Tag: Flying

D-Day anniversary muse.

Just a personal reflection.

American paratroopers, heavily armed, sit inside a military plane as they soar over the English Channel en route to the Normandy French coast for the Allied D-Day invasion of the German stronghold during World War II, June 6, 1944. (AP Photo)
American paratroopers, heavily armed, sit inside a military plane as they soar over the English Channel en route to the Normandy French coast for the Allied D-Day invasion of the German stronghold during World War II, June 6, 1944. (AP Photo)

Seventy years ago, to this day, as the whole world now knows, the start of the end of World War II swung into action.  As this website put it (from where this photograph came),

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Allied troops departed England on planes and ships, made the trip across the English Channel and attacked the beaches of Normandy in an attempt to break through Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall” and break his grip on Europe. Some 215,000 Allied soldiers, and roughly as many Germans, were killed or wounded during D-Day and the ensuing nearly three months it took to secure the Allied capture of Normandy.

On this day, seventy years ago, my mother was living in London four months pregnant with yours truly. I was born in November, 1944.

The USA frequently gets a hammering in the media, including blog sites, for a whole range of activities.

But the 6th June, 1944 reminds me that when the American people turn their hand to helping others across the world, they can be a most powerful force for good.

That I have lived my almost seventy years in an environment that has allowed me freedom and opportunity and that I write this as a relatively new resident of the United States of America, living happily in rural Oregon, is a testament to that force for good.

Thank you Yankees!


Aviation nostalgia alert!

The fabulous story of the restoration of a British Navy Supermarine Seafire Mk.XV

From time to time I let on that in the past I was a keen private pilot and before that a glider (sailplane) pilot.  My son has been a commercial airline pilot for many years.  Inevitably, one gets to know other pilots, a few of whom become firm friends.  One such friend is Bob Derham who recently sent me this story about the restoration of a Supermarine Seafire.  For anyone interested in classic aircraft, the story of this particular aircraft is fascinating.

Seafire Mk. XV
Seafire Mk. XV

While WikiPedia has a good description of the type, there’s a fine description of this particular aircraft over at the Salute website, (the photo above came from that website) from which I offer:

Supermarine Seafire Mk. XV

This airplane is one of only four known Seafire Mk. XVs to exist in the world and it may be the only flying Supermarine Seafire Mk. XV in the world. Dr. Wes Strickler’s immaculate Supermarine Seafire Mk. XV (also known as the “hooked Spitfire”) is based in Columbia, MO, was restored by Jim Cooper, and made its first post-restoration flight in 2010. The Supermarine Seafire was a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire specially adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. The Seafire’s mission was primarily as a short range interceptor. The name Seafire was derived by abbreviating the longer name “Sea Spitfire”.

The Mk XV variant of the Seafire was powered by a Griffon VI (single-stage supercharger, rated at 1,850 hp driving a 10 ft 5 in Rotol propeller. It appeared to be a naval Spitfire F Mk XII but was an amalgamation of a strengthened Seafire III airframe and wings with the wing fuel tanks, retractable tailwheel, larger elevators and broad-chord “pointed” rudder of the Spitfire VIII. The engine cowling was from the Spitfire XII series, being secured with a larger number of fasteners and lacking the acorn shaped blister behind the spinner. A vee-shaped guard forward of the tailwheel prevented arrestor wires getting tangled up with the tailwheel.

One problem which immediately surfaced was the poor deck behavior of this mark, especially on take-off. At full power the slipstream of the propeller, which swung to the left (as opposed to the Merlin, which swung to the right), often forced the Seafire to swing to starboard, even with the rudder hard over on opposite lock. This sometimes led to a collision with the carrier’s island. The undercarriage oleo legs were still the same as the much lighter Merlin engined Spitfires, meaning that the swing was often accompanied by a series of hops. This undercarriage also gave it a propensity of the propeller tips “pecking” the deck during an arrested landing and occasionally bouncing over the arrestor wires and into the crash barrier.

