Archive for the ‘Aircraft’ Category
With grateful thanks to Cynthia G. who sent this to me.
(Going to take a break from the serious writing for this long week-end)
The place: The Alaskan Wilderness
The event: A private “fly-in” fishing excursion to that Alaskan wilderness.
The mistake: The pilot and fishermen left a cooler and bait in the plane.
The consequence: The bear went exploring for food!
The smart thinking: The pilot used his radio and had another pilot bring him 2 new tires, 3 cases of duct tape, and a supply of sheet plastic.
The result: The pilot patched the plane together, and they all flew home!
The moral of this story: Duct Tape? Never Leave Home Without It
Another gem from Capt. Bob.
Many of you will have watched the video of the dolphins being rescued off a Brazilian beach that I published a week ago under the title of Wet eyes warning. That was sent to me by Capt. Bob. Bob, like my son, is a commercial airline captain.
Now Bob has sent me this. Some day, I’ll natter on about my own amateur love affair with flying, both gliding (sailplane in USA speak) and power. But for now just marvel at the skills on display as in the name of fire control these crews quite deliberately do all the things that most would consider suicidal in aviation affairs.
A fascinating look back at making tracks!
This came in from Suzann, Su to her friends, a few days ago. Suzann is Dan Gomez’s sister and if Dan’s name is familiar it’s because he, too, sends in items for Learning from Dogs, the recent Tad too much cabin pressure being an example. It was Su that invited me out to San Carlos, Mexico for Christmas 2007 which resulted in me meeting Jean, a long-time friend of Su, and, as they say, the rest is history! OK, to the article from Su.
Here’s a question?
Think about railroad (railways in ‘English’!) tracks. The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number.
Why was that gauge used? Because that’s the way they built them in Scotland, and Scots expatriates designed the US railroads.
Why did the Scots build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.
Why that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long-distance roads in Scotland, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including Scotland) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since. [And rarely repaired! Ed. ]
And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts. Which forever more everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels.
Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.
Bureaucracies live forever….
So the next time you are handed a specification or a procedure or process and wonder ‘What horse’s ass came up with this?‘, you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses.
Now, the twist to the story. When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.
The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.
The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.
Just a fabulously interesting account of something we all take for granted, or had done until now! Thank you so much, Su, for sharing that with everyone.
Written by Paul Handover
October 20, 2012 at 00:00
Just one small step for Felix Baumgartner, and some step!
I was speaking with my son, Alex, in England about an hour ago and he brought to my attention a feat that is breath-taking, in the fullest meaning of that expression. I had to share the details with you as I’m sure that many, like me, were not aware of what is happening in a little under twelve hours time, subject to everything being in place.
A free-fall commencing from an altitude of 120,000 feet! (Oh,that’s just about 23 miles up!)
Felix Baumgartner (born 20 April 1969) is an Austrian skydiver and a BASE jumper. He is renowned for the particularly dangerous nature of the stunts he has performed during his career. Baumgartner spent time in the Austrian military where he practiced parachute jumping, including training to land on small target zones.
The Wikipedia entry goes on to explain,
He was born on 20 April 1969 in Salzburg, Austria.
In 1999 he claimed the world record for the highest parachute jump from a building when he jumped from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On 31 July 2003, Baumgartner became the first person to skydive across the English Channel using a specially made carbon fiber wing.
Baumgartner set the world record for the lowest BASE jump ever (95 feet), from the hand of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.
He became the first person to BASE jump from the completed Millau Viaduct in France on 27 June 2004 and the first person to sky dive onto, then BASE jump from, the Turning Torso building in Malmö, Sweden on 18 August 2006.
On 12 December 2007 he became the first person to jump from the 91st floor observation deck, then went to the 90th floor (about 390 m (1,280 ft)) of the then tallest completed building in the world, Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan.
But to my mind, none of those previous jumps compare to this mission,
Red Bull Stratos, a mission to the edge of space, will attempt to transcend human limits that have existed for 50 years. Supported by a team of experts Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend to 120,000 feet in a stratospheric balloon and make a freefall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground. His attempt to dare atmospheric limits holds the potential to provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers.
