ePilot, Vol. II, No. 9, April 2016

Earth Day

All creatures great and small enjoy Earth Day.

Despite the April drizzle, children, adults, and more than a few officials came out to Plaza Park to celebrate all that Mother Earth has to offer.

And an electric machine or two as well.

City Loses Community Leader

Paul Boog, Port Hueneme’s representative to the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, recently passed away. Mr. Boog had a long history in local government and community service having served on numerous advisory boards during his time in Port Hueneme, most recently on the Recreation and Fine Arts Commisssion as the Advisor on Senior Concerns. 

Assistant City Manager Carmen Nichols commented, “Paul was a very vibrant member of our community and will be sorely missed.”

Bob Brant

We have learned at press time of the passing of Robert “Bob” Brant one of the great citizens of our community. A gentleman who will truly be missed.

Making Targets Look Real

Richard Burr Addresses RDP-21

“You’re just shadow boxing if you don’t have a target.” Richard A. Burr, Director, Direct Threat/Target Systems Department, Naval Air Systems Command, in a presentation to the Regional Defense Partnership for the 21st Century, explained the importance of live target exercises to the readiness of the fleet. 

While “drones” have lately been making the news, the history of unmanned aircraft actually dates back to 1924.  By 1946, target activity was consolidated at Point Mugu.

Director Burr addressed the challenge of presenting a realistic target at an affordable price. “The goal is to shoot ’em, so you don’t want to spend a lot of money on them.”  A test using the latest Mach 2.5 targets can cost over $1.5 Million.

Typically, the older model targets last 10-15 missions. Part of the mission of the  Target Systems Department is to capture, repair, and reuse the unmanned “drones”. 

“We build, deliver, and maintain targets for air, land, and sea,” the Director explained. The facility at Port Hueneme produces 100 high speed boats per year that are used in “swarm boat” training. Additionally, with the “pivot to the Pacific” there has been a renewed focus on “battling on land.” 

At the heart of the Department’s mission is cyber-technology.  The right electronics can make a small target “look” like a realistic enemy threat.  “How do we present targets, and how do we defend against cyber threats?” Director Burr posited.

As with many other sectors at Naval Base Ventura County, the Target Systems Department is looking for qualified civilian workers.  The Director would like to hire 28-30 people per year to fill his staffing needs.

Gene Fisher, the Co-Chair of RDP-21 pointed out that “Test and Evaluation hasn’t kept pace with threats. During the past ten years, we’ve not been investing in the infrastructure of this country.  A lot of the issues for the next ten years will relate to targets.”


Orange Helicopters

Department of Homeland Security sources have said that Ventura County should begin to see Coast Guard helicopters based at Point Mugu by the end of May. The Coast Guard is moving north from Los Angeles and Naval Base Ventura County will be one location from which the Coast Guard will deploy. 

It is predicted that by 2018-19 more than 200 people will be working with the Coast Guard at Point Mugu.


Wizards of Water

Bill Varnava points to controls on a water filtration system

During these times of scarce water supplies, there is a lot of discussion about the potential for desalinating seawater. Right now, on the Port Hueneme section of Naval Base Ventura County the engineering wizards of the Expeditionery Warfare Center (ExWC) are experimenting with some of the most efficient desalination systems in the world.

In a presentation for members of the Port Hueneme Water Agency, these efforts were put on display.

Efficiency is important — saving a penny per gallon can add up quickly when millions of gallons are being produced — but for military application mobility is also important.  ExWC has water treatment systems that can be deployed by truck, ship, or helicopter wherever a water supply is important. On remote San Nicolas Island the local desalination plant saves thousands of dollars that would otherwise have to be spent transporting water across the channel in barges.

The technology for purifying water is well established — there are not likely to be any revolutionary breakthroughs — but a more efficient filter or a longer lasting pump can make a big difference in the overall cost of production. 

 In the Port Hueneme laboratories of ExWC, the wizards of water are searching for ways to make the recovery of seawater more and more practical.

Where the water comes in
Testing different components in the laboratory

Coming Here to Win

Rohan Dennis in the lead           Photo courtesy @BMC Racing Team

With all the support vehicles, team cars, mechanics, and tv cameras, a major professional bicycle race is often described as “a motorcycle rally with a few bikes thrown in,” but at its best, world class cycling is a competitive team sport of complex tactics and individual heroics played out before some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.

Port Hueneme will witness some of that pageantry and drama as the Amgen Tour of California powers through town on Tuesday, May 17.

The leading team in the world, sponsored by Swiss cycle maker BMC, is based in Santa Rosa, California. With a long history in American professional racing, Jim Ochowicz, the President/General Manager of BMC Racing,  recently granted an exclusive interview for the ePilot.

“As an American team we’re very focused on the Amgen Tour of California,” he said. “We’re bringing a formidable team and want to be competitive from the first day to the last.”

“We’re going there to try to win the race,” he asserted. “The American races have always been a focus for us.”

