This is the captain speaking, is an Instagram photographer aboard?

Friday, 19 December, 2014

In NSW, and I dare say in many other places, motorists are not permitted to handle their mobile phones whatsoever while they are driving. They are however able to pass their device to a passenger, but that’s about all. Needless to say taking Instagram photos is clearly out of the question.

Airline pilots appear to be bound by similar regulations, though as this collection of images goes to show, they don’t always seem to adhere to them, unless of course another crew member, someone who is non flight deck personnel, is actually taking the photos.

Perhaps airlines could consider assigning someone the role of flight photographer… many of these pictures, by sheer virtue of the circumstances in which they are taken, are stunning.

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Flying, not the most profitable way to make money

Thursday, 11 December, 2014

Of all the businesses you might want to start, an airline may not be the best idea… how, for instance, does a profit margin of just four dollars per passenger, grab you?

Despite incredible growth, airlines have not come close to returning the cost of capital, with profit margins of less than 1% on average over that period. In 2012 they made profits of only $4 for every passenger carried.

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A guide to the extensive, and varied, controls of a aircraft cockpit

Monday, 8 December, 2014

We’ve all seen photos of aircraft cockpits seemingly crammed with controls and instruments, but are all these dials and buttons for real, or do only a few matter? Needless to say, all are important, and do indeed serve a purpose.

The engine information shown: On the top left are two dials; they indicate the N1 setting for the left and right engine. N1 is a measure of engine power – at 100% N1, the engine is producing maximum power (right now the engines are at 22.5% N1). The second row shows the engine’s EGT (exhaust gas temperature, currently 411°C), another measure of engine power and also an important thing to monitor – if the exhaust gas is too hot, you’re in trouble. To the right of the dials is a grid where engine warnings would pop up. On the bottom right are the fuel gauges; it shows the fuel in each of the three tanks and the total fuel onboard (40,200 gallons).

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When Concorde used to fly over the houses in Barnes, London

Tuesday, 2 December, 2014

For a time I was living under one of the approach paths to London’s Heathrow airport. Jumbo jets lumbered overhead from early morning until the nightly curfew kicked in during the late evening. Yet we barely noticed them. Concorde, however, was another matter.

Flights only landed into Heathrow twice daily, but there was no missing them. Not only could they be heard approaching miles away, literally, the house trembled as they passed overhead, so noisy were the engines. Still, pilots liked flying them, and passengers generally enjoyed being aboard, so I guess that’s what matters.

Apparently, Concorde “handled very well” and was easier to fly than other aircraft such as the Boeing 747. It is “a pilot’s plane, but also a passenger’s plane”, according to Andrew, and Concorde did turn out to be a favourite, at least for those who could afford it. Passengers may have enjoyed a choice of four different champagnes to wash down a sumptuous three-course meal, but if you think Concorde’s interior was the height of sophistication, think again. Compared to your average Airbus, Concorde was decidedly cramped.

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On folding up a world record paper airplane

Tuesday, 25 November, 2014

Because, when you build paper aeroplanes, you should strive to build the best paper aeroplanes.

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The best time to fly? Well it’s the early birds who get home sooner…

Monday, 17 November, 2014

Since I’m buzzing about the place at the moment… when it comes to avoiding delays while flying, especially domestically, taking flights that are scheduled for earlier in the day, rather than later, might be the way to go.

Like buses and trains, aircraft are also prone to hold ups as the day progresses, as they move from place to place, so travelling first thing, where possible, looks to be a plan.

The later you leave, the greater the average delay you will face until around 6PM when things flatten out and 10PM when we see benefits in leaving later. It makes sense that delays increase as the day goes on because, we understand, the primary cause of delays is waiting for the plane to arrive from another city. The first flights out in the morning don’t have this problem.

Based on US research, but I imagine same principle applies elsewhere.

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Timelapse footage from this year’s Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Friday, 7 November, 2014

I don’t think they actually move through the sky quite as quickly as they appear to… timelapse footage of several hundred hot air balloons launching at dawn, at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, held in the US state of New Mexico.

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Can you name the first woman to fly around the world solo?

Wednesday, 22 October, 2014

In 1964, Jerrie Mock, a mother of three living in Columbus, Ohio, piloting a single engine Cessna 180 aircraft, became the first woman to fly solo around the world, yet the chances are you’ve not heard of her

But the last 50 years have produced no Hollywood movie, no legend, and, until recently, not so much as a statue of Mock in her small hometown. Elsewhere in Ohio – the so-called birthplace of aviation – the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton doesn’t include her. Committee members who vote for inductees, according to one who added Mock to the ballot in 2003, don’t recognize her name.

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Those magnificent hang glider pilots and their hang gliders

Thursday, 9 October, 2014

Hang gliding alone is not thrill enough for some flyers, such as Théo de Blic, who choose to engage in certain aerobatic manoeuvres to ramp up the excitement.

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Flying from Singapore to New York in the top deck

Wednesday, 8 October, 2014

Derek Low recently flew from Singapore to New York as a Singapore Airlines “Suites Class” passenger, which is like super luxurious, seven star, platinum plated, or something, air travel, and documented almost every minute of the journey.

It must be quite the experience, but I don’t know if I could – much as I’d like to – ever fly that way… I’d just keep thinking this’ll all be over way too soon.

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