The Red Bull Stratos team brings together the world’s leading minds in aerospace medicine, engineering, pressure suit development, capsule creation and balloon fabrication. It includes retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who holds three of the records Felix will strive to break.
Joe’s record jump from 102,800 ft in 1960 was during a time when no one knew if a human could survive a jump from the edge of space. Joe was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and had already taken a balloon to 97,000 feet in Project ManHigh and survived a drogue mishap during a jump from 76,400 feet in Excelsior I. The Excelsior III mission was his 33rd parachute jump.
Although researching extremes was part of the program’s goals, setting records wasn’t the mission’s purpose. Joe ascended in helium balloon launched from the back of a truck. He wore a pressurized suit on the way up in an open, unpressurized gondola. Scientific data captured from Joe’s jump was shared with U.S. research personnel for development of the space program. Today Felix and his specialized team hope to take what was learned from Joe’s jumps more than 50 years ago and press forward to test the edge of the human envelope.
So if you are able and would like to watch the event live then this is the appropriate link.
Good luck to all involved. What an amazing feat!
A short pencil is better than a long memory.
The origins of this saying seem to have disappeared in the mists of time but it’s a rare person that doesn’t write a list from time to time. But when it comes to critical processes, having a list, or better known as a ‘checklist’ is essential to completing the process correctly.
With that in mind, then let me introduce you to a story recently sent to me by old friend Dan Gomez.
I’ve always done it this way!
This is an example of what happens when we do not pay attention to detail, and do not follow instructions and checklists!
A KC-135 Aircraft was being pressurized at ground level. The outflow valves which are used to regulate the pressure of the aircraft were capped off during a 5-year overhaul and never re-opened. The post-investigation revealed that a civilian depot technician who “had always done it that way” was using a homemade gauge, and no procedure.
Apparently, the technician’s gauge didn’t even have a max “peg” for the needle, so it was no surprise he missed it when the needle went around the gauge the first time.
As the technician continued to pressurize the aircraft with the needle on its second trip around the gauge there was a “boom”. One KC-135 went bang! Indeed, the rear hatch was blown over 70 yards away, through a blast fence!
An incident like this is never funny and is further regrettable when we consider that this mistake is one that we taxpayers will end up paying for. Fortunately, no one was reported as being injured.
This was a good “Lessons Learned” for making sure we have trained people, with the correct tools, and who are following detailed procedures. It should serve as a reminder that just because you’ve always done it that way, it does not make it the “right” way!
Now where did I leave that pencil!
Written by Paul Handover
October 7, 2012 at 00:00
There will only ever be one Neil Armstrong.
Like millions of others on this planet, I was held spellbound by the historic and epic moment of man placing his mark on another heavenly body, the Moon. I had been so wrapped up in NASA’s space missions that I took a holiday from work (I was working at the time for ICIANZ in Sydney, Australia) for the week of July 16th, 1969.
It was, of course, July 16th when the Apollo 11 Mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center culminating at precisely 20:17:39 UTC on July 20, 1969, the moment when the Lunar Module made lunar contact.
But in terms of me writing my own obituary for Neil, what could I offer?
Then a couple of items changed my mind.
The first was reading the obituary printed in The Economist. I have long admired the many, many beautiful obituaries that have been published by this newspaper and this one was no exception. Take this extract from the Neil Armstrong obituary,
He had an engineer’s reserve, mixed with a natural shyness. Even among the other astronauts, not renowned for their excitability, he was known as the “Ice Commander”. Mike Collins, one of his crew-mates on the moon mission, mused that “Neil never transmits anything but the surface layer, and that only sparingly.” He once lost control of an unwieldy contraption nicknamed the Flying Bedstead that was designed to help astronauts train for the lunar landing. Ejecting only seconds before his craft hit the ground and exploded, he dusted himself off and coolly went back to his office for the rest of the day. There was work to be done.
