Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Friday, April 07, 2017: Nice day for hiking/digging about in the woods – but it was briskly chilly;

Giraffe tries to eat leaves off tree on the wall

Some thought my gif in the last blog (above) -- as a giraffe tried to eat artwork trees -- reflected badly on the intelligence of giraffes. In fact, one griper sent in this indignant selfie ... Sorry.


Below: So you think the world is moving too fast for you, eh? 

Baby follows toy with eyes

Friday, April 07, 2017: Nice day for hiking/digging about in the woods – but it was briskly chilly; I’m talkin’ snow showers in the mountains type brisk. I even had a head-cracking-sized limb come down not all that far from me. Winds should calm down a tad by tomorrow. We will be seeing night temps in the upper 30s. Gardens should be safe. 

THE BUZZ OVER THE GROVE: I hope I’m not breaking any sort of national security protocols but there’s been a load of buzzing going on over 539 way, twixt Warren Grove and Little Egg Harbor.

The big buzz –more of a dull roar – has been a slew of fighter jets practicing fighter-jet type maneuvers over at the 177th’s gunnery range, about a mile SE of Lucille’s Dinner in “The Grove.”

That air-to-ground range has huge shoot-through bulls-eye targets for the jets and A10s to fire upon. The targets are the size of a barn’s side. I guess they have barn’s in the Middle East, or over in Asia, i.e. Afghanistan.  

GEOGRAPHY ASIDE (This data should be internalized by now since it rules the current world as we know it):

To be geographically accurate for “Jeopardy” or the likes, Afghanistan is properly in Asia. In fact, it extends as far north as Central Asia. It is definitely not in the atlas-ed Middle East. In spirit, it is closer to the India subcontinent. But that “spirit” thing is a whole other non-geographical dimension.

These are the true Middle East countries: Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain.

Things get dicey when you use the term Greater Middle East. It's a purely geo-political term, created during the second administration of GW (Bush). It's meant to denote various countries loosely bound by the "Muslim World" moniker. It includes non Middle East nations, including Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

That tour taken, it's back to the fighter-friendly skies of Warren Grove.

Folks residing anywhere within sound-range of that air space can confirm that things have been hopping -- up above -- of late.

I’ve oft written – and not one bit facetiously -- that you can gauge world tensions by the number and intensity of flights over the 177th’s Fighter Wing gunnery range, New Jersey Air National Guard, which hosts armed aircraft from as far away as Pittsburgh, Baltimore, even Connecticut. These are primarily daytime flights. Constant night flights and it's lights-out hairy in the world. 

(Above/below: 177th fw:  An F-16C Fighting Falcon from the New Jersey Air National Guard's)

It was quite noisy out there today; sounding more so due to west winds blowing the aircraft and gunnery sounds eastward, toward populated areas. Yes, winds can blow sound.

While National Guard air action tends to be briskest early in the month and again late in the month – as the flight crews work in their mandatory hours – any enhanced live firing practice taking place (for many moons to come) is surely in response to touchy world conditions.

There is a parking area near the entrance to the range if you want to get a gander at what's shootin' out there. Obviously, you will not pass through the gate unless you're there on very official business. 

For a spooky non-government (!) read of nuclear (world) war threats, check out defconwarningsystem.com.

DRONING ON: I offer this somewhat spooky lead-in to note some other sounds issuing forth from that same sky zone, namely drones – droning on for hours on end. The drone maneuvers seemingly began a couple weeks back. By the sounds of it, the flying goes on and on; the buzzing sounding a bit like a distant chain saw ... or a huge remote airplane, like the small tethered ones we used to fly back in the day.

Now, from what I've heard, this drone practice is not necessarily military, though who's to say. I even wrote how the likes of Amazon is looking to perfect drone deliveries, mainly to distribution points -- not your front door just yet.

I hope to get over and take some videos of these unmanned aerial vehicles in action. 

Below: Imagine ordering something from Amazon and having it arrive in under an hour? Freaky real, especially with NJ being home to a couple Amazon "fulfillment centers" in Middlesex County and Burlington County.  

Below: This display drone, being displayed at the gunnery range is called domestic but looks a tad more, uh, aggressive.


Previous SP story ... 

Warren Grove Gunnery Range to Be Domestic Drone Test Site

LoBiondo Says Project Will Help Economy Soar

Whether you’re boring your friends with a lengthy dull story using a monotonous tone, or you’re the CIA launching a missile attack on terrorists from an MQ-1 Predator flying over Yemen, the word “drone” does not always have to be a bad thing. That is according to Congressman Frank LoBiondo (N.J.-2nd), who reported to The SandPaper this week that Warren Grove Gunnery Range has been selected as one of many test sites to establish the Federal Aviation Administration protocols for the use of domestic drone technology.

“That was part of our selling point in the application because we may be the only one in the country that has restricted military airspace that’s directly adjacent to domestic airspace, so this is very important for integration and to be able to do full testing,” said LoBiondo. “Warren Grove provides us with the opportunity of sort of a land-based military restricted airspace, and we have the military restricted airspace right off the coast, so all of it joins in and provides something that they are very interested in making sure that they can explore.”

