In a story that didn't receive any press (for obvious reasons), a southern California power substation was riddled with bullets for 19 minutes before authorities arrived, to find the perps gone into the night.  It happened in April last year, and wiped out 17 big transformers.  It took a month to get the substation back on line.  The only clues were some clean AK-47 brass.

picture of substation and AK-47

 Power station picture by Panther

 If AK's were the guns that were used, it bodes ill for our grid.  There seem to be plenty of malcontented groups unhappy with our electrical grid, from the darker side of environmentalism to anti government militia groups to downright Al Queda troopers.  Considering that our grid can barely stand assaults from Mother Nature, it makes you want to stock up on firewood and lentils.  And so much AK  ammunition is sold in this country that tracing it would be a nightmare.  

The bad guys, in this case as always, have the upper hand.  No one knows what these lamebrains would do till they've done it, and it does seem impossible to guard every transformer in the country.  Banning guns wouldn't help, since there all ready too many floating around.  Which means the legal ones are only the tip of the iceberg.  

The vulnerability of our grid has been focused on  cybersecurity threats so much lately, that a simple sniper attack had been overlooked.  So, was this attack proof of concept?  Or just the opening act...

Voice of America story

The Spad XIII was one of the better fighters in WW1, built from a French design, packing Vickers guns and up to 200 horsepower.  After 1917, German fighters began to catch up, but it was still in production at the end of the war.  

The Spad held it togther in a dive, something it's predecessor Nieuport couldn't do, shedding it's upper wing from time to time.  Eventually every French front line squadron was equipped with these planes. They were also used by the Royal Air Force's No. 23 Squadron, and the Americans.  There were plenty of notable pilots, including Georges Guynemer, Rene Fonck and even Eddie Rickenbacker.

picture of Rickenbacker's Spad

You can see one of these planes if you visit the States, at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. However, if you can't make it, you can sit in one (although virtually) on the Museum's web site.  Early aircraft are mesmerizing, as nothing is hidden, and you can see how some things evolved by comparing them to modern aircraft.  It's also amazing how well built they were, and how early on they figured out how to make something sturdy and light at the same time.  It's also refreshing not to see plastic anywhere. 

picture of Spad cockpit

The Spad's virtual cockpit