Wing span: 36ft 10in. Max takeoff weight: 7,640 lb. Max speed: 359 mph. Power: 1,850 hp.

This is an example of incredible dedication!
This is an example of incredible dedication! Jim Cooper in front of the Seafire.

When you watch the film, Jim Cooper makes it clear that there were others on the restoration project.  But the film also makes it clear that without Jim this beautiful aircraft would never have been restored, let alone restored to a flying machine.

Settle back and enjoy!

Uploaded on Aug 18, 2010 by Scott Schaefer

“While Sarah Hill and I were taping the first Central Missouri Honor Flight special in the Ozark Hangar at Columbia Regional Airport in January 2009, I noticed Jim Cooper working on a plane in the corner of the hangar. I love airplanes and this sight piqued my interest.

The corner was enclosed by plastic from floor to ceiling and inside sat a plane, wings folded toward the ceiling and a paint job that left more to be desired. It was the Seafire XV – one of only a handful still in existence. As soon as I saw the plane and learned a few facts about it, I knew I wanted to do a story on it and follow Cooper through the rest of the restoration process.

Cooper had already been working on the Seafire for nearly a year and half by the time we met, but there was still plenty of work that had to be done. I started shooting that night and throughout the next year and half, whenever Cooper would move to a different stage in the restoration, he’d call and I would head to the hangar to shoot video. I didn’t shoot every part of the process, but tried to capture the big ones ?cleaning the plane, painting, revealing the paint job, testing the landing gear, testing the engine and of course the first flight.

After 10 trips to the airport, 130 miles and nearly 6 hours of video, it was time to start the editing process. Once all the video was in the system, I spent 14 hours typing the details from of every sound and interview captured in the video. That log was essential in writing the story. I needed to know exactly what was said in order to organize everything into a story that would hopefully hold people’s interest. After I had a rough script written, I began to edit the video. After about 15 hours in the edit bay tweaking every little audio and video cut? then re-tweaking them? I was finally finished. Nineteen months later. It was a tough job picking the best four minutes from six hours of video, but in the end, I think I accomplished what I set out to do.”

Leave you with another photograph.

One of a kind!
One of a kind!


If you wanted to see the aircraft in the air, then it will be at this year’s EAA OSHKOSH.  I’ve always wanted to go but never made it! Anyone fancy baby-sitting some dogs and horses around the end of July? 😉

Thanks Bob for sending me the video link.

Nostalgic times.

Flying the Piper Super Cub

Last Saturday, I posted an item that included a great video about the Air-Cam sports aircraft.  I succumbed to a bout of nostalgia in that I dipped into both my old gliding and flying log-books.  As I wrote:

 My last (powered) flight was in a Piper Super Cub, registration R-151, a flight of 1 hr 40 mins from Kemble returning to Watchford Farm, where the Cub was based.

I ‘warned’ readers that today’s post would offer some more about that wonderful aircraft; Piper Super Cub R-151.


Approaching home in South Devon, England
Approaching home airfield in South Devon, England

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

R-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, on the 1st April 1976 with 4,458 hours. Shortly thereafter the aircraft was registered to Vliegclub Hoogeveen, Certificate Number 2380.  Amazingly, the club is still in existence as their website shows.

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 G-BIYR was the first of type to be given a Public Transport CofA (Certificate of Airworthiness) and was used for training at Tollerton; Nottingham. G-BIYR reverted to a Private CofA in January, 1984 when purchased by Mike and Barbara Fairclough from Devon at 5,120 hours.

In 1992, the aircraft was re-engined with a Lycoming 150HP, 0320-A2B No. L49809-27A (zero hours). Finally on the 2nd June, 1995 the aircraft 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.

More pictures.

Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight
Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight


9,300 ft up in the French Alps
9,300 ft up in the French Alps


This last photograph was taken shortly after Pharaoh decided to jump into the passenger’s seat.  The year was 2006 when Pharaoh was 3 years old.  As much as I was tempted, I resisted the urge of taxying him around the airfield!

