December 21, 2013

All we have to do to fix the planes / schools is put the best pilots / teachers in the worst situations

Lockheed XFV Salmon, 1954
It's a truism of the Education Reform movement that all we have to do to fix the schools is to put the best teachers in front of the worst students. Unfortunately, due to white racism and white privilege or something, the best teachers somehow keep getting assigned to the schools with the best students. 

The Pentagon has often been tempted to think analogously -- all we have to do to make our worst aircraft actually work is to put our best pilots in them. 

Consider the example of Lockheed's 1950s vertical take off and landing fighter, the XFV, which could theoretically convert any warship into an aircraft carrier. 

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin parasite fighter, 1948
Or McDonnell's 1940s "parasite" mini-fighter, which was designed to be carried in the bomb bays of the slow B-36 nuclear bomber and then released over the Soviet Union to do battle with Red interceptor jets. The B-36 was an early Cold War heavy bomber with immense range and capacity useful in dropping nuclear bombs on sites deep within the Soviet Union. But even in a streamlined version with all the defensive guns removed and four jet engines added to the six propeller engines, it was a sitting duck for Soviet jet interceptors. 

YRF-84F launching from B-36
No American fighters had the range to accompany the B-36, so the Air Force came up with the bright idea of the "parasite fighter," which would hitch a ride with the B-36 until it was time to fight. The Pentagon commissioned the XF-85 mini-fighters that could fit inside the B-36 until it's time for a dogfight. Won't Ivan be surprised when a tiny fighter jet pops out of the big fat prey!

The Air Force also tried hauling an F-84 fighter-bomber externally under the B-36 to provide protection and/or fly ahead to drop a nuclear bomb whose shockwave the B-36 would be too slow to get away from.

All these concepts had similar fundamental problems: Taking off was a challenge that could likely be managed, but landing / reattaching a short range fighter in a vast hostile expanse (the ocean or Soviet airspace) was both essential and extremely tricky. 

A successful modern VTOL like the British Harriers comes back down where it took off by diverting its jet blast downward so the pilot is facing forward and can see the surface below him. But Lockheed wasn't close to that technology in the 1950s, so it proposed landing rather like parallel parking a car: the pilot's seat faced straight up into the sky, so the pilot just had to look over his shoulder a lot and carefully gauge how high he was off the deck. Test pilots spent some time trying to back down onto clouds for practice, but found the prospect of landing backwards on a deck rolling up and down on the waves to be daunting. 

Similarly, the various attempts to mate the B-36 back up with their parasite fighters proved very, very hard. Outstanding fighter pilots could sort of pull it off in smooth weather.

So, one solution to these problems would be to take the Navy and Air Force's absolute best pilots and assign them to these daunting challenges. But the problem with that was that all these concept fighters were slower than the enemy's conventional fighters they were supposed to dogfight with, so the attrition rate among America's best pilots would have been horrific, both in combat and accidents.

But even that assumes you could get the best pilots to volunteer to fly underpowered death traps.

You can get many of them to volunteer in peacetime to be test pilots and risk their lives over Edwards AFB or Area 51 in the latest brainstorms.

But the best pilots prefer to go to war flying the best all-around planes. In the movie Top Gun, for example, Tom Cruise flies an F-14 Tomcat, a highly successful Navy fighter with a high chance of shooting down the enemy relative to the F-14's chance of being shot down or crashing due to the difficulty of flying it. The Top Gun school was built on the premise of giving the most promising pupils the best teachers and assistance, which is how basically all successful educational institutions in history have operated from the days when Socrates taught Plato and Plato taught Aristotle.

The analogy to the basic assumptions of educational reform -- all we have to do is make the best teachers teach the worst students -- seems pretty obvious. The Pentagon could have ordered its best pilots to fly the Salmon and the Goblin in combat, but it would soon have started to run out of its best pilots.

57 comments:

Discard said...

Throwing good money (pilots, teachers) after bad (aircraft, students). Nothing new. Also known as doubling down.

I have always hated those "SuperTeacher Turns the Dregs into Stars" stories. I heard from a teacher at Garfield High School that famed Calculus teacher Jaime Escalante did not turn gang-bangs into scholars, he simply provided good instruction to that small fraction who could make use of it.

Buck Turgidson said...

"If the pilots good, see, if he's sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low, hee-hee, you ought to see it sometime, and it's a sight, a big plane, like a 52, jet exhaust, vroom! It's like like flying chickens in the barnyard! Ha-ha! Has he got a chance! Hell ya . . ."
htt://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yu38kXw7lk

Sulla said...

