Why I love UAV's and The Best Drones For Commercial Use
As a lot of you know, I'm very big into aviation and as such have recently developed a passion for unmanned aerial systems (UAS), often refereed to as drones.
There are a few things I love about drones, the first being the level of enjoyment one can get from piloting such air crafts. Secondly, the amount of applications that drones are starting to be implemented is truly breath taking. I can imagine a future where drones are used on a daily basis in a variety of sectors and industries, in some ways that reality is already taking place.
What intrigues me the most about drones is how many entrepreneurial minded pilots there are who are implementing these devices to generate an income.
So in this article I thought I would go over some of the best drones for commercial use and maybe list a few other ways that drones are being used around the world today. I actually found a full list of the best commercial drones uses, which you can read here.
The first drone I would like to talk about today is the DJI Phantom 4 Pro. For those of you who haven't heard of DJI they are the current world leaders in commercial unmanned aerial vehicles, and have been for some times. Founded in China, the owner of DJI has becomes Asia's youngest billionaire this year, and the company hasn't even gone public yet. As time goes on DJI is only going to get bigger and will undoubtedly be one of the biggest aviation companies in the world.
I've gone a bit off topic there, but just wanted to give you some background about the company. Anyway, back to the Phantom 4. The drone features a 4k camera, 3-axis gimbal, a 7km flight distance and a flight time of half an hour. 30 minutes may not seem like a long time, but in the drone world this is absolutely fantastic. The Phantom 4 Pro has what are called intelligent flight modes, which is where the drone autonomously carries around aerial maneuvers which result in very cinematic footage. All of this makes it easily one of the best drones for commercial use.
Another one of the best commercial drones is the Yuneec Typhoon H. Yuneec are pretty much DJI's only major rival and they manufacture some pretty advanced drones. What makes Yuneec stand apart from DJI is their reputation for fantastic customer care, as opposed to DJI's almost infamous reputation for terrible customer service.
The Typhoon H features a 4k camera, 27 minute flight time, 5km maximum range and a range of intelligent flight modes. The camera is attached to the drones body via a 3-axis gimbal which has a 360-degree field of motion, meaning the camera is able to move around completely. This is pretty important for drone pilots, as you are able to connect two controllers to the drone, one to pilot the aircraft and the other to control the camera.
So how else can drones be implemented?
Well drones are being used all over the world for a number of different uses. Some of my favorite include real estate, sports event and agriculture. Drones offer a unique and efficient way of carrying out certain tasks that make them a lot more economically efficient.
That bring us to the end of my little post on the best commercial drones and why I love UAV's. I didn't have enough time today to write a long post as I normally do, so will try to make this up when I next get around to posting.
Take care guys.
As I write this, the missing Flight 370 is still big news. It's been missing a long time now, and there is no hope of survivors of course. Flight 370 will quite possibly join another well known aviation mystery of the sea, that of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
Most of those old enough to be interested in reading STUMPY'S MACHINE certainly know the name. Amelia Earhart was not the first of America's famous Aviatrixes, nor the last, but probably the best known, due in part to the mystery. In an attempt to fly around the world, she and her navigator Fred Noonan vanished without a trace on a trans-Pacific leg of the flight.
Amelia was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, but as a passenger. Using that adventure as a springboard, she built a career in aviation, both in distance flights and cross country races. Despite what publicity at the time claimed and the legends that grew up around her after she was lost, Amelia was no more than a "fair" pilot. Much of her fame was created by her husband, publisher of newspapers and owner of radio stations. In reality, she was not really prepared for such a flight, but they agreed that she would do the globe girdling flight and then retire.
Originally, the well known aviator and Hollywood stunt flyer Paul Mantz would handle navigation on the flight. The plane chosen was a Lockheed Electra, a sleek twin engine aircraft. The flight was to begin with a hop to the Hawaiian Islands. Then the toughest part of the trip across the vast Pacific would follow when Amelia and Paul were at their sharpest.
She made it to Hawaii, but crashed on take off for the next leg of the flight with full load of fuel. Fortunately there was no fire, and neither was hurt. The plane was shipped back to Lockheed, and Mantz again took movie work during that period. Amelia rested as best she could, but was said to be deeply shaken by the crash. Several eye witnesses to the accident said that she had just plain lost control of the aircraft.
While at Lockheed, the plane had more powerful radial engines installed, new radio equipment which she never bothered to train on, and a huge fuel tank installed in the passenger area, physically separating her in the cockpit from the navigator's station near the rear door. The fuel tank added a lot of weight, but would also add to the aircraft's range.
In later years rumors would swirl that Amelia had been recruited by the government to spy on Japanese bases in the Pacific, and that the government had paid for all the upgrades to the airplane. It was said that camera compartments and removable window covers had been installed for this purpose while the major modifications were being done. So far there is some circumstancial written and photographic evidence, but no proof of this theory, and the government denies any such involvement.
For whatever reason, Paul Mantz did not make the next attempt. He was supposed to be "tied up with movie work," but rumors drifted around that he had lost confidence in Amelia's piloting, or didn't like the huge fuel tank's placement, or didn't like her husband's interference in plans for a new flight.
Another mystery was that this second attempt would go in the opposite direction around the world. Instead of flying the Pacific first, she would go East across the United States, then cross the Atlantic, and so on. This would put the tough open ocean flying toward the end of the flight when she would be most tired after many days in the air.
With Paul Mantz out of the picture, his spot was eventually filled by Fred Noonan, a former pilot for Pan American Airways on their "China Clipper" flying boat fleet. He had even pioneered parts of the Pan Am routes and was experienced as a pilot and a navigator. However, he was also a known drinker and could be hard to handle. Some people in aviation suspected that this was probably why he was "available" for the Earhart flight. To the common sense aviation expert, all of the above seemed very mysterious, and rumors of the day became legends in the future.
At first everything went well, and many photos and newsreel films show a smiling Amelia and Fred. But by the time they had reached the Orient, the smiles were gone and the rigors of the flight were well etched on their faces. Reports from various fuel stops allowed that Fred was drinking again. Twice they had to have minor repairs done to the plane, and photos show different window arrangements, helping to later cement the story that she was spying on the Japanese.
It IS certain that the Japanese were well aware of her and beyond her popularity in Japan had stationed their own agents at every scheduled stop to keep an eye on her. Due to an engine problem, she was delayed an extra day at her last known stop, but any possible Japanese connection cannot be proved or disproved.
The final take off was said by some to be a bit ragged and she almost didn't make it, the plane flying quite a way low over the water. From that point onward she flew into history and mystery. When she didn't land at her next stop at Howland Island by following the radio homing beacon sent out by a U.S. Coast Guard ship anchored there, it was presumed that she ran out of fuel and crashed to her death at sea.
