Hole Theory

 
B-17G 43-38172 of the 8th AF 398th BG 601st BS which was damaged on a bombing mission over Cologne, Germany, on 15 October 1944 (Only the bombardier was killed.)

The B-17 was one helluva of an airplane. Like the old Timex ad used to say, it could take a lickin’ and keep right on tickin’.

Engineers and aviation buffs to this day marvel at how much damage a Flying Fortress could take and still fly back to their home bases in Britain. During the war Boeing dispatched designers to look at these damaged wonders and make them even better. To do that though it took some counter-intuitive thinking.

If you look at a shot up airplane you might come to the conclusion that the areas that took the most damage were the areas that needed the most reinforcement. But just the opposite is true.

Because they were examining planes that actually made it back, the damage observed was actually the least vulnerable area of the aircraft. You could make these areas look like swiss cheese and the damned things would still fly. It was the undamaged areas that were the most vulnerable. Hit the planes there and they didn’t come back. It was the unobservable damage that meant everything.

(NBCNews.com)

Today, NBC News ran with an “exclusive” that they claim bolsters their case that President Trump’s statements about terrorists sneaking across our unsecured southern border is simply not true. Only six people that were detained by the Customs and Border Patrol in the first half of 2018 had their names show up in the nation’s terrorist database, says reporter Julia Ainsley.

All well and good. But like the holes in the B-17s, the problem isn’t in what you can observe, it’s in what you can’t observe. The terrorists we do catch at the southern border aren’t the problem, it’s the ones that slipped in unobserved.

9/11 wasn’t caused by what we knew, it was caused by what we didn’t know. And we’re still looking at the wrong holes and coming to the wrong conclusions.

 

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There are 76 comments.

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  1. Randy Webster Member

    My guess is that they didn’t find much of the bombardier.

    • #1
    • January 7, 2019, at 3:17 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My guess is that they didn’t find much of the bombardier.

    The lesson being that bombadiers are not requisite for a bomber’s survival.

    • #2
    • January 7, 2019, at 3:31 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. ctlaw Coolidge

    There are several B-17 you can still fly:

    https://www.eaa.org/eaa/events-and-experiences/aluminum-overcast-eaa-b-17-bomber-tour/b-17-aluminum-overcast-tour-stops

    http://yankeeairmuseum.org/fly/

    https://www.azcaf.org/plane/b17g-flying-fortress/

    https://b17texasraiders.org/index.php/texas-raiders/rides-tours/schedule

    • #3
    • January 7, 2019, at 3:33 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor

    EJHill:

    The terrorists we do catch at the southern border aren’t the problem, it’s the ones that slipped in unobserved.

    9/11 wasn’t caused by what we knew, it was caused by what we didn’t know. And we’re still looking at the wrong holes and coming to the wrong conclusions.

    So true, @ejhill. Why is this so hard for them to understand? Oh, I know–it doesn’t fit their agenda . . .

    • #4
    • January 7, 2019, at 3:36 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Miffed White Male Member

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    There are several B-17 you can still fly:

    https://www.eaa.org/eaa/events-and-experiences/aluminum-overcast-eaa-b-17-bomber-tour/b-17-aluminum-overcast-tour-stops

    http://yankeeairmuseum.org/fly/

    https://www.azcaf.org/plane/b17g-flying-fortress/

    https://b17texasraiders.org/index.php/texas-raiders/rides-tours/schedule

     

    Waiting for the takeoff roll in the CAF B-17G Sentimental Journey, Truax Field, Madison WI Wednesday Sept 5, 2001.

    I only got to sit in the Bombardier position for takeoff, not landing. And they wouldn’t anyone go back to my dad’s tailgunner position.

     

    • #5
    • January 7, 2019, at 3:50 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  6. Randy Webster Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My guess is that they didn’t find much of the bombardier.

    The lesson being that bombadiers are not requisite for a bomber’s survival.

    I’ll bet the bombardiers had a different opinion.

    • #6
    • January 7, 2019, at 3:53 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My guess is that they didn’t find much of the bombardier.

    The lesson being that bombadiers are not requisite for a bomber’s survival.

    I’ll bet the bombardiers had a different opinion.

    Briefly.

    • #7
    • January 7, 2019, at 4:05 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Neil Hansen (Klaatu) Inactive

    Today’s aircraft can take some damage too.

    F-15 with one wing.

    • #8
    • January 7, 2019, at 4:14 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    EJHill:

    Engineers and aviation buffs to this day marvel at how much damage a Flying Fortress could take and still fly back to their home bases in Britain. During the war Boeing dispatched designers to look at these damaged wonders and make them even better. To do that though it took some counter-intuitive thinking.

