Hagerstown Wings and Wheels 2014

August 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

This family-fun event offers the opportunity to see a wide variety of vintage aircraft, historic military vehicles, experimental aircraft and a civil air patrol aircraft display. Children between the ages of 8 and 17 years can enjoy free Young Eagle flights. The Pegasus Radio-Controlled Model Airplane Club will also be at the event. For more information visit www.wingsandwheelsexpo.com

Date: 21 September 2014
Venue: Hagerstown Airport
City: Hagerstown
State: Maryland

Historic Aircraft: Memphis Belle

June 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

Constructed in early-1942, and delivered to the 91st Bomb Group at Dow Field, Bangor, Maine, in September of that year, the legendary Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress, Memphis Belle has a long and fascinating history. The aircraft was second B-17 to carry out twenty-five combat missions in World War II with her crew intact. After her missions in France, Brittany, Netherlands and Germany, Memphis Belle returned across the Atlantic to carry out a war bonds promotion in the United States. Today, Memphis Belle is undergoing an extensive ‘face-lift’ at the National Museum of the USAF situated at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

The B-17’s name Memphis Belle was accompanied by artwork of a woman originally drawn by pinup artist George Petty and reproduced by 91st Bomb Group artist Tony Starcer. The name was in honor of pilot Robert K. Morgan’s girlfriend from Memphis, and inspired by the name of a riverboat in the film Lady for a Night. The aircraft’s nose art would eventually include an image of a bomb for each mission, along with eight swastikas representing the number of German aircraft downed by the Memphis Belle crew. Moreover, the names of the crew were stenciled on the aircraft at the end of her tour of duty.

After the war had ended, the Mayor of Memphis, Walter Chandler, arranged for the purchase of Memphis Belle where in 1949 she was put on display at the National Guard armory. Left outdoors for the next three decades, the B-17 was vandalized by souvenir hunters and battered by the elements. Various restoration and preservation efforts in the years following the 1980s were largely unsuccessful and in October 2005 the historical aircraft was sent to the National Museum of the United States Air Force for restoration – a process which reportedly may take up to ten years to complete.

Drone Development Moves Ahead

January 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

As the controversy regarding unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as unmanned aircraft systems or drones, for commercial use continues, the development of drones moves ahead unabated, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announcing its approval of six locations to carry out drone research, three of which are universities – the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Virginia Tech, and Texas A&M University. The general public may have associated drones with the military in the past, but with the November 2013 appearance of Amazon.com’s CEO Jeff Bezos on 60 Minutes where he announced that his company is looking at using drones for deliveries, unmanned aircraft have become a much discussed topic, and raised a number of concerns regarding privacy and safety.

Drones come in all shapes and sizes, and are already widely used in industry and surveillance, as well as in search and rescue operations. Currently 56 government agencies have permission to operate drones within 63 designated drone sites in the United States, besides the six new locations earmarked for drone research. An example of surveillance application of a drone is the MQ-9 Reaper manufactured by General Atomics which is used to patrol the borders of the United States to detect drug dealers and illegal immigrants. In industry small drones, or nano-drones, are routinely used to access areas too small or too dangerous for humans to enter.

Other current and proposed uses for drones include spraying of pesticides on farms; herding and monitoring of livestock (which is reportedly already happening in England), forest fire detection (already being used in France); conservation surveillance of wildlife (already being used in Kenya and Nepal); mapping of land in high-resolution photographs and videos; delivering aid in rural and underdeveloped areas (a project supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation); and monitoring archeological sites to prevent vandalism and theft.

While drones may be unmanned, they are not autonomous – yet. Drones must be remote controlled by a trained operator and may not fly above a height determined by the authorities in the area. This is an obstacle Amazon.com will need to overcome if their drone delivery system, dubbed Amazon Prime Air, is to be efficient and cost effective. The FAA is set to revise its regulations regarding drones by 2015 and the aviation authority has predicted that there will be up to 20,000 active drones in the US by 2017, an estimate that many consider to be very conservative. Privacy and safety issues will no doubt continue to be raised, and hopefully addressed, in the coming years as drones become more commonplace.