Some say she was forced down onto a Japanese controlled island and held until executed during the war. Several G.I.s reported seeing her Lockheed Electra when they captured various islands, in at least one case it was being burned by the Japanese as American troops attacked. Unfortunately, there were MANY similar twin engine airplanes scattered all over the Pacific by the end of WWII, a couple were known to be Electras.
There was even a story that she was brainwashed and was one of the "Tokyo Rose" broadcasters. There was even the report that she survived the war in a prison camp and ended up marrying an airline executive. The woman in question staunchly denied that to the day she died.
The mystery had been compounded by several reports by Ham radio operators that they heard weak radio signals from her for many hours long after the plane would be out of gas. This gave rise to several other theories of her disappearance. One of which seems quite likely to have been just what happened.
This theory says that Amelia and Fred knew they were in trouble when they reached the point where Howland Island should have been. From reports unearthed after the war, radio operators at several locations heard both her and the homing ship's calls to each other, but they were each ON DIFFERENT FREQUENCIES. Only later did it come to light that Amelia was unfamiliar with the radio equipment she had for long distance communication, and had not bothered to train on it. A fatal oversight!
At the time, navigators were trained to turn from their main course and fly back and forth along an arc on either side of their base course until they picked up some land mark they could get their bearings from. If this line is plotted correctly, the island they would have found with a beach big enough to make an emergency landing on would probably be the uninhabited Nikmararu.
The theory goes on that they made a safe landing on the beach, probably thinking they would wait there to be found and with the plane refueled would go on with the flight. They could keep working the radio using the electrical generator on the right engine to keep sending. This would tend to explain how radio operators could hear her broadcasting many hours after she should have been killed.
Unfortunately if this theory is correct, fate played a doubly cruel trick on them. First of all, the island was uninhabited because there was no source of fresh water. Second, during the night a storm blew up and probably washed the plane off the beach to it's destruction. With no chance of survival otherwise, they may have rigged up a funnel to catch rain water. Such an funnel made from aircraft aluminum was found several weeks later by nearby islanders as well as the bodies of a man and a woman, which they buried.
This theory developed slowly, then a photo was found which was taken on the island in about 1946 which showed the landing gear strut and partial tire sticking up out of the surf on the reef surrounding the island. It could have been on a Lockheed Electra flipped on it's back in the water. It was gone a few years later, probably washed over the reef in a typhoon to slide down into the deep waters of the Pacific. Again however, this can only be considered circumstantial evidence since all kinds of aircraft littered the Pacific after the war.
In the 1990's the first of several expeditions went to the island to try to prove that it was the final resting place of Amelia Earhart. They found small bits of an airplane of at least similar vintage and type, a woman's shoe sole of the type and size Amelia was wearing, and the graves. It took years to get permission to exhume the bodies, but that ended up be a dead end as their condition could not prove or disprove the theory.
Since then other artifacts have been found and a deep sea search for the remains of the plane is done every year during good weather. But so far there is no definitive proof either way. Personally, I think their are only two possibilities which fit the known facts and common sense. The landing on Nikamuraru or she DID go down somewhere in the vast Pacific. Earhart has been missing since 1937 and despite the likelihood of the island theory, she is STILL missing. Will Flight 370 take 77years to find?
I've been around a long time, or so it seems when I look back at the years I've racked up. Among the many things I've learned is that the times DO change. They change for everything we do in life, and as you get older, you become much more aware of this.
Many changes are for the better, for instance Medical Science. When I was young, Polio was a crippling disease that struck pretty much anyone it wanted to and wrecked their lives. Even Presidents of the United States were not immune, Franklin D. Roosevelt was far more crippled by Polio than most Americans knew at the time. It was a terrifying diagnosis, very much like hearing you have Cancer today!
But a vaccine became available just after I was born and people LITERALLY lined up to get it. There were many other childhood diseases which were conquered or curbed in those days that every parent made sure their kids were inoculated for because they had grown up with and seen the horrors of those diseases. Amazingly, today's parents don't bother, or in fact don't want to give their kids such inoculations because these diseases are now quite rare. Today's young parents don't know the dangers or horrors of them. The Measles outbreak is teaching a hard lesson.
Modern Medical Science has saved me several times in my adult life as well. I've had two heart attacks, which in the year I was born, many people would not have survived or would have been severely damaged enough to be virtually a cripple waiting for the next attack to kill them. I went back to work after a few weeks!
Two of the things that lead to heart trouble is High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol. A good portion of my blood pressure problem was solved when I retired because the stress of the job was killing me. Within six months of retirement, the doctors could cut my blood pressure dosages in half! I probably would not have had the two heart attacks if not for the stress of my job because their were no blockages in my heart at the time to cause them! However, even with low cholesterol, the problem is cumulative.
I suffered Kidney shut down another time, which in the old days would have been a death sentence without Dialysis. I had surgery which unblocked the real problem and allowed the kidneys to slowly start functioning again. Once again, instead of dead, I was back to work in a about a month.
I have Diabetes, and was diagnosed and treatment started early on. With diet and exercise (things I admittedly still struggle with) and oral meds, I live a normal life. The year I was born, Diabetes meant a long, slow demise over many years, usually with blindness and amputations of various limbs toward the end.
The current top life saving Medical Science I have experienced is Open Heart Surgery, another thing which didn't exist the year I was born. Over many years I watched it develop in time to save my life. I had five vessel heart bypass surgery in the summer of 2013. Heck the science that DETECTED the problem didn't even exist when I was born, let alone the ability to do Open Heart Surgery to correct the problem! Once again, Medical Science saved my life.
And of course it's not just me who has benefitted. My wife Cindy has had Cancer three times and through surgery and radiation has "dodged the bullet" of death. She's also had surgeries on her Gall Bladder and Back. My Mother is nearly 89 years old as I write this, and even so, Medical Science has saved her, even though she doesn't like doctors and doesn't take her meds unless forced to! I often wonder how much better off she would be if she'd done what she was told to do medically?
Times HAVE certainly changed, and after all they always do. In the case of our advanced knowledge and technologies they certainly have made our lives much better. If you doubt this, just look to any Third World country and see the way things were like a LONG time ago in America!
But another thing that I have seen in my time is that all changes are not good. For instance, we don't know our next door neighbors anymore. There is a steep decline in community involvement. If you want to find one of the causes, look to technology.