Wow, I remember having a book with a color illustration of the Goblin when I was a kid. We lived near to Glenview NAS and the sky was always full of Panthers, Cougars, and for some reason Flying Boxcars. Due to the number of Navy and civilian personnel who lived in our town and worked at the base we went on several Cub Scout field trips there and got to go into the gondola of a blimp and also do a breathtaking trip in a parachute harness down a steep ramp into a deep pool of water that was supposed to simulate an emergency water landing in the sea.

The Navy also donated the mostly empty and canopy-less hulk of a Chance Vought Cutlass for installation in our downtown park. It was really cool to sit in the seat and look out through the super thick plexiglass windscreen and pretend we were dueling with commie Migs.

I don't think the Cutlass would have done too well in actual combat as it had a tendency to crash all by itself a lot. No wonder the Navy was giving them away in the 1950's.

I loved all the X-planes, Air Force century series, and Navy fighters of that era and had models of many of them hanging from the ceiling of my room.

It seems to me there is something not quite right about the one size fits most F-35. I fear it will be an expensive failure and its single engine is probably not optimal for long flights over water from carriers. Seems like a step down from the twin engine Tomcats and Hornets in terms of pilot survivability after battle damage.

Anonymous said...

Have the best coaches teach grammar school kids how to do jumping jacks.

Have the best chefs teach home econ class how to bake cookies.

Have the best mathematicians teach grade school kids how to add and subtract.

Have the best doctors treat patients for foot sore.

Have the best musicians teach a rudimentary class on music in elementary school.

Sounds like the Cultural Revolution. Have college professors raise pigs on the farm.

Great use of resources.

But most likely, some elite school grads will spend a year or two in some crappy school and use it as something to put down on their resume to find better jobs. It just looks good: I worked with poor kids cuz I care soooo much.
It's like Obama's shtick as a 'community organizer' when he spent most of his time being organized by Jews who cleared the path for him.

2Degrees said...

New Zealand splits it schools up by decile and the lower the decile the more money the government ploughs into it. They try to bribe good teachers into working in bad schools. Guess how effective that is in raising standards.

No one in their right mind sends their kids to a low decile and school and no one in their right mind works in one.

The whites (Pakeha) are leaving the low decile schools in droves. Solution? Abolish the decile system.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/108511/'white-flight'-claim-over-low-decile-schools

In low decile schools the kids are not, apparently, even fed. If you can't feed'em, don't breed'em.

http://www.3news.co.nz/Lunchbox-differences-in-decile-1-and-decile-10-schools/tabid/817/articleID/269617/Default.aspx

Apparently, if the tax payer buys them fruit, all will be well.

MKP said...

Bayard Sartoris (the younger one) was one of the USA's best fighter pilots during and after WWI. He died test-flying some experimental jet with inversely operational wings. I can't recall if it was actually a military-sanctioned thing, though.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I think I see the system problem. If only the teachers in the worst schools were nuclear rocket scientists flying a B-36 with its own onboard atomic powerplant and tons of lead shielding!

Harry Baldwin said...

I have a book on my shelf, "The World's Worst Aircraft," by Bill Yenne, 1990. It has photos and descriptions of a number of poorly thought-out aircraft designs.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I clicked on the link to pay by credit card or paypal, but there was no paypal option. I had to abort the huge donation I was going to send you.

jody said...

this does not work in enterprise sized organizations of course, steve is correct. as he points out, what you want to do is take the prospects with the most potential and match them up with the best mentors. that is how you achieve maximum performance.

but in scenarios of more limited scope, you can certainly improve the performance of the bottom group. take the worst team in a sports league, and hire a very good coach, and you WILL get a better performance out of that team over a 2 to 3 year period. you won't transform the worst team into the best team but they won't be the worst team anymore.

the key difference here being that the performers in this case are motivated to perform, and have some modicum of talent in the first place. you're never going to take vince lombardi to the local high school and after 9 months of gym class, have turned a random collection of teenage boys into a pretty good tackle football team that's ready to compete in the state playoffs. half of them don't care and don't even want to go to gym class. this is the scenario faced by the US education system.

canspeccy said...

Why are bad schools bad?

Are the kids dumb?

Are the teachers dumb?

Or is it chiefly that there is a lack of discipline?

When I was a kid in England many decades ago, there were no ADHD students. Any student with a propensity for acting up was called out to the front of the class and wacked on the hand with a wooden ruler — not necessarily with the flat side of the ruler, and not necessarily on the palm side of the hand.