Sherman Mills Fairchild: Aviation Inventor and Entrepreneur

June 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

Born in Oneonta, New York, on April 7, 1896, Sherman Mills Fairchild made a major contribution to the development of the aviation industry with his many inventions. An astute businessman, Fairchild founded more than seventy companies, including the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, the parent company for many of his aviation-related firms. In addition to designing and building aircraft, Fairchild developed aerial photography for commercial and military use, with his inventions for aerial photography being used on NASA Apollo missions 15, 16 and 17.

Some of Sherman’s earliest airplane designs were inspired by the need for an aircraft that could accommodate the aerial photography he was working on. At the time he had been using a World War I Fokker D.VII biplane, with which he undertook his first aerial mapping of a major city – Newark, New Jersey. This proved to be such a success that he was appointed by the Laurentide Paper Company to perform aerial mapping of Canada in 1923. This was followed by an aerial map of Manhattan Island, which led to other cities using aerial mapping as a less expensive, and quicker, alternative to ground surveying. Frustrated by the fact that existing planes lacked the maneuverability that aerial photography required, Fairchild formed the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, based in Long Island, and designed and built the FC-1. The company built and delivered 300 FC-2, the production model of the FC-1, between 1927 and 1930 and during this time, and in subsequent years, Fairchild dominated the aviation industry.

While Fairchild formed, merged, split, sold and rebought his companies over the years, he continued to make significant contributions to the rapidly advancing technology of aviation. His PR-19 was the aircraft of choice for training military pilots prior to World War II, while the aptly nick-named “Flying Boxcar”, the C-82, was used for military transport. Other notable aircraft included the C-119 Flying Boxcar, of which more than 1,100 were produced, the C-123 Provider, and the A-10 Thunderbolt – nicknamed the “Warthog”.

Sherman Mills Fairchild was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1979. He had also been awarded fellowships in the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, and received recognition for his accomplishments from the Smithsonian Institution.

Entertainment and Innovation at Farnborough Airshow

July 3, 2012 by  
Filed under News

Taking place every second year at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, England, the Farnborough International Airshow, is both a trade show for the aviation industry, and an entertaining event for the public. This year the show will be running from the 9th to the 13th of July as a Trade Exhibition, with the Public Airshow taking place on the weekend of the 14th and 15th. The Farnborough International Airshow, alternating on a yearly basis with the Paris Air Show, sets the stage for the announcement of new developments in the aviation industry, while providing a B2B platform for lucrative deals.

With 2012 marking the 60th anniversary of the accession to the throne by Queen Elizabeth II, the public weekend will include an extra-special patriotic flying display, with on-the-ground activities including an ‘Innovation Day’. For the first time in the show’s history there will be a limited number of tickets for the public to enjoy the Jubilee Day on Friday, including access to the four huge exhibition halls which is usually closed to the public. Features of the show include ‘Virgin Galactic’ with unique exhibits detailing the world’s first service where passengers can experience sub-orbital space travel in a six-passenger, two pilot spaceship. Model building enthusiasts will not want to miss the ‘Airfix Roadshow’ at the Farnborough International Airshow, where experts can be consulted and visitors can build a model onsite. Linked to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, ‘In The Zone’ will be offering insight into how the human body responds to sport, activities and rest. Team Extreme will be on hand to amaze spectators with their BMX, skateboard and inline skating stunts and tricks.

During the week the daily flying display will include the Airbus A380, Airbus A400M, Irkut YAK-130, Russian Knight’s Sukhoi Su-27, SAAB Gripen Fighter, and US Marine Corps V-22 Osprey, to mention just a few. On Saturday and Sunday, visitors can expect an extended flying display including the RAF Red Arrows, RAF Typhoon, RAF Falcons, RAF Redhawks, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and more. The list of aircraft on static display is really impressive, with visitors having the opportunity of viewing the Virgin Galactic-Shape Ship2 in addition to military and civilian aircraft.

With plenty of activity to keep the entire family interested all day, the Farnborough International Airshow is certainly an event not to be missed.