Then the beautiful words that bring the obituary to a close,
Over half a century, the man who never admitted surprise was surprised to observe the fading of America’s space programme. The Apollo project was one of the mightiest achievements of the potent combination of big government and big science, but such enterprises came to seem alien as well as unaffordable. Mr Armstrong, who after his flight imagined bases all over the moon, sadly supposed that the public had lost interest when there was no more cold-war competition.
Yet the flights had one huge unintended consequence: they transformed attitudes towards Earth itself. He too had been astonished to see his own planet, “quite beautiful”, remote and very blue, covered with a white lace of clouds. His reserve, after all, was not limitless. One photograph showed him in the module after he and Buzz Aldrin had completed their moon-walk, kicking and jumping their way across the vast, sandy, silver surface towards the strangely close horizon. He is dressed in his spacesuit, sports a three-day beard, and is clearly exhausted. On his face is a grin of purest exhilaration.
“ … they transformed attitudes towards Earth itself. He too had been astonished to see his own planet, “quite beautiful”, remote and very blue, covered with a white lace of clouds.” For that reason alone, we need to celebrate the achievement of the Apollo 11 mission for putting our own planet into perspective within the enormity of the universe.
The second item that persuaded me to write this was a wonderful historic insight into how a potential catastrophy on the surface of the Moon would have been handled by President Nixon. This historic item was published on Carl Milner’s blog the other day, the specific item being What if the Moon Landing Failed? Republished with the very kind permission of Carl.
When Richard Nixon was the President of the United States, they had a speech ready for him to deliver to the world just in case the 1969 moon landing had ended in disaster. In fact many experts believed there was a big chance that Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin could have really gotten stuck on the moon. It’s something we don’t really think about now because we all know it was such a success. American Archives have unearthed the speech that would have been delivered if the late great Armstrong and Aldrin had never made it back to earth. This is such a great piece of history that I thought I might never see.
Give it a read, It’s such a moving and well prepared speech, and such a good thing that President Nixon never had to delivered it.
So, as with millions of others, I am delighted that this speech remained unspoken and instead we experienced: “At 5:35 p.m. (US EDT), Armstrong and Aldrin successfully docked and rejoined Collins, and at 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:50 p.m. on July 24.“
Neil Armstrong’s legacy is not only being part of the wonderful team that allowed man to make the first footprint on the Moon but also bringing into our human consciousness that this blue, wonderful planet we all live on is the only home we have.
Strikes me that celebrating July 20th each year as Blue Planet Day might not be a bad idea! Any takers? Now that would be a legacy for Neil!
Written by Paul Handover
September 4, 2012 at 00:00
A stirring set of pictures from the Queen’s Jubilee
At the end of June, pilot friend Bob Derham sent me an email which contained all of what follows. I ‘filed’ it away and then forgot I had received it! My apologies. But as Europe was the subject of yesterday’s post, then maybe this can be seen as remaining on theme. Enjoy.
One last look back at those amazing Jubilee celebrations . . . as seen by the ‘Tail-end Charlie’ in Britain’s last airworthy Lancaster
Incredible footage has been released showing the bird’s eye view enjoyed by the crew aboard a Lancaster bomber flying over London for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The aeroplane, which is part of the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), flew in formation with aircraft including a Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota transport aircraft down The Mall, followed by the Red Arrows aerobatic team – to the delight of crowds and the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace below.
As well as preserving a fleet of priceless aircraft and keeping them in tip-top flying condition, the BBMF reminds the nation of the sacrifices made during World War Two.
The BBMF is based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire with many of its personnel, including pilots, acting as volunteers; the flight costs about £3m a year to run.
Squadron Leader Ian Smith, who is in charge of the BBMF, is the only permanent member, with all of the remaining pilots, navigators, air engineers and other crew coming from different airbases and ordinarily flying several different types of aircraft; from Typhoon fighters to the huge Hercules transport plane.
The aircrew give up three out of every four weekends from May to the end of September in order to fly and display the historic aircraft.