And teachers with any charisma used it as ruthlessly as necessary to quell the slightest sign of disrespect or inattention.

In that era, many kids from the working class rose, through innate intelligence and a meritocratic school system to important roles in society.

Today, it seems, bright kids from poor neighborhoods are sacrificed to a rule of anti-meritocracy and the idea that instilling self-esteem in the hearts of the most abysmally ignorant creatures on the face of the earth, rather than a respect for, and desire to, attain knowledge, is somehow doing them a favor.

Foreign Expert said...

It's like like flying chickens in the barnyard!

My Japanese informants tell me this should be FRYing chickens in the barnyard.

Anonymous said...

But the problem with that was that all these concept fighters were slower than the enemy's conventional fighters they were supposed to dogfight with, so the attrition rate among America's best pilots would have been horrific, both in combat and accidents.

You're totally missing the point, dude. The best pilots would turn the planes into the best planes. Isn't it obvious? Those slower planes will become faster with the right pilot and right paint job. You just don't get it...

But the best pilots prefer to go to war flying the best all-around planes.

That's soooo rayciss!!!

Anonymous said...

So what's the answer, Steve?

Auntie Analogue said...


Parasite fighter? Google "Curtiss F9C," and hold on to your dirigibles.

Titus Didius Tacitus said...

I couldn't laugh off a friend's guilt and sweet relief a month after she "sold out" (her words) and went to a top flight private school where, she raved: "the kids are smart! And they want to learn!"

She was excited every day by quick, agile minds eager and able to make the best use of her teaching skills.

From the outside it would look like she had done some resume-padding, but she had really been young and stupidly idealistic.

Earning a tasty multiple of what she used to earn teaching in a poor school was nice. But for two years that had not gotten her to move.

The reason she was never going to go back was that she was a teacher and she wanted to teach.

She had something the school needed, and the school had something she needed: teachable pupils.

Once a teacher like that "sells out" for the thrill of teaching pupils who are not dumb, truculent, culturally hostile, badly behaved and upsetting, and uninterested in learning anything; and once they have discovered how nice it is to have a good new car and a much better apartment in a good area, good luck getting them to go back, if you're using means less coercive than a court order enforced by armed men.

Steve Sailer said...

Good coaches can matter a lot in high school, although they eventually convert their reputations for good coaching into good recruiting.

Discard said...

OK, now I remember! Econ101, and comparative advantage. Yes, the best pilot can get the most out of a mediocre airplane, but usually not that much more than an average pilot could. OTOH, that same best pilot could get far more out of the best plane than the average pilot.
I've long thought that Joe Foss was the greatest ace America ever had. He shot down 26 Japanese in 1942, before they lost most of their prewar pilots, and he did it with an F4F Wildcat. Imagine what he could have done with an F4U Corsair.

Dave Pinsen said...

Vince Lombardi did coach high school football - at St. Cecilia's in Englewood, NJ.

Titus Didius Tacitus said...

canspeccy: "Why are bad schools bad?

Are the kids dumb?"

That'll do it. Brutish like their education-averse parents helps too.

canspeccy: "Are the teachers dumb?"

I've known some that very much weren't.

canspeccy: "Or is it chiefly that there is a lack of discipline?"

There's a finite amount of discipline you can expect to see created by a short, slender, un-muscular, unassertive nice-white-lady.

Or if having the right qualities to create discipline in those who are not inclined to accept it is part of what we mean by a "good" teacher, then here's a solution that should work for everyone: palm a selection of the "bad" teachers off on the best schools.

I doubt the top schools will complain much. It's amazing how nice, well-disciplined, curious and highly intelligent pupils can thrive under the ministrations of the right "bad" teacher.

That said, you make valid points.

Anonymous said...

Or is it chiefly that there is a lack of discipline?

When I was a kid in England many decades ago, there were no ADHD students. Any student with a propensity for acting up was called out to the front of the class and wacked on the hand with a wooden ruler — not necessarily with the flat side of the ruler, and not necessarily on the palm side of the hand.

And teachers with any charisma used it as ruthlessly as necessary to quell the slightest sign of disrespect or inattention.

In that era, many kids from the working class rose, through innate intelligence and a meritocratic school system to important roles in society.

Today, it seems, bright kids from poor neighborhoods are sacrificed to a rule of anti-meritocracy and the idea that instilling self-esteem in the hearts of the most abysmally ignorant creatures on the face of the earth, rather than a respect for, and desire to, attain knowledge, is somehow doing them a favor.


