I admit as a trail junkie who loves running, biking and hiking I become a bit unhinged at the beauty of the fall palette all around me this time of year.It's intoxicating and I can't seem to get enough of it.But it wasn't until recently that I learned WHY Mother Nature takes out her paint brush to remind us she is in charge of every season. And there's a reason for the season.Let's start with the basics you probably are aware of. While leaves are certainly the stars of the fall show leaf peeping tourists love to gawk at we need to remind ourselves it's all about those gentle giants, the host trees.It turns out that in the northern hemisphere at this time the reducing daylight sends a signal for the tree it's soon time to survive the onslaught of winter. So where do you think one of the best materials are to do so?You guessed it, the tree siphons off important elements from its own leaves not just the soil it depends on with its vast network of roots.An evergreen tree is pretty smart too. It builds up wax coatings on its needles. But broadleaf trees can't protect themselves like that. So trees are pretty smart it's time to collect the rent from its own leaves who has enjoyed their summer ride before they drop to the ground.The two most important nutrients trees get from their leaves at this time are nitrogen and phosphorous. These two elements are essential for the tree to grow bigger and its roots to grow stronger.While you may feel happy for the tree storing up what it needs to survive the coming winter like me you are probably curious how nature makes all that amazing color happen?To understand that you first have to go to the green, as in chlorophyll. That's the other miracle worker during the summer that makes photosynthesishappen. The tree knows how to take one part sunshine from the leaf and produce carboydrates. Combined with an enzyme to break apart the water stored in the leaf another chain reaction happens.Guess what one of the "waste" products is from nature' chemical factory processing this light sensitive reaction a million times over? A wonderful thing critical to all life on earth - oxygen.Back to the color change miracle every fall. Leaves also contain carotenoids which are natural pigments. When chlorophyll we mentioned earlier is plentiful in the leaf during the summer months green is the dominant pigment in the leaf. When the tree decides the decline in daylight signals it's time to switch production it stops making chlorophyll and starts siphoning off the needed elements for healthy growth.The upshot? That's how us leaf peeper revel in the distinctive golden, orange, and yellow hues of carotenoid pigments.So next time you stand in awe in front of a colorful display of fall leaves thank the Creator for the miracle of millions of trees who are really individual chemical plants. Getting stronger for the winter and ready to produce the oxygen we need for next summer.Enjoy Mother Nature's Fall Show Today!Featured Links to Learn More...http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/10/1005_041008_fallfoliage.htmlhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5325205/https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis
The Harrisburg Air National Guard Base actually has units spread around all of PA. The former Olmstead Air Force Base next to the civilian Capital City Airport, State College and Muir Army Airfield at Fort Indiantown Gap.The Air Refueling Wing is based at the Pittsburgh International Airport in Coraopolis, PA.[Image: F-15C Eagles from the 67th Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, are refueled by a KC-135R Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron during joint bilateral training with other U.S. forces and the Japan Air Self Defense Force Feb. 25, 2010. By U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Angelique Perez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]It provides aerial refueling capability to U.S. and Allied forces worldwide using the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.The KC-135 was the US Air Force's first jet-powered refueling tanker and replaced the KC-97 Stratofreighter. The KC-135 was initially tasked with refueling strategic bombers.What is remarkable is the length of service, now 60 years since its first flights in 1956.Studies have concluded that many of the aircraft could be flown until 2040, although maintenance costs have greatly increased. The aircraft will eventually be replaced by the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus.What many people don't realize is the manufacturer, Boeing, used a widely popular commercial airliner, the Boeing 707 in its design of the KC-135. So next time you fly consider the plane you are flying retrofitted to haul a tank of gas to thirsty military planes doing a long flight mission.This isn't a plane you just pull up to fill up. Here are some amazing performance facts of this faithful work horse of the US Air Force...First off, as a refueling tanker designers have used practically every square inch for that primary mission. As upgrades occurred over the years there are fuel tanks in the body and in the wing.Not only is there room made for its own fuel, the K-135, has several separate tanks to allow different types of fuel to be carried for the requirements for different types of planes.Of course with this much fuel increasing payload weight you need to have the right engines to power it. A sweeping upgrade from Pratt & Whitney original engines to General Electric/Snecma engines has produced the following impressive results (improvements over the original).[list][*]22,500 lbs of thrust (+100%)[*]Fuel efficient (+25%)[*]Engine Maintenance costs (-25%)[*]Quieter at Takeoff (-25%)[/list]With the K-135 having increased maintenance costs and some reaching the total flying limits by 2040 the DOD plan is to slowly replace these reliable workhorses with another Boeing commercial cousin, the Boeing 767 and with the military tag Boeing KC-46 Pegasus.We give tribute to the important role the Harrisburg Air National Guard Defense plays as part of our state and nation's defense in the kickoff of our latest Harrisburg video.