Monday, November 25, 2013


There is something to be said about the sudden and violent break from a smooth flight after, and this is relative to the pilot experience, a brief flirtation with a shudder of imminent stall. This departure from the comforts is an aerodynamic oops. You know the kind when a surgeon cuts a vein accidentally, well not exactly that but pretty close. Both the pilot and the surgeon then sweat it out. They either are able to salvage from that experience and live to tell the tale or go down in flames. Lives can and are lost if experience is short and hubris is long.
So what of this departure?

Imagine a smooth flight back to your home, wherever home is. And the last few minutes as you get into the pattern altitude of your home-base airport on the downwind, you feel the drift from the crosswind. You adjust accordingly, but the drift forces you closer and closer to the runway as you continue on the downwind leg. The runway is now instead of being at the tip of your low wing aircraft, it is actually half way to the fuselage, close! You put another wind correction angle to your downwind and arrest the drift. Happily you feel comforted by the inputs. As you turn base, the aircraft now seems to jet across the approach end of the runway and your field of vision. Ah but you are prepared, you took an extra-long downwind leg just for this very reason as you fought the drift. So now you bank into the wind, but it needs more and more bank angle. You look at your airspeed and it is 1.2 VSo. You hold the bank and as you do, you feel the shudder. “It’s that damn wind shear!” something cries out and just as you realize this at 500 feet above the ground, the aircraft nose falls heavily. You’re instincts tell you, “Pull up! Pull up!” and if you do, all visuals are lost except the momentary rush of trees, or bushes or even flat well-manicured piece of land.

The silent sweat that is pouring down your back is a testimony to your understanding of the well-known aerodynamic limits of any airfoil. Exceeding that limit is a virtual calamity at low altitudes but can be salvaged at higher altitudes provided you have experienced and felt and trained for that knowledge.

The wing has a leading edge and a trailing edge, drawing a line between those two points gives us the chord line. It is this chord line that interacts with the relative wind. 

The term “relative” is relative based on how the thrust of the aircraft and its attitude is interacting in relation to the wind. For example, the fighter jet with its after-burners lit will have enough velocity to force a relative wind below its wing surface at near vertical and maintain a lift until it doesn’t. 

However if one were to have unlimited thrust as in the STS Space Shuttle with 5,6 million pound force then one could stay vertical and fly into space. 

You see it is all relative!

A classic example is as a child you might have put your hand out of a travelling car. If you faced the palm of your hand parallel to the ground and slowly changed the angle of the palm in reference to the oncoming air, your hand had a tendency to go up. “Eureka, I’ve found lift” you would think and yell. If you continued changing the angle, a point came where the hand simply was pushed back by the wind. That is as close to knowing the angle of attack function of an airfoil. Once the limits of the relative angle to the wind and the chord line of your hand exceeded, the drag exceeded the lift and push-back was the result. Try it someday, and feel the pressures if you haven’t before.

Angle of Attack is the most ingenious and simplistic measure of this knowledge. In mathematical terms the formula goes something like this: L = (1/2)*dv^2s(CL).
Where L = Lift
d = density
v = velocity
s = surface area of the airfoil
CL = Coefficient of Lift.

Lift, keeps the aircraft up in the air, is essentially helped by only two of these factors. The v in velocity and the CL as in Coefficient of Lift are the modifiers of any such departure from flight. Velocity however is limited in its endeavor to a certain extent since a relative wind change can occur at any speed, altitude and attitude. So that leaves us with the CL. Next question is what is this CL?

Coefficient of Lift expresses the ratio of the lift force to the force produced by the dynamic pressures times the area. It is the complex dependencies of the 3-dimensional airfoil (wing surface) and the air viscosity and compressibility. Below 200 miles per hour the latter has little reference, while the former still plays a part and of course the wing tip "downwash" that reduces the CL. So the measure of each airfoil is then mathematically derived at and gives us its aerodynamic limit. Knowing this helps the pilot in ascertaining where and when the failure might happen and how much margin should he or she give to prevent hat breakdown. 

How does one change the CL on an airfoil? Well my dear Watson, that is easy. Change its shape! How you say? Well you have the ability to deploy flaps that changes the chord line and the therefore its relationship to the relative wind and adding slats as airlines do, that further changes the geometry and increases the margin between stall and safe flight. Next time you fly with a competent instructor, allow him or her to demonstrate the stall characteristics of the airplane.

