has a long history of building vehicle chassis and things will be good I can just tell. I will keep you posted as it comes along. I have decided to use 2X6 inch 1/8 inch wall thickness mild steel tube for the bottom of the chassis and high strength steel and aluminum for the upper sections.
I heard from a bunch of you guys this month, guys like Randy Vilhauer ( I hope I spelled that right and if not Randy call me on it) He was telling me about the great time he and a few friends had at Bonneville running a couple of hopped up Harley Davidsons for class records. He was pitted right next to an old friend of mine Kenny Lyons. Which is a great thing because Kenny has probably forgotten more about Harleys than most guys running at Bonneville will ever know and he is a great teacher.
In the early eighties or late seventies Kenny put two Harley Davidson big V twins together into a humongous V four which was fed by a turbo charger the size of a dinner plate. I think the turbo came from a diesel truck but it looked like it came off of a P-51 fighter plane. Anyway on this unholy Frankenstein he shot through the lights at over 190 M.P.H. Kenny was also the key person responsible for creating the water cooled jugs for the “Jammer streamliner” which was built by Bob George that ran twin water cooled Harley Davidson V twins. You will better know the bike as the Easyriders streamliner as it was bought and campaigned again with the original rider Dave Campos and set the recently deposed all time bike record of 322 M.P.H. The problem with air cooled V twins is that when they are run hot for long periods of time the rear cylinder does not get enough cool air as the front cylinder pre heats the air before it hits the rear cylinder. The best answer is water cooled jugs.
I talked to Kenny this month before he went to Bonneville as he was running class bikes and side cars with Honda motors with beautiful young women riding them for him. Boy, things have sure changed since we used to hang the Becker- Lyon streamliner from a tree at the motel to change class motors haven’t they. I asked Kenny how many records he has set to date and he said he stopped counting after 35!
I also heard from Team Bullet as they were covered in record setting glory after the Bonneville meet running a real sweet looking Jack Costella designed liner running in the 350cc class. Go see their sweet machine and hear all about it at http://www.teambullett.com/.
I also heard from my old buddy Ky Michealson the original “Rocketman”. I have been bugging him to finish his memoirs about all the days he and a handful of other heroes of mine were running the fastest and quickest machines to hit a dragstrip even to this day. The H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide fueled) rocketcars, many of which still have gone faster than the fuellers have been able to even with all the advances in engine, clutch and chassis technology to this very day. Ky e-mailed me and said it was done and he was selling copies for $29.95. I want the first autographed copy Ky or I am going to lie and tell everyone your cars weren’t all that fast. I will call you tomorrow and order one I promise. And if you want to know about what real speed is like in the quarter mile you go to his site www.the-rocketman.com/content12html And get yourself a copy before you have to pay $100.00 for one on e-bay.
I also received a surprise visit from my limey buddy Andrew Urwin. He was in the states on a trip from England to see the NHRA drags at Pomona and catch a Bruce Springsteen concert as well as see a few sights. My dogs were barking up a storm and there he was at my gate. I keep a pack of five dogs which hate trespassers in order to keep the Coyotes, Mountain Lions, Bobcats and drug crazed tweekers at bay.
He told me he was going to the Titan Museum in Arizona as it was a Titan missile ICBM site that was converted over to a museum. When he told me about it I just had to go being the missile and rocketry buff that I am. I figured I would check it out when I went on my next cross country mission which was to happen the following week.
I had a bit of fun with Andrew as he is your basic quiet, conservative Brit who is a great conversationalist and a very knowledgeable man. We were talking about which pick up trucks were the best to buy and I told him that I had always had good luck with Ford F-150s and I should know because I have owned just about everything you can drive at one time or another. A few minutes later we were coming up my road as I live on the side of the Ord Mountains where the roads are wash board dirt for three miles before you reach my house.
