Caveat Emptor Part II

Dear John:

Thanks. Few of my correspondents admit they were wrong and acknowledge changing their minds. I salute your courage. I too try to do this. For example, I did so in this article of mine, in one of the first footnotes:

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2006. “On Hayekian Triangles.” Procesos De Mercado: Revista Europea De Economia Politica; Vol. III, No. 2, Fall, pp. 39-141;

Best regards,


From: John McClain

Subject: Re: Caveat Emptor

Dear Walter,

I have to admit, you are exactly right.  I’ve been watching it from the beginning, and I guess I’m not over the incredibly stupid engineering choice.  I try not to let feelings come through, but I guess I did this time.  I only hope it is Boeing that pays the price, not “taxpayers”.  Thanks for taking a moment and setting me straight.

Semper Fi,


From: “wblock” <>

To: “John McClain”

Subject: RE: Caveat Emptor

Dear John:

Let us stipulate that you are correct. Does this change anything I said? I think not. Caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, still applies. I am only absolving Boeing of criminal charges.  Under your assumption, they will pay a penalty in the market. They will lose customers

Best regards,


From: John

To: wblock <>

Subject: Caveat Emptor

Dear Dr. Block,

While I agree in principle with your stance, I have to say, as an aviation professional, expert in avionics, in particular, communications, navigation, with my beginning in Marine Corps aviation, at a time when electronics was being integrated into flight controls, I have to say, Boeing made a very bad engineering choice, when faced with competition it truly couldn’t equal, except by ignoring standard design concepts.

Airbus had opened a new avenue, having been prepared to put turbo-fan engines on their oldest flying airliners, sufficient ground clearance, they could mount such engines without detrimentally affecting center of gravity, flight balance characteristics, something long standardized for all aircraft.

The 737 was built prior, was very efficient in its time, cost effective, however it didn’t have ground clearance for turbo-fan engines, and airports were and are refusing flights by turbo thrust engine airliners, for both noise and pollution.  The efficiency is for customers to decide.

There is no excuse for completely ignoring factors of weight and balance, known since the Wright brothers, and always considered, in all aircraft ever built.  Boeing chose to mount those turbo-fan engines in the only way they could, without re-engineering the whole aircraft for them to fit, and knew at the start, they’d violated the single most basic concept of flight, natural balance, the ability to load the aircraft such that it is neutral in flight, and all its controls, used to deal with external aspect imposing on flying.

I’ve spent much time dissecting the data on these aircraft, and there was no excuse for trying to overcome a basic flaw in design, by building an electronic control box, to counter a deadly engineering fault, from taxiing on the ground, to its least dangerous carrying intentions in flight.  The whole notion of “electronic flight controls” without direct physical connection of controls to flight control surfaces is fraught with danger that can’t be ameliorated, tube based electronics was simple, reliable, and broke when a tube burned out, usually, generally possible to predict, but not with any certainty.

With integrated circuits, there are “anomalous failures” predicated only on quantum effects, and this with only one integrated circuit, the rest simply solid state design, i.e., transistors, resistors, capacitors, sized and power to match low current, voltage solid state electronics.

The moment one gets to modern electronics, as per 90’s, tech, when I retired, we have the effects everyone who uses a computer in play, the fact they are so complex, so much of their action, hard programmed in integrated circuits, inside “large scale integration”, where transistors are thousands per square inch, or even denser, such low current and voltages in stages, an anomalous stray voltage, even the least bit of static, will completely reset “the program”, as in “cars, stopping dead in the road, to reset”, to build an airplane that is physically completely unable to fly, unbalanced, without constant counteraction by flight controls, is utterly derelict as engineers, and as testers, passing such disasters, on the premise we can trust electronics to always work.

I worked on CH-46’s, the best chopper ever built, for landing Marines in hot LZ’s, able to “air taxi” at 15 to 20 knots, dump a whole squad of combat laden Marines in some five or six seconds, and be at an hundred knots, in less than a minute, to round robin again, and to be such, the pilots could literally take hands off controls, without losing control of flight.

A-4’s and F-4’s were also my job, and without electric power, they could continue in air combat, and win, if it were necessary, and the best of pilots.  We transitioned to fly by wire, F-18’s and 22’s before I retired, something I’d never work on, not for any reason, a completely irrational way of flying.  The “737 max” is about as useful as a Harrier, A model, B model,

F-35 model, all of which are far inferior to the Russian aircraft, just as the 737 max, doesn’t hold a candle to the Airbus equivalent, which is in fact, a fully balanced, standard product aircraft.

I’ve driven double clutching, mechanical transfer case, ten ton military trucks, dump trucks, having to steer with a knee, same leg operating the double clutch, going through eight gears to get up to fifty, without power steering, and while it’s possible, necessary in fact, in its time, it would in no way meet current safety standards for the road, given how easy it is to have air assist transfer case shift, and today, automatic transmissions, and transfer cases.