The footage, released by the Ministry of Defence, shows just how tight a fit it can be aboard a vintage aircraft, with the crew – clearly eager to catch a glimpse of the Queen – taking up most of the available space.
The historic flight includes the Lancaster, which first saw service in 1942. The ‘Lanc’ was the most famous of the Second World War bombers and gained renown for its starring role in the momentous ‘Dambuster’ raid on Germany’s Ruhr Valley in 1943.
Carrying a payload of 22,000lb and with a 1,500-mile range, the RAF bomber wreaked havoc on Germany. Some 3,500 were lost in action during the war.
Hurricane single-seater fighters played a crucial role in the Battle of Britain. Heavier and slower than the Spitfire, it was considered the RAF’s ‘workhorse’ against the Luftwaffe.
A remarkable total of 14,533 Hurricanes were built and served operationally on every day and in every theatre during the war. Only 12 are still airworthy worldwide.
The Spitfire is the iconic fighter that won legendary status against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. It possessed a top speed of 378mph, an altitude of 35,000ft and armed with two 20mm cannons, four Browning machine guns and two 250lb bombs.
One of the four that flew yesterday was P7350 – the oldest airworthy Spitfire in the world and the only one which actually fought in the Battle of Britain. It was shot up by a Messerschmitt 109 during combat in October 1940 but its wounded Polish pilot Ludwik Martel managed to crash-land it, wheels up, near Hastings.
A wonderful and incredibly nostalgic set of photographs. Finally, let me close with a short piece of video of that Lancaster Bomber in flight.
Written by Paul Handover
September 2, 2012 at 00:00
Excuse the self-indulgence!
While going through previously published Posts, I came across two, first shown on the 17th & 18th August, 2009, that seemed a better fit being rolled into one.
So here they are.
This is not my dog but it brings out the same feelings in me as if I was looking at my German Shepherd.
And this is my German Shepherd! The photograph was taken in 2006 when Pharaoh was 3 years old. The aircraft, by the way, is an L21B, the military variant of the Piper Super Cub. The aircraft was originally delivered to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and has dispensation from the UK CAA to retain the original registration and callsign of R151.
More on the aircraft.
Originally when the first half of today’s Post was published separately readers asked for more information on the aircraft.
So here it is.
Piper Super Cub, L-21B, R-151
A/C Construction No. 18-3841, Frame No. 18-3843
Original Engine, Lycoming 135 Type 0-290-D2, 54/2441
Romeo 151 was one of a batch of 298 L-21’s delivered in 1954. There were 584 L-21B’s produced by Piper for military use, the ‘L’ standing for Liaison. The L-21B’s were PA-18-135’s with civil Lycoming 0-290-D2 engines, glasswork as most L-21A’s and L-18’s and a gross weight of 1760 lbs.
This aircraft was delivered to Koninklijke Luchtmacht, Dutch Air Force, on the 1st July, 1954 and registered R-151. After various homes R-151 transferred to the Dutch civil register as PH-GER, 1st April 1976 with 4,458 hours and shortly thereafter was registered to Vlieclub Hoogeveen, Certificate Number 2380.
On the 27th March, 1981 the aircraft was delivered to the UK with a total time of 5,043 hours and in September, 1981 became G-BIYR. In April, 1983 YR was the first of type to be given a Public Transport CofA and was used for training at Tollaton. YR reverted to a Private CofA in January, 1984 when purchased by Mike and Barbara Fairclough at 5,120 hours.
In 1992 YR was re-engined with a Lycoming 150HP, 0320-A2B No. L49809-27A (zero hours). Finally on the 2nd June, 1995 the a/c was repainted in original Dutch insignia and given CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority) permission to use the original call-sign, Romeo 151.
The aircraft is based in South Devon, England and owned by the five members of the Delta Foxtrot Flying Group.
A few photos of the aircraft.
Really takes me back does this!
Another gem sent to me by dear friend, Bob D.
While the C-5 was turning over its engines, a female crewman gave the G.I.s on board the usual information regarding seat belts, emergency exits, etc.
