June 29, 1934 Joseph Adamowicz (1893-1970) and his younger brother Benjamin Adamowicz (1898-1979) began an ambitious airborne journey from North America to Europe. They are believed to be among the first (if not the first) amateur pilots to undertake any kind of transatlantic flight. The brothers, flying a monoplane known as City of Warsaw, made […]
Eight years ago…
The weather this year has been marvelous so far. Winter almost non existent. Who could have expected 70’s in March even before the official start of spring? Unlike previous years, the DC99s were off to a good start to the flying season. Spring not here and already two flyouts accomplished. Quite unlike the last two years.
The day dawned, hazy with fog over much of the Shenandoah Valley. But clearing slowly but surely. Ted and I departed Manassas, on a sunny,calm but hazy Saturday. It was Ted’s first cross country flight since his check ride last December. Clouds and haze still hugged the rugged Shenandoah mountains, as we traced our way west and then south looking for a dip in the ridge to cross over to the Valley. Landing at the airport,we awaited the arrival of the other aircraft that had departed from FDK. It truly was a glorious day for flying!
Continue to read here.
Sure as the BRS Save‑O’‑The‑Month calendar flips to a new year, we here at the Department of Self‑Righteous Finger Pointing present the best of the dumbest ways pilots have contributed to keeping the skies safe by rendering as many aircraft as possible unairworthy. Today, we review the year 2016, which reflected a modest improvement in not crashing but still logged 1627 accident/incidents worthy of NTSB note. That’s 4.46 events per day or roughly one prang every 5.3 hours. As with past Stupid Pilot Tricks, we use NTSB “probable cause” results and don’t report on fatal accidents.
Continue to read here
“If it is true that the soul of a man sits near the head of the human body, it could also be true that a pilot sitting in a cockpit – using the intricate and often sophisticated instruments and machinery to accomplish the miracles of space and distance – could be the soul of an aircraft”
I have this penchant for books. There was a time when I haunted libraries, and books stores, both new and old, purchasing books that I had read and liked or books that I wanted to read or books that looked interesting. Lately it is cheaper to buy and read e-books. It is also so much easier when traveling, since an iPad or smart phone is an essential device always on hand. Despite that, there is something to be said about sitting down with a good hardback or paperback.
I have had In the Cockpit for many years, but I finally got a chance to read it or really sift through the pages, learning about aircraft artifacts that grace the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Written by Dana Bell, with photographs by Eric Long and Mark Avino, with a foreword by John Travolta, In the Cockpit, provides a vivid and poignant history of 50 aircraft that are part of the Smithsonian Air and Space Collection. With beautiful photographs, and historical context, the author presents the evolution of aviation technology starting from the Wright Flyer to SpaceShipOne. While every aircraft is distinct and interesting, here are five of my all-time favorite aircraft.
First there is the Wright Flyer flown by Orville Wright in 1903 that changed the world. Comprising of three flight controls namely, a leading-edge clip to launch the aircraft on a wooden rail, a lever to control the elevators during climb and dive, and a hip cradle to turn the aircraft right and left. There were also three instruments that could be read after the flight. The 1903 Wright Flyer is housed in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
The Lockheed 5B Vega, with its brilliant red color, also known as the “Little Red Bus” was an Amelia Earhart favorite. In it she set the record for women’s speed over a 1-mile course in November 1929 and an additional two more speed records in June 1930. In it she became the first woman to pilot an aircraft across the Atlantic in May 1932 and only the second person to do so. She followed this up with the first solo nonstop transcontinental flight from Los Angeles, CA to Newark, NJ in August 1932. There were 128 Vegas built and Earhart’s was the 22nd Vega.
The Bell XV-15 Tiltrotor. Part of the dream of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) was realized in the 1930s with the invention of the helicopter. The dream continues with the electronic VTOL (eVTOL) and urban air mobility (UAM). For now, the second of the XV-15S resides at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
The Concorde was one of its kind! The only aircraft to provide sustained passenger service at twice the speed of sound, it was operated by British Airways and Air France between 1976 and 2008. There were 20 Concorde’s in all and only 14 that entered service. The Concorde on display at the Udvar-Hazy Museum in Virginia was donated by Air France.
The last and final is SpaceShipOne. This should not come as a surprise to those who have been following my blog. I have a history with this aircraft. Designed by Burt Rutan, built by Scaled Composites, and funded by Paul Allen, SpaceShipOne was built to be a reusable space test vehicle. The first privately sponsored spaceflight was flown by Mike Melville on June 21, 2004 and went on to win the X-Prize. SpaceShipOne flew 17 flights before it was retired, and now model 316 graces the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
It is interesting how sometimes life comes full circle. This book is in many ways very dear to me. Given as a parting gift by my coworkers, who understood me in so many ways more than I ever realized, this first edition of the book is marked with unforgettable warm wishes by each and every one of them. It is one of the books I received as a gift and will forever cherish. As I start this next phase of my life where I am learning about the Smithsonian artifacts, what better book to start than with In the Cockpit?