Stalls: Experience the departure stalls and approach to landing stalls. Consider recovery from a stall with the least loss of altitude. Consider stalling in clean configuration (without flaps and gear deployed)and then just as imminent stall occurs (that buffeting feeling) let the instructor put in the approach flaps and see as the chord line changes to the relative wind, the aircraft goes back to smooth flight without the burbles and shudders, albeit still at a higher angle of attack.

We fly with many different gauges in the aircraft and now with the glass cockpit, we fly with loads of information that keeps pummeling us for our attention. Only one instrument that has the capacity to keep us safe is missing from 95% of all the certified and non-certified general aviation aircraft. You guessed it, it is the Angle of Attack (AOA) instrument. Having this instrument is a simple safety measure that keeps the pilot in the know of when the airfoil capability is being exceeded. Try it out yourself. The AOA indicator will warn you well in advance when the violent break is about to happen. Based on our mathematical derivation, we also know that different airfoils e.g. An F16 wing has a different AOA then a Mooney or a Bonanza, have different critical angles of attack.

So there you have it. Keep the blue skies above you and the green earth below. Land when you want to and fly as often as you can.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Today, I attempt to answer the question, Is the human mind’s pantheon of self-preservation under the umbrella of Invulnerability and if so, then when does the scaffolding of that mental framework come crashing down to reality?

A difficult question it is to ascertain for sure. But there are some leads into reality that focus our attention on things that go Hmmm each day.

Let us take a child of four for instance, when confronted with the ordeal of disease, he or she responds with little apprehension. And most of the apprehension he or she feels is through the eyes of the parents. Left to their own devices, children do not anticipate hardships, fatality, loss of existence or any such attributes that are allocated to the mental corruption that comes from aging. (forgive my harshness here) adults live in the existential doldrums of disease and disability in their  minds.

But as we age and achieve materialism and through that, confidence we gain the cocky sense of self, there is acquired a certain disdain for death. “Nothing can touch me!” Really? But nature, as we all know has a method to correct any such self-reverence with the minor inconvenience of a non-life threatening ailment. Then and only then, all fears come crashing through. Such is the inspiration of humility.

And then as the skin weathers, the joints creek and memory fails, the certainty of the inevitable visit to the undiscovered country becomes a foregone conclusion and in Shakespeare’s words, “readiness is all.” Life is lived in an expectant mode. Where the fears and reality grip at the tendons each day and make them taut and fragile.

Now imagine if one was to keep that innocent frame of reference and enjoy life as if all the sunshine was there for play, work, harmony with friends and family. Imagine if the only obstacles that were in the way were the mental ones of “don’ts” and “cannots” that were wiped clean. Now imagine the productivity from this exquisite sense of self. This non-impetuous, easily evolving, experiential learning would then become the path to enlightenment. Death and its other feared vicissitudes would not hold the power of a single candle to the glow of the exquisite vulnerability of living for each day.

Ah yes, to think it, achieve it and live it!
Live for each day.
Work hard ~ for in labor lies posterity and the future.
Play hard ~ for in play lies vigor.
Laugh hard ~ for in laughter lies eternal youth.
Eat right ~ for in the proper diet lies purity of each of our inner sanctums.

Think Critically as always!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


From Consumerism to Outcome-ism and beyond where the sun is not allowed to shine.

The world is about to be turned upside down, or it might already have. So let us look at the word consumerism. I surmise the dictionary does not lie;

con·sum·er·ism n “the protection of the rights and interests of consumers, especially with regard to price, quality, and safety.”

Now what in those words is derogatory against the consumer…? “Nothing,” I presume you would say. But as the high and mighty would suggest, it is bad. Medicine intended for consumers in the form of consumerism is bad, very bad. So they in their infinite wisdom or lack thereof have suggested and now promulgated, that we go to “outcome-ism.”

Oh that is just terrific. Remember the debacle in the making with the “Pay for Performance,” or P4P as those google-eyed with the idea seem to want. Ah yes that is exactly what this Outcome-ism is.

Now if only we were just viewers then P4P would work wonders

out`come`ism n “the exploitation of the physicians and their patients for monetary restraints.”