I said to him “This is why I love Ford trucks.” and I threw her into four wheel drive low on the fly, hooked a sharp right turn and we blasted up the side of a three hundred foot tall scary steep, desert mountain. We were climbing on a dirt bike trail and near the top it was getting iffy as the Ford was digging in and clawing her way to the top, jumping and rocking side to side violently. A few seconds later we crested the mountain from which we could look down on all the houses in the valley. Andrew looked at me and said “You just about tore my head off.” or something like that but I could tell he was impressed. Andrew is building a H2O2 rocket powered dragster in the U.K. and you can see his other projects at www.andrewurwin.co.uk. See you next time you come to the U.S. Andrew and if I am not home just let yourself in as I know the dogs like you.
I also heard from Rosco McGlashen the “Aussie Invader”as he gave me a call while Andrew was here. He said that he was at the Black Rock desert for the Thrust SSC team reunion ( The Brits had come to celebrate holding the LSR for ten years) and to watch the practice runs of the North American Eagle jet car which was there on the lake bed as well.
Rosco said that the Eagle had run about 150 M.P.H. when he was there and there was still a lot more testing to be done. I will check their web site for the skinny on that test session. Those guys have been working on that car for quite awhile and it is making great progress and I wish them all the luck in the world for success.
The Last time Rosco and I were together I was driving him around in a rented Ford “Fusion” (Have these marketers run out of good names for cars or what?). He let me drive because he doesn’t like the fact that we drive on the wrong side of the road here in the U.S. He is from Australia and they drive on the left side of the road just as they do in England. So on the way back from I can’t remember where heading south on route 395. I told him “Lets see what she’s got.” And I floored it for a couple of miles the answer was about 117 M.P.H. indicated and the front end stared getting a little soft and it got real light. Ford...great trucks - crappy cars, some things never change.
Rosco is currently in Las Vegas closing the deals to finance his latest rocket powered Aussie Invader 5 land speed car. I wish him all the best and as usual I will help all I can. Eric Ahlstrom had also brought to Black Rock Steve Fosset’s jet car for a photo shoot and to ramp the team up on campaigning techniques. I have seen a photo of the revamped car and it looks good. Eric says that no matter what happens they will still make an attempt for the record, so stay tuned. I would have loved to be there but I had a mission to go on and it could not wait any longer.
Denise and I are the kind of people that plan very little when we take a road trip. We just lay out the basics and let the Almighty surprise us. Life is much more fun that way we figure. So we decided to head east to take Ed Drumheller II’s life’s work of data to the Space history museum at Alamagordo New Mexico. The many blue binders of data, photographs, video tape and 16mm film needed to be archived in order to give future parachute and ejection seat designers a reference so they aren’t always re-inventing the same old thing. Ed was the premier ejection man in the country and a Boeing Phantom works engineer at the time of his death. I had promised Barbara his wife I would take care of this and find the perfect place for this valuable collection of data.
The archives of this particular museum are used by the rocket sled team at Holoman Air Force Base in Alamagordo New Mexico as well as Sandia labs so it was the perfect place and a fitting tribute to the knowledge accumulated by a great and brilliant man. You can see this museum collection and it has a lot of one of a kind space hardware too in Alamagordo New Mexico
So we took the F-150 on a road trip headed east on route 10. Our first stop was the Titan Missile Museum in Sahaurita Arizona. You can access their website at www.titanmissilemuseum.org. It is exactly what it says it is, A Titan missile ICBM site complete with a Titan 2 in the silo and everything just as it was during the cold war when the U.S. had it’s stand off with the Soviet Union. They have on display all the vehicles used by the missile men and they offer a one hour tour every hour. The tours are given by volunteers which were once the people manning the silos from 1960 to 1978. So they really know what they are talking about.
During the cold war each Titan 2 missile was topped with a 9 megaton nuclear warhead. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima Japan in 1945 yielded 15 to 20 KILOTONS (depending on who’s account you read.) not Megatons so it was a tiny firecracker by comparison. There were 57 of these Titan silos scattered throughout the southwest. Each contained one missile on which was on alert 24/7. The missiles once launched would reach one of three targets programmed into the missiles guidance control system just before launch. The missile men did not know or care to ever know where the missile was targeted for, would you? 30 minutes later the warhead would either in a ground burst or air burst produce a fireball 3 and a half miles in diameter with a core temperature of over a million degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say anyone standing within a ten mile radius of the detonation were now standing in front of their maker.