If I had to, I’d drive the fifty series, modified in sixties deuce and a half’s, five ton’s, ten ton’s, to survive, fight in war, work in a hurricane, but there would be no excuse to use such on the roads today, they are built for war, off-road use, and fifty years, superseded. What Boeing did was in no way in keeping with standard safety of flight standards, they violated the most basic principles of flight, and I hope they fail, utterly, because such “chief executives” should never be able to reach such power.

The Boeing engineers fought this “max” all the way, many leaving, some fired, only those who went along, allowed to stay.

I build machinery for a living, have for fifty years or so, I’ve flown small six passenger aircraft, a couple of choppers, raced cars, motorcycles, bicycles, I’ve built my own frames, engines, converted “stock cars” to “stock cars for racing” on clay half mile tracks as a teen, and I have no respect for any engineer who would suggest this was not a death trap, known by all competent engineers.

I stopped flying because of the imposition of idiocy, on common airlines, complicated by having multiple sclerosis, the altitude messing with my water and my nervous system, haven’t flown in almost two decades, and don’t see it in my future, unless TSA goes away forever, and even then, my m.s. will factor into any possible flying.  The simple fact Boeing, knowingly put this over on the FAA, deceptively, and has backed its choice to the the hilt, says they aren’t qualified to build aircraft anymore, without a vast change in management and culture of design and production.

As a senior Marine, I’ve been fired, for refusing to support something I knew was illegal, dangerous, and ultimately, overridden by the Commanding Officer, killed two pilots, for the sake of “not losing flight pay for all flight officers not having birds to get their mandatory flight hours in”.

That happened in 79, out of Kaneohe Marine air station, Hawaii.  I wasn’t in charge at the time, just an observer, having been working in the engine test cell, built in 57, down for repairs, parts to be made, and causing four squadrons to fail to fly for over six months.  The C.O. demanded engine shop put an engine, ‘their best’, in a bird, “high power test it” chained down to the flight line, against all NATOPS regulations, and it was launched that evening, after the engine shop NCOIC, was fired, a sergeant fired, corporal fired, for refusing to certify the engine without testing in the test cell, and brow-beating a Lance Corporal into signing off the engine, and that TA-4M got almost fifty feet past the end of the runway, engine locked, bird flipped, and both pilots ejected down, into the ocean, dead the moment they hit the water, the inertia of the locked engine rotor, causing the aircraft to roll 180 as it stopped at 100% power.  We spent two weeks, collecting parts, got part of one pilot, a limb, and part of head and helmet of the other, the rest fed the hammerhead sharks in Kaneohe bay.

I was a Staff Sergeant, years later, and refused to sign off avionics, I knew was bad, and fired.  I barely walked out the door, and was greeted by my new boss, who took me precisely because of what I did.  Five or six years later, I was fired as a Gunnery Sergeant, in charge of Comm/Nav at Cherry Point’s advanced schoolhouse, confronting my boss, a Captain, for illegally sending a student of mine, to be interrogated by CID, (Criminal Investigation Department) when the student was positive for codeine, in a piss test, having had wisdom teeth pulled, and prescription tylex, annotated on the log, an illegal act, done before the formal results were returned from the lab.

Again, I was met by my new boss, and put in charge of the first shop I ever was assigned to, in 77, and retired, lauded for my integrity in doing my job as a leader.  There is no excuse for refusing engineering demands, that have stood a century, every time violated, killing pilots, mostly, in combat, and only occasionally civilians, and mostly “test pilots”.

I was forced to receive three classified vaccines, experimental, untested, to go to the Gulf in 89.  I have multiple sclerosis, acquired since my return, and only a decade later, the government admitted their “anthrax vaccine was indeed, a major issue in ‘Gulf War Syndrome'”.

Thousands of Service members have been denied disability because the V.A.

refuses to use common practice medicine to evaluate vets, they denied my six year diagnosed m.s., without any formal test, simply running a pencil up my plantar facia, my bottom of my foot, and seeing the natural reflex movement of my foot, sufficient for them to ignore everything else.  I’ve been on various shot therapies, three, five years tolerated each, antibody shots, and 13 years of Tysabre, infused monoclonal antibodies, and walking, as no other person I know in treatment does, without cane or other aids, cognitive, knowledgeable, solely because I fought the disease and the doctors, from 90, to the present, knowing more about my m.s., than my neurologist, having figured out my worst symptom of 28 years, solely because of all the protesting virologists, neurologists, denying this “carnivorous clown posse” over the false claims.

Dr. Block, I stand on the engineering studies, before, during and post.

God Bless you and yours,

Semper Fidelis,

John McClain

Vanceboro, NC


2:59 am on July 21, 2020