Much like a football team with specialized players, a cycling team carries a big roster with riders to match every circumstance.  When asked about the roster for the Amgen Tour of California, Mr. Ochowicz mentioned Australian Rohan Dennis, winner of two Tour de France stages, along with American Brent Bookwalter as contenders for the overall victory.

Powerful Olympic Champion Samuel Sánchez, sprinter Jempy Drucker, and American time trial specialist Taylor Phinney are also expected to ride.

When asked about American star Tejay van Garderen, Mr. Ochowicz stated that he was focused on the Tour de France — that was his “primary goal.”  However, with Greg van Avermaet‘s brilliant start ruined by a broken collarbone, it remains to be seen what roster adjustments will be made.

As a long time advocate for American cycling, Mr. Ochowicz explained the importance of the Amgen Tour of California: “We need races like the Amgen Tour of California to allow American teams to participate at that level of sport and provide an opportunity for younger Americans to get visible, and for us to see them in action against us. While they might not get the chance in Europe to do that, they can certainly do that at the Amgen Tour of California, and you never know what that might bring for them or for us in the future.”

Team BMC                      Photo courtesy @BMC Racing Team

History By the Minute







Beverly Merrill Kelley

Let’s face it, we’re all busy people.  We’d love to learn more about our hometown but who has the time?  This column will feature highlights that can be read in a minute or two.  And rest assured, the information comes from the considerable resources of the Port Hueneme Historical Society.  If your interest is piqued to learn more, visit the museum on Market Street or send your questions via email to kelley@callutheran.edu.
Second of Two Parts

Admittedly, Princess Hueneme couldn’t have looked worse.  Having exhausted herself during months of searching and wearing rags that had seen a long ocean swim and miles of dusty roads, she no longer resembled a beautiful princess.  Furthermore, Princess Hueneme was so humiliated by the witch’s laughter, she turned away and conceded defeat.   Yet it was at that precise moment that her husband was finally able to resist the witch’s evil spell.  He just could not allow Hueneme to walk away.  Together the couple returned to their dwelling at Point Mugu.

But even though she tried, Princess Hueneme was too immature and wounded to forgive and forget what her husband had done.   She kept seeing her husband making love to the witch.  Although he did everything he could, the husband couldn’t regain the trust his wife once had in him.  It soon became apparent that the couple would never be able to capture the bliss they had once shared.

In despair, Hueneme jumped into the sea and was immediately turned into stone.  She became the landmark we know today as Mugu Rock.  When Hueneme dove into the sea, her husband didn’t hesitate.  He followed her into the ocean and his long hair became the seaweed that can be found encircling Mugu Rock.  Their prayers were answered.  In only this way, or so the Chumash legend goes, could the two star-crossed lovers be together forever.

Brick Wahl

Day Trip

Rented a Dodge Ram pick up yesterday and headed out to the desert. No CD player. The low point had to be east of Pearblossom in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a 38 Special rock block to listen to. Hold On Loosely has been earworming its way into my skull since, breaking me down like my own personal Room 101, southern rock. Freedom is slavery, war is peace, you see it all around you, good lovin’ gone bad. The high point musically was…well, there was no high point. A lot of high desert hard rock and ranchera.

We had dropped by Charlie Brown Farms in Littlerock for a date shake, then the long drive out to Barstow. The desert is great from the cab of a climate change special, you feel like Mike Dukakis in a tank.

The 18 was closed, and they dog legged us along the 138 and then up another desert road to rejoin the 18 near Phelan. They farm a lot of meth out in Phelan. Cook it right on the rocks. A guy explained it to me one night, unbidden. I don’t think he had slept in years.

We passed through Barstow, picked up the 40 for a couple miles and got off at the Calico exit. Calico Ghost Town has been a slow favorite since I first went there when I was a kid. Hell, that was over half a century ago.

Back then I thought it looked like a less fun Knotts Berry Farm (apparently Walter Knott had grown up in Calico, and used the proceeds from the mine to recreate Calico in Buena Park) but I didn’t know then that you could take your beer right on the train. Doubtless some of the appeal for me is how the old pre-Snoopy Knotts Berry Farm was cloned from the place, somehow redolent of ancient times in Southern California. Fantasy world and Calico girls I’m coming back.

But to be honest my single favorite thing there is the extraordinary display of tortured seismology looming over the parking lot. Sedimentary layers bent all which ways, even straight up vertical. It screams earthquake, but all you hear is desert silence.

After Calico we went over to Rainbow Basin Natural Area, the reason for the pick up truck and 38 Special, it was perfect for driving the back roads. Not a bit of pavement in the place, just badlands bisected by narrow twisting graded road, gullies, loose rocks, and the occasional diamondback rattler.

It is a perfect riot of geology, the land eroded for so many eons was absolutely gorgeous. This was once–actually several times–a large Miocene lake bed. Winter rains carve it anew every year, and tectonics torture the area–there’s a syncline to die for–though the black layers of ash are from better days, when nearby Amboyand the Cima Dome were alive with volcanoes.