When I was a child, everyone was walking around their neighborhoods on summer evenings, talking to neighbors who were sitting on their large front porches. Everyone was "killing time" until their houses cooled off enough to sleep. Do you see big front porches on EVERY house today? And where are those people who used to walk the street? Why, they're home watching TELEVISION in their AIR CONDITIONED homes! I'll bet 90% of you never thought of that! I know I didn't, until it was pointed out to me some years ago.
Even in my beloved hobbies of model railroading, cars, aircraft, and other miniature construction, technology first helped and now is destroying these hobbies. I also love automobile racing, but it is falling victim to technology too! The culprit? Electronics, over complication, and very high costs. All these hobbies and motorsports are being murdered by computers because today's young people find it MUCH easier to do these things in a "virtual world" than face the learning curve and the expense of doing them for real!
Even those participants who have grown up in auto racing and model hobbies are finding the costs overwhelming and the complication far too high to enjoy doing them to the fullest. Beside that, the numbers are going down in participation so fast in some of these "traditional" interests that sometimes it seems that there is no point in continuing. So many new people take a look at these hobbies and walk away to "text" on their cell phones.
Admittedly, I'm an "old dog" that finds it harder and harder to "learn new tricks." But I also can't afford those new tricks, or find them harder to do. I'm not easily sold on always having to have the latest thing because I've lived long enough to have seen this advertising psychology before!
There are a LOT of things that are much better today than they ever were before, but we also have paid a price in the loss of things of value along the way as well. It's said that "The only thing that never changes is change itself." And it is true. Times HAVE changed. The question is, are those changes always for the better?
As we all know, certain factions in the government and the more Liberal folks are Hell bent on Gun Control. Their idea is that if nobody has any guns, there will be no crime. Unfortunately, this flies in the face of common sense and statistical evidence.
For instance, America is only 27th of all counties in the world when it comes to killings by firearms. ALL of the nations with the worst violence are those which have bans on private ownership of guns! Great Britain and Japan have strong gun control laws, yet they have never been able to stem deaths by firearms either.
Here in the United States, Chicago has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, but also one of the highest gun crime rates in the nation, year after year. In fact, many of our cities have banned private ownership of guns, yet the crime rate still soars. The problem is too many criminals for the cops to keep under control, aggravated by funding shortages to hire more police.
It is a worthy intention to think that gun crime can be stopped by taking gun ownership away, but a deeply flawed one that lacks common sense. The "fly in the ointment" is that criminals don't abide by ANY laws, so they will always have guns. The FBI did a study some years ago with the results that any paroled felon could leave prison, return to his home city, and have a gun within about three hours after arriving.
Here in Appalachia "gun control" has an entirely different meaning; hitting five out of six on the target range is real control. A large number of people grow up with guns and with the exception of some of our bigger cities, crime rates are generally lower than elsewhere. Just the thought that you could be breaking into a house where it is quite likely you'll be shot is a Hell of a good defense for home owners around here! And currently classes for a "Concealed Carry" permit are backed up for months.
People in this country are well aware that the police cannot be everywhere and protect everyone. And so those that are thinking ahead and preparing for any eventuality are arming themselves as never before. In my County the response time in rural areas runs between 20 minutes and an hour, but some major cities in this nation can't even promise that! In most cases, the police are encouraging citizens privately to get a gun, despite what certain media outlets and the government claim.
One of the things that you are taught by most firearm instructors is that if you draw a gun, you'd better be prepared to use it! This is because some more hardened criminals are not concerned with a citizen with a gun. You might have to shoot and kill this perpetrator! And the fact that a firearm is a lethal weapon is a problem. There is no "fallback position" with a gun.
And so for the past few years, I have begun to think about the use of "non-lethal weapons." I'm very interested in TASER weapons. These fire two wire streaming darts into the perpetrator and send a charge of several thousand volts at low amperage through his body. I have wanted to get one of these, but costs and regulatory restrictions make that impossible. Still, the very thought of Hernaldo writhing on the floor, wetting himself instead of robbing me is too good to ignore. EThis would be especially good if you could plug the weapon into a wall outlet to make sure you don't run out of juice before the police arrive (remember those long response times?)
As an alternative, I starting thinking about a weapon that was used in a few Sherlock Holmes stories; the "Air Gun." This was very similar to the air powered BB guns we had as kids, but in Holms' day were rare and hand built. The idea here was to fire small darts tipped with an exotic poison that killed a victim. In today's age of technical advancement and plentiful pharmacological items, the air gun could be updated into a non-lethal weapon.
A common CO2 bottle powered BB or pellet pistol could be modified to fire a dart with a quick acting sedative. The perp goes "night-night" and awakes in a jail cell. Heck, this could create a whole new defense armament business for someone. It is a much lower tech and lower cost alternative to either firearms or TASERS.
Heck, why not an tap old time gang idea; the "Zip Gun." This was a very crude firearm, some of them used heavy rubber bands to force a nail into a bullet taped to a small piece of wood! Sort of a small, gun looking slingshot to fire a bullet. Yep, they were crude, but effective one shot weapons. But again for shot range defense, this idea could be modified to be an even lower tech non-lethal weapon than the modified "Air Gun."
Actually, regular firearms have long been used to fire rubber bullets or "flash bang" grenades instead of bullets. In some small countries with constant political unrest, weapons that fire projectiles other than bullets have long been in use, usually by the rebels or enraged citizens. Many years ago in a couple of Brazilian towns, firing small ball bearings at cops was in vogue. Yeah, they hurt like Hell, but didn't kill anyone.
Then there was the infamous "Garbage Cannon." This was more "high tech" in that these were made from lengths of iron pipe. You welded steel plates into one end to make your cannon, then used a bag of black powder as the charge. In front of this old clothing was packed and then projectiles. The projectiles were often a nasty combination of rocks, bricks, old rusty cans, broken bottles and then whatever festering garbage could be found, and sometimes human feces.
It was a "one shot weapon" but could take out a pretty good size number of attackers. Can you imagine being on the receiving end of all that flying broken glass, rocks, and rusty metal bits, liberally intermixed with garbage and sewage?
On the other hand, what if you had something like this on a smaller, carrying size scale fired by compressed air or a CO2 cartridge and loaded with a dozen of those tiny sized but active "Super Balls?" If used in a small space the "rebound effect" could go one for over a minute and confuse the would be perp!
Here again, such low tech, non-lethal weapons might be a new industry just waiting to be born. And we haven't even gotten into the various kinds of traps that could be set up just for home defense! Low tech is very reliable due to a lack of complex designs and components. They rarely fail! They are cheap to make, so an assembly line could crank out thousands of these type weapons a day for a price any citizen could afford. Since nobody gets killed, there are no legal problems or need for poorly thought out legislation.
