Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Being an Airline Pilot Doesn't Mean Shit

Okay, I'm going to slaughter a few sacred cows here today, because if there is one thing I am awfully damn tired of hearing, it's how many hours an airline pilot had before he did something INCREDIBLY FUCKING STUPID before flying his airplane into the ground in a completely AVOIDABLE accident and usually (but not always, thank God) killing people.

I've seen this happen with my own two eyes more times than I care for, and heard stories about far too many more. Yes I'm a pilot, though I haven't flown in some time. I was also a Flight Test Engineer for Grumman aerospace, then General Dynamics, then Lockheed. I did that for about seven years. Dealing with accidents (though I never had to deal with a fatal one) was part of my job. Whenever there was an 'incident' and the pilots were told that the 'company representatives need to talk to you', I was one of those 'representatives' on the other end of the phone.

Now this little rant is because they announced the preliminary findings on the crash of B-17G '909'. After listening to this, anybody who knows anything about B-17's knows exactly what happened. Unless they change the preliminary findings, if what they said was true, it's blatantly obvious what happened.

But before we get into that, I've heard bandied about, several times now, that the PIC (Pilot In Command) had over 20,000 hours. People say that like it means something. Well you know what? Ralph Kramden had over twenty years as a bus driver! In NYC no less! So let's put him in a formula one race car and make him drive at Indy and see how he does!

Some of you may find that to be a bit facetious, but it's not. An airline pilot is a bus driver. No more, no less. That's all you are, and in this day and age it takes even less skill than driving a bus, because everything is automated. Korean Airlines, which you may recall flew into the ground at SFO, did so because between the pilot and the copilot they had landed that aircraft less than a dozen times COMBINED. Now yes, KAL is a bit of an extreme example, their pilots are hands down the worst in the world, but they prove the point. Flying a modern airliner is easy.

Now, another quick aside here. My father flew in B-17's, B-24's, and B-29's. He was a gunnery instructor during WW2 and he had thousands of hours in all of those aircraft. He knew a lot about flying them, and he saw a lot of them crash. The biggest problem was that with the training aircraft, it was not uncommon for them to lose an engine on takeoff during training. As they'd train the pilots while training the gun crews and the bombardier so every flight took off heavy weight. If you banked into the dead engine, the plane would crash and everyone onboard would DIE.

You'd think having been taught that, and told that many times, it wouldn't happen. Yet my father saw it happen several times. But those were green pilots, right? And this was before ANY safety regulations for flying existed. Little known fact: More Army Air Corps crew were killed during WW2 in training than fighting the war. A lot more. When the war ended they were still losing something like 10,000 men a year. That's when it was discovered that training was where they lost everyone, and not over Germany (something that they could cover up during the war, but not afterwards — think about that a moment).

So, let's get back to the issue at hand. We have a pilot in 909 who has 'over 20,000 hours as PIC'. But apparently no one ever taught him how to deal with an in flight emergency? Apparently he never had a safety brief? And apparently he didn't really know all that much, for all of his hours flying, about B-17's.

How can I say this? Let's make it simple: He fucked up by the numbers.

Now, getting over whether or not he should have even taken off (magneto problems), I want you to think about this: He's taking off in a B-17 that is either heavy, or damn close to it. It has eleven people on board, and being Americans, you can pretty much guarantee that the average weight of those people is over 200lbs. So he's flying with over a ton of cargo. That's a lot of weight. On take-off, one of the more dangerous phases of flight in an aircraft he loses an engine.

He doesn't declare an emergency. That right there probably would have cost him his license for the rest of his life. He's in a heavily loaded airplane with eleven people. A B-17 has problems climbing out with all four engines running, he just lost one, and he doesn't declare an emergency? What the hell! Is there a commercial jet in the world today that if you lose an engine you don't declare an emergency? I can't think of one, if someone else can, please tell me.

Now why didn't he declare an emergency? To me it's obvious: He didn't want to do the paperwork. He didn't want the airplane to be grounded. He didn't want to have to give those eleven people their money back. He didn't want to do a lot of things and that right there is why he shouldn't have been flying that airplane. Why he shouldn't have been flying any airplane! He had stopped putting the safety of his passengers and aircraft first.

There is no other explanation. Don't tell me he 'forgot to declare an emergency', he's got 20,000 hours! Right?

This brings us to the moment he doomed the airplane to crash and killed the 6 people onboard — and lets not sugar coat it. HE killed them. Through his negligence and yes, stupidity. It's harsh to say that, especially about the dead, but when it comes to preventable accidents that kill a lot of people, I'm not much for giving slack. So here he is, he's got an engine out on the right side of the airplane. Anyone with a brain knows that if you bank into that engine, YOU'RE GONNA CRASH. Okay? That's not a 'possibility' it's a cold hard fact. You are going to crash. People are going to die.

