When you get caught between the Milky Way and Sao Paulo

Tuesday, 2 May, 2017

Sales Wick is a pilot with Swiss International Air Lines, and recently filmed this spectacular footage of the Milky Way galaxy during part of a night flight between Zurich and São Paulo.

Look out also for the part, at about one minute and fifteen seconds in, I think, where they turn the craft’s landing lights on to greet pilots in a nearby aircraft.

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Coming to an airport near you soon, maybe, circular runways

Wednesday, 12 April, 2017

Henk Hesselink, a Dutch engineer, has developed an idea for circle shaped runways. His design would eliminate all sorts of problems associated with flight, including cross wind landings.

They’d also be better for the environment, and would allow aircraft noise to be more evenly shared in areas surrounding airports.

I like the concept, but I’m wondering what a pilot would make of trying to land on a circular runway, as opposed to a straight one?

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No moving rotors? How does this helicopter fly then?

Monday, 13 March, 2017

German photographer Chris Fay was in the right place, Hong Kong, at the right time, with the shutter speed, and frame rate, of his smartphone camera, a Samsung S7, likewise at the right settings, to capture this footage of a helicopter in flight.

A helicopter in flight without its rotor blades moving, or so it seems. Of course they are, unless there’s another helicopter, or hot air balloon, out of shot, somehow elevating the craft. Fay explains here how he filmed the optical illusion:

I shot the Video using my Samsung S7 Smartphone set on “Pro” Function, where you can adjust the ISO and the shutter speed manually, so you have full control. To get rid of the motion blur you have to set the shutter speed to a very high value. The Original Video is captured in QHD, which is 2560 x 1440 Pixels on the S7. The frame rate was 30 FPS. I am guessing that the helicopter had a rotation speed of about 6 rounds per seconds and as the 30 FPS in the camera is a multiple of that, the blades do look like they are not moving.

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How to make a paper aeroplane that will fly record distances

Thursday, 9 February, 2017

During lulls at a place I once worked at many years ago, my colleagues and I would build oversize paper aeroplanes. We’d tape A4 and A3 sheets of paper together so we could construct ever larger craft. The biggest “sheet” of paper we worked with would have been the size of a desktop.

Once complete, we’d go onto the viewing deck outside our seventh floor offices, and launch the aeroplanes across two adjoining, early-stage, construction sites that were next door. The goal was to see if the planes could reach the far side of the far site.

The smaller craft almost did, while the larger ones tended to dive to the ground soon after launch. In our bid to go big though, we gave scant regard to aerodynamics, I guess.

Students at the Graduate School of Design, part of Harvard University, are unlikely to make the same mistake. This after John Collins, designer of a paper plane that flew a record two hundred and twenty six feet, about seventy metres, recently shared his design for the craft with them.

Now I’m wondering to what degree this design can be scaled up? To the size of a sheet as large as a desktop? There’s only one way to find out.

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Flight Attendant, by XXX, this is not flying the friendly skies

Tuesday, 18 October, 2016

XXX is a South Korean music act, made up of producer FRNK, and Kim Ximya, a rapper, and Flight Attendant is their latest release. What can I say? This is not the sort of flight you’d ever hope to be a passenger on. Also, never again shall I be critical of airline food. Some lyrics and images (illustrations) may be NSFW.

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The air force pilot and the aerial photographer

Friday, 12 August, 2016

Photo by Shamim Shorif Susom

Shamim Shorif Susom, a Bangladesh Air Force pilot, has been able to combine his passion for flying, with his interest in photography, building up an impressive photo collection as a result.

Photo by Shamim Shorif Susom

While many of his images are of places in Bangladesh, he has also photographed locations in Europe, Africa, and other parts of Asia. Here is an aerial photographer to envy, I think.

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There’s no airline food like old school airline food

Tuesday, 9 August, 2016

There’s very likely a reason latter day air travellers don’t like airline food, that’s because they don’t cook it, or for that matter, serve it, the way they used to. Check out these photos on the Flickr page of SAS Museet, or museum of Scandinavian Airlines, of the way things used to be.

Could you even imagine having a meal served this way on a regular commercial flight? No, I doubt it’s a sight we’ll see again.

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Why are aircraft flight recorders called black boxes? Good question

Thursday, 23 June, 2016

An introduction to aircraft flight recorders, often known as black boxes. That’s a misnomer, if ever there were one, as they are usually orange in colour.

What’s also interesting is that no one in the aviation industry exactly knows how fight recorders became known as black boxes in the first place. Perhaps the term was made popular by the media? Black box certainly has more presence than orange box, so possibly that explains it?

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Well, this makes landing a commercial jet airliner look easy…

Tuesday, 16 February, 2016

I’ve heard that landing a commercial jet airliner is no small ask, should a complete novice, such as a passenger, need to take control in the event that the flight crew becomes incapacitated.

This walk-through of the process, for a Boeing 737, however, makes it seem quite easy, if you could keep your nerves steady that is. Here, the weather conditions are favourable, anything else might present a real challenge though.

Hopefully, you’ll never be in such a situation.

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Hoverboards placed on the no fly list, is that a contradiction or what?

Thursday, 17 December, 2015

Hoverboard, photo by Josh Valcarcel

The hoverboards in question are not the least bit like the devices from the Back to the Future films, but maybe they’re close enough for some people. I’ve seen a few of these around now, and while they look fun, it appears some models have an unfortunate tendency to burst into flames. That’s not much use if Biff Tannen happens to be in hot pursuit.

The problem can apparently be traced to their lithium-ion batteries, and is something that has resulted in a number of US airlines banning passengers from taking them onto flights.

An exploding two-wheeler burned down a house in Louisiana a few weeks ago; another scooter combusted in the same state in the past week. A gyroboard caused significant damage to a home in New York a few days ago. At a mall in Washington this week, a scooterboard caught fire and shoppers were forced to evacuate. The perceived danger is significant enough that major airlines have banned the little vehicles altogether.

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