Can you imagine what would happen if a hold up man tries to rob a convenience store and is met by an employee and half a dozen customers who open up on him with a selection of non-lethal weapons? No need for the police to study security tapes, they just hunt down the guy a few blocks away with all the bruises!
I have been a fan of the television show "COPS" since it's first season over twenty years ago. Back then it was on a UHF station out of Pittsburgh, but was destined to be on the soon to appear FOX Network. Not only has COPS had a prime 9PM Saturday night time slot on FOX for decades, it is also now run and rerun on the Spike channel, often one episode after another all day long on certain days. A product of the then fledgling Langley Productions, it has remained their banner series for a very long time and continues to earn good ratings.
This is true "reality TV" in that it is filmed on location "with the men and women of law enforcement." Yes, there ARE chases, both car and foot, tough arrests with violence perpetrators, shoot outs, and K9 action. But it's mostly day to day police work with domestic disputes, small time drug dealers and users, hold up men, burglars, and street criminals. Sometimes there are horrible car accidents, other times they search for missing children, the subjects run the gamut of police work.
The show follows State Police, County Sheriffs, City Police, and Natural Resources Officers from areas all over this country. Everything is filmed "live," these are no re-enactments. The camera and sound people are often in the line of fire and run as hard as the cops themselves during chases. On a few rare occasions, they have been pressed into service to help out with an arrest.
It doesn't take you long to begin to have a respect for what the police do. Nor does it take you long to understand that the long time officers have seen and heard it all before. There's no use giving them a sob story or some fairy tale because you won't be the first to try it! Just as a watcher of the program, I wouldn't buy most of the crap suspects try to tell the arresting officers either.
With all the focus on police shootings of people today, I'm afraid that I would have FAR less restraint faced with this crap, over and over, day after day. All too often the police are exposed to the ugly underbelly of humanity and face far too many armed perpetrators and self destructive morons.
After watching the program for years, you begin to understand why police are often called racist. It's because so many of the perpetrators are Black. I would guess that 3/4 of all the criminals arrested on an average episode of COPS are Black, and that most of those have previous criminal records. Real FBI statistics bear this out in that they report that over 70% of the national prison population is Black.
In one episode, two Black officers are in a night time foot chase after a young Black male who was wearing shoes with the heels lighting up every time he took a step. Fast as this boy was, his shoes gave him away, and he was eventually boxed in and tried to hide under a parked car. When the two Black officers dragged him out and cuffed him, the punk kept yelling "You only arresting me 'cause I'm Black!" One of the officers leaned in and shouted in his ear "We're only arresting you because you did the crime!"
Of course, not all perpetrators are Black, consistently, the most violent perpetrators are Hispanic. A large number of these are also illegal aliens involved in drug running and selling. They are not often intimidated by police, and more than willing to slash out with a knife or shoot it out with a gun. FBI statistics show Hispanics as the fastest growing prison population, something obvious if you have been watching COPS as long as I have.
Hispanics are Caucasian of course, and plain old "white folks" appear regularly on COPS as well. Generally these are deadbeats, street people, druggies, alcoholics, wife beaters (and husband beaters increasingly) and a pretty good number of ugly hookers. They are arrested just as quickly as anyone else.
This brings us to another thing you will notice on COPS; that perpetrators are generally not too bright, and very often drugs are involved. Just as I'm sure upstanding Blacks and Hispanics are embarrassed when folks of their groups are arrested, it's the same for me. It's embarrassing to see so many stupid "white folks" doing such moronic crimes! There's not a Lex Luthor in the bunch! (For you young'uns, Lex was the master criminal and ultimate foe of Superman.)
As I said before, almost every low forehead type tries to lie to the police. One of the favorites is "I don't know what's going on" or "I didn't see all the flashing lights," which is even spouted after long car chases! Nobody ever owns the drugs found on them or in their car, and tells the police "I didn't know that was in my pants," or "I don't know who it belongs too." In one episode they caught a bank robber because he had accidently set off a dye pack in the money bag. His explanation; "I had a couple of ball point pens that leaked." Yeah, right.
Another thing done by police departments on COPS is the "sting" operation. This is usually set up to nail drug dealers or hookers. The druggies provide pretty entertaining car or foot chases sometimes, while the hookers caught will often put you off women for days. Somehow, those bright TV lights seem to cut right through all the make up, and women can talk real nasty when caught by the police. Dispels that old "sugar and spice and everything nice" crap we used to hear!
From the early days of watching COPS, one could see the growth of crime evolving due to the need of the perpetrators to feed their drug habits. I watched big city hold ups and burglaries slowly come to my semi rural region as drug use grew.
Now to be fair, Moonshining (illegal alcohol) was a long held tradition around here. There used to be a LOT of drunkenness in the region. But within the last two decades, the Moonshiners have been pretty much put out of business and the woods they used to control are now the home of drug growers. It got so bad that for a few months ten years ago, the former illegal alcohol guys were helping the cops hunt down drug farmers.
At the time, a favored way to grow marijuana was to plant it in plastic five gallon buckets and place it along the edges of clearings in the woods. They could be moved if needed and were hard to find. But the former Moonshiners found them. They even caught one guy who had bought a farm and planted a Marijuana plant between each corn plant on a 50 acre lot!
More surprising was when a local doctor was caught financing growers who rented houses and used "grow lights" to raise "weed" in the basements. What we had seen on COPS for years had come to our area. These days "Meth" labs are the hot ticket for local druggies, a drug I first learned about by watching COPS many years ago.
COPS is a VERY educational program, and I think it should be required viewing for every American. Your entire outlook as to who is protecting we common citizens and who is perpetrating the crimes is eye opening. You learn a respect for those who are police, and a distain for those who are the criminals. You tire of seeing the same people do the same crimes over and over that you wonder why there are any overly liberal judges left. And if citizens watching this crap again and again on TV are fed up with it, what do you think the real cops feel? who see it every day of their lives?
You have to have great respect for people who can do such a job and do it with great restraint when so many times their lives are on the line while dealing with stupid and/or violent people.
Watching one season of COPS will dispel all the ultra-Liberal bullshit being spewed by the current Administration and some media outlets. There is no Political Correctness on COPS, just real crime fighting with real police and real criminals.
Every episode begins with a disclaimer that "Viewer discretion is advised." Yet I recommend COPS to older children and all adults to get a real look at how our world is. It is one of the first, and today one of the rare truly real "reality TV" programs.
There's a humorous old question that goes; "How do you know when a politician is lying to you? His lips are moving!" This one goes all the way back to Mark Twain, humorist and sharp observer of human nature and politics. Others, including Will Rogers used this line or similar ones quite often as well, and not always in connection with politics. The fact is, people working for personal gain alone often tell outright lies, or to put it in a more Politically Correct way, "shade the truth." Sometimes they are so far "out in the shade" that it's too dark to see the truth!
