New Tiltrotor Aircraft Seeks FAA Approval

May 13, 2014 by  
Filed under News

The value of military aircraft with both short takeoff and landing (STOL) and vertical takeoff and landing capabilities (VTOL) was recognized by the United States Department of Defense decades ago, prompting the collaboration between Boeing Helicopters and Bell Helicopter in 1983 to develop a tiltrotor aircraft. Although the resulting CV-22 Osprey took its first flight in 1989, it took many years of design adjustments and flight testing before the tiltrotor aircraft was used in the field by the United States Air Force and United States Marine Corps in 2007. Since then the Osprey has proven to be invaluable both in combat and rescue operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and Libya.

Until now tiltrotor aircraft have been restricted to military service, but helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland hopes to change that with their new AW609 tiltRotor aircraft which recently successfully completed ten flight hours focusing on wind-milling and autorotation – a process where the rotors of the aircraft in helicopter mode turn in response to air movement as the aircraft descends. This feature will assist the AW609 in landing safely in the event of the aircraft’s engines failing completely. Reporting on the test flights of the AW609 prototype, which were monitored by the FAA at a facility in Arlington, Texas, an AgustaWestland spokesperson noted that the aircraft’s performance exceeded expectations based on the engineering simulator.

A second prototype of the AW609 is being tested at facilities in Samarate, Italy. With more than 650 flight hours, the aircraft have demonstrated their ability to cruise at speeds of up to 275 knots at maximum takeoff weight of 16,800 pounds and reach altitudes of 25,000 feet. Currently being assembled, a third prototype will be used for ice testing and certification, while a fourth prototype is planned for the development and integration of the latest avionics.

The Anglo-Italian company is working towards gaining FAA certification for the AW609 in the year 2017. In anticipation of FAA approval, AgustaWestland is reportedly planning manufacturing facilities to fulfill orders it already holds, as well as setting up a full flight simulator for training commercial pilots.

Explore the USS Hornet Apollo Recovery Ship

April 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

Moored at Alameda Point (former Naval Air Station Alameda) in San Francisco Bay, the aircraft carrier USS Hornet is a registered State and National Historic Landmark which has been open to the public since October 1998. This magnificent floating museum has the distinction of having participated in two defining historical events in the 20th century – World War II and the Apollo 11 space mission. It is fitting then, that at the official opening of the museum on October 17, 1998, the key speaker was Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

In addition to being the principal reason for visiting the museum, the USS Hornet (CVS-12) aircraft carrier, has a number of different types of aircraft on display, both on the Flight Deck and the Hangar Deck of the ship. These include the T-28B Trojan military trainer; the TBM-3E Avenger WWII torpedo bomber; the US-2B Tracker ASW utility aircraft; the TA-4J Skyhawk trainer aircraft; the F8U-1 Crusader supersonic fighter from the Vietnam War era; the S-3B Viking long-range aircraft; and the F14A Tomcat used in the Gulf War (and immortalized in the movie Top Gun).

One of the highlights of the USS Hornet Museum is its Apollo Splashdown Display. When the Apollo 11 moon mission took place in 1969, the USS Hornet CVS-12 was selected as the Prime Recovery Ship (PRS) to retrieve the astronauts when they splashed down. The operation was carried out flawlessly, and four months later the Hornet recovered the crew of Apollo 12 – the second manned mission to the moon. The display documenting these historic events, and other space exploration, includes memorabilia and photographs from the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 splashdowns; the Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King helicopter used in the filming of the movie Apollo 13; the Mobile Quarantine Facility used by Apollo 14 astronauts; and the Apollo Command Module CSM-011 used for the unmanned suborbital flight test AS-202 in August 1966.

Visitors to the USS Hornet Museum can watch a short video on the ship’s history and take a self-guided tour through the ship. Museum docents are always on hand to answer questions and provide additional information. Moreover, the museum runs a series of “Living Ship Days” where participants have the opportunity to experience an aircraft carrier in action by means of simulated flight operations, mission briefings and meeting former crew.