Pink Floyd and specifically Roger Waters have a lot to answer for.

Anonymous said...

In the business world this is called throwing good money after bad.

Anonymous said...

"Taking off was a challenge that could likely be managed, but landing / reattaching a short range fighter in a vast hostile expanse (the ocean or Soviet airspace) was both essential and extremely tricky. "

Ha. At B-school we had a submarine commander who introduced his role thusly:

To ensure number of submerges equals number of emerges.

Gilbert P.

guest007 said...

The difference in educational philosophy is between the people (both liberal and conservative) who believe you can force students to learn and those to know that you cannot force someone to learn who is not interested.

People who believe that students can be forced to learn support crazy schemes such as forcing teachers to teach in bad schools (liberals) or more discipline such as beating students (conservatives) until the learning improves.

The second group understands that no matter what a school/teacher/program does, some students will fail. A good example would be to ask what percentage of students are capable of learning calculus or Mandarin Chinese. Image how schools would be organized with the understanding that the point is to identify students' ability and to track them by that ability instead of believing all students can learn calculus

Anonymous said...

http://www.businessinsider.com/a-tale-of-two-rushes-theres-gold-in-them-there-wells-2013-12?utm

roundeye said...

Sulla:

Were you there when the Vulcan crashed? I barely remembrr it.

Art Deco said...

I think you have in your notion of 'the best' teachers conflated the most intelligent or intellectual teachers with the most effective teachers. Intelligence or intellectuality might be well-correlated with pedagogic effectiveness, but these are not the same things.

If you do not mind a personal account: of the three dozen or so college teachers in whose classes I sat, there was a grand total of one (1) who was as pedagogically effective as the best high school teachers I had. That particular college teacher was a rank-and-file academic who published about three papers between 1966 and 2006. At his institution, there was very little correlation between academic status and teaching talent: you were just as well off with visiting and adjunct faculty as you were with the regular faculty (and about 3/4 of the regular faculty were satisfactory instructors).

You need people who have a vocation to teaching the unintelligent. Incorrigibles you likely just have to put on ice, but there is variation among teachers in their capacity to handle difficult youngsters, and that is a real skill.

Human capital is human capital, even if the subject acquiring it is slow.

Anonymous said...

Discard,

Thank you for mentioning Joe Foss.

I just read his Wikipedia biography, and it made my day.

Anonymous said...

Steve: But the best pilots prefer to go to war flying the best all-around planes.

I know at least two guys that resigned from the USAF rather than be assigned to F-117's. One had spent the previous 7 years in the F-16 and one in the F-15. There were other issues - most significantly the dreaded two-years as a staff puke that would have come immediately after the F-117 assignment.

But (at least as of 20 years ago), fighter pilots viewed the F-117 as what it is: a subsonic bomber. Both guys figured if their reward for doing well in fighters was to fly straight-and-level in a slow bomber, they might as fly straight-and-level in an airliner and get paid better. One is with American Airlines and one is with Delta.

CanSpeccy said...

There's a finite amount of discipline you can expect to see created by a short, slender, un-muscular, unassertive nice-white-lady.

Absolutely.

But beyond the age of seven, I never had a nice lady teacher, white, black or kharki.

The teachers that left the most vivid impressions included a rather large guy who played wing forward for the county rugby team and who's bellow when angered could be heard from one end of the school to the other, a headmaster with a Cambridge double first in math and moral philosophy who could silence one with a riddle the answer to which might dawn only sometime in middle-age, and a biology teacher whose acid sarcasm would have blistered the hide of a rhinoceros.

Anonymous said...

"When I was a kid in England many decades ago, there were no ADHD students. Any student with a propensity for acting up was called out to the front of the class and wacked on the hand with a wooden ruler — not necessarily with the flat side of the ruler, and not necessarily on the palm side of the hand." - ADHD still existed, but violence of the sort is atleast minimally effective in convincing people to develop coping mechanisms to deal with it, atleast for most people.

jody said...