Finally, she said, ‘Now sit back and enjoy your trip while your captain, Judith Campbell, and crew take you safely to Afghanistan‘
An old Master Sergeant sitting in the eighth row thought to himself, ‘Did I hear her right? Is the captain a woman? ‘
When the attendant came by he said ‘Did I understand you right? Is the captain a woman?‘
‘Yes,’! said the attendant, ‘In fact, this entire crew is female.’
‘My God,’ he said, ‘I wish I had two double scotch and sodas. I don’t know what to think with only women up there in the cockpit.’
‘That’s another thing, Sergeant,’ said the crew member, ‘We No Longer Call It The Cockpit‘
‘It’s The Box Office.’
Quote for today:
‘Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit.’
Keeping a balance on one’s state of mind.
Don’t know about you but I find that it is all too easy to get wound up by so much that is going on in this crazy world. That’s not to marginalise the threats to society that are all around us and there are some powerful writers out there who work so hard to inform the world as to the truth of those threats. (As an aside, one of my favourite authors is this context is Patrice Ayme, just see this recent Post of his as an example of his depth of analysis.)
But my dear friend of over 40 years, Dan Gomez, recently sent me a link to a video of the 10 most extreme airports in the world. That stirred some memories from my own flying days.
First settle back and enjoy 7 minutes of reasons why you don’t want to think about flying!
The YouTube video has this information, which I republish below,
Pictures and videos of the top 10 most extreme airports in the world!
San Diego: Busy airspace lots of buildings on approach
Madeira: Difficult approach and did have a short runway
Eagle Vail: High altitude, short runway & mountainous approach & departure
Courchevel: Short runway, bumpy runway, high altitude
Kai Tak: Difficult approch, fly through tall buildings, short runway
Gibraltar: Short runway, building on approach, winds from the Gibraltar rock
St Maarten: Short runway, has to fly over the beach with alot of people on there, steep takeoff because of mountains
St Barts: Short runway, has to dive.
St Barts: To land, the low approach on that hill thingy
Toncontin: Difficult approach, short runway
Lukla, short runway, only was cemented a few years ago, no go around, if land too low you land into a cliff
First song: La Perla by Kobojsarna
Second song: Feel It – Explicit Album Version by Three 6 Mafia vs Tiesto with Sean Kingston and Flo Rida
Now to a personal recollection.
I was a private pilot for many years, first learning to fly at the Suffolk Aero Club at Ipswich Airport in Suffolk, England. My first lesson was on the 3rd March, 1984!
Some twenty years later, on the 13th August 2004 to be exact, I was checked out to land at Courchevel Airport in an aircraft type known as a TB20, a French-built aircraft. Here’s the page from my log book with the necessary authorisation stamp affixed.
The following year, 19th July, 2005, I added my wonderful Piper Super Cub to that authorisation. (See here for a part picture of the aircraft.)
So thanks to YouTube as someone has uploaded a film of a light aircraft operating into Courchevel. It really is rather thrilling!
Finally, back to Dan. Here’s his recollections included in the email that he sent with that first film.
Just found this. I’ve landed at two of these. Eagle Vail was a piece of cake compared to Toncontin as Marty and Bruce know. BAE146 and small Boeing jets. I flew in and out of Toncontin 5 times in the 90′s and had no idea it was as scary as it was. That is to say, I knew it was scary because my palms sweated and heartbeat was about 140 but when I look at it now I go “what was I thinking?”
Take offs were like Orange County, Full brake power straight up. The big difference was you were shuttling along the runway and then down the runway and finally, up the runway to get the wheels up.
One time, on a connecting flight from Medellin, we taxied in, were boarded by military police with drug dogs who sniffed their way through the aisle. Bags were searched while everyone waited in intense heat. It took about 2 hours, three time longer than necessary. Then the interior was fumigated with everyone aboard. All the big machine guns too. Nobody said a word!
There’s one thing about flying a light aircraft, especially into ‘interesting’ airfields, you don’t have a moment to worry about the state of the world!