There used to be firm rules as to ethical behavior, and people were held to it. But for many years now, ethics and truth have taken a back seat to the quest for greed and power. When some higher up in government speaks, he's usually "shading the truth" to further his personal ambitions or cover his butt. Often whole groups lie to cover the treachery of their political party. And the minions of BOTH political parties do it regularly.
Here's an overused lie; "I'm sorry." Really? Have you ever watched "Cops" which is one of the first and longest running reality shows on TV? The criminals often say "I'm sorry." Have you ever been on Jury Duty, or watched trials on TV? I have done both, and "I'm sorry" often comes up, especially during sentencing. Sometimes it is sincere, most times it is not.
Actually, most criminals are sorry that they got caught, not that they did the crime. When politicians get caught, they always say they're sorry, but again, sorry that they were caught! The worst offenders of all are major corporations. When they or their management get caught, they're sorry because that is what the army of corporate lawyers tell them to say. Generally these days the case must be airtight and beyond negotiating away because the company will "settle" for an "out of court settlement" and not be "found guilty of wrongdoing." And that, my friends is a crock of that well known odious substance!
To do such a maneuver is in reality an agreement to lie. The company DID wrong, but through the magic of lawyers gets to pay off somebody or some group and catch a bye. The lawyers, the prosecutors, and the top management of the company should all go to prison for "making a deal." "Take it to the bank" that where BIG money is involved, corruption quickly follows!
For instance, Toyoda knew for more than a decade that they had a serious problem with unintended acceleration in their cars, but nothing was done. In this country and Canada the deaths started to pile up, but generally went unnoticed until the body count reached into the hundreds and a light was thrown on the trouble. Even then, Toyoda denied the problem or downplayed it.
That's when Toyoda went into "damage control mode." They came up with all kinds of excuses, it was the floor mat sliding around, but the crashes kept happening. The gas pedal was faulty, but the crashes kept happening. (Interesting that the faulty pedal design and floor mats had never been upgraded before, despite the ongoing problem of ten years.)
Independent labs ran tests and found the electronics were at fault. Toyoda, which uses special codes that are unavailable to non-Toyoda technicians, tried to sue the private labs for Hacking this code. But by then, the entire thing was in the public eye. Toyoda officials were dragged before Congress and grilled mercilessly, they all said "I'm sorry."
They were sorry they got caught and it was going to cost them millions. But behind the scenes, a "deal" was being cut. The government suddenly back tracked and claimed they couldn't find a problem. What this amounted to was that Toyoda got off cheap and the cases of dozens of attorneys were undermined. American corporations who had been raked over the coals for similar and even lesser problems cried foul. The government's head man for highway safety resigned in disgust. But the "fix was in" and the whole "agreement" was a lie.
And so, years later, we have the air bag shrapnel problem in millions of cars, both foreign and domestic. The danger is real, the public outraged, Congress makes a lot of noise, and then it all just "goes away." So much for our government protecting us, or the much touted Japanese "honor."
Another example was the BP caused Gulf Oil Spill. BP officials were forced to say "I'm sorry" but the company got off FAR cheaper than it should have by making deals with corrupt government officials. Had Harry Truman been in office during the Gulf Spill, BP's top management would have been in prison for the rest of their lives and the company itself crushed out of existence by fines and penalties. As it was, the total fines and damages have amounted to less than the BP profits for a single year!
But it doesn't take a product recall or disaster to find a lack of truth. Modern advertising is often a lie. On television, there used to be FCC standards and there was a well known rule called "truth in advertising." When I was in broadcasting in the late sixties and early seventies, this was a hard and fast rule everyone in the business followed closely. When I returned for a couple of years in the early 2000's, this rule was mostly ignored and the FCC investigation powers seem to have been gutted.
Television is the main advertising media today, with Internet being a close second and print advertising being way down the food chain. Like most of us, I see advertising on TV everyday that is "shading the truth" or an outright lie, and I'm sure most of you have noticed this too. For instance a LOT of companies say how they "care about the customer" or "always have the lowest prices and the highest quality."
Bull cookies! There is no way that any corporation can maintain the highest quality of a product and still have the lowest price! Something has to be cut somewhere. And care about the customer? Well, they DO care, right up to the moment you've handed over your money. After that, who knows? In both cases, it's up to you to keep your paperwork and PROVE you were misled. And if you DO go after a big company, be prepared to be confronted with an army of corporate attorneys who will cajole and threaten to tie you up for years and drain your finances. But remember...they care....about themselves.
One of the worst offenders is the world's largest retailer: Wal-Mart. They are so big and so well equipped that any falsehoods they perpetrate never get to the point that they have to say "I'm sorry." Products are often shabby to the point that well known manufacturers print labels on their boxes that "This product was made specifically for Wal-Mart." That is because they are forced by Wal-Mart to make a product below even the manufacturer's lowest quality specifications or be frozen out of Wal-Mart stores.
In other cases, Wal-Mart owns (usually through a "front company") sweat shop operations world wide. Truth be known, if Wal-Mart was a nation, the UN would be after them for human rights violations. Quality is generally poor and prices are kept low. And even with all that, their claim of "Always low prices, always" is a lie. Many times small, Main Street retailers have lower prices, and if the Wal-Mart is in an area where they have crushed other retailers out of business, the price is higher than other Wal-Mart stores.
They talk about having multiple security cameras "for your protection." But at most Wal-Marts, parking lot crime is higher than normal because the cameras are actually aimed at employee smoking areas or other locations where employees might be loafing or talking about unionizing. After a rash of parking lot assaults and robberies at 12 California Wal-Marts, the local Sheriff found that there were NO cameras on their customer parking areas, but several in the employee gathering areas. No company representative ever said "I'm sorry" because legally they can put cameras wherever they wish as a private corporation. Concern for their customers? Yeah, right.
When it comes to corporate advertising, it might be even LESS truthful than government, and that is an accomplishment! I do a LOT of research and most of the time there is a "back story" or a half truth that turns up something wrong with what we're being told. It's become even easier lie to the public because the public has been purposely distracted or has so little common sense that they don't even ask pertinent questions, but just accept what they're told!
Politicians and corporations have learned how to use "mis-information" or deceptions from watching how the CIA, NSA, or "Black Projects" have been doing it for decades. Most advertising is loaded with razzle-dazzle and little real information. Only ads for certain medications tell some of the truth because they are still required to do so by law. But that's okay because they are making so much profit they don't feel the need to lie!