"Vince Lombardi did coach high school football - at St. Cecilia's in Englewood, NJ."

never said he didn't. what i said was, can you take vince lombardi to an average high school with average, fat slob kids who prefer video games and cell phones and drinking coke, which is what the majority of kids are like in 2013, and in 2 or 3 years, turn them into a football team that competes with the usual state powerhouses?

no recruiting here, please. turn the available local raw material into a very good high school football team, using just vince lombardi magic.

it won't happen.

no general statements about coaching at the high school level were implied. of course there are powerhouse high school teams, coached by the same guy for 10 or 20 years. that's how they get that way. one guy way better than the other guys in the state. hint - it mainly relies on recruiting. word gets out, talent starts moving towards the program, championships start stacking up.

we observe the same process at the high school level that exists at every other level. you set up some program, whether it's a national merit scholar factory type high school or a football factory type high school, and the talent starts moving there. shipping in tons of 'not raw material' type students will ruin the program, it won't matter who the teachers or coaches are. you aren't pumping out tons national merit scholars with the raw material of detroit just by sending them to thomas jefferson high school for science and technology. in fact, you'll end up ruining the place.

Gringo said...

Unfortunately, due to white racism and white privilege or something, the best teachers somehow keep getting assigned to the schools with the best students.

Low-performing schools have a higher proportion of beginning teachers compared to higher-performing schools. Of the beginning teachers at low-performing schools who have proved their competence, many or even most will transfer to higher-performing schools.

There is a reason why low-performing schools always have more beginning teachers. They replace those who quit to go to higher-performing schools.

[All this may have already been obvious.]

Mr. Anon said...

"The B-36 was an early Cold War heavy bomber with immense range and capacity useful in dropping nuclear bombs on sites deep within the Soviet Union."

I once saw a B-36, at the Wright-Patterson Air-Force Museum in Dayton. In its' sheer size, it is an awe inspiring sight. It is inside too, under a roof, and it makes the B-52 next to it look small.

This country invested an enormous amount of money, talent, and effort in megadeath technology. And yet we will ultimately be undone by anchor-babies and food-stamps. Perhaps we invested unwisely.

pat said...

Of course the idea of expending the best teachers on the worst students is immoral as well as bad economics.

The reverse of the aphorism 'Those who can't teach' is that really good teachers can very well do something else. Something that contributes more to society.

When I notice that a salesclerk is intelligent I feel sad. Salesclerks should be smart enough to make change, answer simple questions - and no smarter. People who are actually intelligent should not work as sales clerks or elementary school teachers.

I taught college and graduate school for twenty years or more. But never full time. Teaching is fun. It's an indulgence. It's a form of socializing but the teacher gets an unequal role. You get to bloviate and the kiddies have to listen.

I agree we should search for Superman. We should comb all our schools for the best teachers and move them into other fields. Take the top 5% of all math or science teachers and put them in aerospace. Maybe that would get us to Mars.

The reason there is bad school behavior is because the students have caught on the fact that we are desperate to have them learn. They take advantage. We should reverse it. Just kick the bad kids out and organize them into chain gangs who pick up litter beside the freeways.

It is important for the kid to get a high school diploma but less so for society. Screw them. If a kid talks in class - kick him out or at least make him mop the school halls. If you deny education to someone they value it more. As it is now the students think society is so concerned to see them graduate they think they can get away with anything.

We should realize that marginal students are doomed to be criminals and/or welfare recipients no matter what we do. The wisest policy is to get them out of the way ASAP.

If you want black 15 year olds to try harder to stay in high school, make the alternative to high school four years of picking up highway litter.

For the Christmas season I don my Scrooge persona.

Albertosaurus

PS:
Yesterday I asked for more planes and less golf. Answered prayers.

Anonymous said...

According to this AP "news" article, the achievement gap is actually due to funding differentials:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/latino-academic-achievement-gap-persists-21304309

As Hispanics surpass white Californians in population next year, the state becomes a potential model for the rest of the country, which is going through a slower but similar demographic shift.

But when it comes to how California is educating students of color, many say the state serves as a model of what not to do.

In California, 52 percent of the state's 6 million school children are Hispanic, just 26 percent are white. And Hispanic students in general are getting worse educations than their white peers. Their class sizes are larger, course offerings are fewer and funding is lower.

The consequence is obvious: lower achievement.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is that education is not generally viewed as an investment for public benefit, notwithstanding the fact that liberals like calling every outlay of public funds an "investment."

The question guiding education policy should be, "How do we impart knowledge in a way that maximizes the general welfare?"

Instead, the focus is on education as a Civil Right, a policy intervention that is both a reflection of, and an instrument for, blank-slate egalitarianism.

The best teachers should have the best students because the benefit to society of incrementally improving the education of the next Edison is orders of magnitude greater than the public benefit of having a more numerate cashier at Wal-Mart.