But he can't bank left. It's a right-hand pattern; he has to turn right, into the dead engine. Now if he had, oh I don't know, DECLARED AN EMERGENCY, he would have been able to turn LEFT like he SHOULD HAVE. But you know what, there's all that paperwork, the refunds, the plane being grounded... Nah, I have 20,000 hours! It'll work THIS time, for ME!

Yeah, well it didn't. The aircraft continued to sink (lose altitude) until it crashed. I'm personally amazed he made it as far around as he did before he hit the ground. I'm also amazed he put the gear down. You're barely flying, and you have to know you're gonna crash, and you put down the drag? WTF? Yes, I know it's common for a lot of pilots to think that they're going to make it, right up to the moment they crash and die. I've read more than enough cockpit voice recorder transcripts from dead pilots. You keep working the problem. But when you caused the problem, maybe you should take a moment to reconsider your choices? Sure a gear up landing sucks, especially in a propeller driven airplane. But you can fix that.

So yes, 909 was 100 percent pilot error. I don't know if no one ever told him that you can't bank any WW2 era bomber into the dead engine and expect to keep flying. If not, they have a serious problem that needs to be addressed. But the bigger problem here was that the pilot threw safety out the window, fucked up by the numbers, and crashed the airplane killing 6 people. Makes me wonder about how he survived those previous 20,000 hours, right?

And it also shows that those 20,000 hours don't mean shit. You take a bus driver and put him in a finicky high performance vehicle, and you sure don't expect him to go out there and win the Indy 500. You don't even expect him not to crash. Hours in airliners don't translate to hours in other aircraft. To date I have witnessed three crashes in person — one of which almost killed me. All three of those pilots had over ten thousand hours of experience. But the amount of experience they had in the airplanes that they crashed, under the conditions that they were flying in, it was a lot less than that. And it showed. Because they did stupid shit, which in one case got 11 people on the ground killed and dozens more injured.

Too many airline pilots think that because they have lots of hours, they have lots of skill. I've seen this too many times and once even had some gal tell me that she knew more because she flew an A-380, when we were discussing flight characteristics in a small single engine airplane.

Well I gotta lot of skill sitting on my couch at home, and guess what? It's directly transferable to damn near any airliner out there. This isn't to say all airline pilots are unskilled, I've met a lot who I would trust to fly any kind of aircraft. But that's because they fly airplanes other than an airliner. They learned on many different aircraft, transitioned through many different aircraft, and have found themselves in many different and difficult situations. But let's be honest here: Flying is easy. It's so easy that anyone can do it. But flying is also inherently unforgiving of mistakes. You can't just pull over to the curb. You have to land, and there are only certain places where you can land safely.

Because of this, there are a lot of rules when you're flying. There are also a lot of rules that apply to each and every type of aircraft. When you start breaking these rules you are literally taking your life into your own hands. In some cases you are literally committing suicide. Now that's fine if it's just you, but it's not fine if other people are counting on you. And when you start putting ANYTHING before the safety of your passengers: You're done.

That guy who was flying 909? Yeah, I met him once. I thought he was an okay guy. I even flew in that very airplane. So I gotta ask myself: How the hell could he have been so damned stupid? And I think that the foundation that owned that airplane needs to sit down with all of their pilots and tell them that if they're not putting the safety of the passengers and the aircraft first — paperwork be damned — then they shouldn't be flying for them. Or perhaps, anyone.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Another Valens Legacy book is done.

Book #16 in the Valens Legacy just went live. #16, Times Like These.
For those waiting for the next POI book, that should be coming in late Fall.

Here's the link for the new Valens -> Times Like These

And the cover:

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Valens Legacy #15 is now live on Amazon

First off, the link:

I have to admit I'm surprised at how fast this got processed today, under 2 hours, that's a record for me. I was worried that it would take longer than normal, as today is a holiday.

So for those who have been waiting, the new Valens Book, Firestarter, is out.

I don't have a date on the next Portals of Infinity book, the arm injury and a few of the other things going on sort of messed that up, but there will me more POI books.

Oh, cover (not clickable, sorry):

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

What's been going on...

Sorry I haven't posted much here recent. If you've been following my pen name blog, you know that there's been a LOT going on of late.

First off, I took a big pirate to court. I'd direct you to the gofundme if you want to know more. The case is still ongoing so I can't talk about it.

Second off I ruptured my left bicep. Bad enough that it needed surgery. So I spend most of April in a lot of pain, which isn't conducive to writing. After surgery it was a while before I could even type with my left hand.

Thirdly a particular plagiarist is back, though at least this time he changed enough that I couldn't sue. He claims that in book two he'd be heading off in a completely different direction. I can only guess at what that means, because he seriously lacks the ability to come up with a story on his own. It is kind of annoying at how many people are copying me now, I guess that's the price of success, lots of cheap imitation knockoffs.

