Monthly Archives: May 2008

Continental Airlines Pilot Reports Rocket During Flight From Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Model rocket or worse? Joint Terrorism Task Force officials would like to know:

A Continental Airlines pilot reported being startled by what he described as a rocket that shot past his cockpit window Monday when the plane was about eight miles north of George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating the incident, which occurred about 10:30 a.m.

“We don’t know for sure what the object was. But we think it might be somebody doing model rocketing,” said Roland Herwig, an FAA spokesman. “The pilot saw the rocket and some people saw the rocket’s trail (of smoke).”

Continental Airlines spokeswoman Kelly Cripe said Monday night that she could not discuss what was seen by the crew of Flight 1544. She would only say that the Boeing 737, with 148 passengers. left Bush at 10:17 a.m. and arrived in Cleveland, Ohio at 2:13 p.m.

She said the pilot made no diversionary maneuvers, and she added the plane was not damaged, and nobody was injured.

Eight miles out of IAH should put that aircraft at a height that is out of range of most hobbyist-level model rockets. However, a high-powered model rocket (video) could have been involved here. They can reach substantially higher altitudes.

Seem like the HPR rocket theory is the favorite:

Neither said conclusively what the pilot saw was indeed a model rocket, but an FAA spokesperson told 11 News that it was likely a high-powered model rocket. It is a federal crime to launch a rocket of any sort without notifying the FAA.

The plane was at about 5,000 feet at the time of the sighting and the flight continued on to Cleveland.

Sources told 11 News that the flight was met by Continental officials and FAA investigators to interview the passengers and crew.

Part of that investigation included a FBI call to John Etgen, who is an officer with one of the local model rocket clubs in the area.

When the FBI told him what had been reported, the rocket enthusiast was shocked.

“This is completely outside of all of our safety codes and all of our practices. We actually behave a lot like visual flight rules pilots. This is if we can’t see clear airspace and already have permission to be in that air space we are not allowed to launch and we don’t,” said Etgen.

Video: Rolling Thunder 2008

The White House has some pretty awesome photos of the President’s meeting with Rolling Thunder leaders – and a transcript of their remarks:

THE PRESIDENT: It’s been a pleasure of my presidency to get to know the leaders of Rolling Thunder. For our fellow citizens who don’t know Rolling Thunder, Rolling Thunder is the moment in time here in Washington, on Memorial Day Weekend, when thousands of motorcyclers come to the nation’s capital to pay tribute to those who have died in service, to those who sacrificed, and those who serve. And it’s a magnificent sight.

Members of the motorcycle group Rolling Thunder watch President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush land on the South Lawn of the White House from a visit to Camp David. White House photo by Chris Greenberg We just choppered in, Artie, and saw your brothers and sisters cranking up their machines and driving through the nation’s capital — many of them have got the flag on the back. And I am just so honored to welcome you back. I want to thank you and all your comrades for being so patriotic and loving our country as much as you do. I think this is the — I don’t know if this is the eighth time we’ve been together here, but it’s pretty close.

MR. Muller: Pretty close, sir – maybe one more.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, one more. (Laughter.) Anyway, Artie is the main man and this is his board of directors who have continued to rally people around the country. I went to Greensburg, Kansas, Artie, and I came into a town that had been destroyed by a tornado — I was going to give the high school graduation speech, and rode in from the airport and the motorcyclers were all lining the streets with the flags and it made me feel great. When people go to protest at the funeral of one of our brave soldiers that died in combat, Artie’s folks are there to make sure that those protestors don’t denigrate the moment.

So you’re doing a lot for the country.

MR. MULLER: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: And our troops appreciate you, the veterans appreciate you and your President appreciates you.

MR. MULLER: Thank you, Mr. President.


More on Rolling Thunder here.

Memorial Day 2008: The Blogosphere Remembers

Stop the ACLU
In a nation that is seemingly losing its sense of self, its feeling that heroes walk among us, we take just a few minutes this weekend to remember those who have served us. To every member of our armed forces, alive and passed, in combat or support, we thank you for your service. No matter what your job was, we thank you for your service.

My birthday was on Friday, a day which also coincided with my father’s death on the Friday before Memorial Day fifteen years ago. The old bastard was born in 1913, and he and my mother already had four destroyed marriages between them before they married each other–suicide, German anti-aircraft fire, divorce, you name it. I inherited their stories, some of which will appear in a separate post. There’s nothing like growing up with people who have more in common with their ghosts than with each other–or you. Anyway, I figured I’d mosey on down to Golden Gate National Cemetery south of San Francisco and have a little family reunion. It’s like a bad joke–four generations of the Springer family in the same place and same time–and two of them above ground.

Random Rodicks
Memorial Day is the most personal of public holidays. It has transformed into that over the years. Somewhere along the way, between the time it was officially recognized as a day to honor the nation’s war dead and the time it became an obscenely commercialized and busy holiday weekend, Memorial Day became a time to honor the memory of all who passed before us, civilian and military, and who gave our lives meaning. It was an important day not only for families who suffered losses in American wars, but for all families.

What’s Next: Innovation in Newspapers has a photo roundup of Memorial Day front pages.

Angie Felton
This Memorial Day, like nearly every since I’ve known him, my husband will buy a large bunch of flowers. He’ll round up our entire, sleepy-eyed family, load us all in the van for a short drive across town to the park with four bridges and three volleyball courts. In addition to the bridges and fun, there are several monuments at the park. One is a wall that bears the names of every soldier in the state who died or vanished in Vietnam. There is a larger-than-life statue of a soldier cradling a fallen comrade, looking off into the distance, far beyond the plastic slides and picnic grounds. The sculptor did an amazing job, the soldier’s gaze is one of determination, sadness, anger, pain and love all at the same time. It is haunting. Children can’t take it for long and quickly run to the nearby swing set, adults force themselves to linger.

The Outdoor Smorgasbord
To any of my readers who are military veterans or personnel, I wanted to thank you and all the troops who have served the United States in the past, who are serving currently, and who will be serving in the future. I never want to take even one of you for granted and I consider it a privilege to live in a country that is protected by men and women willing to give the ultimate sacrifice.

Fore Left!
Memorial Day makes most Americans think of the fighting men who gave their all for the country but quite often we tend to overlook the war fought right here. Most have seen Emanuel Leutze’s painting of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. How many know the story about the lead oarsman, taken to be Prince Whipple, a black man from a wealthy family in Africa sent to America for education but who instead was sold into slavery? Actually, Whipple wasn’t in the boat that night but did serve valiantly in the war, later being freed and settling in New England with a wife and family.

Terry Hall’s Personal Journal
Thank you for giving me the life that I have. Thank you for my freedom.

The Lady Speaks
This Memorial Day, take time to honor our nation’s veterans of all wars, but also take some time out from the grill and the gardening and the various summer projects you might have to educate someone on the Flag and its handling. Speak up on the proper ways to honor our nation’s heroes, past and present. Talk to your children about why our national symbol and those who died for it must be held in the highest regard and treated with the highest respect.

From what I understand, observe and hear from others, many more Americans are once again (or are beginning) to observe Memorial Day as a national holiday other than a day of vacation and self-absorption. I suppose all Americans know someone serving in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere throughout the world. We, hopefully also know that at any time they could make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, love for their country and those who they are protecting — in addition to the personal sacrifices they and their families already are making.