They take you below ground into the silo and control center and tell you all about the missile and security procedures. Denise was chosen to run the programs into the missile and turn the launch key simultaneously with “Jim” our tour guide. Denise always gets picked for the cool stuff. Maybe being a good looking chick helps. It looked like a scene from that cool Burt Lancaster movie “Twilights last Gleaming” as they went through the launch procedures and count down. Afterward Denise wanted to push more buttons but Jim wouldn’t let her. These types of military personnel are procedure robots and sort of odd I thought. There was no doubt in my mind that Jim would have turned that key.
Anyway there is an inert Titan 2 in the Silo. This was the same type of booster used in the manned Gemini program which ran from 1963 to 1966 and was the manned space program between Mercury and Apollo. Jim told us that a Titan 2 booster was used in Gemini 8 to put the first men in orbit around the moon. He is totally wrong about that as it was actually Apollo 8 and the rocket that was used was actually a Saturn 5 rocket. I didn’t call him on it because Jim was on a roll and you don’t want to call a guy who will nuke you a liar.
I on the other hand I am lucky to have guys like Larry Johnson and Franklin Ratliff e-mail me when I make a historical mistake in either a land speed or historical aerospace statement. I love that because these guys edit me and make sure you read nothing but the truth, the whole truth so help me God.
Jim also told us that the silos were out in the open desert where the Soviets could see them because we had nothing to hide and wanted to be on the up and up with the Soviets. This I had a problem with because if that was true we wouldn’t have developed nuclear submarines or the mobile MX missile system in order to ward off a first strike by the Soviets. A first strike is the only way to win a M-A-D (mutual assured destruction) scenario. I hate when people rewrite history in order to paint the U.S. as the good guys. Sorry Jim it was the spy satellite that made the missile silo obsolete not the good naturedness of our government.
Anyway, there were also all three of the Titan engines in a shed above ground and the tour guides will let you play with the engines if you wanted to. The Titan 2 used UDMH and NTO as fuels (Because they are totally storable) and the Titan in the Silo had never ever contained fuel and oxidizer because once the missile is stored with fuel the tanks become toxic and can never be cleaned totally from the fuels as they are nasty toxic acids and eat into the stainless steel of the tanks. This is why even though there were hundreds of Titan 2s built there are very few on display. Another neat fact about that missile was that the gyros were spun constantly so the missile could be launched immediately. Some of the Titan’s gyros spun continuously for years....
In the 1980s I hunted down Craig Breedlove’s rocket powered dragster The English leather Special. It was the only rocket car ever built using UDMH and NTO as fuel and oxidizer. At the time it was owned by Bob Older of Victorville California and was hung from the ceiling of his display garage. Some fuel was left in the tanks which were made of stainless steel. The fuel over the years had eaten through the tanks and spilled onto the hood of a Classic 1930s Bentley parked under it and ate a hole in that half a million dollar car. So this stuff is NAS-TY!
Back on the road our next stop was the “Space Murals museum in Organ New Mexico. I was to pick up an LR-99 and an Lr101 which Ken Mason had on display there for over a decade. The museum is probably the best private space museum I have ever seen and it is owned by Lou Gariano. Lou is one of the neatest guys I have met in a long time and reminds me of the tough no nonsense Italian guys I remember as a kid growing up in Chicago.
He put this museum together with his own money and doesn’t even charge admission. It has thousands of space artifacts and photographs and he even has a V-2 which was launched by White Sands and abandoned or should I say crashed in the desert. He just went out there, picked it up and put it on display. I have things I am going to send him to add to the museum so it can get better and if you have any old space hardware you want to display there contact him. Their web site is www.zianet.com/spacemurals/ Lou did all this because he loved the space program, people and especially kids.
A few miles up route 70 and we came across a pristine Nike Hercules standing on a mountain pass. It overlooks the White Sands Missile range five miles away. If you go to White Sands do not attempt to drive on base with a radar detector in plain sight as they will ticket you. You can go to the Museum and Missile Park just inside the gates but be careful which direction you take photos in as they will arrest you if you photograph the test sites.
The missile park is one of the best I’ve seen and every missile you have ever read about is standing there as well as many you have not. Inside a nearby building is a whole V-2 dissected for you to enjoy. It is painted a checkerboard yellow and black and looks more like a hot rod than a missile.