There were also some other issues that are family related, so I won't talk about them here beyond saying that I have an aging parent.

So it's been a very stressful time. The next Portals of Infinity novel ended up getting pushed back because I needed to get back to writing the Valens Legacy series as it's getting into the endgame of that whole thing. Once that's done I'll return to the other projects I was trying to get done while I decide what to write next under my Stryvant pen name. It may be a follow on series in the Valens legacy world, I just haven't decided yet.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have moved to northern Texas and so far I actually like it here a lot. There were a lot of things I wanted to do this summer, but as my arm is now in a brace and won't be declared healed until sometime in November, pretty much all of that got canceled. At least the brace should come off in August some time.

I will be in Chattanooga this weekend for LibertyCon, so if you're there, feel free to look me up.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Butter Cookies

I don't think I posted this here at all, but this is the recipe for my mother's famous butter cookies, that she would make every year at Christmas. I still make them, and so does my sister. These things are seriously full of calories, just a warning. The dough is also heavy enough that it will destroy any cookie gun, no matter how expensive (I know that from experience too). I usually make double batches each time I mix it up, and when I do make these, I tend to make enough that I use about 4 lbs of butter.

So, here it is:

Butter Cookies (Mom's)

1 cup Butter (1/2 lb)
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour (reg - unbleached)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp Almond extract

Cook   400  10 - 12 minutes
or         350  10 minutes (a little softer - not all ovens are equal)

Fudge Icing
melt 3 squares baker's chocolate
w ~ 6 tblspns crisco (veg shrtng)
add about 6 tbspns milk
1 box confectioners sugar

Melt chocolate, add crisco, add some of the milk, then add sugar, and stir. Best to use a double boiler so you don't burn it. If too thick, add more milk. I usually start off with 4 tablespoons of milk. This mix hardens quickly as it cools, add more milk to thin if necessary when down to scraps, but very little!
John Van Stry

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Patreon Licensing Agreement

Okay, all of this started when the following post, by a lawyer, was brought to my attention:

(I suggest reading it)

So I hired an IP lawyer to look at the post above as well as the terms of the contact you sign when you join Patreon as a creator, and this is what I got back:

Hi John,
 I have broken the analysis up into a couple of sections going from high level at the top to nitty-gritty at the bottom.
 Bottom Line: The rights you are giving Patreon are too broad if you are posting complete novels to the site. You have two options: 1) Use Patreon to collect payments and post updates to engage with your community, but distribute your work (books, rewards, and content) through another system like email (i.e. not posting them to Patreon, but using Constant Contact or Mail Chimp); or 2) Stop using Patreon altogether.      
Explanation of Bottom Line: Here is the language of the license you are granting Patreon: “By posting content to Patreon you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, reproduce, distribute, perform, publicly display or prepare derivative works of your content.” It is too broad because there is no time limit, no limitations on use (despite the later wording in the same paragraph, see attached and below), no payments to you, and no ability by you to revoke the license should a falling out occur. 
 Detailed Analysis: There are some things in the post with which I agree, but some things with which I don’t. The post heavily implies that the language gives Patreon ownership of the work you post on Patreon. That is false, but the tricky part is that the rights you do give up are so broad that it looks like ownership to normal people.
 The reason it is false is because of the words “non-exclusive.” That means you have all the ability to perform all the copyrights (use, reproduce, distribute, perform, publicly display or prepare derivative works) yourself, or authorize others to do so. For example, you can sell your books on Amazon because you retain the right to authorize Amazon to reproduce and distribute. 
 However, the reason it looks like ownership to normal people is that Patreon can distribute your works for free, the same works you are selling on Amazon. Patreon can do that because of the words “royalty-free,” “reproduce,” and “distribute.” So to normal people, what good is that non-exclusivity doing? Not much, because although you can sell on Amazon, you won’t make any money when they can go to Patreon for the same content for free. But it is because of that non-exclusivity that these Patreon statements are true: 
·         “You keep complete ownership of all content, but give us permission to use it on Patreon.”
·         “You keep full ownership of all content that you post on Patreon, but to operate we need licenses from you.”
 Speaking of which, the following statements MAY also be true, but the problem is two-fold: 1) it requires you to trust Patreon; and 2) the trust requirement is unnecessary if Patreon would have just circumscribed the rights language in the first place (this is the part where I agree with the post):
·         “The purpose of this license is to allow us to operate Patreon, promote Patreon and promote your content on Patreon.”
·         “We are not trying to steal your content or use it in an exploitative way.”
 The best way I can put it is that Patreon’s actions are not comporting with their words. They may not have broken their promise yet, and they may never break their promise due to the bad PR they would receive, but if we are in a position where we can protect ourselves from a potential broken promise then let’s do so.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Molasses Cookies

Okay, I made these the other day and some folks were asking about my recipe, so here it is:

Molasses Cookies:


1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

About 3 tablespoons of sugar (you'll figure it out) for pressing the cookies into.


