Visit the Legacy Flight Museum in Rexburg, ID

October 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

Located in Rexburg, Idaho, the Legacy Flight Museum opened to the public in 2006 offering visitors the opportunity to examine up close some of the historical aircraft that were built to protect the country’s freedom. Started by local aircraft enthusiast John Bagley, the museum collection grew to include a dozen aircraft, all of which are maintained in pristine condition and are airworthy. Every second year the museum hosts an air show with many of the museum’s aircraft taking to the skies, along with aerobatic pilots and their own airplanes. But these classic aircraft are not only dusted off and flown every two years, they are a familiar sight in the skies above Rexburg throughout the year.

The Beechcraft Staggerwing D17S was considered in the 1930s to be a top-of-the-range airplane designed with business executives in mind. With its upper wing further back than the lower wing, each Staggerwing was built by hand and powered by a 450 HP Pratt and Whitney radial engine. When the airplane first hit the market, it was during the depression and considered to be pricy at between US$14,000 and US$17,000, but by the time World War II came around Beechcraft had sold 424 Staggerwing aircraft. The airplanes speed and durability also made it popular in the new sport of air racing. It won the 1933 Texaco Trophy Race, and in 1937 Jackie Cochran set a women’s speed record of 203.9 mph, reaching an altitude of more than 30,000 feet and finishing third in the 1937 Bendix Trophy Race. British diplomat Capt. H.L. Farquhar flew around the world in a Beechcraft Staggerwing Model B17R in 1935, covering a distance of 21,332 miles. Visitors can get a close look at this fantastic airplane that made its way into the record books a number of times.

Another legendary airplane on display is a P-51D Mustang fondly dubbed ‘Ole Yeller’, previously flown by legendary pilot Bob Hoover. Widely considered to be one of the founders of modern aerobatics, Hoover has numerous military medals, and is listed as the third greatest aviator in history in the Centennial of Flight edition of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Other airplanes on display at the Legacy Flight Museum include a Grumman TBM-3 Avenger, a North American T-6 Texan, a Howard DGA-15, an L-52 Grasshopper, a P-63 King Cobra and an O-1 Bird Dog. The Legacy Flight Museum is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm and From Labor Day to Memorial Day on Fridays and Saturdays from 9am to 5pm weather permitting.

Historic Aircraft: Spruce Goose

August 12, 2014 by  
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One of the highlights of the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, is the historic “Spruce Goose” – the one and only Hughes H-4 Hercules ever manufactured. With a wingspan of 320 feet and measuring 219 feet long, the H-4 is the largest flying boat ever to be constructed, and although it only ever made one flight on November 2, 1947, it proved that an airplane of that magnitude is able to fly. Due to restrictions on the use of aluminum and other metals during World War II, the H-4 was built almost entirely from birch wood and was designed to transport troops and goods across the Atlantic, but due to delays in its manufacture, the war was over before it could be put into service.

With Allied shipping across the Atlantic Ocean coming under attack by German U-boats, in 1942 the US War Department started investigating other methods of bulk transport between Britain and the United States. The concept of the flying boat was initially the idea of shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser, who collaborated with aviator Howard Hughes to design what was then known as the HK-1 – an aircraft with the cargo capacity of 150,000 pounds. Critics and the media dubbed the proposed aircraft the “Spruce Goose” (a nickname Hughes reportedly detested) and the “Flying Lumberyard”, being a reference to the fact that it was primarily constructed from wood.

A contract for the development of the HK-1 was issued in 1942 with a deadline of under two years for the manufacture of three aircraft. The first (and only) aircraft was produced in 16 months, but Kaiser withdrew from the project and Hughes continued with the project, renaming the aircraft the H-4 Hercules and entering into a new contract with the government for a single prototype. Built at the Hughes Aircraft Company in Los Angeles, the H-4 was shipped in sections to Pier E in Long Beach, California, where it was assembled with a hangar being erected around it.

The “Spruce Goose” never did make it into military service as it was completed after WWII was over. Nonetheless, it remains as testimony to the innovative composite technology and other revolutionary inventions of the time, and is a fascinating centerpiece at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.

Potomac Flight of the Texans

July 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

Culpeper Air Fest will serve as a home base on Friday-October 10 for the ground-breaking Potomac Flight, a unique flyover of Washington D.C.’s greatest landmarks including the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.

This once-in-a-lifetime flight will feature the North American T-6 Texans – a 2 seat aircraft used as the advanced trainer for World War II pilots. Designed by North American Aviation, Inc., and first flown in 1938, the “Texan” quickly became the most popular trainer aircraft for the U.S. Military in the 1940s and 1950s. Over 15,000 “Texans” were built between 1938 and 1947, and approximately 400 are still flying today. On October 10 approximately thirty of these “Texans” will launch from Culpeper Regional Airport and will soar in formation down the Potomac River.