In any case, matching good teachers with bad students ensures that the lack of intelligence and curiosity of the students will be a limiting factor, making the more advanced skills of good teachers nugatory. It doesn't matter if you're a good calculus teacher if your students can't do basic arithmetic.

(This is not even considering the fact that the next Edison probably comes from the upper-middle class anyway, and therefore doesn't need as much government support as his GI-Bill-era predecessors.)

In general, it seems that liberals of previous generations were more inclined to view government spending as a genuine investment. Now it's all just ideological fixations and who-whom client groups.

ricpic said...

Wow, it must be great to be a military-industrial complex insider. You can not only kick around ideas that even on cursory examination are deeply flawed, you can go out and build multimillion prototypes that confirm your stupidity in concrete terms. So much fun to play with other peoples' money, lots and lots of it. And when anyone dares to question the mind boggling waste..."Whatsamatta, you got something' against the defense of our beloved country, bud?!"

Anonymous said...

There were some odd ideas about combat aircraft in the immediate postwar decades.

I once read (in Air & Space, I think) about an incident in which an F6 Hellcat converted into a remotely controlled target drone went rogue in the LA area. The Air Force sent F-89 Scorpions to shoot it down, but the fighters weren't armed with guns because guns were so...WWII. So they fired a bunch of unguided rockets at the drone, unsuccessfully. Fortunately, neither the (eventually) crashed drone nor the rockets raining down on Palmdale caused much damage.

It seems like the sort of LA aerospace story Steve might be interested in.

(The F-89 was also the first fighter equipped with the AIR-2 Genie, an unguided nuclear rocket designed to take out massed Soviet bomber formations.)

Steve Sailer said...

They called it the Stealth Fighter rather than the Stealth Bomber because they wanted to recruit fighter-quality pilots to fly the ungainly thing.

Steve Sailer said...

Oh, wow, I didn't realize who the Medal of Honor at the airport guy in 2002 Joe Foss was. I only knew the name Richard Bong among WWII aces. He died a couple of miles from here in 1945 at Oxford and Satsuma in North Hollywood.

Steve Sailer said...

Coaching quality can make a big difference at high school level, but to get to the top takes recruiting.

Like at my high school, they brought in an outstanding young coach just after I graduated. After about 15 years he won a SoCal championship with Chris Sailer kicking all those field goals, and around then is when he started getting potential NFL quality players.

It's like John Wooden at UCLA -- about 15 years of steady building of a reputation, finally winning a couple of NCAA titles with nobody over 6'5", and then he recruits Kareem from NYC.

Sulla said...

Joe Foss actually did fly the Corsair as commanding officer of VMF-115. No kills flying it though.

The F4F Wildcat had its advantages too. While the Zero was faster and slightly quicker turning it was only armed two thirty caliber machine guns and two extremely slow firing 20mm cannon which were only effective at close range. The Wildcat had six .50 caliber Browning machine guns, self-sealing gas tanks, and an armored cockpit all of which the Zero lacked. The Wildcat could also power dive at a much faster speed than the Zero.

This led American pilots to develop tactics suited to confronting the Zero such as using the "Thatch Weave" with a wingman and also maneuvering their Wildcat formations with the help of ship and/or land based radar into a position so as to quickly dive on Japanese formations from out of the sun and then power climbing away afterwards.

The Wildcat stayed in constant production until the fall of 1945 and was utilized on escort or "jeep" carriers later in the war after the F6F replaced it on the fast fleet carriers.

Sulla said...

The F-117 was a fighter-bomber. Watching videos on the tube of those TV guided "smart" bombs dropped from it on Bagdad during the run up to the first Gulf War was a truly awesome sight at the time.

Discard said...

Sulla: There was no radar on Guadalcanal when Joe Foss was there, there were only guys (coast watchers) hiding on jungle islands who would radio a warning that the Japs were coming. And the first rate Japanese pilots of 1942 knew all about diving out of the sun. Joe Foss was just an incredible fighter pilot who won without the technical advantages of 1943 and '44, against better pilots than Gregory Boyington (28 kills) or Dick Bong (40 kills) faced.
And he was later the Governor of North Dakota (?) and then head of the National Rifle Association. A true badass and friend of Mankind.

Felix M said...

A great teacher and a competent teacher will produce somewhat similar results with indifferent students.

But the great teacher will produce spectacular results with really talented students. So the issue is whether our society really wants great mathematicians, scientists or whatever.

Actually, some teachers will be better with more problematic students than with talented kids. A retired Master Sergeant who likes kids and knows a bit of math will be much better with a tough class than a teacher who can get smart kids winning math olympiads.

