Tag Archives: history

Presidential Trivia – William Howard Taft

Think you know a lot about the President of the United States?  Let us dig down into the dustbin of history and see what we can find.

Our candidate today is:  William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States and later 10th Chief Justice of the United States

  • Born September 15, 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Died March 8, 1930 (aged 72)in Washington, D.C.
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Childhood and school activities:  church; baseball; Linonian Society for literary study and debating; member of Beta chapter of the Psi Upsilon fraternity; legacy member of Skull and Bones secret society co-founded by his father; Yale’s intramural heavyweight wrestling champion
  • Education:  Graduated from Yale College (1878); Cincinnati Law School (1880)
  • Military Service:  42nd United States Secretary of War, February 1, 1904 – June 30, 1908
  • Civilian profession: Lawyer, Jurist
  • Married to Helen Louise Herron “Nellie” Taft (June 2, 1861 – May 22, 1943) on June 19, 1886, at the home of the bride’s parents in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Children: Robert Alphonso Taft, Helen Herron Taft Manning, Charles Phelps Taft II
  • Political Party – Republican
  • Term of office:  March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
  • Only President to become a Chief Justice of the United States.  as Chief Justice, was the only President to swear into office another President (Calvin Coolidge in 1925 and Herbert Hoover in 1929).
  • Hand picked by President Theodore Roosevelt as his successor.  Taft easily won election against William Jennings Bryan.
  • Appointed in 1900 by President William McKinley as chairman of commission to organize civilian government in the Philippines. U.S. been ceded the islands by Spain following the Spanish–American War and the 1898 Treaty of Paris. Taft told McKinley his real ambition was to become a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States but that he would reluctantly accept the appointment.
  • Taft served as Governor-General of the Philippines from July 4, 1901 – December 23, 1903.  In 1902, he negotiated purchase of church-owned lands in the Philippines from Pope Leo XIII and the subsequent sale of those lands to the Philippine people.
  • Though elected as a Republican, Roosevelt had understood that Taft was a progressive at heart and would continue and expand on many of his policies.
  • Taft began an initiative of “Dollar Diplomacy” – send money and exert financial pressure rather than expending bullets and sending soldiers.  This was especially prevalent in relations with Central and South American countries.
  • Taft publicly endorsed Booker T. Washington’s program to uplift African-Americans.  However, he encouraged them to focus on education and entrepreneurship while avoiding participating in current politics.
  • Taft supported income taxes for corporations and individuals.  The 16th Amendment to the Constitution (allowing income taxes) passed during his administration.
  • New Mexico and Arizona were admitted to the Union while he was President.
  • As First Lady, Mrs. Taft joined with the wife of the Japanese ambassador to have 3020 Japanese cherry trees planted around Washington, D.C.
  • President Taft was the last to keep a cow at the White house; it was there to supply fresh milk.  He was the first to own an automobile.
  • In 1910, Taft became the first President to throw the first ball of a baseball season (Senators vs. Athletics 3-0).  The ball was thrown from the stands to the pitcher rather than the current mound-to-catcher method.  He is also (inaccurately) credited with beginning the tradition of the seventh-inning stretch.
  • Taft weighed 330 pounds and stood 6’2″ when he became President.  Shortly after taking office he found himself stuck in the standard-sized tub in the White House.  It took six attendants to extricate him.  A custom tub big enough for four was quickly installed.
  • As Chief Justice, Taft successfully argued that the Supreme Court needed its own building so as to distance itself from the other branches of government.  Until then the Court met in the Capitol, even in the basement.
  • William Howard Taft was the first president to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  His wife is interred there with him.
  • Hobbies:  golf (first President to actively participate in the sport while in office)
  • Famous quotes:

“The world is not going to be saved by legislation.”

“Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.”

“Politics makes me sick.”

William Howard Taft presidential portrait

Lost and Found – September 12th Edition

What to remember about September 12th…

  • 1847  General Santa Anna’s troops defeated at Battle of Chapultepec in Mexican-American War; opens Mexico City to attack
  • 1857  SS Central America sinks off North Carolina; 426 passengers and crew perish; ship was carrying 15 tons of gold from the San Francisco Gold Rush.
  • 1953  John F. Kennedy, future 35th president of the United States, marries Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1954  Television drama “Lassie” makes its debut on CBS
  • 1990  U.S., Great Britain, France, and Soviet Union agree to give up all occupation rights in Germany; clears the way for East and West Germany to reunite
  • 1992  Endeavor launches on 50th Space Shuttle mission; Dr. Mae Carol Jemison becomes 1st African-American woman in space
  • 1994 Frank Eugene Corder attempts to crash a stolen Cessna aircraft into the White House
  • 2003  United Nations lifts sanctions in place on Libya since accepting responsibility for 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103
  • 2005  Michael D. Brown resigns as the head of the FEMA over his handling of the disaster following Hurricane Katrina

Budweiser Salute To Remember September 11, 2001

“This is a commercial Budweiser did for 9/11. They only aired it once so as not to benefit financially from it. They just wanted to acknowledge that horrible day and pay tribute to America and it’s heroes.”  If I remember correctly, this is from 2006.