Rather like the view from here, Dad!

Now for something completely different!

Echoes of a past life.

A few days ago, dear friend Suzann, sent me an item about a wonderful new light aircraft.  (It was Su and Don who invited me to Mexico in December, 2007 that resulted in me and Jeannie meeting!)

Before I explain what Su sent me, allow me a few moments of nostalgia.

'K7' glider.
‘K7’ glider.

I have a gliding (sailplaning in US speak) log book that has the following entry at the top of page 1:

Flights 1 & 2. June 7th 1981. K7 dual seat glider. Rattlesden Gliding Club, Suffolk. Winch launch. Total flight time 12 minutes.

Those flights started a love affair with flying.

I have a powered-flight log book that has the following entry at the top of page 1.

March 3rd, 1984. Cessna 150. Reg: G-BGAF. Capt: Martin Lowe. Ipswich Airport – local flight 1325 – 1355. Exercises 4,5.

I continued glider flying, becoming an instructor along the way, until my last flight, flight number 1,424, on the 19th December, 1992; again from Rattlesden.

I continued power flying until the 4th August, 2008, a short time before I left the UK to be with Jean in Mexico.  My last flight was in a Piper Super Cub, registration R-151, a flight of 1 hr 40 mins from Kemble returning to Watchford Farm, where the Cub was based.

My son, Alex, shared my love of flying as a young man and is now a Senior Captain with a British airline.

G-EWFN, a Socata TB20.
G-EWFN, a Socata TB20.

Anyway, all of which is a rather long preamble to this.

What a fabulous aircraft!  The relevant website is, unsurprisingly, the Air-Cam site.

(Come back on Monday for some more recollections about flying the Piper Super Cub!)

Anniversary message from Paul

Learning from Dogs has been running for one year.

On July 15th, 2009 a post called Parenting lessons from Dogs started what has now become a bit of a ‘habit’.  But more reflections tomorrow.

Reach for the Skies

Today I want to voice something that has been running around my mind for some time.  It is whether we give in to the mounting doom and gloom at so many levels in our societies (and it can be a very compelling draw) or whether we see this as a painful but necessary period where slowly but surely the desires of ordinary people; for a fairer, more truthful, more integrous world are gaining power.

And I’m going to use Richard Branson to voice it for me!

(Now this is an unusually long Post so I’ve inserted the Read More divider to prevent the Post visually swamping your browser.)

Read the rest of this article

Incentive to apply for retirement!

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

A quick Google search shows that this is a well-documented story that has been doing the rounds since 2009.  But I hadn’t come across it before so was very grateful for a friend in England, Richard Howell, including me on a recent email circulation.  I shall reproduce Richard’s email just as it was received.

OK… so… you’re the pilot of a plane…

It’s on auto-pilot and you’re catching up on People magazine and having a cup of coffee.

Suddenly the loudest sound you will ever hear goes off just behind your left ear.

You’re blinded by the flash and can’t hear.

All you can feel is something warm running down your leg.

You immediately consider retirement.

This is an Atlantic Southeast Airlines/Delta Connection aircraft… soon after it suffered a lightning strike.

Yep… time to RETIRE!

Thanks Richard,

By Paul Handover

I’m with stupid!

The Loop in North Wales and a neat gag!

Photo Chris Chambers

The British Royal Air Force frequently train their air crews in and around the valleys of North Wales.  Much of that area is designated a Tactical Training Area.  One such route is known as The Loop.  Here’s a description of that from the website Warplane.co.uk:

Machynlleth Loop

The most appropriate place to start with is the Machynlleth Loop which is usually referred to by aircrews as ‘The Loop’ although the USAF crews refer to it as ‘The Roundabout’. It is literally a roundabout of flowed valleys running counter-clockwise following the A470 north eastwards from Machynlleth in the south to Dinas Mawddwy then heading north west to join the A487 at the Cross Foxes Inn. From here it follows the A487 southwards through Corris to end back at Machynlleth. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL23 is recommended for anyone planning a visit.

