The storm missed us last week and thankfully didn’t do as much damage in Louisiana as had been feared. All of South Alabama needed the extra rain but neither we, nor anyone else, needed it in bunches like bananas. This summer will be drier than usual, we are told, and of course hotter. Yet if reading between the lines means anything, we don’t expect the summer of 2019 in the Wiregrass to be a major disaster.
It has been 50 years since the Apollo landing on the moon July 20th, 1969! When someone said “50th anniversary of first moon landing” we had to count fingers on both hands – twice – to fully satisfy ourselves that it had really been 50 years. This backs up the often heard saying of, “Times flies when you are having fun.” Each time we read something about that endeavor, some additional tidbit of information (although useless to us) crops up to help replay the build-up and the first moon walk. What awes us is trying to follow the technical planning, mapping and executing the flight pattern that flew a space ship from the surface of one fast moving planet (in Florida) to a pre-selected spot on the face of Ole Man Moon, another fast moving body in the vast universe.
Part of our amazement with the plotting of the travel path for the space ship springs from an earlier experience. In our previous life with the U. S. Army, helicopters were our breakfast, lunch and supper. A gig we had while in Europe was supporting the testing of what turned out to be American efforts for what we now know as GPS. However, there were no satellites, our toys worked off the stars – which didn’t always be exactly where the book said it should be. That meant whatever was using that innocent box on the floor for directions was rarely exactly where it was supposed to be. With helicopters often landing in tight places, that was not good. The British had their answer to the direction finder, and we were testing it for weeks. One crew would go into the mountains on Monday morning and test until Wednesday, but another crew would bring in their equipment and test the rest of the week. Next week was the same. By then the British engineers had examined our data and had their excuses and answers for twice daily readings in the same spot usually being 20 to 100 feet apart! We later saw one of those boxes in Ft Rucker helicopters so someone must have figured out exactly where the stars were at any given time. We asked a couple of pointed questions about the equipment and the person leading the group of Elba folks around the base alerted and wanted to know the “whys and what for” a civilian knew to ask those questions. Even after hearing our background on the subject, they quickly moved on to another subject, so it must have still been officially a halfway secret project. Anyway, we are still in awe that anyone, any computer or any combination can chart such a perfect path.