Although you never hear about this White Sands has tested nearly every missile used by the Army and is famous for launching a missile attack on Mexico. Yes, on one test shot a V-2 decided to go where it wanted to and ended up taking out a grave yard in Mexico. A few apologies and I am sure a couple of well written checks later our two nations were friends again.
Our next stop was Alamagordo New Mexico where we turned over Ed Drumheller II’s archives over to Jim Mayberry the curator of the museum and then we were off to Roswell New Mexico to look for flying saucers and get the skinny on that whole 1947 saucer crash thing. I am the type of person that doesn’t believe anything unless I research it for myself. You should be that way too. Don’t even believe what I tell you if it sounds strange just do what I always say and “Look it up!”
Roswell has taken the whole flying saucer and alien theme very seriously and everywhere in down town there are little green men and flying saucers. The street lights glow green with almond shaped eyes on them at night and even the local McDonalds is shaped like a flying saucer.
There is a UFO museum and research center that was very interesting. It is a combination museum telling the story of the 1947 saucer crash and a huge library. The library contains thousands of books and tens of thousands of magazines and videos covering the history of the UFO phenomenon. It is a serious study area and a must go for anyone wanting to form a real opinion about what UFOs really may be.
As for the UFO that crashed at Roswell in 1947, it was not a saucer at all but more of an aircraft in my opinion. It looked from all eye witness accounts like a stingray with two vertical stabilizers on the top rear similar to modern fighter jets. The seven occupants were incased in a streamlined ( a 3and a half to one ratio streamlined fuselage) pilot compartment. This tells me it was an aircraft not a spacecraft. Not only that, but my guess is it was a subsonic aircraft at that by the shape of it. Later I read an account that these things were tracked on radar for days moving at approximately 300 knots. A spacecraft would most likely be a sphere or a cylinder in order to get the best use of internal volume for out side surface area. The Testors Company sells a model of the Roswell UFO which you can still find on e-bay from time to time and the eye witness accounts follow the Testors model almost dead on.
I bought a few books on the Roswell incident written by actual witnesses and as luck would have it I ran into Eugene Frazier an architect working on a new resort he is planning to build in Roswell. The resort resembles a 400 foot diameter flying saucer and is really an amazing thing. You have to see this design so you can get an idea of what it looks like at www.EarthStationRoswell.com. Gene has been living in Roswell for a few years and he is a man like myself. He likes answers and the truth will suit him just fine. He is educated in Bau Haus architecture stylings and has studied many of the same things I have such as a lot of history and even the Sumarian writings.
Gene’s research led him to a much more complex story than I had ever read in the many books I have read about the Roswell Incident through the years. His take is that there were two or three craft flying formation from what is now Sandia to Roswell and near White Sands. This area was known to the military at that time as the nuclear triangle. These craft were tracked on radar for three days before one or both were struck by lightning and crashed in three different areas. Uncle Sam moved in and the rest is history. He says that the Army thought that the craft were probably manned by Nazis which had escaped to Argentina (Tierra Del Fuego actually translates to “Land of the Furhers” as Argentina was a pro Nazi country during WW2) or Antarctica where there is a myth of a secret Nazi base.
There are areas in Antarctica that are warm and have no snow or ice on them. This is a fact of history and you can find it is true if you research Admiral Byrd’s 1949 expedition to Antarctica called Operation High jump. I have a military film which shows this warm area on film as part of the documentary which Byrd produced on his Operation High jump expedition.
Anyway the Germans were working on various saucer shaped craft and exotic field propulsion units during the war. You can research this in the book titled “Man made UFOs 1944 to 1994" by Renato Vesco and David Hatcher Childress. Thus the Army thought that Stalin might have recovered some kind of German saucers too and made them work and that is what all the hoopla was about. The only problem was that when the ships were recovered the occupants didn’t look human. And well you know the rest of the story. I hope some day Gene writes a book about it as he knows more than the authors I have read on the subject.