BTW, ricpic thinks it'd be fun to work in the military-industrial complex: you can make clear mistakes without recrimination and accuse your opponents of lack of patriotism.

Reminds me when I worked in another area of government. I opposed a policy because it was just too complicated to work. But I was overruled ("It's necessary to ensure equitable outcomes".) And within a year the agency found it necessary to unstitch the glitch.

RonMexico said...

Jody said: "never said he didn't. what i said was, can you take vince lombardi to an average high school with average, fat slob kids who prefer video games and cell phones and drinking coke, which is what the majority of kids are like in 2013, and in 2 or 3 years, turn them into a football team that competes with the usual state powerhouses?

no recruiting here, please. turn the available local raw material into a very good high school football team, using just vince lombardi magic.

it won't happen."

This is why state athletic federations/associations have divisions. Kids that play HS football are not fat slobs preferring Madden to the real thing. Those kids don't tryout. Weight training at 6:30 am and 2-a-days during the heat of August don't appeal to fat slobs. HS football is a commitment that should be respected, not diminished. And, yes, Lombardi, or Landry, or Shula, et. al., could create a winner in 2-3 years, no magic needed.


canspeccy said...

Anonymous said, re: England in the 1950's:
ADHD still existed, but violence of the sort [i.e., wacking a child across the nuckles with a ruler] is at least minimally effective in convincing people to develop coping mechanisms to deal with it, atleast for most people.

Of course there was no such term as ADHD known in the 1950's. There were simply kids with a discipline problem. I was undoubtedly one of them and, if subjected to the modern American regime, I would no doubt have been put on ritalin, which could well have induced bipolar disorder, which would have led to treatment with up to ten other drugs, which would have left me a total wreck.

Instead, I was merely disciplined sufficiently to complete secondary school, albeit with generally poor grades, and enter a university where I studied something I found so incredibly fascinating that I graduated with the faculty prize.

Of course, in those days, in England, a teacher did not have to worry when disciplining a child, that they might be beaten up, or worse, after school by an outraged parent.

David Davenport said...

"All we have to do to fix the planes / schools is put the best pilots / teachers in the worst situations"

Throwing good money (pilots, teachers) after bad (aircraft, students). Nothing new. Also known as doubling down.

Wrong. The analogy between flying eXperimental -- notice the "X' designations -- aircraft and American education mass market nostrums is incorrect. Here's why:

(1) Probably only two or three of each of those aircraft were built. When testing revealed the aircraft to be conceptual failures, the projects were cancelled. Checking Wikipedia, I see that Lockheed only ever built ONE (1) XFV tailsitter and McDonnell apparently built two Goblins. The Goblin project was cancelled in 1949. The tailsitter project was cancelled in 1955. But, the tailsitter concept has come back. Some smaller firm is offering a small unmanned air vehicle -- a drone -- in the tailsitter format. I can't find the link just now.

This is different from attempts to foist nostrums such as so-called Common Core on schools all over America without rigorous testing of the concept.

(2) By definition, "X" aircraft are in an unrefined state of development. Therefore an X plane may be unreliable and hard to control in flight. Therefore only very good pilots may be able to fly an X plane. However, since only onesies and twosies or threesies of aircraft such as the Goblin or the XYZ Tailsitter were or are ever built, only tiny fractions of the "best" or "very good" Navy and Air Force pilots are ever called upon to fly such experimental aircraft.

The hope is that early test flights are promising, then controlability and reliability of the aircraft can be refined and improved before going into mass production.

Again, the analogy to mass market American public education fails.

By the way, both the Harrier prototype, which was the Hawker Siddeley P-something, which orginaly flew in 1960, and NASA's X-15, were hard to control. These successful X projects had there share of naysayers early on.

From Wikipedia: Design work on the P.1127 was formally started in 1957 by Sir Sydney Camm, Ralph Hooper of Hawker Aircraft and Stanley Hooker (later Sir Stanley Hooker) of the Bristol Engine Company.[6] The close cooperation between Hawker, the airframe company, and Bristol, the engine company, was viewed by project engineer Gordon Lewis as one of the key factors that allowed the development of the Harrier to continue in spite of technical obstacles and political setbacks.[7]

Hmm, Lockheed Tailsitter cancelled in 1955, P1127 design work started in 1957. A learning process?

Some of you iSteve peepul are the kind of yokels who laughed at the Wright brothers

Anonymous said...

