Thursday, April 26, 2007

Road Trip : Yuma, Arizona

Coming Soon to a TV Near You (if you live in the Triad of NC) or on the web if you don't live in this area....

It's not too often that an out of town trip for the purposes of gathering a news story isn't accompanied by a Hurricane, a sporting event, or a massacre at a...well you get it.

But it was none of the above that took reporter Eric White and I 90 percent of the way across the country to Yuma, Arizona to investigate some suspicious activity on the US Mexico Border.

Yuma Day 3 (3)

The Stories about what's going on at the border will start Sunday night but for now I can tell you that it was a fantastic trip, although we almost thought we were going to have to come home as sone as we hit the ground in Phoenix.


We were traveling out on Monday the 16th and as soon as we landed at Sky Harbor International in Phoenix we got word of the Virginia Tech Massacre.


But the bosses insisted that we press on and put VT out of our minds. So Eric and I spent the 4 days, 65 hours and 9 hours of XD Disc trying to flesh out as many goods stories as we could find.

Yuma Day 2

More details to come...and I'll share the story links when they're posted on the company website.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Blue Angel Crash Video

WTOC in Savannah, Georgia has amatuer video of the Blue Angels Crash.


Story Number One (CLICK HERE FOR THE STORY) has video of Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis getting into his plane before the show and then it shows the maneuver and ensuing crash about 30 seconds into the story.

The second story (CLICK HERE FOR STORY 2) shows the same crash video but talks about finding the black box.

Watching the video it appears that Lt. Davis pulled an extremely tight high G turn to reverse the direction he was going so that he could rejoin the formation.

The black box should provide plenty of information about how many G's that turn produced and whether he was in control after the G-loading manuever that could have rendered him unconcious and unable to control his jet.

Unlike all other fighter pilots The Blue Angel's DON'T wear G-Suits to counteract the extreme forces that cause blood to rush out of the head during these high G manuevers. When I flew with the Thunderbirds in 1995 I wore a G-Suit and still went "Gray" during the 9-G turn at the my video of the flight.

The Blue Angels opt not to wear the G-Suits because the inflation of the air bladders on their legs could bump the control stick causing eratic control of the aircraft. (The Thunderbirds have a side mounted stick in their F-16's and don't have to worry about this issue.)

To get by without the G-Sute the Blue's learn to anticipate their G-Load and condition themselves to tighten their abs and thighs to prevent a blackout.

BUT....If Lt. Cmdr. Davis performed a manuever that was a higher G-Load than usual he may have very well blacked out causing the crash. Again referencing the video of the crash, notice that the plane never came back to wings level and based on publised reports there was no apparant attempt by the pilot to eject. Both of those factors make me think that he was blacked out, at least until too late to correct the problem. And looking at the attitude of the nose of the plane as it starts to go down it appears the jet may have also lost too much air speed to sustain flight at that angle of attack.

As far as trying to eject from the plane....the ejection seats in these craft are called Zero-Zero ejection seats because they will safely eject a pilot from a jet at Zero altitude and ZERO speed.

Back on September 14, 2003 the pilot flying USAF Thunderbird #6 crashed after miscalculating the altituded needed to perform a Split-S loop which caused him to be too close to the ground at the bottom of the loop. The pilot safely ejected 140 feet above the ground only 8-tenths of a second from impact.

Video of that crash here from inside and outside the plane.

Blue Angels Crash

UPDATE - Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis also took NASCAR Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his celerity flight last year. The video is great, and funny at times, as Junior NEVER loses composure during the High-G manuevers up to about 7.6 Gs. I put the video of Dale Jr's flight at the bottom of this post. It's a MUST SEE!

I have sort of sat on this one but with my love of military flying I knew it would be just a matter of time before I had something to say about the crash of Blue Angel #6 on Saturday that killed the pilot Lt Kevin Davis.

Back in 1995 when I flew on a media flight with Thunderbirds I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was one of the coolest things I had ever done. I still have the pictures, video and signed artwork from the team. I was a treasured day I will always remember.

Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis was the narrator for the Blue Angels in 2006 and that gave him the duty of flying #7 for the media and celebrity flights including taking American Idol Kelly Clarkson up over the skies of Texas last May.