Note: if you double this recipe, you'll use about 3 cookie sheets and make about 50 - 60 cookies. I always double it. Twice the reward for the same amount of work.

  • Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl beat brown sugar, shortening, molasses, and egg. Use an electric mixer.
  • Once you've got that mixed up nicely, then add the rest (EXCEPT the sugar). Add the flour a cup or two at a time, to avoid making a mess. Don't worry about over-mixing.
  • Pour the sugar on to a small plate.
  • Roll the dough into small balls, about an inch and a half in daimeter, then press them down into the sugar on the plate to flatten them. Then put that on your ungreased cookie sheet, sugared side up.
  • They will slump about 50% when you cook them. If you leave them as balls, they're gonna come out as balls. They slump about as much as chocolate chip cookies (the ones made with shortening, not butter). So you can put them about an inch apart on the cookie sheet. I press mine down to about a half inch to a quarter inch thick.
  • Cook for 13 to 16 minutes. This can be a little tricky. You really don't want the insides to be doughy. They will firm up as they cool as well. Some recipes call for you to take them off the sheet immediately (if you grease it, you won't have to). If you wait till they're cool, you'll have to be a little more careful with your spatula to not break them.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

So Amazon Screwed up Last Night

And deleted my last two Jan Stryvant novels, including the one I released last week and which was a #1 bestseller.

No one at Amazon has ANY idea when this will be fixed, could be days (last time this happened it took almost two weeks). This didn't just happen to me, it happened to a lot of new releases, but I'm screwed pretty royally all the same, because I was in a new release cycle on Amazon with two high rated books (the older one had been #1 a few weeks ago and was still in the top 20 or so). Both had made it to about the top 100 overall in the Amazon ratings.

But that's all gone now. When they come back out they'll be pushed to the bottom as all of their sales data is not only gone, but they'll have had zero sales for however many days it takes to fix this. So not only am I looking at shelling out a lot more money for a lawsuit, I will now have a piss poor income for this month because of this, just like the last time this happened.

This just sucks on so many levels. If only Amazon knew about backups and how to restore from them.

Monday, April 01, 2019

In Case You Hadn't Heard...

I've filed a lawsuit in US Federal Court against the guy running that pirate site.
Or rather my lawyer has filed it. I've found out why nobody else has sued him, it's because it costs a hell of a lot of money. Litigation is very expensive.

Why did I do it? Because he's a scumbag and somebody had to. He's ripping me off and when I sent him a Cease and Desist as well as a DMCA take down, he refused. After my lawyer sent him one, he just put up more of my books. Oh, and he's making money off of his pirate site. He even bought himself an airplane. And he's rude and nasty to the people who have been asking him to stop pirating their works. Because he knew those people didn't have the money to go after him.

Now of course, he's in hiding, because someone finally got tired of his bullshit.

I've got a gofundme running to help defray the legal costs, if you want to contribute:
Link -> 

I'm not crazy about having to do this, but the guy is actually hurting me, as well as a lot of other people. Everyone else kept talking about it, but I'm the guy who actually did it. The threats have started, people calling for me to be doxed or assaulted or murdered. About what you'd expect from the folks following a scumbag like him. I don't really expect anyone to really try to attack me, but some of the things people are saying is just flat out nuts.

On the other hand I'm getting a LOT of support from the people who this guy has been ripping off for years. One of the things that convinced me to act was this new author. On the pirate site he was a featured author with (apparently) tons of downloads. But on Amazon he was selling almost zero. That's right, new author puts out a book and this pirate totally rapes his sales and discourages him from continuing.

Also, I just can't stand bullies.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Book #14 of the Valens Legacy, Trying Times, is now available on Amazon:

Link --> Trying Times

For reasons unknown the Amazon link isn't giving the cover picture, so here it is:

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Pirates *sigh*

If you have downloaded my ebooks from anyplace other than Amazon, you have an illegal copy.

There is a site in a foreign country, that does not care about copyright law, with a large number of pirated books on it, including most of my catalogue. They try and make it look like what they're doing is legal (it isn't) and that they have permission (they don't). The guy running the website is a former politician and complete scumbag.

Unfortunately, the country involved doesn't give a damn about things like this, even if it is against the law. I'm sent him several legal notices, but he refuses to honor a single one.

So again, please don't download my books from anyplace other than Amazon. No one else has permission to sell my ebooks.

Dealing with this guy has pretty much left me unable to write all week. He'd been cutting into my income significantly. It's quite depressing that NO ONE will stop this man.