page updated 2015-11-16


The Project

I'm trying to learn Javascript, and the only real way to learn a computing language is to use it for a substantial practical application, which in this case is rewriting the old DOS weight and balance program I originally wrote in 1988. The rewrite—if I can do it—will be a web application which I'm referring to as JWB (Javascript Weight & Balance).

The Plan

JWB will do all the existing DOS program does. However, input should be easier and output will be enhanced. I'm using Firefox as the development browser, and it's available for the MS Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android operating systems.

Updates to program and data will take place on the server. There will no longer be the necessity of a separate update of an executable and data on machines all over the world. Whoever has access to the server will be able to pick up the results of a weight & balance computation in real time, which means Dispatch and downline stations can get it at will. If Internet access is tempoarily unavailable, you'll be able to use your browser offline to run the program with data current as of the last time you ran it when online. Computers that never have Internet access—for example, laptops mounted in the upper deck of a 747—can use a thumbdrive (or whatever) to get it.

Can I do it? Frankly I don't know. It's a 76-year-old 1980s DOS mind attempting to grasp OOP (Object Oriented Programming), GUIs (Graphical User Interface), and a lambda-style language. I'm trying it simply because I want to. Flying was my greatest love and I miss it terribly, but my fascination with computer programming was and still is number 2, and I can still do that. However, I don't do much of anything anymore unless I enjoy it, so if this effort becomes too hard, too frustrating, or too boring, I won't complete it. On the other hand, doing it does greatly interest me. How long will it take? I really don't know. After nearly 4 years of part-time effort, I'm within a month of equivalent full-time effort to get it usuable. The problem is finding the time to finish it.

Will anybody actually use it if I get it up and running? I don't know that either, and it really isn't relevant to my doing it, although it's nice to see an application used once you've got it going. I'll make it available as freeware just as I did the old DOS program. Perhaps one or more of the airlines using the DOS program will want to use it. In that case I'll charge an hourly rate for implementation, modifications, and maintenance just as I have the DOS program.

Click here to bring up the JWB SERVER & LOCAL page, the starting page of the program.

Maudlin Memories

Actually it's more like a 1960s batch processing mind meets OOP and GUIs. Does anyone remember the IBM 709 with it's many tape drives—disks weren't out yet—tubes instead of transistors, and it's oil-cooled 32,768 36-bit word memory? It was the the first computer I programmed for, and it was greatest back then!! The high-level language was Fortran II. The assembly level language was FAP. The place was North American Aviation's Plant 1 at LAX. The project was the Mach 3+ XB-70, and I was in the Wing Structures Section of the Engineering Department.

The XB-70's wing was hinged about 20 feet inboard from each tip. The tips were horizontal for takeoff and landing for added lift. In flight at speed they were moved downward to as much as 65° for yaw stabilization. Each tip had twelve hinges. The inner six hinges were hydraulic actuators, and once the tips were down, they were held in place by the hydraulics. My job was to write software to analyze wind-tunnel test data of the loading on the hydraulic hinges.

Only two XB-70s were built. The first is now in the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB. The second was destroyed in a collision with an F-104 during a photo shoot on 8 June 1966. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_XB-70_Valkyrie for more information. Also http://www.thexhunters.com/xpeditions/xb-70a_accident.html has a detailed account and images of the accident that destroyed #2.

Damn ... I'm old ... but I have great memories ... and lot's of them!