Now you guys know if you read my site that I believe all UFOs are military projects. After spending two days in Roswell I will amend that opinion to 99 percent of all UFOs are military projects.70 percent are attributed to the “Sociopath Factor”. I just made that term up and it means that many psychiatrists believe that between 20 percent and 25 percent of the general population are Sociopaths. One major trait of these people is that they are compulsive BS artists who believe their own BS and will defend it to the death as reality. This explains criminal behavior and ex wives and husbands. This tells me that 1/4 of all things told to me are absolute BS and now you know why I am such a skeptic. My sarcastic skepticism is really based on a scientific theory that is gaining ground in the last decade. Don’t believe me, look it up.
The last thing I visited in Roswell was the Robert H. Goddard museum. It was a FANTASTIC place for a rocket man like me to visit. The city of Roswell took Goddard’s entire shop and reinstalled it inside the museum. You can see much of his work. Regeneratively cooled rocket chambers and nozzles, turbo pumps, cryogenic oxidizer fittings and steering vanes, it was all there. Everything used on modern rockets was invented by Robert Goddard and his team in the late 1930s up into the early1940s. A tear came to my eye as I took some photos and realized I was walking on holy ground. His lathes, mill and belt driven drill presses, hand tools and Ford wrenches were neatly laid out among the rocket parts.
Ken Mason taught me to use old Ford automobile wrenches (They were given to you free in a tool kit when you bought a 1930s era model A or T.) to work on liquid rockets because they open wide and fit in tight spaces that a crescent wrench just won’t reach into. It was wonderful to realize I did things very similar to Robert Goddard. I was in bliss that is until an A sexual security guard chastised me for taking flash photographs and that snapped me back into reality. She, he or it is lucky I wasn’t packing as shots would have been fired.
As we left Roswell and headed out across the wide open plains of New Mexico where there was nothing but sage brush and ocotillo for miles and miles. I thought to myself anything could happen out here in these wide open spaces maybe even an alien spacecraft crash landing.
Our next stop was Alamogordo New Mexico again to witness the Xprize competition and the Holoman Air Force Base air show. Most of the competing home made rocket landing machines resembled the lunar module of the Apollo era. They were powered by small rockets most of which would only develop a couple of hundred pounds or more of thrust. There was a lot of innovation there but for some reason it didn’t hold my interest.
There was a mockup of the Rocket Racing leagues rocket plane racer but it was all marketers BS. They played a CG video which depicted rocket planes blazing by at near supersonic speeds but in reality they will run between 200 and 300 m.p.h. So they would actually fly their course at commuter prop plane speeds. The computer animation video presented a much more dynamic presentation than would actually be the case. Marketers.... you gotta love em.
There were a few future rockets on display but they were all large models and there really wasn’t any real hardware there to look at. I guess what all these guys really want to do is generate money. I say grab some wrenches and some material my brothers and get to work. No one is going to fund your playtime, believe me. The problem with all these “Space” companies is that they are all groups of marketers and schemers not engineers. Unfortunately NASA has evolved into the exact same thing over the years. NASA should be called NASA Inc. As it is has become a company of marketers and administrators trying to get their hands on funding.
When the space race started NASA was made up almost entirely of engineers, the type who came home with dirty hands because they could run a lathe or a mill and actually make components and test them. Nowadays many engineers are metro sexuals sporting the latest haircut who need a G.P.S. system in their SUV in order to find the freaking Mall! If you are laughing right now thank Scott Corey for that one. If I steal a joke I give credit for it. I can’t afford any frivolous lawsuits.
When JFK fronted for the space program, money was no object and NASA was made almost entirely of engineers who were infected with GO FEVER. Those days are over and even though I love NASA they need to restructure themselves into more of an on hands group. As I have said before NASA has too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.
I talked to a bunch of people manning the “We need money” booths in a nearby hangar. One group (Their design is featured in the latest issue of Launch magazine) wanted to build a Lear jet look alike with an Atlas sustainer LOX/Kerosene rocket engine as a booster on it running at half thrust in order to make it safer. Gee, I wonder where they got that idea? The booth was manned by a good looking marketer type. I told him I had a concept to build a high altitude AIRCRAFT based on the Grumman F-14 TomCat. An aircraft is really all these things are and the only reason a passenger will experience 30 seconds of weightlessness is because you fall back in a parabolic arc and not because you are floating in zero G space. You can get that same “experience” in an airliner. In fact Sharper Image will put you in an airliner and make you sick in a weightless environment for only $3,675.00.