Nearby are layers packed with fossils–most of the large mammal fossils you will see in our local museums that were not plucked from the La Brea Tar Pits came from the Rainbow Basin and thereabouts.

Somewhere in the middle a Foreigner rock block came on and I turned off the radio. There was no other sound at all. Not a bird, not a bug, not even a breeze. Nothing.

After a glorious couple hours in Rainbow Basin, we tooled back on down Irwin Road towards Barstow in our giant pick up truck, trying not to go too fast. It’s the Hemi, I explained to the wife, just to actually use Hemi in a sentence.

We hopped a left onto Old Highway 58 for Idle Spurs, still my favorite steak house ever. Incredible steak and a couple Jamesons. (You can pretend I took a picture of our food here.)

We took our time eating, thoroughly enjoying it, and it was nearly dark as we climbed back into the cab of the pick-up, a little too late to drive all the way home on the 66. I love that old trestle across the Mojave, linking the two sides of Barstow, north and south of the tracks. Nearby was the old Harvey House, and I can only imagine the disappointment of Judy Garland fans who pilgrimage here. For a moment I thought “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” was going to stay in my head forever, like “The Trolley Song” did one terrible year after hearing it on a Palm Springs radio station twice in one weekend, but it disappeared back into the closet.


We turned right onto the 66 and as we headed west Barstow faded into Lenwood and then into nothing. It was too dark for sightseeing, and the excursion was nearing the twelve hour mark anyway, so we made for the interstate. All seemed perfect, the last of the light disappearing behind the mountains as we got back on the 15 heading south, nestled contentedly in the cab of our gas guzzling monster truck. There was just the night, the road, and us.

There is something profoundly reassuring about driving through the desert in the dark, just you and the wheels and the stars.

Then a rock block of Boston interrupted my philosophizing. Egad. People livin’ in competition, the singer explained, and all he wanted was to have some peace of mind. Bad seventies memories came flooding back and I realized that I was entering my 59th year to a soundtrack of lame classic rock.

I hate these songs, with all their inane lyrics and uninspired riffs and soulless guitar solos. Can’t I find any good driving music out here in the desert? More Than a Feeling came on, and as the singer watched Marianne walking away, away, awaaaaay, I asked the Lord in a moment of existential crisis why, oh why, had He forsaken me. The Lord let the guitar solo finish before answering.

The desert is beautiful but cruel, He said, like good lovin’ gone bad.


BRAC off the Table?

“There is a significant and dangerous gap between the military we have and the military we need.—Sen Ayotte


Dismal Prospects for Container Shipping

Freight rates expected to deteriorate.



PH Rates High in Fiscal Health

California Policy Center gives best ratings to Port Hueneme, Thousand Oaks, and Camarillo locally. Among the best in California.


Mystery at the Library

Who:  Author Beverly Kelley

What:  “The Cold Case Cozy—Think Jessica Fletcher as a Set of Triplets Living in Port Hueneme”

When:  Sunday May 1, 2016 2:00 to 4:00pm 
Where:  Prueter Library 510 Park Ave. Port Hueneme
Why:  Speaker at the Annual Meeting
Mystery lovers are cordially invited to the 30th Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Port Hueneme Library.  After a brief business meeting and installation of officers at 2:00 PM, Port Hueneme’s  Beverly M. Kelley will present  “The Cold Case Cozy—Think Jessica Fletcher as a set of triplets living in Port Hueneme.”

With two Hunter Triplets Mysteries (The Oldest Cold Case in Port Cabrillo, and Second Oldest Cold Case in Port Cabrillo) already published, Kelley is presently hard at work on a third. All her novels are inspired by actual unsolved murder cases from the early seventies.

In her previous life, Dr. Kelley taught communication courses for thirty-five years in the department she founded at California Lutheran University. As a professor, she also published three nonfiction books on the history of political film as well as numerous scholarly articles on various subjects.  In addition, she was a former radio and television talk-show host, frequent contributor to the Ventura County Perspective pages of the Los Angeles Times, and retired last year from an eighteen-year stint as an opinion columnist for the Ventura County Star.

Today she spends her days as a volunteer—for the Port Hueneme Friends of the Library, the Port Hueneme Historical Society Museum, and as Chloe the Therapy Dog’s loyal human companion.

Free Old Time Concerts

The Old Time Country Bluegrass Gospel Music Association presents free concerts from 2:00-4:00 PM, the first Sunday of each month at the Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Road, Ventura,  The Association is founded on the principal of preservation of old time country music played on original style musical instruments.


The American Cancer Society event covered in the last issue was the Port Hueneme Bark for Life.

Hidden Track: Fred Small — “Heart of the Appaloosa

Copyright 2016 The Hueneme Pilot  All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:


516 Island View Circle
Port Hueneme, California 93041

J. Sharkey, Editor and Publisher


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s