(side note - Today(4/24) is Kelly's Birthday and MINE as well )

During a Google Search tonight I found a member of the media who had her media flight with the Blue Angels just last May.

1010 WINS reporter Mona Rivera flew with the Blue Angels and Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis in May 2006 when they performed on Long Island.

The in flight video of Mona's media ride will send a chill up your spine.

Also, an NBC Story about Lt. Cmdr. Davis...

And if you haven't ever seen my Thunderbirds video.....


Friday, April 20, 2007

Nothing Like a Trip to the Desert

What a week. As usual, I leave town and all hell breaks loose around here.


Eric White and I spent a couple of days in the desert for an upcoming story(or more).


It was like a photog's dream vacation.

More pix and details to come.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Big White Bird

A High Rock Lake resident was fishing on the lake when he saw a flock of massive white birds fly over and land a couple of hundred yards away. He kind of knew they were out of place for the southeast so he grabbed his camera and emailed the TV Station.

I was handed an assignment sheet with his information on it and a link to his picture of the flock of white pelicans. It turns out that the American White Pelican is almost NEVER found in the southeast. They can be found in Florida but they hug the Gulf Coast as they migrate west and north toward Canada staying mostly west of the Mississippi.


I met Michael Axelrod at his house near Southmont and we proceeded to find the Pelicans for the news story I was assigned to produce.

With a cold wind blowing on the lake which is drawn down several feet below normal for the winter, getting around on the northern reaches of the lake were challenging. We got stuck once and when we were moving the wind was biting cold but we kept searching for the better part of almost 2 hours.

Just about to give up, we spotted 2 of the birds floating about 500 yards from our location. After getting video of this pair we headed back and 5 more birds found us.

The story turned out pretty good.

Are You Smarter Than a News Photog?

It's an age old question, right? OK, Maybe not but follow me here for a second.

Hanging Rock (10)

If an out of shape Photog chooses to carry 25 pounds worth of Television equipment to the top of a 1 mile trail with an elevation change of about 1000 feet... how soon should you notify his next of kin?

Hanging Rock (4)

If the reporter accompanying the photog to the top of the mountain offers to carry the camera while running in place beside the heavily panting photog... who gets to push him off the mountain?

Hanging Rock (3)

If a news photog double punches the record button missing an entire interview on top of the mountain... does that dissolve him of complaining about the walk up the mountain?

Hanging Rock (13)

If you can see the building in the downtown skyline with your recieve site on it do you go for it or still try to hit the site 35 miles farther to the south?

Hanging Rock (2)

Do all reporters make good sound techs or just the Emmy winning ones?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What's the Buzz?

Do Not Swat. Do Not Move Too Fast. Do Not Be Afraid. Do Not Panic.

Those are all things I was thinking in the picture below.

bees (1)

I found myself curiously surrounded by 50,000 busy honeybees and in that situation it's really hard to avoid bee to skin contact.


Turned on to the story of a mysterious bee sickness by the assignment desk looking for another package on a slow news day, I called a local proffessional beekeeper who was listed in the beekeeper yellow pages.

bees (3)

Jeff Lee of Lee's Bees was more than willing to oblige, but he couldn't do it until 1:30 in the afternoon. With a 50 minute drive there and the same back I was going to be pushing it to make my 5-30 pm time slot.

bees (2)

But the time slot dilema was out of my mind the minute I saw the bees. I was almost drawn to them. I had to regain focus. I had only 45 minutes to get the story shot and drive back to High Point and still have just enough time to get the story on the air.

bees (4)

Did I mention that I was in a swarm of 50,000 bees? But that was only a small fraction of Lee's Bees. He has 1200 hives (60 million bees)that he takes all over the nation to pollenate crops for farmers. He recently brought back 480 of his hives from California where they spent the early spring working on the almond farms. (the insurance companies for almonds farmers require 1 hive for every 2 acres.)

Right now a bunch of his bees are in Eastern North Carolina navigating the Blueberry patches.

But over the winter 18-millions of his bees died. Some of them died for now apparant reason. This is a trend across the country and that was the basis of the story.

Without honeybees 1/3 of our food supply couldn't be grown.

So I finished shooting the story, made it back to home base in time to write and edit the piece only to get word that they floated me to the next day.

That was good though. I spent a few extra minutes tweaking it out a little more than it would have otherwise.

Here it is.