So is everything a lie? With few exceptions, yes! At least to some extent. The whole truth is about as easy to find as an active hooker in a convent! It seems that anyone or any business beyond a certain level of power and wealth no longer needs to tell the truth, and knowing they will not be held to the truth, will say just about anything.
As with more and more events we see today, it's up to us, the general public, the customers, to weigh what we're being told and decide what to do because ethics no longer seem to exist and the justice system can be bought and paid for. The next time you see a TV commercial or read an Internet ad, stop and really think about what you're being told. It's most likely a bunch of B.S. designed to separate you from your money, your vote, or anything else you have left that might be of value! Buyer Beware!
I see by my calendar that this will actually run the day after April first. Well, so be it. This is an article about foolishness anyway. These are some "April Fool Jokes" being played on the American population, and they continue well beyond the first day of April every year.
For instance, I see TV ads for Luxury Hybrid Vehicles. The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid SUV weights over 6,000 pounds, is loaded with all kinds of goodies and actually gets less gas mileage than my standard 2008 Trailblazer SUV! I get a lousy 13 mpg around town and 21 on the highway, and most of these Luxury Hybrids don't do that well! What is the point? For rich people to massage their consciences about their effect on the world without pain? Not at all! Options are VERY profitable to the manufacturers, and these vehicles make LOTS of profit. This is a case where the buyers are fools! Obviously, being rich doesn't necessarily mean you have common sense. After all, thousands of pro athletes and state lottery winners prove that.
But not only is a Luxury SUV moronic, so is trying to push Global Warming during the fourth coldest February in history! World wide record keeping of the weather began in 1883, so the February of 2015 is quite a record. But beyond that, core sampling by geologists and studied by Climatologists show that there is no evidence that humans cause the Earth to warm or cool, and these cycles have been going on long before humans were even supposed to be on the planet. The April Fools are the pseudo-scientists and tree huggers who organized a meeting in Boston in mid-February and couldn't get there because of cancelled airline flights.
While at Cardio rehab three mornings a week, they have TV's on for us to watch while we're on the treadmill or other equipment. I'm amazed at all the fluff on the Today Show, that was always a "News" show before. I'm also amazed at how many of our population are influenced by the opinions of actors and other entertainers. Does no one realize that actors and News anchors are just "talking heads?" They spout what someone else has written for them, because most have the brain power and common sense of a frog! And you're going to make important decisions such as who to vote for or what to buy just because THEY told you too? You'd have had a better chance of getting intelligence from watching "The Muppet Show!"
I see that the trend to legalize drug sales is growing, with more states making marijuana sales legal "for medicinal purposes." As we've seen in these states, there are suddenly "doctors" coming out of the woodwork who will write "weed prescriptions" and stores who will sell it. Not only are these states reaping the benefits of a shot in the arm of sales taxes collected, but there is talk of legalizing other drugs. Has no one been watching the crime rates in those states? Ask the police. Sure the "grass" is legal, but the users have to come up with money to buy it just as before, so burglaries and other crime rates are inching up. And illegal drug activity remains at the same rate anyway. Tax dollars ARE coming in, but law enforcement costs are going up too. Isn't a net loss foolish?
I shop at Kroger stores, one of the larger grocery chains in this country. These days most large retail chains are constantly running discounts, handing out coupons and posting them online. But what nobody thinks about is that there are NO real "deals" when these outfits promote coupons and such. If they were really giving you great deals, they would go broke, and they sure aren't doing that! Only small businesses ever come close to losing money on discounts and coupons.
These promotions are all about separating you from more of your money! The closest you will get to large retailers giving you a real discount is when they sell something just above their cost, such as grocery goods whose due date is about to expire. Or when they are closing out a certain low grade item and discount it. Of course there is always a "hook" of some kind. Generally the coupon or discount is only offered if you buy a product or combination of products in larger quantities than you normally would. In those cases YOU are suckered into stock piling items that you don't need, some of which you will likely throw away before you use them. But THEY still made money selling it to you because you never questioned "do I really need six tubs of cottage cheese that expires in two days." Only fools think they "got a deal" because NOBODY gives you "something for nothing."
I was watching TV back when gasoline hit bottom at two bucks a gallon and one TV "sage" said that the days of high gas prices were over. This guy obviously doesn't understand the oil industry or didn't bother to research why the price of gas went down after the rip off prices we've been paying for the last seven years.
The King of Saudi Arabia was cutting oil prices and pumping as much oil as he could in order to gain back their share of the American market being lost as America uses more of it's own energy. He was selling oil for $20. a barrel, well below even the OPEC negotiated price of $44. and the commodities market falsely inflated price of $80. When he died suddenly, his greedy brother took over and went right back to playing the Big Oil game. Prices started to climb and will continue to do so until we're right back where we started. It might take longer to get the prices back up because the economy is so sluggish, but only a fool who has no clue about the history of the oil industry believes the rip off is over!
I'm interested in trains and cars, as well as a lot of other things. But recently, I have been watching the coverage of network News of the many railroad crossing accidents. Not since the heyday of railroads have rail accidents gotten so much coverage. Heck, until recently, it seemed that the media didn't know railroads still existed! But now they are suddenly "appalled at the slaughter at rail crossings." And they appear to be quietly be blaming the railroads involved!
I'm debating with myself if the bigger fool is the person who drives onto the tracks and is surprised that a train comes along, or the people reporting on the accident are so lacking in common sense as to think that trains don't have the right of way. Most of the railroads were there LONG before automobiles were invented, are far heavier and harder to stop, and that is why people with the number of functioning brain cells above those of Forrest Gump stay out of their way.
Talking on your cell phone, texting, reading a book, or putting on make up while sitting on a train track is moronic. Many crossings have signs that say "Do Not Stop On Tracks." The fact that YOU are an idiot does not make the train at fault!
What is wrong with the News media? Do they also phone, text, and apply make up on the road too and are looking for excuses to make such moronacy acceptable? Obviously, anyone who is an attentive and competent driver of a motor vehicle sees enough stupidity in a day's time to at least slightly fear for their lives on the road today. But "playing chicken" with a speeding train might just be the ultimate foolishness.
But it gets worse. Let me give you this final bit of twisted thinking:
The other day I saw an article on a fairly well known website that claimed that the top three United States Presidents in history would eventually be recognized as Barrack Obama, George W. Bush, and Andrew Johnson. This should have been run on April Fool's Day because Andrew Johnson is generally considered by all Historians to be the worst President in U.S. history. He followed the assassinated Abe Lincoln into the White House and is generally known for his wandering between ineffectiveness and rampant corruption! However, Johnson is in good company with these two modern bozos, both of which might unseat him for worst ever. Johnson will then be a "third stringer" as well.