“So what?” You might say. Well, my dear Watson, did you ever hear of the fact that there might be some smart doctors on the other side who can win this fiscal battle easily. For instance, stop seeing patients with co-morbidities, reduce exposure to patients in the Intensive Care Units, crop and prop the healthy and make them your followers and leave the ones that need the most help out to the secondary and tertiary care centers so as to reduce the shrill of this tenor of outcome-ism from closing the doors to their practice of medicine. And if not that, then just leave medicine to others! Oh yes did I forget to mention that doctor practices are ever-increasingly shuttering the doors, as are the hospitals in the name of what some Kool-Aid drinkers would say, “quality.” A little disclaimer must follow: The share of the economy devoted to health care increased from 7.2 percent in 1970 to 17.9 percent in 2009 and 2010. In 2010, the U.S. spent $2.6 trillion on health care, an average of $8,402 per person. 

At 17.9% of GDP the healthcare costs should be reduced. Yes indeed! But the mechanism is not to add more layers of middle-management bureaucracy that have nothing more to do with medicine but to extract that all mighty dollar for their own needs. Oh yes, if do not know this little fact, then here is the enlightenment for you: The administrative costs in medicine (read CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, CMOs, COOs, CIOs) have increased by 3000% -yes you read that correctly, while the physician income since 1975 has increased below COLI. But that trifle fact is a mere irritant to be massaged out of the equation. Just for the "ding"of it all from NEJM old article: In 1999, health administration costs totaled at least $294.3 billion in the United States,or $1,059 per capita, as compared with $307 per capita in Canada (If comparisons with Canada are not found to be odious). And should you get testy on this subject here is another Revenue and Cost of Goods associated Profit Margin for the Hospital and the Doctor: Medicare pays on average$18,000 for a total hip replacement – $16,336 to the hospital and $1,446 to the surgeon. Why if you must understand the strings a bit further, here is a quote from Forbes: $360 billion spent annually for administrative costs as estimated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the fact that 85 percent of excess administrative overhead can be attributed to the insurance system. Administrative costs for physicians are in the range of 25-30 percent of practice revenues and insurance-related costs are 15 percent of revenues, according to a National Academy of Social Insurance report for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 
And the spending outlays from the U.S. Government will increase: Federal health spending is projected to grow from 5.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011 to about 9.4% of GDP by 2035.

The Reason Health Care Is So Expensive: Insurance Companies

So what should we do about it. The most simple of all equations is to, putting it in simplistic terms, "let all parties have a skin in the game!" You know the old thing called "Self-Responsibility," that thing. Oh I know the worthy wordy wild crowd will say, "heartless thug"to that and what about the poor people who have no coverage and pretty soon they will write a heart wrenching article about a homeless person who died because he could not have access and then pull in some arbitrary facts from the "Big Data Corporation" (BDC) and create a compelling article that will stamp itself on all those "feeling hearts." But slow down there a moment cowboy, think critically for a moment. If those that can pay and get reimbursed from their insurance companies as in the old days continue to do so and those that cannot can be subsidized by the government and private concerns this in itself will really cut the price of care down by at least 50% if not more. And lets not forget the Tort Reform (the one that keeps the lawyers restless and paying more than $2000 to the Congressional Trial Lawyers lobby per lawyer annually) that will reduce the unnecessary diagnostics by a simple measure of 30-50% of all (CYA) diagnostic costs. The doctor will have to prove his worth in caring for the patient and not the reimbursement schemes while tied to the flicker of a glowing screen, the patient will have to think twice before running to the doctor for simple ailments of colds and sniffles that cure themselves and in the end the 17.9% of GDP will shrink significantly to reduce the Federal Debt, the $1 Trillion annual interest payment on that $17 Trillion debt and the dollar will strengthen, the future inflationary pressures will decrease and the FED will be forced to stop printing money even for the Dollar as a global currency reserve (FED balance sheet running around $3.7 Trillion. (I might be off by a few billions). Ah yes a win-win for all!

The overarching meaning in the Central Planning Committees subtlety is “we the government want not to pay the doctors for your needs and we will decide if your needs are truly needs! We were once, “of the people, for the people and by the people,” but lately we grown smarter and better and “you the people (know nothing), we the government (Know everything and are INefficient-but you don't know what that means)!”

So who loses in the end? All.

“All are pun-ish-ed!”

“What me Worry?”