Riverside Airshow 2014

February 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

The Riverside Airshow is in its 22nd year, offering aviation-themed family fun and entertainment. The program includes breathtaking aerial performances to delight the entire family. Also on display will be military aircraft, original and replica warbirds, military vehicles and classic cars. For more information on this FREE event visit

Date: 5 April 2014
Venue: Riverside Municipal Airport
City: Riverside
State: California
Country: United States

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum

December 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

Located on Miramar Way in San Diego, California, the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum offers visitors the opportunity to view a wide range of aircraft and military vehicles, along with exhibits and artifacts detailing the exciting history and fascinating legacy of the United States Marine Corps Aviation. In summer months, the museum has scheduled days during which visitors can sit in the cockpit of a static airplane, examine the controls and get the feeling of what it must be like to be a real pilot. Visitors can also take a stroll along the Walk of Memories which features memorial bricks inscribed with the names of US Marines.

Referring to a member of the United State Marine Corps, the military slang term ‘leatherneck’ comes from the leather collar of the uniform once worn by British and American marines and soldiers in the 18th century. Today the term is taken to refer specifically to a US Marine, and the dress blue uniforms of US Marines still feature the leather stock collar. Fastened by two buckles at the back, the stiff leather collar supported the soldier’s neck giving him an upright ‘military’ posture, allowing him to better aim his rifle and protecting his neck from sword blows.

Static displays at the museum include the CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter known as Lady Ace 09 which flew the last Ambassador of the United States to Vietnam, Graham Martin, out of South Vietnam prior to the Fall of Saigon in April 1975. Other aircraft on display include a Bell AH-1J “Sea Cobra” attack helicopter; a Bell Model 214ST “Huey” which was captured from the Iraqi Air Force; Douglas A-4C and A-4F “Skyhawks”; a Douglas F4D-1 “Skyray” fighter-interceptor aircraft; Grumman A-6E “Intruder” attack bomber aircraft; Grumman F9F-2 “Panther” fighter bomber aircraft; Grumman F9F-8P “Cougar” tactical reconnaissance aircraft; a range of McDonnell-Douglas aircraft and Sikorsky aircraft, among others.

As the only museum in the world dedicated to preserving the history of Marine Corps Aviation, the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum has plans to extend the museum and facilities to make the visitor experience even better. Currently the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 3:30pm, with the option of making arrangements for other times. Be sure to stop in at the museum store and buy something to remind you of your visit to the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum.

Visit California’s March Field Air Museum

November 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

Located adjacent to the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, the March Field Air Museum was opened to the public on December 19, 1979. At the dedication ceremony the keynote address was delivered by Lt. General James P. Mullins, the 15th Air Force Commander. At that time the museum’s collection of photographs, paintings, documents and model airplanes detailing the history of the base from its inception in 1918 was housed in the Air Force Base theater building. In addition to the museum building, there was a park nearby where primarily historic aircraft were on display. In less than two years the museum’s collection had grown to such an extent that it needed new premises, and was moved to the former commissary building which was big enough to accommodate up to three aircraft indoors along with the growing collection of memorabilia.

Today, visitors to the March Field Air Museum will find more than 70 historic aircraft on display, including the famous Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” and World War II aircraft such as the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-29 Superfortress, the B-25 Mitchell bomber and the Douglas A/B-26 Invader. Many of these aircraft are on loan from the USAF Museum at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Aircraft on display that are owned by the museum include an A-37 “Dragonfly” Cessna; C-54Q “Skymaster” Douglas; an FO-141 Folland “Gnat”; an H-21B “Workhorse” Piasecki; a MiG-19; a MiG-21F-13; and Mig-23BN, among others.

In its Heritage Courtyard, the museum features a Freedom Wall with stone plaques engraved with the wording of documents that have shaped the history of the United States, including the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address and the Constitution. Also in the courtyard is the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial, dedicated on October 27, 2010, along with the War Dog Memorial Sculpture dedicated to dogs and their handlers. Members of the public can purchase tiles, inscribed with a message of their choice, as part of these monuments or the courtyard. Funds raised are used to maintain and extend the museum. Plans are underway to install a monument honoring Women in Aviation in the Heritage Courtyard of the March Field Air Museum.

