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Friday, November 04, 2005

Secure Airspace Violation!

Personnel at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., were stunned when their airspace was penetrated on October 25th, 2005. As reported by 1st Lt. Devin Robinson of the 4th Fighter Wing in Air Force Link News, the landing area was first secured, the flyer was taken into custody, interrogated, and then detained in an adequate holding area on base. The interrogation lasted as long as possible, yet very little information was obtained requiring a completely different approach.

The article goes on to say:
"Before everyone jumps to their feet to report cruel and unethical treatment of a prisoner, one should know that if the flyer had been able to speak, he would have no doubt requested the very treatment he received."
Wow! When on earth did Seymour Johnson AFB personnel ever surpass the level of interrogation one would think to be, inhuman?

Well, when the detainee is NOT HUMAN and actually a HOMING PIGEON!!!


This story caught me off guard at first. Once I read it I just had to get it here for all of you to read. Well, and I had to stretch the story a bit too - duh!

As it so happens, it seems that during a race there was a significant amount of fog that the pigeon became lost. These well trained pigeons can only fly, on one tank of seed and water, for no more than 18 hours without a refueling. Therefore, being domesticated, the first thing she did was land so that someone can fill her tank. The Seymour Johnson AFB Fire Department looked to be the best place!

Here's just a little more from the story:
"The ancestors of today’s Iraqis used homing pigeons in Baghdad as early as the 12th century A.D., and Mongolian ruler Genghis Khan not very much later used them in his conquest of the Eurasian continent. Paul Reuters, who founded Reuters News agency, used a fleet of more than 45 homing pigeons to carry news and stock prices between Brussels, Belgium and Germany in the mid-1800s."

"Homing pigeons are no strangers to the military environment. In World War I, the U.S. Army Signal Corps used more than 600 pigeons in France. In World War II, the British had more than 250,000 pigeons they used for message traffic, many of which were awarded the Dickin Medal -- the most prestigious British medal for animal valor."
It seems that the Base Fire Department was in a maintenance cycle for one of the vehicles. When the time came to take the vehicle to the shop, there they found the pigeon.
"I was taking a fire truck over for the mechanic to take a look at it, and when I got inside, the guy was on his hands and knees trying to coax this pigeon into his hand,” said Bryan Bauman, the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron lead firefighter. “I was able to get within about 5 inches of the bird, and that’s when I saw the little tag with IF ACC 4857 printed on it. I thought maybe the bird belonged to Air Combat Command, and so we wanted to try and catch it to see. We eventually managed to catch it using popcorn."
Shelley Good, base wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, located the person who owned the homing pigeon.
"After a little research, I discovered that the information on the band stood for International Federation Banding Number Atlantic Coast Club. A few phone calls later, I was talking to a disabled veteran from Wilmington who had served in Vietnam with the 82nd Airborne Division and arranging a time for him to come and collect the bird."

[Images thanks to the IF AHPFI and Aero Training Products]

Now, being an Inertial and Doppler Navigation Systems Specialist, I started to wonder, what can the U.S. Air Force do for homing pigeons in these sorts of situations? When heavy fog or reduced visibility impairs a flyers ability to maintain heading all our aircraft are equipped with INS/Doppler Nav. And, when aircraft are scheduled for longer than normal mission profiles, tankers are called in for air refueling missions.

Dang! There is a cottage industry just waiting to be plucked here! Micro-INS Systems and In-Flight Feed-N-Water Air Delivery opportunities. Oh, to succeed at such a lofty goal! Down and Birdseed could issue me a "DNB Number" for the company so that we can establish credit.

Hmmm, I might want to rethink this - I could get fleeced!

Stay Tuned to ...


At 11/04/2005 09:16:00 AM, Blogger LL said...

GREAT story! Thanks for sharing.

At 11/04/2005 09:24:00 AM, Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

Hey LL!!!!

Well, I was intending this as a mini-gag, yet liked the whole "lost in the fog" thing as a story.

Being a Nav Systems guy, flyers that get lost always crack me up! Like, Wrong Way from Gilligan's Island!

Have a great weekend, LL ... !!!


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