The flyover in the skies over the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery will be in honor of Disabled American Veterans as a visible and fitting tribute to the services and sacrifices veterans have made for our freedom. This ceremonial formation flight will be visible from Alexandria, Arlington and Rosslyn, VA.

The Potomac Flight of the Texan will culminate with the 15th annual Culpeper Air Fest airshow on Saturday, Oct 11, 2014. The Culpeper Air Fest is free to the public. Be sure to check the Culpeper Air Fest website (Culpeperairfest.com) regularly for updated news and attractions. Fans can follow the Air Fest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (#CulpeperAirFest, #PotomacFlight).

Fascinating Tales at Carolinas Aviation Museum

June 10, 2014 by  
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Dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson” and described as “the most successful ditching in aviation history”* the story of US Airways Flight 1549 is legendary. On January 15, 2009, the Airbus A320-200 had 150 passengers and five crew members on board when it took off at 3:27 pm EST from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport en route to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport as a stopover before heading to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Just three minutes into the flight, on its initial climb out, the plane struck a flock of Canada Geese just northeast of the George Washington Bridge, resulting in a sudden loss of engine power. Thanks to the quick thinking of the crew, led by Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the airplane was ‘landed’ intact on the icy Hudson River with all on board being rescued by nearby watercraft and ferries as the Airbus slowly sank. Visitors to the Carolinas Aviation Museum can view the complete original airplane, as well as viewing videos detailing the rescue of passengers, the recovery of the Airbus from the Hudson River and its transportation from New York to the museum at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Carolinas Aviation Museum focuses on the stories behind the various aircraft on display, an example being the CH46-D Sea Knight helicopter which was used in both Vietnam and the Gulf War. One of the remarkable accounts presented by the museum is of Medal of Honor recipient Marine Corps Aviation Private First Class Raymond Michael Clausen Jr. who, during the Vietnam War, ran across a mine field six times to rescue twenty Marines who had been injured crossing that very field. Clausen carried some, while those who could walk followed him, assuming that he knew where the mines were planted and how to avoid them. He didn’t, but was willing to risk his life to save the lives of others.

Other military aircraft on display include a Douglas A4 Skyhawk, Grumman F-14D Tomcat, Vought A-7 Corsair II, PT-17 Stearman, P-80, D-558-1 Skystreak, McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, AV-8 Harrier II and EC-120E Hercules. In the Civil Aircraft category, visitors will be able to view the historic Wright Flyer, the unique Ercoupe, the Savoia Marchetti single-engine biplane flying boat, and the most popular small single engine aircraft ever made – the Cessna 150.

The mission of the Carolinas Aviation Museum is to tell the stories of aviation pioneers, thereby inspiring future generations to write aviation’s next chapter. Visitors to the museum will no doubt agree that this is a mission accomplished.

*quote attributed to Kitty Higgins of the NTSB

EAA Young Eagles Take Flight

January 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

Since starting in 1992, the EAA Young Eagles program has given more than 1.6 million young people the opportunity to experience the thrill of flight, and continues to extend an invitation to anyone between the ages of 8 and 17 years to apply to join the ranks of EAA Young Eagles. More than 42,000 pilots in over 90 different countries are registered to participate in the program, offering the flights free of charge to approved applicants.

Before taking off, the pilot may explain a bit about the aircraft while doing a preflight inspection. Young Eagles will be told what to expect during a flight and may have the opportunity to review the aeronautical chart and identify reference points. After buckling up, the pilot will explain various functions of the instrument panel and the interior of the airplane before heading to the runway for takeoff. The flight lasts up to 20 minutes and participants are encouraged to ask questions and make observations about the experience, as pilots are keen to share their knowledge and love of flying with future aviators. Each Young Eagle receives an official logbook, signed by the pilot they flew with.

With its headquarters located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is an international organization that was founded in 1953 to bring together aviation enthusiasts from all walks of life. While the word “experimental” may suggest otherwise, these airplanes which have been built by individuals, are required to undergo inspection and be certified as airworthy by the FAA. With chapters in all 50 states, and a number of other countries, the EAA currently has more than 160,000 members, all of whom share a love for aviation.

Sitting alongside an experienced pilot in the cockpit of an airplane is an awesome and unforgettable experience. Most famous aviators discovered their love for flying at a young age, and the EAA Young Eagles program opens the door to the exciting world of aviation for future pilots and aviation innovators.