Lyon County Fly-In 2013

September 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Events

The 17th annual Lyon County Fly-In promises a weekend of excitement and activity. The event offers the opportunity to see antique aircraft,modern military aircraft and fire-fighting planes, as well as meet pilots and builders and restorers of a range of aircraft. For more information on this family-fun event visit

Dates: 28-29 September 2013
Venue: Silver Spring Airport, Lyon County
State: Nevada
Country: United States

VTOL X-Plane Development Challenge

April 22, 2013 by  
Filed under News

As aviation technology continues to develop at breakneck speed, the goal of producing aircraft with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities, that can fly as fast as a fixed-wing airplane may soon become a reality. This has been achieved to some degree with the tiltrotor technology of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, where lift and propulsion are generated by proprotors mounted on engine pods at the ends of a fixed wing. Take off is facilitated by the rotors being angled horizontally as a helicopter rotor works, but as the aircraft gains speed, the rotors tilt forward until they are vertical, allowing the aircraft to reach higher speeds than a conventional helicopter. An Australian company recently announced that it is developing an aircraft which can transition between VTOL and fixed-wing modes with what it calls StopRotor Technology.

The company’s new RotorWing design reportedly aligns the airflow with rotation axis of the rotor while the aircraft is in flight, thereby creating a stable flight profile allowing the smooth transition from one mode of flight to the other. In a statement announcing the new concept, the company noted that the it is a “paradigm shift involving flight well beyond the limitations of conventional fixed and rotary wing flight”, going on to say that it “requires a new way of thinking”.

A patent application has been lodged for the new StopRotor, and the company is currently using flying models and computer simulations to test the concept, which was inspired by the VTOL X-Plane program announced in February by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The DARPA VTOL X-Plane project is dedicated to developing VTOL aircraft with greater hover and cruise efficiency, larger payload capacity, and higher speeds than current aircraft – the performance standard being set at greater than 300 knots, which is almost double the speed of the fastest helicopter today. Project leader Ashish Bagai noted that it was hoped that the project would “spark a paradigm shift”. DARPA is putting $150 million into developing the X-Plane which would prove valuable in search and rescue missions, surveillance, transportation of troops and other difficult to reach situations requiring swift response time.

PNC Air Show 2012

April 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Spectators at the PNC Airshow 2012 can look forward to a number of fantastic performances and displays. Performers will include Red Star and The Dragon Jet, Clyde Zeller, Mike Vaknin, Bill Leff, John Klatt, Skip Stewart and the Air Combat Command Heritage Flight. Static displays on offer will include commercial aircraft, military planes, historical airplanes, tanks, simulators and helicopters. Other attractions at the Prairie Air Show are the PNC Mobile Learning Adventure, helicopter rides, monster truck rides, a WW II vehicle display, Aviation Education display, the Navy ” Accelerate Your Life” Experience, Souvenir booths, food vendors, simulators, 182 Air National Guard Display and more.

Dates: 8 & 9 June 2012
Time: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Venue: Peoria Riverfront
State: Illinois
Country: United States of America

FLS Microjet Flight Tests Exceed Expectations

March 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

The FLS Microjet by BD-Micro Technologies, Inc. (BMT) completed Phase I flight testing on May 5th 2011. During testing, all performance expectations were either met or exceeded. Better known as the “James Bond jet”, the BD-5J Microjet for the first time ever is available as a complete and modernized, ready to assemble, integrated airframe, avionics, and powerplant systems package. BMT is currently taking orders for a limited production of the FLS Microjet kit.

The design was originally developed in the 1970’s by Bede Aircraft, Inc. and designated the BD-5J. In 1992, BMT began a modernization program for the BD-5 aircraft, and offered complete, ready to assemble kits with improved design features in an aircraft line-up called the “FLIGHTLINE Series” or “FLS” BD-5 kits. The FLS Microjet is the first aircraft to incorporate all of the next generation BMT upgrades, including the Quantum Turbojet Powerplant System, Dual Display all digital panel and Solid State triple bus redundant electrical system.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of spectators have seen a number of BD-5J airshow performers amaze people with the speed and agility of the “World’s Smallest Jet”. Teams at airshows have included the Bud Light Microjet, Coors Light Silver Bullet (later as Freedom-Jet) and others.