If you are plane crazy, you might like this book. You can purchase a hard copy of In the Cockpit on Amazon.
In 2008, 25-year-old Arizona native Jessica Cox became the world’s first licensed armless pilot. Cox, a Filipino-American, was born without arms due to a rare birth defect. This disability, however, has not prevented her from leading an active life filled with noteworthy accomplishments. Cox, who graduated from the University of Arizona in 2005 with a […]
Mate-De-mate, Mojave, and Mystery
Flying in California was extremely easy. Not only was the weather sunny and perfect for flying much of the year, but also pilots eager and ready for an opportunity to go flying. Most GA airports had restaurants on the field for that coveted ham/veg burger. There were ample events such as airport days, air shows, hanger parties, monthly pilot group meetings, hosting of events such photo rallies, air races, poker runs, safety seminars, and many more. One of the events that I really looked forward to after obtaining my PPL was the Southwest Section 99s meetings.
Held in Spring and Fall, the events spanned from Thursday through Sunday, hosted at locations with plenty of activities to attract large groups of pilots and always fun to meet and interact with other pilots. Southwest Section comprises of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Hawaii, with more than 1600 members and 57 chapters. Section meetings are typically hosted by chapters and in the fall of 2003, the meeting was hosted by the Antelope Valley 99s based at Lancaster’s William J Fox (WJF) airport.
Ever enthusiastic, Grace and I set off for Lancaster for our second attendance at a section meeting after our very exciting experience at Columbia. Friday was a busy day with a trip out to NASA Dryden and Edwards Air Force Base. First half of the morning was spent at NASA Dryden viewing the latest research vehicles such as the heavily modified McDonnel Douglas NF-15B fitted with neural network control systems or Intelligent Flight Control Systems (IFCS). We also got to see and climb partway, the Shuttle MDD (Mate/Demate Device) Facility. This was where the shuttle was brought after a landing at Edwards AFB, to be mated to the NASA 747 carrier to be transported back to Florida.
Following lunch on the base with the guest of honor, the Deputy head of NASA Dryden, we drove out to Edwards AFB flight-line for a viewing of aircraft parked in the transient/hanger spaces, aircraft such as an F-14 doing touch and goes and others taxing to the runway for take-off. There are at least 18 runways on the base, most of them along the flat lake-bed.
The theme for the banquet was 1940s. Several guests had donned costumes. To make matters worse, it was also a Mystery Dinner. There were several nurses, doctors, army officers and more. Who was an actor and who was a guest was a mystery. Is Captain Patton walking about with a batten, greeting everyone in his military voice, an actor or is he someone’s spouse? There was music with hit songs from Chicago such as “All that Jazz”, great dancing, and some excellent action. Patton it seems might not be whom one thinks he is! Murder and mystery were definitely in the air that night.
The next day in the afternoon we set off to Mohave Airport. The airport is a civilian test training center. AvTech, the company based at the airport manages and maintains commercial aircraft not in operation. There were almost 80 such aircraft parked on the day we visited. According to the AvTech personnel who served as our guide, after 9/11 they were receiving almost 30 aircraft per day. It takes about 7 days to restore an aircraft to make it airworthy and ready for flight. Afterwards we drove to the offices of Scaled Composites and spent almost two hours inside Burt Rutan’s hanger, underneath First Knight his Spaceship One launch vehicle, while Rutan spoke explaining his design, problems encountered and how they were fixed.
All in all, another fantastic section meeting filled with space, murder and mystery.
Five Years Ago: Partial Engine Failure
“Did we hit a bird, ” I started to say…
There was no response from the cockpit. Barely a few seconds later I heard,
“Indy Center, Nxxxxx”.
“Go ahead, Nxxxxx, ” Indy Center responded.
“I want to declare an emergency. I am unable to maintain altitude, I want to land Parkersburg”
“What’s the problem,” queried Indy Center.
“I don’t have manifold pressure….I am losing engine power,” responded the pilot.
Continue to read here: May Day, May Day, May Day
From eight years ago…
Photo Source: Smithsonian Air and Space
Anne Baumgartner was born on August 27th 1918 in Augusta, GA. Her interest in aviation began when she learnt about Amelia Earheart in school. She learned to fly at Somerset Hills Airport in Basking Ridge, New Jersey and entered the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) training at Houston, TX in 1943. She was assigned to tow a target squadron at Camp Davis, North Carolina, flying Curtiss A-25s, and later transferred to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where she became the first and only female test pilot.
Some of the aircraft she flew included: T-7, AT-17, AT-10, C-45, C-47, A-24, A-25, B-25, B-26, B-17, B-29, P-38, P-40, P-47, P-51, YP-59A as well as foreign-made Avro Lancaster, deHavilland Mosquito, Spitfire, Junkers Ju-88 and the Canadian C-64. She became the first women to fly a jet when she test flew the YP-59A in 1944.
When the WASP was disbanded in 1944, she returned to flight instruction and writing for New York Times. She died in 2008 at the age of 90.