Threeach For The Sky

by J.R.

[Today, our good buddy Mighty Mike D from Cheer The Anthem chips in on a very special anniversary that coincides with a day when all seven Conference III teams are in action; his weird spellings have been preserved and, by Jove, click all the links]

Today marks the 110th anniversary of what is accepted to be the first manned and powered flight by a heavier-than-air vehicle; at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903. This craft was designed, built and piloted by a pair of brothers from Ohio called Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Their revolutionary aircraft (with the very no-frills Conference III name: “Wright Flyer”) flew three times that day, the first, with Orville aboard, managed 120 feet in 12 seconds. By the time of attempt three, this time with Wilbur as pilot, they were up to 59 seconds and 832 feet.

In the decades following the brother’s feat, aviation developed at a staggering rate (doubtless helped by a couple of World Wars) and a scant forty-two years later aircraft were flying faster than the speed of sound.

This spirit of adventure, innovation, derring-do and, sometimes, the need to do some real damage to someone that drives manned flight finds its parallel in Conference III. So I’m going to compare hockey teams to airplanes and flight because why the hell not?

Chicago Blackhawks: BAE Systems Hawk

red arow hawk

This Trainer jet, in its most famous incarnation with the RAF’s Red Arrows aerobatic team, is capable of dizzying manouevers at remarkable speed. And is, of course, red. Although intended as a training aircraft to develop young flyers  it is also capable of carrying a surprising heavy weapons load in its fighter variants.

Hugely popular, very dependable, the Hawk has, at times had spectacular crashes due to the high-risk nature of its aerobatic role.

Nashville Predators: GA MQ-1 Predator UAV


Designed as a pilotless reconnaissance vehicle, the Predator has since been updated with increased offensive capabilities. It has served with US forces in theatres from the Balkans to Afghanistan. It has had its share of difficulties including losses from severe weather conditions but has proved to be extremely versatile, being used for meteorology, fire-fighting and even by NASA.

Despite this, they are generally known as “The most accident-prone aircraft in the Air Force.”

St Louis Blues: Jet Blue Airlines


Jet Blue are a low cost airline, which means they are quite cheap and occasionally nasty. However, they remain a force to be reckoned with and are considered a threat to major airlines. They have gone through several attempts at re-branding, such as “Happy Jetting” that have been abject failures. 

They have been know to have  rough landings in California and very recently had a situation where the captain had to be removed from the controls by worried passengers. Can’t think why that sounds familiar. 

Colorado Avalanche: Avalanche Manouever


The Avalanche is a manouever whose invention generally credited to the splendidly named Ranald Porteous in 1949. It consists of a loop with an aileron roll at the apex. It’s considered a basic yet risky manouever as it involves climbing to unfamiliar altitudes, rolling over while stalling then plunging back towards the earth and wow, sometimes they just write themselves, don’t they?

Dallas Stars: Lockheed F-104 Starfighter


The Starfighter was a fast interceptor-type jet fighter that is sadly, perhaps better known for its high accident rate and subsequent casualties among its pilots. It saw some service for the US in Vietnam, where it packed quite a punch  but was mostly used by West Germany where it got the nickname Witwenmacher or “Widowmaker” due to its tendency to fail at inopportune moments.

Minnesota Wild : Wild Weasel

wild weasel patch

Because aircraft aren’t usually named using adjectives, I’ve picked the Wild Weasel codename, which is used for aircraft that deliberately let themselves be targeted by enemy radar so that they can lock on and destroy it (hopefully before being hit themselves). It’s something of a high-risk job and usually only undertaken by those with balls of steel. Sadly, for such a brave unit, their logo sucks.

Winnipeg Jets: Messerschmitt Me-262

Messerschmitt Me 262

Spoiled for choice, obviously, so I went for the first jet used operationally, the Messerschmitt Me-262 which entered Luftwaffe service in 1944. This  aircraft was felt by many to be a potential winner,  but was hampered by poor leadership, confusion over its role, a shortage of quality parts and a lack of fuel. By the time it was in position to be a true threat,  it was far too late.

Today’s Games

Chicago at Nashville, 7 PM: FOR THE BELT
Colorado at Dallas, 7:30 PM Central/6:30 Mountain: Second half of a home-and-home; Colorado looks for a sweep
Winnipeg at Buffalo, 6 PM: Haha, Buffalo
San Jose at St. Louis, 7 PM: Should be good
Vancouver at Minnesota, 7 PM: Remember the Northwest Division [/ fartnoise]