I don’t need a beer after this commercial but I could sure use a tissue.

There is another version that aired at the 2011 Superbowl to mark the 10th anniversary.  This shows both “takes”

Never forget.

Lost and Found – September 11th Edition

What to remember about September 11th…

  • 1565  Crusader Knights of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta defeat a vastly superior Muslim force of the Ottoman Empire to lift the Siege of Malta
  • 1609  Explorer Henry Hudson sails into the upper bay discovering Manhattan Island and the Hudson River
  • 1777  British forces use heavy morning in attempt to surround General Washington’s forces at Battle of Brandywine
  • 1789  Alexander Hamilton appointed as 1st Secretary of the Treasury of the United States
  • 1857   Mountain Meadows Massacre; Mormon militia and Paiute allies murder 120 settlers during the Utah War
  • 1941  Groundbreaking ceremony for construction of the Pentagon
  • 1965  1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) begins to arrive in South Vietnam
  • 1998  Starr Report is released; investigative account of President Clinton by Independent Council Kenneth Starr
  • 2001  19 Muslim hijackers take control of 4 airliners; planes are crashed into Towers 1 and 2 of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; 4th plane is brought down by the heroic efforts of passengers to prevent another attack
  • 2012  Armed mob attacks and sets fire to U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya; Obama administration falsely blames internet video instead of radical Islamist terrorists commemorating attacks of September 11, 2001

Lost and Found – September 10th Edition

What to remember about September 10th…

  • 1608  John Smith is elected president of Jamestown; the 1st permanent English settlement in North America
  • 1776  Nathan Hale responds to George Washington’s call for volunteers to gather intelligence behind enemy lines
  • 1813  Oliver Hazard Perry leads U.S. forces to defeat British fleet in Battle of Lake Erie; after victory Perry sends message “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”
  • 1833  President Andrew Jackson announces closure of the Bank of the United States; believed the institution to be unconstitutional
  • 1897  London taxi driver George Smith is 1st person ever arrested for drunk driving
  • 1918  German Shepard pup is rescued from bombed out kennel in France by American serviceman Lee Duncan; given the name Rin Tin Tin he later becomes a movie star
  • 1939  Canada joins the Allies; declares war on Germany
  • 1946  Riding train to Darjeeling, Sister Teresa Bojaxhiu hears the call of God directing her “to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them”; becomes known as Mother Teresa
  • 1979  President Carter gives clemency to 4 Puerto Rican nationalists convicted of assassination attempt on President Truman and attack on the U.S. House of Representatives
  • 2002  Switzerland becomes 190th member of the United Nations
  • 2008  Large Hadron Collider at CERN performs 1st successful high energy experiments; world is NOT destroyed

Lost and Found – September 9th Edition

What to remember about September 9th…

  • 1776  Continental Congress changes the nation’s name from “United Colonies” to “United States of America”
  • 1791  Capital of the District of Colombia is renamed in honor of 1st American president, Washington, D.C.
  • 1850  California becomes 31st state admitted to the Union
  • 1863  Union forces capture Chattanooga, Tennessee after nearly bloodless campaign of feint and maneuver
  • 1890  American businessman Harland David “Colonel” Sanders is born in Henryville, Indiana; founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • 1942  Submarine launched Japanese floatplane drops incendiary bombs on Oregon; 1st aerial bombing attack on the U.S.
  • 1971  Prison riot breaks out in Attica, New York
  • 1976  Genocidal communist dictator Mao Zedong dies

Lost and Found – September 8th Edition

What to remember about September 8th…

    • 1565  St. Augustine, Florida founded; Spaniards arrive with the 1st African slaves in North America
    • 1900  Devastating hurricane destroys Galveston, Texas; more than 6000 people die
    • 1915  German Zeppelin successfully bombs London; 22 killed in the massive fire that develops
    • 1943  General Eisenhower announces that Italy has surrendered to the lies
    • 1966  1st episode of Star Trek airs on national television
    • 1974  President Ford pardons his predecessor, President Nixon
    • 2003  Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) begins suing individuals that share copyrighted music files online
    • 2004  CBS News releases forged documents that claim to show President George Bush’s military record is tainted

Warbirds – AH-1 Cobra ,Super Cobra, and Viper

Today’s installment of Warbirds brings us to the venerable AH-1 Cobra / Super Cobra / Viper.  This iconic helicopter saw its debut in Vietnam and still serves to this day.  The AH-1’s first flight took place on September 7th, 1965.