Anyway the marketer quickly told me that he had heard about that and also about someone else who wanted to use a Mig in the same manner. Then he blew me off and was looking over my shoulder because there was some hottie walking by with all her options slightly exposed and he was trying to catch her eye and was instantly bored with anything I had to say. And these clowns wonder why they can’t find investment money? Don’t wonder the reason is because you have a bad design and even Helen Keller can see it.
Their design looks almost exactly like a 600 m.p.h. Lear commuter jet (One pilot I met once said he could put his Lear jet supersonic in a dive but I am not sure if he was laying the BS on me or what.) with the jet engines in nacelles and a big hole in the back for the Atlas sustainer engine to fire through. It is a bad concept as it has a T tail and thin swept back wings. This design is a one way trip to flutter city especially at their claimed top speed of Mach 3.5 and altitude at burn out of 150,000 feet.
Think about this, the Bell X-2 was built like a brick out house and was trying to make a shallow 180 degree turn at Mach 3 when it busted up Killing pilot Mel Apt. It looked a lot like this plane but had an even stouter tail. The break up was so violent Apt couldn’t even eject.
The fastest high altitude jets we have such as the SR-71, F-14, F-15, F102, F106 etc. use Delta wings to distribute the wing loading through the body length and big twin tails or large delta tails for stability in thin air at high velocity. Even Spaceship One follows this design theory but uses a short square wing like the F104 and the X-15. All I know is these guys might also want to incorporate a ballistic parachute system on the crew compartment because more than likely that is the only part that will be coming back.
I know you guys read this site as in the Launch magazine article you even talk about using Titanium on the leading edges of your design just as I suggested on my Grumman F-14 “Home sick Angel “ concept featured on our concepts page. Not to mention borrowing our Freedom LSRV LR- 105 Atlas sustainer engine and running technique. Don’t get me wrong I put that stuff out there just for this reason even though Ken Mason and I are never given credit for these ideas. We don’t patent our ideas and machines we offer them freely for the progression of us all.
I say build on the Trillions of dollars NACA and NASA has spent on space engineering unless you are taking a whole different tack. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel as the round one usually works just fine. Good luck anyway and I suggest you run a few test flights before you put any passengers on board. Marketers, you gotta love em.
The only thing I thought was really cool at the Xprize deal was I met an engineer named Ronnie M. Lajoie. He was promoting the National Space Society. It is a grass roots organization dedicated to human space exploration, development, tourism and settlement. I t has 20,000 members and he told me my buddy Glen May was one of them.
We talked theory and wild ideas and he understood whatever I said and vice versa as I am a conceptual and he is a practical visionary engineer. Sometimes you meet people that just get it and this was one of those times. All engineering groups need the artist and the engineer working together because seldom are they the same person. The conceptual thinker says “Hey let’s try this and the visionary engineer says “Yeah, that might work.” or “You are out of your mind!” That is the way science needs to really go in order to benefit mankind. I filled out my application last night and my check will be in the mail. Check this group out at www.nss.org/join. It is through shared knowledge and group education that we will go to the stars. There is no other way.
Right now the space entrepreneurs are at the stage airplanes were right after the Wright brothers first flew. I know all of you have seen those documentaries where there is the old black and white footage of all those weird flimsy aircraft flopping and bouncing about as old 1920’s Keystone cops flapper music plays in the background. My favorite was the aircraft that looked like a car with a parasol on top of it bouncing up and down. Well, that is where we are right now in manned space travel. We will get through this and before you know it your grandchildren will be calling you from the moon. I promise you, it is going to happen.
When I got home I went through my wallet and found all the business cards I had acquired during my trip and there was Ronnie M. Lajoie’s I read it and he is an aerospace engineer at the advanced programs engineering division of Boeing’s Phantom works. I remember someone telling me that large company’s human resources divisions most times don’t know who the hell they are hiring. I think that guy may have been a Sociopath.......Waldo