Dr. J writes back, and the Volgi should take note:
I continue to be impressed with your aerospace engineering prowess and understanding of Slavic politics.
Truth be told, I am the son of an old cold warrior who was in Army Intelligence during Korea. He was stationed in Berlin and actually captured (briefly) by the Soviets. He beat a lie detector test and pretended not to understand Russian (which is no mean feat when you are a fluent spy).
When asked why he had 5 different picture ID’s he told the, “To vote, of course!”
I figure you’d like that, being from near Chicagoland.
Dr. J. gets Chicago-style politics better than the mainstream media’s crazy obsession with Obama’s “Chicago-style politics,” as if talking about pizza or hot dogs. And yes, the voter ID story is perfect and similar to what the Czar recalls American soldiers doing when captured by the Chinese in Korea: if you confabulated ridiculous stories about life in America, the Chinese treated you quite a bit better (“Every morning father gets up and beats three of his wives. Then we take a limo downtown to throw rocks wrapped in twenty dollar bills at the minorities”).
Meanwhile, MC writes in to set up the Volgi:
Mighty omniscient (and probably omnivorous) Czar,
The Smolensk-North airbase does not appear to have a conventional (Western) ILS, but an incompatible Russian system. The Tupolev was refitted with a Western-style ILS.
Still some open questions on what sort of approach was flown. I would hope the Tupolev carrying the Polish head of state would be equipped with the ability to fly a GPS approach. I don’t know if a pure GPS approach could be flown to the same visibility and ceiling minima that a ILS approach could. As I recall from news reports, the visibility was about 1/2 mile. Modern airliners can land with visibility as bad as 1/4 mile with a fully-instrumented cockpit and airfield (ILS required at limits that low). It’d be nice if the approach plates were readily available on the Internet, but for some reason there’s not a lot published about NAVAIDs for Russian military airfields.
There are indications they flew a NDB (non-directional beacon) approach. This would be somewhat akin to driving in a fog and steering by following a sound source – a NDB says “I’m over here, but I can’t tell you how far away or below you I am”. A NDB approach will hopefully get you close enough to the airport to see it, but you still have to be prepared to abandon the approach at a higher altitude than you would a GPS or ILS approach.
Another thing is that they may have struck the NDB’s tower and crashed as a result. The NDB is usually near the runway but isn’t directly on it for obvious reasons. If they were flying a NDB approach, most likely they would have been flying directly towards the beacon from the proper bearing to line up with the runway, transitioning to a visual approach around 1 mile out to finish the job. Flying an NDB approach past the NDB minimums leads to what happened – your first indication that you’re not over the runway might be striking something.
Since my four-year-old son was mentioned on your blog as potential legal counsel earlier for a challenge to an executive order, my six-year-old daughter would appreciate you going upside Dat Ho’s head in her name the next time it’s convenient.
MC brings us some smart, and he and Volgi are already enjoying a tequila and Liao drug down at the lobby bar. The Czar thinks that is pretty cool.
As for MC’s wonderful daughter, there is no way we will reward her behavior by discussing on a public blog what she did to Dat Ho, how hard she hit him—twice—the nature of the money involved, where he got the bullfrogs, and why she was not the least bit frightened of him, and how soon his vision is expeted to return. So we apologize to her, and she may help herself to something inexpensive in the gift shop.