AH-1W wireframe

In the late 1950’s Bell Helicopter was committed to the US Army’s air cavalry concept.  With  the realization that the UH-1 “Hueys” were more vulnerable to North Vietnamese and even Viet Cong ground fire that first envisioned, it was decided that an armed escort was needed.  To fill this role some UH-1s were upgraded to carry multiple machine guns and rockets.  However, their light armor, slow speed, and open architecture meant that they were ill suited to close support and a would provide no permanent solution.

During the development of the “Huey”, Bell had begun work on designs for an attack helicopter.  The D-255 “Iroquois Warrior” was their concept mockup that led to the building of the “Sioux Scout” built on the Model 47 airframe.  It included many of the modern attack helicopter elements such as a tandem cockpit, weapons mounts on stub wings, and a chin mounted weapons system.  However, the underpowered and undersized nature of the scout was deemed to be unsuitable.  The Army decided to go with the Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS).  10 years and millions later, the spawn of the AAFSS, the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne was cancelled.

AH-1 Super Cobra weapons loadout

Despite not being chosen to compete for AAFSS, Bell went ahead with their development of a new attack helicopter based on many of the tried and true components in the UH-1.  With AAFSS development proving costly and slow, the Army announced that they were looking for quick development of an interim gunship.  Presented to the Army in 1965 as the Model 209, Bell’s prototype rolled out on September 3rd and was in the air just 4 days later.  Only 7 months later the AH-1G was selected over the other competitors – the  Boeing-Vertol ACH-47A, Kaman HH-2C Tomahawk, Piasecki 16H Pathfinder, and Sikorsky S-61.

With its own increasing use of helicopters, the Marine Corps was highly interested in adding a dedicated gunship to its growing fleet of support aircraft.  The Corps, however, determined that they needed increased reliability and firepower.  Out of these requirements Bell developed a twin-engine version designated the AH-1J.  Further upgrades were ordered for future Army models that would include better avionics, more powerful engines, and integration of the TOW weapons system for greater anti-tank capability.  These would lead to upgrades and designations of AH-1F, Q, and S.

Cobra Cap

Cobras of all sorts saw over a million operational hours during Vietnam.  They would also be used in the Invasion of Grenada, Operation Just Hope, and the Invasion of Panama.  By the 90’s, the Army began its transition from the Cobra to the newer AH-64 Apache.  Though being phased out, Cobras still played a vital role in the Gulf War, Somalia, and even some humanitarian operations.  the last Army AH-1 left service in March of 1999.

AH-1 Cobra from Marine Medium Tilitorotor Squadron (VMM) 161 on flight deck of San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23)

The Marine Corps was also interested in acquiring the Apache, but the request was denied by Congress.  It was felt that the cost of creating a ship-based version would be too costly and that the Marine Corps would be the only customer for such a specialized craft.  In response, a new wave of upgrades was applied to the fleet of Marine SeaCobras; turning them into SuperCobras.  models AH-1T, T+, and W would result in greater reliability, more power, integration of more advance avionics, and the capability to utilize AIM-9 Sidewinder and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles

israeli cobras over masada

By the end of the 1990’s, another denial by Congress of the Marine Corps acquisition of Apaches led to a new development wave.  Today’s AH-1Z Viper is the result.  It features a new four-blade, composite rotor system for better battle damage tolerance, reduced noise, and increased flight characteristics.  Additionally, the Viper has longer stub wings with an increased payload capacity.  And, to fully take advantage of increased force integration and communication, a fully modernized suite of avionics and electronics was included.  With these upgrades, the venerable AH-1 has continued to fill a critical vital role in both Iraq and Afghanistan during the Global War on Terror.

ah-1z viper

Over 2500 AH-1 aircraft of various models have been built since 1965.  They have seen service on battlefields around the world and with the armed forces of the US, Iran, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Turkey.  Today you will even find retired Army Cobras working in the US Forest Service and the Florida Division of Forestry for fire monitoring and suppression.

Below you can enjoy a clip of Cobras and Vipers in action.