As was said about a Shakespearian character; "He doth not suffer fools gladly." I often feel as if I'm becoming that character because I find it hard to believe the people of this nation lack common sense and have become so foolish. It's as if every day is April First!
There's a very old saying that comes from the wisdom of farming: "Never put all your eggs in one basket." This comes from the fact that eggs are very fragile. And if you gathered the eggs from your chickens in one basket and then dropped them, you had no eggs! Two or more baskets are safer.
However, this old adage has a more far reaching meaning that goes well beyond the farm. In most things in life, you never want to put everything in one place or rely on only one supply, etc. If that one source or place fails or suffers a disaster, YOU are hurt just as badly as them.
In case you didn't know, or aren't paying attention, the wealthy folks in this country never put all their money into one bank, one stock, one investment, one company, or other single spot. They "diversify" or "spread it around." Not only do they therefore have multiple investments and therefore sources of furthering their wealth, but they are also protecting themselves against being instantly wiped out by a single failure.
Even folks who have less than a million bucks are smart enough not to put it all in one place. I know a guy who used to run a small, but thriving business who has money in three different banks because he's made, and saved up a few hundred thousand dollars for retirement. When he started to acquire this nest egg, the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) covered up to $100,000 dollars of a depositor's money in a bank. So he started spreading the money around so ALL of it was protected.
Once again, it's "Never put all your eggs in one basket." Here's another example: Many small towns and villages only have one store to buy groceries. If that store goes under, or suffers a sudden shortage of supply, the folks who live there have to drive miles to get their food. If there's one gas station and it closes, the same thing happens. In this case, you'd have no choice, but given a choice, "diversify" like the ultra wealthy do.
Of much less importance than feeding yourself or putting gas in your car are our hobbies or "side interests." I have several, and have seen a problem being created by having to rely on a dwindling number of manufacturers for "traditional" model hobbies. Not only is this slowly creating a supply problem, but it is also driving prices up. That's the old truth of "The Law of Supply and Demand."
For those of you who might not be familiar with this, "The Law of Supply and Demand" means that if there is more of a supply or stock pile of something, but people aren't buying it up at the same rate, the price will be lower in order to sell. But if there is a shortage of something and the demand for it is higher than the amount of it on hand, the price will be higher.
Which brings us to another, less well known truth, the "Greed Factor." If the supplier or distributor falsely creates a shortage of something to create higher demand, they can run the prices up and make more profit. An example of that is the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the food distribution industry (not the farmers) and many others. But this is an education for another time, let's get back to not putting your "eggs in one basket."
I've been in model railroading my entire life and in that time have worked in every scale from the tiny Z scale up to "ride on" trains that run on 7 1/2" gauge track, including the narrow gauge segments of most. As you might expect, some sizes are more popular than others.
Back in the eighties, I started to dabble in "On30" which means O SCALE, NARROW gauge, and 30 inch Gauge or distance between the rails. This was considered a "bastard scale" by "serious" narrow gauge model railroaders and in some cases it still is. On30 was modeling narrow gauge trains in O scale on the smaller but widely available HO scale track. Because in the real world there were mostly 24" gauge and 36" gauge trains in the U.S., "serious" modelers considered using 30" gauge (HO track) to be a "cheat" or a rather slipshod way of doing things.
To the rest of us, using HO track, wheels, and mechanisms with scratch built ot modified O scale bodies on them was a VERY cost effective way of modeling narrow gauge. Folks in On30 were such a tiny part of the overall hobby as to almost not exist.
But at the end of the nineties Bachmann Trains, well known in other scales, started making O scale narrow gauge bodies on their HO scale mechanisms to make On30 equipment. Their quality was very good, and their prices very reasonable. To say they took off in a big way might be an understatement!
Today Bachmann is the single biggest supplier in On30, and the reason On30's popularity soared from a tiny "bastard scale" to a fairly popular part of the hobby. In fact, I can't count the times I have heard people say or read them claiming "I wouldn't be in On30 if not for Bachmann making the trains." Bachmann put the scale/gauge combination "on the map."
However, no other large manufacturer has seen fit to get involved in On30, leaving a few dozen small manufacturers and Bachmann as the only supply. Over the last few years, Bachmann quality has fallen off and the prices have climbed a lot compared to what they were. Part of this is also that all their locomotives are now equipped with additional electronics which drive up the price. Since packing "options," that are really not options since they come in every unit, is one of the great profit makers in the automobile industry, it's obvious that most other industries have followed suit.
Bachmann Trains is a small part of Kader Toys (also often spelled Kadar), which is a large Chinese toy and hobby company. Having started in Hong Kong many years ago, it has been trying to expand manufacturing into Communist China and other markets. But since Kader is NOT a "mainland" Chinese outfit, they do not get many of the advantages that government gives their "own" companies. Add this to a world wide economic softness, and you can see trouble on the horizon.
Then there is the Bachmann quality control problems which have wracked them in recent years. Customer confidence in Bachmann is badly damaged. Higher prices automatically limit sales in a poor economy. With no "support" from the Communist Chinese government, this could easily become the "perfect storm" financially.
Here's where having "all of your eggs in one basket" plays in: If Bachmann doesn't fix their reliability and pricing problems, or they go under, where does this leave On30? By far, most of the folks in On30 rely on Bachmann ready to run equipment today, it's certainly not the scale/gauge of scratch builders anymore!
Now most of you who are reading this are not into On30 and may be wondering why you should give a damn. Well, look around at your own hobby...is there a similar situation developing for your favorite hobby? A single company or supplier is keeping it going?
And how much do you want to bet that, as in most hobbies today, the actual manufacturing of those products is done in China. Across the board Chinese manufacture is suffering from a LOT of quality control problems, for instance Auto World HO slot cars are of inferior quality to cars made forty years ago, but for many slot car folks, they "are the only game in town." Toy and hobby items are considered "throw away" products in China.
Okay, I hope most of you "get the picture" now, so I can move on to a bigger question; What happens if China, as a major manufacturing nation, continues to make poor quality, over priced products? Or what if the supply of even these products can't make it across the Pacific Ocean to get here? The United States now imports far more than it produces and a huge percentage of those imports are from China.
A LOT of people in the world now have "all their eggs in the Chinese basket!" And the people handling that basket are staggering badly! It's well PAST time to bring manufacturing of everything we need back to our own countries. Because if we don't, the time is soon coming that we'll be "eggless."
