Filming the aerobatic maneuvers of the USAF Thunderbirds

Monday, 21 July, 2014

Sergeant Larry Reid Jr is a photojournalist tasked with recording the aerobatic maneuvers of the USAF Thunderbirds air demonstration squadron. It’s not a job for any photographer though considering you’re moving at speeds of 800 kilometres an hour, at altitude, and your subjects may only be but a mere metre away.

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Photos of the combat aircraft of World War I

Monday, 2 June, 2014

German aircraft over Giza pyramids

World War I in Photos: Aerial Warfare, an In Focus photo collection. The Great War, or World War I, was the first major conflict to see the use of aircraft, yet it seems hard to believe that they were, initially at least, used for only reconnaissance purposes, rather than combat.

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Landing on an aircraft carrier, now that’s landing an aircraft

Friday, 23 May, 2014

I flew small aircraft, really small aircraft, for a couple years once, and if you asked me what the single hardest aspect of flying was, I’d tell you it was landing. As long as you have your wits about you, taking off and cruising are relatively straightforward processes. Almost like driving a car.

When it comes to landing you really have to get a number of things right, and all at the same time. In most cases though you have a nice wide, and long, runway to bring the aircraft down onto. But what about trying to land on an aircraft carrier? That would present a few more challenges, would it not?

Again, you have to get a number of things right simultaneously, but the margin for error is somewhat reduced, as US Navy pilot Tim Hibbetts explains:

You catch sight of the carrier over 20 miles out through a light haze. Even after several years, it still stirs an emotional response. The thing is so big… and so small. It’s big when you have to clean it or paint it, but small if you have a rumor or need to land on it. You’re about 10 minutes prior to your Charlie time (when your hook should be crossing the ramp) and you’ve checked in with the group’s air defense ship. You’re coming down to your marshaling altitude before you pop the 10 nautical mile bubble, so you minimize your chances of swapping paint with someone. Your wingman is now in tight formation, so he’s not helping you look around to clear the airspace. You’re essentially flying both planes, so your head is on a swivel. If you see another aircraft at the last second, you can certainly jerk away to avoid it, but you’re just going to send your wing man to his death, so “vigilance” isn’t just a noun.

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Is it possible to design better flight recorders or black boxes?

Tuesday, 8 April, 2014

It may take investigators years to fully understand the tragic fate that befell Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, wreckage of which is believed to have been found in the Southern Indian Ocean. Locating the aircraft’s flight recorder, or black box, will be crucial in this regard, but to date there is no indication as to its whereabouts.

Can the design, and the way flight recorders work, be changed though, to make their recovery easier in the future? Apparently yes, but unfortunately the task isn’t quite that straightforward:

It’s tempting, in the age of streaming data, to call this an archaic, obsolete system – after all, there are better ways of recording and accessing flight data – but they face staggering problems in practice. After an Air France crash in 2009, for example, it took investigators two years to recover the black box. French safety officials drew up recommendations afterward to improve the flight recorders, and the FAA followed suit. Those recommendations included features such as adding a mechanism to catapult a black box into the air when it hit water, and tripling the battery life of the underwater locator beacons to 90 days. Air France incorporated such technologies into its airplanes, but U.S. airlines are lagging behind on the new regulations. Financial hurdles are the most notorious reason for an increasingly parsimonious airline industry. “As with everything, you know the money is always going to be an issue,” Brickhouse says.

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The manila folder paper model Boeing 777 aircraft

Friday, 31 January, 2014

Luca Iaconi-Stewart builds incredibly intricate scale models of commercial aircraft using only glue and… manila folders. If you want an idea of just how detailed his works are, check out the cargo doors on this Boeing 777 he has constructed.

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Is it a plane, or is it a model? Either way it’s impressive

Tuesday, 26 November, 2013

This flight capable scale model of an Airbus A380-800 aircraft is impressive to say the least. At 4.8 metres in length, with a wingspan of 5.3 metres, weighing some 70 kilograms, and powered by actual jet engines, it could easily be mistaken for the genuine article if observed at a distance.

Watch it taxi and take off like any other commercial jet airliner, but marvel at that landing… that remote controlled landing.

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How quickly can a large aircraft be evacuated? Pretty quickly…

Tuesday, 19 November, 2013

It’s a comfort to know an aircraft the size of an Airbus A380, that potentially seats 850 people, in an all-economy class configuration, across two decks spanning the entire length of its fuselage, can be completely deplaned in less than ninety seconds, in the event of an emergency.

Here’s hoping the only time you witness such an exercise is while watching this demonstration.

Via Neatorama.

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On being ejected from a crash landing aircraft and surviving

Friday, 6 September, 2013

The chances of surviving being ejected, or flung out, from a crashing aircraft are pretty remote, though thankfully the chances of being in such a position in the first place are likewise remote, but those few who make it through such a catastrophe alive, often struggle to understand how they withstood the ordeal.

Modern commercial jets can carry hundreds of people 10 times faster than you can safely drive on a city street, which is 10 times faster than you can probably walk. Though millions of people witness it everyday, the transaction of physics between an airplane and gravity is unimaginably violent. If your puny body ever actually came face to face with what lies beyond your window seat, you’d die almost instantly, via several horrible mechanisms – hyperbaric trauma, friction, blunt force, hypoxia – competing to be the thing that actually killed you.

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Landing, the hardest part of flying an aircraft

Wednesday, 31 July, 2013

If you’re flying anytime soon you might want to skip passed this one, video clips of aircraft making – what could be best described as precarious landings – may not make for suitable viewing right now… save this one of a 747 landing at Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong.

Kai Tak Airport closed in 1998, so even if you’re about to board a flight, there’s no chance you’ll be landing there. As it happens crosswinds, rather than some problem presented by the high rise buildings that all too literally bordered Kai Tak’s runways, were the issue here. Crosswinds at Kai Tak, just what a harried pilot needed…

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Abandoned aircraft wrecks and the stories of how they came to grief

Wednesday, 1 May, 2013

Photo by Dietmar Eckell

Dietmar Eckell, a German photographer based in Thailand, has assembled an impressive collection of images of aircraft wrecks from across the world. The photos are to be featured in a book, “Happy Endings”, that Eckell plans to publish.

As the title suggests, the passengers and crew survived the crashes that brought each of the aeroplanes they were aboard to grief, and its these stories that Eckell now hopes to tell.

Via PetaPixel.

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