Warbirds – F-22 Raptor

Today’s Warbirds article is on America’s first operational 5th generation fighter aircraft – the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.  Her first flight occurred on 7 September, 1997.

F-22 Raptor wireframe

Initial development of the aircraft was under the moniker YF-22.  It was Lockheed Martin’s entry into the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition.  Though Northrop’s YF-23 was stealthier and faster, the agility of the YF-22 (and possibly the adaptability to carrier operations) won out.  In 1991, the Secretary of the Air Force announced that the Raptor had won the competition and that he would recommend an order of 650 to 750 of the aircraft.

f-22 raptor Wallpaper

Produced at the Lockheed plant in Marietta, Georgia, the first production F-22 was delivered to Nellis AFB in Nevada in January of 2003.  Because of design changes made during development and production as well as rising costs, the Air Force reduced its announced requirement of aircraft to 381 in 2006.  Weight increased and capabilities were dropped; all in the name of cost efficiency.  Also, to garner wider support from Congress, subcontractors in 46 states were granted contracts for components for the aircraft.  It took roughly 1000 contractors and 95,000 workers to produce just two aircraft per month.  this production complexity led to even higher costs and more production delays.  In the end, from the initial order of 750 aircraft with a total cost of $26.2 billion, the Air Force would acquire only 187 Raptors for $66.7 billion.

F-22 Raptor weapon systems 2

The F-22 Raptor has 3 internal weapons bays that help maintain its stealthy mission profile.  It can carry six compressed-carriage medium range missiles in the center bay and one short-range missile in each of the two side bays. Four of the medium range missiles can be replaced with two bomb racks that can each carry one medium-size bomb or four small diameter bombs.  A key feature of this design is to allow weapons launch while maintaining super cruise speeds.  The aircraft does incorporate 4 additional hardpoints on the wings with 5000 pounds of carrying capacity.  However, use of weapons or fuel tanks on these mounts detrimentally affects maneuverability, speed, and stealth.

080921-N-4469F-017

By late 2005, the Raptor had reached its Initial Operational Capability.  Deployments began in 2007 with the stationing of 6 F-22’s from Hickam AFB in Hawaii to Okinawa, Japan.  However, computer malfunctions occurred as they crossed the international date line causing the aircraft to return home for 2 days of software upgrades.  Later overseas deployments would include Kadena in Japan, Osan AB in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and other undisclosed locations in the middle east.  To this date, not confirmed combat participation by an F-22 has taken place.

F-22 Raptor countermeasures

Even today, bugs continue to plague the Raptor.  Cost per flight hour exceeds $68,000 and they require more than 10 hours of maintenance per hour of flight.  Though the stealth coatings on the aircraft are more durable than previous aircraft, a short deployment to Guam revealed numerous electronic failures caused by rain.  Most concerning of all are the reported hypoxia-like symptoms described by Raptor pilots during high gee maneuvering.  In 2012 Lockheed was awarded a contract to install a supplemental oxygen system to mitigate the problem.

F-22 Raptor crash

Initially touted as the next generation replacement for the F-117 Nighthawk, the F-22 Raptor program is already winding down.  The assembly line  at Lockheed is closed and the plans for the aircraft have been digitized and put away into secure archives.  As the F-35 is still non-operational, the services have fallen back on plans to repair their ageing F-15s and upgrading their F/A-18s.  Hopefully the existing fleet of F-22’s will be able to hold the line against the emerging threat of new Russian and Chinese 5th generation aircraft.

F-22 Raptor sun on the horizon

Here is some cool HD video of the F-22 in action.

And here is the Battle Stations video detailing the history of the F-22 Raptor.

If you want to see more great photos of the Raptor, check out the archives at AviationSpectator.com .  Details on specifications and capabilities can be found on the Federation of American Scientists website.

Lost and Found – September 7th Edition

What to remember about September 7th…

  • 1776  World’s 1st submarine attack; American submersible Turtle attempts to destroy British flagship in New York harbor
  • 1813  Nickname Uncle Sam is coined for the United States; attributed to businessman Samuel Wilson
  • 1864  Union General William Tecumseh Sherman orders residents of Atlanta to evacuate the city
  • 1896  Electric car wins the 1st automobile race held in America
  • 1936  American musician and songwriter Charles Harden “Buddy” Holley is born in Lubbock, Texas
  • 1940  300 German aircraft bomb London for the 1st of 57 consecutive nights, the “blitz” has begun
  • 1977  President Carter signs treaty giving up American control of the Panama Canal
  • 1997  American F-22 Raptor flies for the 1st time
  • 2008  Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are taken over by the federal government