Wildlife Hazards and Aviation Safety

June 19, 2012 by  
Filed under News

With recent FAA data revealing that aircraft bird strikes in the United States continue to pose a significant threat to both civil and military aviation, the services of the Bird Strike Committee USA are more necessary than ever before. Formed in 1991, the Bird Strike Committee USA is a volunteer organization with members from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), US Department of Defense, and US Department of Agriculture, as well as representatives from the aviation industry, airlines and airports. Among the organization’s goals is to facilitate the collection and analysis of accurate data regarding wildlife strikes; facilitate the exchange of information between the various aviation industry sectors; promote the ongoing development of new technologies for dealing with wildlife hazards; advocate high standards of conduct and professionalism in wildlife management programs, including the appropriate training for bird control personnel; and liaise with similar organizations based in other countries.

Together with Bird Strike Committee Canada, the Bird Strike Committee USA meets once a year to discuss matters pertaining to their stated goals. Taking place over a period of three-and-a-half days, the conference program includes field training and classroom sessions covering wildlife control at airports in both civil and military aviation. Also on the agenda is the presentation of technical papers, with exhibits and demonstrations by suppliers of wildlife control equipment, and a field trip at the host airport to observe firsthand the current management programs and the specific habitat issues faced by authorities responsible for aviation safety. The last meeting of the Bird Strike Committees was held in September 2011 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, and the 2012 event is scheduled to take place in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, on 13-16 August.

Among the topics covered at the annual meeting are wildlife strike reporting; bird control techniques; new technologies for reducing wildlife hazards; wildlife management training at airports; environmental issues; aircraft engine performance and standard specifically related to wildlife hazards; migratory patterns of birds; and remote sensing to detect, and predict, bird movements and numbers. Attendance at the annual meetings is open to anyone interested in environmental management at airports and the reduction of wildlife hazards in aviation.

Bearing in mind that reporting wildlife strikes in civil aviation is not compulsory, and many incidents likely go unreported, statistics reveal that about 10,000 bird and other wildlife strikes were reported in 2011 for civil aviation in the USA, and about 4,500 were reported by the USAF. Thanks to quick-thinking pilots and sound equipment, hundreds of potential disasters have been averted -the historic landing of Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in January 2009 being an example that readily comes to mind. Nonetheless, more than 221 people have been killed as a direct result of bird strikes worldwide since 1988, highlighting the need to continue to seek solutions to the ongoing problem of bird air strikes.

Drones Approved for Flight In the US

February 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

The FAA funding bill recently signed into law by President Barack Obama is set to significantly increase the use of unmanned aircraft in the United States. Developed for military use in armed conflicts, drones such as the Predator, manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, have played an essential role in surveillance and other activities in hostile territories. Apart from the drones used by authorities to monitor remote areas for criminal activities, and some research companies and universities that have FAA permission to pilot the unmanned aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration has held back on allowing unmanned flights inside the United States until now.

With the new legislation, the aviation industry is expanding into robotic technology, with around fifty universities, companies and government organizations reportedly developing up to 155 different drone designs, ranging from Boeing 737 size to the size of a model airplane. Some of the areas in which drones are likely to be used are for surveying property, fighting forest fires and spraying crops. It is anticipated that the unmanned vehicle industry, which is currently worth an estimated $4.3 billion, will climb to $11 billion by the year 2020.

The FAA is required to develop a plan within the next twelve months detailing how it will integrate unmanned aircraft into US airspace by September 30, 2015. To comply with the act, the FAA must liaise with relevant government agencies within 90 days to process applications for permission to fly drones. The new regulations may lead to police officers being approved to fly drones weighing up to 4.4 pounds, with the proviso that they are always kept within eyesight; are only flown in daylight; remain at least five miles away from airports; and keep below a height of 400 meters.

Safety issues, funding and privacy concerns are among the objections raised by opponents to the new bill. While at some time in the future it is likely drones will have the ability to detect obstacles and other aircraft, and avoid them, the technology is not yet available, raising concerns regarding safety. Privacy concerns include the unmonitored surveillance of private citizens. Although law enforcement helicopters do not currently have any restrictions preventing them from carrying out surveillance of private property, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argue that new technology opens up opportunities for even closer scrutiny and there should be checks and balances in place to protect civilian rights.

Government relations manager and general counsel for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Ben Gielow, noted that there is huge potential in the United States for unmanned aircraft. He also pointed out that, contrary to the public’s perception of drones being the large Global Hawks or Predators, most of the unmanned aircraft that will be taking to the skies are likely to weigh less than 10 pounds and measure a couple of feet in diameter . The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International has 7,000 members and represents 500 companies involved in the manufacture of air, ground and sea drones.