Dangerous Pastime Compromises Aviation Safety

November 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

In February 2012, the act of aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft, or at the flight path of an aircraft, in the United States, became a criminal offense when President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 into law. A recent FAA report reveals that the law has not had the desired effect in curbing this dangerous pastime, as in January this year there were 346 reported cases, compared with the 283 for the entire year of 2005. This is despite the fact that the FAA has endeavored to bring this problem to the attention of the public, including making provision on the FAA website for anyone to report a laser incident, anonymously if preferred.

Two incidents at LaGuardia airport on the night of October 15 are reportedly being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, highlighting just how seriously authorities are taking this issue. These two incidents bring the total number of laser incidents at LaGuardia Airport this year alone to 54, with three of those occurring in October, and while no deaths have resulted from these incidents, a number of pilots have reportedly suffered injuries to their eyes. Thanks to the skill and dedication of the pilots, they have been able to land their aircraft safely, but the distraction of a laser pointer, which can and does cause temporary blindness, poses a significant threat to aviation safety.

There are many legitimate uses for lasers and other bright lights being shone into the sky, and it is generally agreed among safety experts that a pilot being distracted during cruising does not pose an undue risk. The real danger is during the phases of flight that are classed as ‘critical’ – takeoff, approach, landing and emergency measures. Low-powered lasers are readily available to the public, and some of the effects these could have on a pilot’s vision include what has been described as: ‘distraction and startle’ where the pilot is startled by the bright light and temporarily distracted, particularly as he or she does not know if another brighter light may follow; ‘glare and disruption’ is caused by an increase in the brightness of the light dispersed across the airplane’s window and interferes with vision; and ‘flash blindness’ where night vision is temporarily lost and afterimages of the light remain in the pilot’s vision for a time. Anyone who has had their photograph taken with a flash in the dark will be familiar with this.

While the type of lasers that could do permanent damage to a pilot’s vision are not available to the public, the run-of-the-mill laser being used by pranksters puts unnecessary pressure on pilots who carry the responsibility for the safety of their crew and passengers. Hopefully, the very real possibility of being tracked down by authorities and landing up in jail will be some sort of deterrent to people engaged in this dangerous activity.

Innovative Aviation Designer Burt Rutan

August 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., can view the record-setting aircraft that pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager flew nonstop around the world in nine days in December 1986. The Rutan Model 76 Voyager Took off from the runway at Edwards Air Force Base on December 14 and landed back at the base 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds later, having covered a distance of 40,212 km as certified by the FAI – Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. The Rutan Voyager was designed by Dick Rutan’s brother Burt, a visionary aerospace engineer who has created more than 360 original concepts for aircraft, with 45 of his designs taking flight, some with commercial success, and others as record breakers or research craft.

SpaceShipOne was another of Rutan’s designs to grab news headlines, as in June 2004 it became the first privately built and funded manned aircraft to reach space. After completing a second flight to space within two weeks, the aircraft was awarded the Ansari X Prize of US$10 million. The Ansari X Prize is intended to encourage innovation of low-cost spaceflight.

In March 2005, the single-engine Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, piloted by Steve Fossett, completed the first solo non-stop and non-refueled flight around the world in 2 days, 19 hours and 1 minute. The aircraft was designed by Burt Rutan and built by his company, Scaled Composites. Between February 7 and February 11, 2006, Fossett piloted the GlobalFlyer for the longest flight in history, covering a distance of 41,467.53 km. The aircraft now forms part of the NASM collection which includes six Rutan-design aircraft.

Rutan also designed a range of homebuilt aircraft, with his first being the VariViggen which he started building in 1968 in his home garage, and flew for the first time in April 1972. As he did not have wind-tunnel facilities, Rutan reportedly tied a model of the VariVigen to the roof of his station wagon and measured the forces while driving at speed on empty roads. The Rutan VariEze was based on the VariViggen, and in 1975, piloted by Dick Rutan, it set a world distance record in its class. The Quickie was a single-seat sport aircraft designed by Rutan, which was marketed by Quickie Aircraft for some years. The Canada Aviation and Space Museum has an original Quickie aircraft in their collection.

Aviation in the Film Industry

July 2, 2013 by  
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Have you ever wondered how film crews manage to capture footage inside the cabin and cockpit of an airplane, where space is often very limited? Or how they film those airport terminal and runway scenes without bringing an entire airport to a standstill? Based in Pacoima, Los Angeles, Air Hollywood is the world’s largest film studio dedicated to aviation, providing a full range of services to the motion picture, television and commercial production industry in the United States and far beyond its borders. Established in 1998, Air Hollywood has played an important role in hundreds of productions, from big budget feature films through to low budget student productions, providing everything from a full film set to historic and modern stock film footage.