    [snip]

    9/11 wasn’t caused by what we knew, it was caused by what we didn’t know. And we’re still looking at the wrong holes and coming to the wrong conclusions.

    Sometimes I think our enemies must marvel the amount of damage we as a nation take and still keep flying. I also think that the election of Donald Trump is the equivalent of sending the Boeing engineers over to look at a damaged B-17. Enough people decided to think outside the box. The results of that decision are looking pretty good right about now.

    • #9
    • January 7, 2019, at 4:22 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  10. toggle Coolidge

    EJHill: All well and good. But like the holes in the B-17s, the problem isn’t in what you can observe, it’s in what you can’t observe.

    Like the analogy. It’s not only aircraft–much, much more.

    • #10
    • January 7, 2019, at 4:28 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Seawriter Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    I only got to sit in the Bombardier position for takeoff, not landing. And they wouldn’t anyone go back to my dad’s tailgunner position.

    When the B-17 was being used operationally, the weight of the tail gunner was supposed to be 110 pounds. Maybe they worry the average 21st century American would make the Fort tail heavy. Being that far back from the c-g it probably has a heck of a moment arm.

    • #11
    • January 7, 2019, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  12. James Gawron Thatcher

    EJ,

    Incredible! You still possess your cerebral cortex and can think! The left has been giving us all a brain-ectomy for so long I wasn’t sure. This is like someone looking at Israel’s wall and remarking how few terrorist incidents there are so who needs the wall. If you go back in time and see how many terrorist incidents there were before the wall then you get the idea.

    Actually, most of the news media has already had their brain-ectomy so we shouldn’t expect much from them.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #12
    • January 7, 2019, at 5:21 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  13. Mark Camp Member

    A friend was a finite-element modeling guy at his manufacturing company. They get called in to tell the engineer why some plastic latch for a printer cover that he designed is breaking in the field.

    The engineers were always trying to fix these problems by beefing up the failing part. But the thicker the plastic latch, the worse the problem got. Phil would patiently explain that to make the part last longer, they need to make it thinner. It’s not that it wasn’t strong enough. It’s that it wasn’t weak enough.

    Somehow the B-17 story reminded me of that.

    • #13
    • January 7, 2019, at 5:52 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  14. Vectorman Thatcher

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    There are several B-17 you can still fly ride in:

    https://www.eaa.org/eaa/events-and-experiences/aluminum-overcast-eaa-b-17-bomber-tour/b-17-aluminum-overcast-tour-stops

    In 1996 I was able to purchase (~$550) a flight and actually take the controls for about 15 minutes. Since then, insurance regulations do not allow purchased flights ($409-449) to manipulate the controls. As an EAA member, I’ve flown it twice (for free) during repositioning flights and now have about 1 hour of actual B-17 control time. It’s very heavy on the (non-boosted) controls.

    • #14
    • January 7, 2019, at 5:52 PM PDT
    • 17 likes
  15. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    Vectorman: I’ve flown it twice (for free) during repositioning flights and now have about 1 hour of actual B-17 control time.

    I’ve never been jealous of another member. Until now. I hate you. 

    • #15
    • January 7, 2019, at 5:57 PM PDT
    • 25 likes
  16. Vectorman Thatcher

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Vectorman: I’ve flown it twice (for free) during repositioning flights and now have about 1 hour of actual B-17 control time.

    I’ve never been jealous of another member. Until now. I hate you.

    On a past conversation, we were asked “name something about yourself that is special…” I submitted, flying the B-17, Ford Tri-motor, and the Spirit of St. Louis replica. @bossmongo said to me “you win,” although since then I’d rate Boss Mongo’s experiences much, much higher!

    • #16
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:04 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  17. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    @vectorman On the other hand, I have piloted a Goodyear airship. I’m “blimp worthy.”

    • #17
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:09 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  18. EODmom Coolidge

    EJHill (View Comment):

    @vectorman On the other hand, I have piloted a Goodyear airship. I’m “blimp worthy.”

    I got nothing. 

    • #18
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:18 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. SkipSul Moderator

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    There are several B-17 you can still fly:

    https://www.eaa.org/eaa/events-and-experiences/aluminum-overcast-eaa-b-17-bomber-tour/b-17-aluminum-overcast-tour-stops

    http://yankeeairmuseum.org/fly/

    https://www.azcaf.org/plane/b17g-flying-fortress/

    https://b17texasraiders.org/index.php/texas-raiders/rides-tours/schedule

    I’ve ridden in Yankee Lady. Helluva flight.