Domestic drones have nothing to do with the lethal variety used overseas and controlled by intelligence agencies. In fact, they have a different name – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) – from their Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) counterpart. The UAS comes in all sizes, those of the handheld variety to larger versions, and the details of which types the protocols established by upcoming testing will help to integrate have yet to be determined.

“The test sites have been identified and chosen by the FAA, and exactly how they will proceed – that’s what’s being worked on now. I can’t tell you the size of the drones; the frequency; the rapidity; the scope. None of that exists. It’s not that I don’t want to tell somebody; we don’t have that. The whole idea is to have these six test sites to develop a protocol to safely and securely integrate it into the domestic airspace.”

New Jersey joined Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in the only bi-state application of the two dozen submitted to fulfill the six-site quota of the test site program detailed within the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 as was directed by Congress. The state had Warren Grove, the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township and Atlantic City International Airport to offer and worked with Gov. Christie’s office and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to form a symbiotic partnership that will include making use of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the latter’s state.

“The FAA encouraged applications to be one of the test sites but they also encouraged us for our ‘jointness,’ or that we’re broader than an individual state. We felt that we had an extremely strong, very unique application, which proves to be true.”

On Dec. 30, the FAA announced the joint application was one of the six approved, the others being Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and Texas. Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and to identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas at test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey, according to the FAA.

New Jersey will also be the main data hub of the entire testing program, which FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township will be used for. Rutgers University will also be teaming up with Virginia Tech as part of the contract.

Drone testing is nothing new for Rutgers University – or for the Warren Grove Gunnery Range, for that matter, its acreage nestled west of the Garden State Parkway in the Pygmy Pine Plains where the trees never grow above 5 feet. Military drones first arrived there in 2009, when an experienced Minnesota Army National Guard unit that had flown drones over Iraq came to train New Jersey Army National Guard soldiers.

David Nothstein of South Shore Drive in Little Egg Harbor Township recalls hearing those drones during the past few years from his home near the Warren Grove Gunnery Range.

“It sounded like a lawnmower in the sky,” said Nothstein. “You knew they were drones; you can’t mistake them. You could see them, you could hear them, and they were flying up there for hours and hours. It’s not like the jets that come by and fly for 10, 15, 20 minutes. The drones, they could be there for an hour with each test.”

LoBiondo views being part of the project as a huge opportunity for New Jersey economically, and the possibilities, said the Congressman, go beyond the limits of the sky.

Medically, an organ donor in Atlanta could have his or her organ transported much more quickly to New York, for example, saving the time it would take using an airport and, hopefully, a life.

Search-and-rescue operations could be aided through the use of a UAS, said LoBiondo. “There was an incident from out west where a woman had wandered away from home with either Alzheimer’s or dementia. A local sheriff’s department collected a team of volunteers a couple-hundred strong. They were not able to locate the woman. They got a waiver to put a UAS up with infrared, and within a half-hour they identified where the woman was and saved her life in freezing temperatures.”

Commercial applications include examples from companies such as Amazon, which has already mentioned plans to possibly use UAS’s for small-package delivery.

Agriculturally, farmers could use flying surveyors to identify what portion – 500 out of 5,000 acres, for example – of their land actually requires a pesticide at a given time, saving financially and environmentally.

Shore area governments, for example, could benefit from the technology’s surveying potential as a way to gauge beach erosion following a nor’easter or hurricane and apply the proper strategy to rebuild the berm through each municipality’s public works department. Concordantly, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could do the same on a larger scale for beach fill projects at a fraction of the cost it spends currently.

“We’ll be looking for a lot of ideas,” said LoBiondo. “The applications were all very thoughtful, but it’s a wonderful partnership and collaboration that we’ve made together (with Virginia) that I think is the strongest in the country, and I think this is going to allow us to spring forward for an enormous opportunity.”

The use of cameras and surveying technology with UASes presents privacy and security issues, which LoBiondo said was a main factor in delaying the project by a year from what was originally intended. He said legislation already exists that protects people from a violation of privacy.

An FAA release states that each site will develop its own privacy policy. Among other requirements, test site operators must comply with federal, state and other laws protecting an individual’s right to privacy, have publicly available privacy policies and a written plan for data use and retention, and conduct an annual review of privacy practices that allows for public comment.

“If someone says, ‘you missed this,’ or ‘you should have done that,’ we can incorporate that by protocol. If we need legislation, I am certainly open to doing it through the Aviation Committee.”

Currently there is no hard timeline for beginning testing at any of the six sites, but one of them will be selected by June 28. Under the current law, once test site operations get going, drones will be flying high until at least February 2017.

“We’re not going to be driven by deadline. We’re going to be driven by safety and security in this. A lot of times you think about developing a program and you think about developing the technology to go along with it. The technology exists as we speak and has existed for a while and will continue to evolve. We’re not going to be hampered by a lack of technology; what we want to do is make sure the safety and security features are where they should be.”



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