In recent years, the premier operator of BD-5J’s has been successfully using the planes in military programs. These aircraft have incorporated equipment upgrades for military purposes and are now known as Small Manned Aerial Radar Target, Model-1 (SMART-1). BMT has recently delivered two specially built FLS Microjets for use in these military programs.

The owner of the first FLS Microjet, Justin Lewis of Lewis & Clark Performance, LLC, conducted the flight testing at ONP Newport, Oregon. He reported the jet was easy to fly despite the high performance characteristics. The following specifications were noted:

  • Standard Empty Weight: 416 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 30/46 gal.
  • Max Useful Load: 444 lbs.
  • Max Rated Thrust: 265 lbs.
  • Sea Level Climb: 2,750 fpm.
  • Climb at 12,500 ft.: 1,400 fpm.
  • Takeoff roll: 1,500 ft.
  • Landing roll: 1,000 ft.
  • Flight Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hrs. (no reserve)
  • Max Speed Vne: 250 KIAS.
  • 85% N1 Speed: 159 KIAS.

A Builder Assistance Program (BAP) is bundled in the purchase price of a FLS Microjet. The BAP ensures that this very technical, high performance aircraft is assembled correctly, efficiently, and in a timely manner. It will also allow the owner to register it as an experimental aircraft under the latest FAA amateur-built guidelines. In addition, as a single seat turbojet powered aircraft, Microjet pilots need to obtain a specific type rating. BMT can assist pilots in obtaining this rating.

The FLS Microjet is a sophisticated and advanced high performance aircraft with professional grade systems and features. Designed to meet the needs of the serious pilot, this aircraft is several generations beyond the original 1970’s BD-5J airshow jets. Owning and flying a FLS Microjet is as close as a civilian pilot can come to the thrill of flying a jet fighter without spending a half million dollars.

Article submitted by Skeeter Karnes of BD-Micro Technologies, Inc.

Explore the Air Force Museum of New Zealand

January 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

With a collection of twenty-eight classic aircraft, and millions of aviation-related mementos of all descriptions, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand has been preserving and presenting the fascinating history of the country’s Military Aviation since 1987. The museum is located at the Wigram Aerodrome just outside Christchurch. The aerodrome is named in honor of British-born New Zealand politician, businessman and aviator, Sir Henry Francis Wigram (1857-1934), in acknowledgement of his significant role in the establishment of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

Visitors to the museum are likely to spend hours viewing the huge assortment of memorabilia, including aircraft engines and other aircraft parts, weapons, pin-ups, documents, medals and even wedding dresses made from parachute-silk. The collection of aircraft is a reminder of the bravery of the men who flew them into battle, and as defensive measures against enemy attack. A replica home dating back to the 1940s provides insight into what life was like back then for men and women in the armed services, as well as their families. One of the more popular features of the museum is a flight simulator where visitors can climb in behind the controls and imagine being in the thick of a raging aerial battle.

Of the twenty-eight aircraft on display, seventeen are in the main complex of the museum, with the remainder being in hangars. The museum’s Behind the Scenes Tour takes visitors to view the stored aircraft, as well as the current restoration projects being carried out by skilled and dedicated aviation enthusiasts. The aircraft collection includes the Avro 626, North American Harvard, P-51 Mustang, Grumman Avenger, Hawker Siddely Andover, Lockheed Hudson, Vickers Vildebeest bi-planes, Bleriot XI, Cessna O2A and a replica of the Sopwith Pup.

The aircraft components collection of the museum includes propellers, instruments, radios, armaments, and a variety of airframe structures, while the engines on display illustrate the development of aviation engineering from the World War I era through to modern jet engines. More than 200 medal groups are on display, including the prestigious Victoria Cross. Other items visitors can view include a host of research documents, as well as oil paintings, prints and original cartoons.

Ever aware of environmental issues that are threatening our planet, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand has been awarded the Enviro-Gold standard by New Zealand tourism’s official quality agency, Qualmark. This status is reviewed annually and the museum is always open to suggestions on how to improve their environmental awareness and sustainability measures. Certainly the Air Force Museum of New Zealand offers an educational outing that the entire family will enjoy.

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