EU Emissions Trading Scheme Boosts Biofuels

February 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

Launched in 2005 as a measure to combat climate change, the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) was the world’s first large scale emissions trading scheme using a market-based approach to controlling pollution by offering economic incentives for reducing pollutants. The EU ETS, which currently oversees over 10,000 installations in the energy and industrial sectors, set its sights on extending these measures to the airline industry in 2012. The time has now arrived to take steps to bring airlines into compliance with EU ETS standards, and as of Monday, February 6, emissions from both international and domestic flights arriving and departing from Europe’s airports will either have to pay for their emissions of CO2, or switch to lower carbon advanced biofuels.

United States commercial airlines reportedly strongly resisted the EU ETS, but were unable to prevent its progress, and now that it is in place, airlines have no alternative but to comply. On the upside, the new rules present a huge opportunity for the biofuels industry in the United States and elsewhere. US biofuel manufacture is likely to be further boosted by the US military, as it moves away from petroleum in favor of biofuels.

Advanced, or second-generation, biofuels have the same chemical composition as traditional petroleum products, but are superior in that they have a lower sulfur content and less particulate, and therefore burn cleaner. This also means that advanced biofuels can be used in existing engines, stored in existing storage tanks, and transported along existing pipelines, making the switch from petroleum easier than would have been the case with the first-generation biofuel ethanol. Moreover, advanced biofuels can be manufactured from a wide spectrum of sustainable non-food products such as municipal solid waste, agricultural waste, waste oils and fats, and even wood residue, as well as high-yield energy crops grown specifically to manufacture biofuels.

Proving the effectiveness of advanced biofuels, the US military has flown some of its state-of-the-art jets on biofuel, with the US Navy pushing an FA-18 Hornet faster than the speed of sound powered by biofuel. So, while the demand for biofuels is increasing, customer commitment to facilitate planning and finance for increased production is a problem manufacturers need to overcome. Financial incentives to meet European Commission Emissions Trading System requirements may help to overcome these problems, as military and commercial aircraft switch from traditional petroleum to advanced biofuels in the interests of slowing down the harmful effects of global warming.

Eddie Rickenbacker

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

Eddie Rickenbacker, known as the Ace of Aces, had more confirmed enemy kills to his credit than any other American pilot in World War I. Before entering the war, Rickenbacker was a famous and successful race car driver. He only got his pilot’s license after he turned 27. He made up for lost time because in only two months, he reached a career total of 26 victories, flying first the Nieuport 28,and later the Spad 13. Twelve months after the war ended, Rickenbacker was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

In 1926, Rickenbacker and several others formed Florida Airways. The company didn’t succeed, and afterwards the former war ace became Vice President of General Aviation Corporation. In 1933, Rickenbacker became General Manager of Eastern Airlines. Five years later, he and several other investors purchased Eastern Airlines and Rickenbacker was made president of the company.

During World War II, Rickenbacker worked as an unpaid advisor for the U.S. military. In October of 1942, the B-17 in which he was a passenger ran out of fuel and crashed in the Pacific Ocean. Rickenbacker and the seven other survivors floated in rafts for twenty-two days before being rescued. Several of his recommendations for mandatory survival equipment were adopted both for aircraft life rafts and lifeboats.

Famous Missions

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

There are a host of military missions which have been carried out with the use of aircraft. Some have been defining, even life-saving, while others are renowned due to the apparent improbability of success. Many of these legendary tales have found their way into the history books and newspapers, crowning brave pilots with awards of honor.

This page of Airplanes.com is dedicated to some of the hallmarked missions of aviation history, whether well-known or somewhat more obscure. As this topic is more readily passed down over a few mugs of beer at the local aviators bar rather than in print, contributions to this section are most welcome. If you know of a legendary military mission and would like to see it posted here, please email the details to us and we will research it further for use on our site. In time we are certain that this section of our website will grow into a fairly large database, detailing a number of interesting war-time stories that resulted in both success and failure. In doing so we will honor the memory of those pioneering pilots that took to the sky many years ago.

Next Page »