    • #19
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. SkipSul Moderator

    Neil Hansen (Klaatu) (View Comment):

    Today’s aircraft can take some damage too.

    F-15 with one wing.

    The A-10 is even more robust.

    • #20
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:26 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  21. Steve C. Member

    Does anyone know how we can, with any accuracy, have the pretense to know how many illegal immigrants enter the USA each year? Visa overstays I expect we know. But how do we account for people who cross the borders illegally? 

    • #21
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:36 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. James Gawron Thatcher

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Neil Hansen (Klaatu) (View Comment):

    Today’s aircraft can take some damage too.

    F-15 with one wing.

    The A-10 is even more robust.

    Skip,

    A wing and a prayer. Sounds right.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #22
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:37 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Miffed White Male Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    I only got to sit in the Bombardier position for takeoff, not landing. And they wouldn’t anyone go back to my dad’s tailgunner position.

    When the B-17 was being used operationally, the weight of the tail gunner was supposed to be 110 pounds. Maybe they worry the average 21st century American would make the Fort tail heavy. Being that far back from the c-g it probably has a heck of a moment arm.

    Yabbut, they don’t even let you go back there when it’s on the ground – not that I’d probably fit.

    After the army, Dad played football at UW on the “under 150 pound” league (AKA “sprint” football). Used to be a big-10 sport, now I think it’s pretty much confined to the Ivy league, if it’s even played there anymore.

     

     

    • #23
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:40 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Miffed White Male Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    I only got to sit in the Bombardier position for takeoff, not landing. And they wouldn’t anyone go back to my dad’s tailgunner position.

    When the B-17 was being used operationally, the weight of the tail gunner was supposed to be 110 pounds. Maybe they worry the average 21st century American would make the Fort tail heavy. Being that far back from the c-g it probably has a heck of a moment arm.

    An essay my dad write, about the view from the tailgun position:

     

    https://ricochet.com/434254/archives/beauty-at-twenty-thousand-feet/

    • #24
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:43 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    Steve C.: But how do we account for people who cross the borders illegally? 

    We’ve been talking airplanes but that was the main thrust of the post. We simply don’t know. The numbers we’ve bandied about for decades are only estimates. How do you count something that you don’t see?

    Estimates range from 11M (DHS) to 12M (Pew) to 22M (PLOS One.) Liberals immediately worked hard to get that last number discredited.

    • #25
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:46 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Bereket Kelile Member

    This is a classic example of selection bias. They were using a sample that had a systematic bias because they only looked at the planes that made it back. It shows that being practical still requires us to be familiar with abstract, theoretical principles because they can have quite the impact. As our research director at work likes to say, it’s not the size of the pot of chili that matters but the make up of the spoon you use to take out your portion. 

    I’m surprised I’m the first to mention this but it makes sense since I’m a survey researcher.

    • #26
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:47 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  27. James Gawron Thatcher

    EJ & Bereket,

    Liberals claim to believe in science. Yes, like a witch doctor believes in medicine. They will twist any data set that is available to match their narrative. Selection bias? No, I’d make that selection fraud.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #27
    • January 7, 2019, at 6:52 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Seawriter Member

    EODmom (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    @vectorman On the other hand, I have piloted a Goodyear airship. I’m “blimp worthy.”

    I got nothing.

    I’m writing about Goodyear’s Houston Blimp Base as a chapter in a book about forgotten Houston landmarks. Not that that compares to flying in Goodyear blimp.

    • #28
    • January 7, 2019, at 7:07 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  29. toggle Coolidge

    EJHill (View Comment):
    Estimates range from 11M (DHS) to 12M (Pew) to 22M (PLOS One.) Liberals immediately worked hard to get that last number discredited.

    Are anchor babies counted in those numbers ? From my experience, the estimates of the illegals having crossed our southern border need to have the number residing here increased by a factor of 2 or 3 to account for their children born here.

    • #29
    • January 7, 2019, at 7:29 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  30. Neil Hansen (Klaatu) Inactive

    toggle (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):
    Estimates range from 11M (DHS) to 12M (Pew) to 22M (PLOS One.) Liberals immediately worked hard to get that last number discredited.

    Are anchor babies counted in those numbers ? From my experience, the estimates of the illegals having crossed our southern border need to have the number residing here increased by a factor of 2 or 3 to account for their children born here.

    Children born in US are citizens.

    • #30
    • January 7, 2019, at 7:30 PM PDT
    • 1 like
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