It is arguably the busiest part of the UK low fly system and although the cold war days of up to 80 plus movements in a day are long gone it is still sometimes possible to see 30 plus aircraft in one day. The usual daily total is usually between 10 and 20 aircraft mainly made up of Hawks with the odd Tornado, Harrier or Hercules thrown in. It is certainly the place to go to practice your panning technique.

It takes about 3 minutes for a jet aircraft to do a circuit of the Loop and multiple passes by aircraft is not an uncommon sight, especially by Hawks. So whenever you see an aircraft it is worth checking to see if it looks like doing a circuit as you may be lucky enough to see it again in 3 minutes.

Do click on the link if only to view some of the fantastic flying photographs.

Anyway, a couple of British newspapers recently published a piece about an RAF Navigator holding up a sign inside the cockpit for the many amateur photographers who frequent this part of the country.

Here’s an extract from the Daily Mail:

A RAF navigator gave plane-spotters a chuckle as he held up a sign reading ‘I’m with stupid’ with an arrow pointing to the pilot.

The pair were on a training mission in a £13million Tornado GR4 aircraft, capable of reaching 1,400mph, when the navigator pulled the prank as they jetted through a valley in Wales.

Copyright Andrew Chittock

Wonderful prank, and wonderful picture taken by Andy Chittock who clearly is rather used to taking a mean photograph!

By Paul Handover

BP and the mirror on the wall.

This is very, very uncomfortable.

Reflecting the truth?

Trying to say anything new about the implications of the terrible disaster in the Gulf of Mexico would be impossible.

All I can do is to admit my very great discomfort at knowing that later today, I shall be returning to Phoenix by flying across the Atlantic in a Boeing 747.

A small amount of web research suggests that there are about 600 transatlantic flights a day and that my B747 will use roughly 10 tons of fuel an hour, i.e. conservatively 100 tons for the flight LHR-PHX.

So 600 x 100 = 60,000 tons of fuel every day just in flights across the Atlantic!

So pointing the finger at BP is, in a very real sense, misdirected.  BP are only responding to our need for oil, in all its forms.

Do watch the videos from Prof Al Bartlett being shown on this Blog from tomorrow to understand the mathematics behind our unsustainable way of life.

By Paul Handover

3 mins of pure nostalgia

Wonderful short film of the P-38 Lightning (thanks to Steve).

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a WWII American fighter aircraft. Equipped with droppable fuel tanks under its wings, the P-38 was used as a long-range escort fighter and saw action in every major combat area of the world.

A very versatile aircraft, the Lightning was also used for dive bombing, level bombing, ground strafing and photo reconnaissance missions.

The Lockheed team chose twin booms to accommodate the tail assembly, engines, and turbo superchargers, with a central nacelle for the pilot and armament. The nose was designed to carry two Browning .50 machine guns, two .30″ Brownings and an Oldsmobile 37 mm cannon.

The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in active production throughout the duration of American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbor to VJ Day.
Music: Benny Goodman with Helen Forrest – ‘It’s Always You’.

The WikiPedia entry is here.

P-38 Lightning

By Paul Handover

Skydiving stunt or utter madness?

From the Daily Mail (UK Newspaper) online

Just crazy!

A skydiver has pulled off an astonishing stunt by climbing out of a glider’s cockpit, crawling along the wing and then somersaulting underneath and stepping onto the wing of a second glider flying below.

Paul Steiner then moves back onto the main fuselage of the second glider while the first glider turns upside down and flies overhead so that he can reach up and hold the tail fin at 100mph, forming a human link between the two aircraft. He then leaps off and parachutes back to the ground.

The spectacular stunt, captured on YouTube, was carried out by the Red Bull skydive team 2,100 metres above the mountains in Styria, Austria. And they look mightily relieved as they returned to their airfield.

More incredible pictures here.

By Paul Handover