Following the tragic events of 9/11 it became very difficult, if not impossible, for film and television crews to obtain permission to film at an airport anywhere in the United States, and Air Hollywood became an even more valuable resource to the film industry. The studio’s set-up and services are so comprehensive that they have been used by production companies as far away as Japan, but also attract business from around the United States, with the majority of their business coming from Hollywood. Their mockups and sets include cockpits and sections of passenger seating and toilets with removable ceilings and walls for easy camera access. Special effects like turbulence can be created and their props and soundstages can be adapted to portray various parts of an airport, such as check-in, security and baggage claim.

A fairly new service offered by Air Hollywood is the K9 Flight School, providing training for service and companion dogs so that they will be able to handle the sights and sounds of an airport, the interior of an airplane and even the sensations of taking-off, landing and turbulence. It is estimated that one in six adults in the United States is afraid to fly, and people with a fear of flying (Aerophobia/Aviophobia) will benefit from Air Hollywood’s Fear of Flying Program, designed by top medical and airline professionals. The program includes a day of simulated travel, including the experience of turbulence in flight, and counseling from an experienced certified therapist, thereby empowering the participant to handle the real deal with confidence.

South Carolina’s First 787 Destined for India

May 8, 2012 by  
Filed under News

The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner to come out of the Chicago-based airplane manufacturer’s South Carolina plant was celebrated recently at a function in North Charleston. The aircraft will undergo a string of systems checks and engine runs before taking to the air locally, in preparation for its flight across the Atlantic Ocean to India’s Mumbai International Airport and delivery to Air India. Speaking at the event, Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive officer, Jim Albaugh noted that the rolling out of an airplane from the company’s third final assembly site in South Carolina was a proud moment for Boeing.

Air India will take delivery of the history-making aircraft in mid-2012. It will be the second Boeing 787 Dreamliner of its 27-aircraft order, with the first having been delivered in March from the aircraft manufacturer’s Washington plant. Three more 787’s are to be delivered by the end of the year, with the balance expected in 2013.

Launched in April 2004, with initial orders for 851 airplanes valued at more than $175 billion, from sixty customers, the 787 goes on record for the most successful launch of a new commercial airplane in Boeing’s history. Following a number of delays in manufacture, the first 787 Dreamliner flight took place on 15 December 2009, with the first airline to fly the plane, All Nippon Airlines of Japan, taking delivery on 25 September 2011. Although the company has reportedly had 25 order cancellations this year, they have secured 19 new orders for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Private Russian airline, Transaero, has ordered four of the airplanes, while Japan remains the biggest buyer.

Boeing South Carolina vice president and general manager Jack Jones noted that every one of the teammates at the South Carolina plant should be proud of the historic accomplishment of building airplanes to meet Boeing’s high quality standards, while at the same time maintaining an exceptional workplace safety record. Jim Albaugh endorsed this view by welcoming the South Carolina team into a “small and elite fraternity … of workers who have built one of the most complex machines in the world – a commercial airplane.”

Flight of the Future at Five Times the Speed of Sound

November 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

A recent report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in Britain proposes that by the year 2075 commercial aircraft, called “Scramjets”, will be capable of completing a New York to London flight in less than an hour by flying at five times the speed of sound (4,000mph). With a maximum speed of 600mph, the Boeing 747 is believed to be the fastest airplane currently in commercial service. The Soviet Supersonic Tupolev Tu-144 and the Concorde exceeded that speed, but neither is in service any longer. The fastest transatlantic flight between New York’s JFK Airport and Heathrow in London took place on 7 February 1996, covering the distance in 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) is urging British authorities to invest in the aerospace industry to be at the forefront of aviation technology development, as well as to boost the country’s economy. With the UK aerospace sector currently employing more than 100,000 people, and being worth more than £29 billion a year to the economy, it ranks as the world’s second largest player in this competitive sector. Chief executive of IME, Stephen Tetlow, notes that this position is threatened by newcomers to the market, most notably China, making it imperative for authorities to take action to maintain the country’s position as a leader in aerospace technology.

The passenger plane envisioned by engineers would be solar-powered, and would save on fuel by flying in V-formation in a similar way to that of migrating geese. Following in one another’s slipstream would dramatically improve the aerodynamics of flight through drag reduction and airflow lift. Further aerodynamic features would include a blended wing and fuselage. Additional proposals include an aircraft carrier system, with a larger aircraft carrying individual craft to be released in-flight at predetermined destinations, and a flying fuel station to allow aircraft to take off with minimum fuel weighing them down.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers report categorizes these futuristic aircraft into three types, being subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic. Subsonic planes would travel slower than the speed of sound, while supersonic jets would travel faster than the speed of sound, with hypersonic planes travelling at up to more than five times the speed of sound.

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