"This led American pilots to develop tactics suited to confronting the Zero such as using the "Thatch Weave"

A bit of smarts applied to tactics by those in the arena can go a long way. The Wildcat was inferior in many ways to the Zero, yet at the crucial battle of Midway, due to the Thach weave, 6 hopelessly outnumbered Wildcats lead by Thach fought about 20 Zeros, for a loss of 1 Wildcat against a loss of 3 Zeros. And this with the Wildcat pilots not particularly practiced in the weave.

"Tactics Over Technology: The Thach Weave" (Extract from "United States Naval Fighters of World War II in Action", Michael O'Leary, 1980.)



"Thach Weave: The Life of Jimmie Thach", Steve Ewing:

"...convinced that his Wildcat was no match for Japan's formidable Zero, found a way to give his squadron a fighting chance. ... Throughout his forty-year career, Thach provided answers to multiple challenges facing the Navy, and his ideas were implemented service wide."



Of course IQ uniformly distributed across a society surely can't matter:

"Tactical Lesson of Midway: The Thach Weave", Naval History Block, U.S. Naval Institute, Robert J. Cressman, May 2009:

"“Our planes and our pilots, if properly handled,” Flatley declared, “are more than a match for the enemy. .... Work out tactics on that basis. We should be able to out smart him…”

... Thach’s work, Lundstrom notes, “offered the first steps in providing the Navy’s fighter pilots concrete tactics to counter fighters with superior speed and maneuverability.”"




Wikipedia's article on the Thach Weave.

Anonymous said...

Off Topic but I was reminded of when I was assigned to Naval Safety Center Norfolk. Our Harrier Rep, a hilarious Marine, recounted his experience aboard https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Air_Lines_Flight_1288

One of his pals said he should have held out for more than the paltry check being robo-issued. Our REP said he'd have a tough time convincing anyone he'd suffered trauma watching strangers die when half his fellow harrier buddies were killed flying the same jet he had served in.
A few of the Marines in my class were upset to be assigned "JETS"(Harriers)because they had performed "too well" in primary flight training. (They wanted to fly helicopters)

Sulla said...

@Discard

Actually the 1st MarDiv landed in August of 1942 with two types of ground radar which they had been training with since 1941. The SCR-270 long range radar and the SCR-268 anti-aircraft artillery control radar.

The long range radar worked pretty well except when Japanese aircraft attacked from the south or southwest and were screened by the mountains and hills.

The SCR-268 triple-A radar worked less well. Also, the newest of the American destroyers that were deployed on patrol in The Slot had state of the art radar.

This of course is not to take away anything from the inestimably brave coast watchers who were deployed along for hundreds of miles further up the archipelago.

Sulla said...

@roundeye

The Vulcan we had in the park was not a wrecked one but a decommissioned airframe without engines and hydraulics.

Sulla said...

@roundeye

Make that Cutlass not Vulcan.

Anonymous said...

The reverse of the aphorism 'Those who can't teach' is that really good teachers can very well do something else. Something that contributes more to society.

So basically Bernoulli was just wasting his time with Euler, and Socrates could have contributed far more to society than to have taught Plato.

I like a lot of your ideas Pat and I have always enjoyed reading your comments, but one should not dismiss the contributions a great teacher can make. A great teacher is a force multiplier.

The ability to teach well, to hold interest, to pose the right questions, to generate a zeal to ferret out the truth, to lay the foundational mental pathways early in life so that the student will not spend the rest of their life having to unlearn an epicyclic view of the world - this is far from distributed uniformly in those with high IQ. Amongst my professors, all of whom most likely have similar IQs, there were probably only a 10th of whom I would call great at teaching. Some were irredeemebly hopeless.

In a lot of ways, taking these great teachers away from what they do best is like eating your seed grain. In that respect it shares a lot with the leftist obsession in sentencing highly intelligent women to labor in academia, the business world, the military, indeed anything but labor, i.e. birthing children, that might result in the next generation being better than the current one.

Discard said...

Sulla: I don't recall ever reading about the Marines landing on Guadalcanal having radar, but I'll accept your story. (Jeeze, what else have I forgotten?)

Sulla said...

@Discard

The SCR-270 unit located at Opana Point on Oahu was the one where two privates famously spotted and reported a "large formation" of initial Japanese attack aircraft approaching from the north at 0702 hours December 7th from 130 miles out, but which unfortunately was interpreted by the duty officer back at Fort Shafter as an expected flight of six B-17s due from the mainland.