Everyone who follows auto racing today will remember the day Dale Earnhart died at the Daytona 500. It shocked the racing community, but shocked the fans and "casuals" even more. I was watching the race on TV that day and saw the crash. It didn't look all that bad, and Earnhart had walked away from much more spectacular crashes before. But it didn't take long before we could see that something had gone terribly wrong.
I knew before the TV coverage ended that he was dead just by the way everyone on the broadcast talked AROUND the facts and nothing was being "officially" announced. It seemed inconceivable that "The Intimidator" could be gone. But I wasn't prepared for the outpouring of grief, the finger pointing, and rumors that came next. Young people were amazed that anyone could actually die in a race car.
Their reaction surprized me as I had grown up in an era when race drivers died almost regularly! I remember reading my grandfather's National Speed Sport News in the fifties and sixties when there was still an obituary PAGE listing all the drivers, mechanics, officials, or fans killed at races the weekend before. So much time had passed between motorsports deaths that many people had forgotten "the bad old days" when death and serious injury were part of the scene. This gap had also stopped the development of safety requirements as well.
The death of Earnhart Senior created such a stir that NASCAR had to again turn to looking into their safety policies. Because this sanction had become "the 800 pound gorilla" of auto racing, other sanctions also began looking at safety. There were MANY changes, and drivers today have a far better chance of survival in a crash than those just a dozen years ago.
But you must remember that a dozen years before Earnhart's death, drivers had a higher chance of death or serious injury. It is said that "Naval regulations are written in blood," but the same can also be said about auto racing, in fact possibly it is more true in racing. In NASCAR alone, well known drivers had to die to get safety advanced. Joe Weatherly's death caused window nets to become required, the death of Glen "Fireball" Roberts brought fire retardant suits and Fuel Cells into use. I could go on and on.
There was a time when auto racing was considered SO dangerous that a national newspaper chain called it "A Blood Sport" and campaigned to have it banned! Drivers, mechanics, and even officials and fans were killed or badly injured at auto races, especially at major events such as the Indianapolis 500 and many of the huge, highly banked Board Tracks. But the specter of the Grim Reaper appeared at all racetracks.
During the Thirties a famous speedway in California opened as Ascot Park, owned and operated by a local American Legion post. It became known as "Legion Ascot" and when the American Legion dropped involvement with the track, it continued to be known simply as "Ascot." It was a very popular 5/8 mile "oiled dirt" race track that drew Hollywood stars and sports figures of the day, as well as (literally) legions of fans. Many of the great drivers of the era raced at Ascot.
They also DIED at Ascot! Though in reality, at a no higher rate than equally popular tracks. The difference was the publicity which surrounded Ascot, partly because it was frequented by celebrities. Every crash got front page or early page coverage, often with lurid descriptions and graphic photos. The Hearst Newspaper chain began to focus on auto racing's toll, and the "carnage" at Ascot in particular.
It is interesting to note that the Hearst chain was already suspect for it's news coverage, often described as "Yellow Journalism." This charge came as far back as the Spanish-American War. When the battleship Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, William Randolf Hearst chose to believe rumors that Spanish operatives had blown up the ship rather than wait for proof of what actually happened. He chose to publishe the possibility of war. In fact, his own reporters on the scene said that the blast was most likely caused by a boiler explosion, not sabotage, and there would be no reason for war. Hearst famously told them "You provide the copy, I'll provide the war."
And as all historians can tell you today, that is EXACTLY what happened. Hearst newspapers ran stories and editorials, even coming up with the rallying cry "Remember the Maine" to inflame the Untied States into going to war with Spain.
In the mid-1930s, the Hearst chain had set it sights on automobile racing. There were no lengths to which they would not go to "prove" racing was "a nefarious Blood Sport, Hell bent on destroying the male youth of the nation." When Babe Stapp was killed in his racer, the Hearst reporters dogged his wife with reporters and photographers, publishing dramatic photos of the wreckage and her tears. Even at the funeral they tried to get her to lash out at the sport and give them some juicy details.
It got so bad at the graveside that a group of drivers and fans tried to bodily push the reporters and photographers away, which degenerated into a fight at one point. The next day Hearst papers headlined that a "riot" had broken out at the funeral "proving that racing drivers are a rough house bunch who must be stopped." Arrests were made and lawsuits threatened on both sides, but in the end the evidence was on the side of the racing people and no one was fined or jailed.
But the publicity had finally brought the speedway to a financial ruin and it closed. Things then quieted down regionally with no focus to attack, and eventually nationally. Besides, by then World War Two was on the horizon and the Hearst chain "had other fish to fry."
Was automobile racing a "Blood Sport?" Well, no more than aviation of the day. During the period between the world wars, aviators were even more popular with the general public and managed to die at an equally prodigious rate. They also made headlines, but were never singled out for the same abuse by a national newspaper or radio chain.
Racing WAS dangerous, no doubt. I once asked old time racer Pappy Hough this question. His answer was; "Son, they died by the hundreds! It was the Depression, nobody had any money and jobs were tough to come by. There was money in aviation and auto racing, so it was worth the risk to us," explained.
In the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties, the world was a different place. Race cars were spindly, open wheeled machines made of parts of other cars and hand manufactured speed equipment. They ran on tall, wire wheels with tires three to for inches wide. Gasoline tanks were made out of all sorts of things, none crash worthy. Most drivers wore a leather "helmet" and thick glass goggles. There were no safety belts or roll bars, let alone a roll cages.
They raced on dirt tracks meant for horse racing, or towering, high banked wooden speedways of a mile or more in length. The premier speedway in the land was the Indianapolis "Brick Yard." The track got the name because it was a 2 1/2 mile rectangular shape paved with bricks. Driving 500 miles took four or more hours and the bricks were more like racing on cobblestones. Picture the battering the men and machines had to take for 500 miles on a cobblestone street!
But slowly, the sport evolved. Several of the old racers I have talked to either told me that "they just didn't know any better," or "that's the way it was done." But as the sixties dawned, safety finally got serious attention. The problem was that technology kept moving ahead as well, the speeds always seemed able to outpace the safety efforts.
Crash walls and debris fences (originally known as "wheel fences" because wheels came off so often years ago) cut accidents involving spectators to a minimum. Back in the "bad old days" race fans were almost participants! The first race I went to had a cable and post "guard rail" and no fencing of any kind! My grandfather taught me lesson number one there; "Never turn your back on a race car." And I was told never to get in the way of an errant wheel too! Both of these are truths which remain a warning today.
I raced Stock Cars, was a track employee, an official, an announcer, a writer, and a historian in my many years in the sport. Even knowing the history, I have never considered auto racing a "Blood Sport." Dangerous? Always, even today! But there has never been the "Gladiatorial Combat to the Death" aspect that defines a true Blood Sport.