Rochester International Airshow 2015

April 24, 2015 by  
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Kicking off with an evening concert and pyrobatics airshow on May 22, the Rochester International Airshow will take place on 23-24 May 2015. Sponsored by Five Star Bank, the program includes twelve performers and fifteen static displays. Performers include the US Navy’s Blue Angels, Michael Wikus, Rob Holland, Scott Yoak, the B-25 Panchito and more. For more information visit

Dates: 23-24 May 2015
Venue: Greater Rochester International Airport
City: Rochester
State: New York
Country: United States

Rochester International Airshow 2014

July 25, 2014 by  
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The program for this exciting two-day event includes the USAF Thunderbirds; Iron Eagle Aerobatic Team; Bill Gordon Red Baron Stearman, John “Skipper” Hyle T-6; Scott Yoak P-51 Quick Silver; and Jet Aircraft Museum Mako Shark. For more information visit

Date: 16-17 August 2014
Venue: Greater Rochester International Airport
State: New York

Historic Aviator Harriet Quimby

April 1, 2014 by  
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Born in Arcadia, Michigan, on May 11, 1875, Harriet Quimby became the first woman in the United States to be awarded a pilot’s license in 1911. On April 16, 1912, she became the first woman to successfully pilot an airplane across the English Channel – an event which earned her the moniker of “America’s First Lady of the Air”. As a journalist, Quimby described her experience in detail and it was printed in the New York-based magazine she wrote for – Leslie’s Weekly.

While working for the magazine in New York City, in 1910 Harriet attended the Belmont Park International Aviation Tournament on Long Island, where she met aviator and flight school operator John Moisant and his sister Matilde. She took a series of flying lessons and on August 1, 1911, passed her pilot’s test to become the first woman to obtain an aviator’s certificate from the Aero Club of America. (The second woman to earn her aviator’s certificate was Matilde Moisant.)

Quimby’s crossing of the English Channel, from Dover in England to a beach in Hardelot-Plage in France, took 59 minutes on April 16, 1912. Her intended destination had been Calais, but primarily due to poor visibility, she landed on a beach about 25 miles from Calais after considering, and rejecting, the possibility of landing in nearby cultivated fields. In her account of the event, Quimby notes that she jumped from her airplane and was alone on the beach, when a French-speaking crowd of locals came rushing toward her and carried her up the beach triumphantly, no doubt realizing that they had witnessed the landing of the first woman to pilot an airplane across the channel. Although her achievement was certainly newsworthy, it was overshadowed in the newspapers by the tragedy of the Titanic sinking on April 15, 1912.

Participating in the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet on July 1, 1912, Quimby flew her new two-seater Bleriot monoplane out over Boston Harbor before circling the airfield on her return. At an altitude of around 1500 feet, the airplane pitched forward sharply and Quimby and her passenger, William Willard, were catapulted from the plane, falling to their deaths. The plane glided down and landed in an area of mud. The reason for the accident was never established, but it sadly brought an abrupt end to the life of an adventurous aviator who made history and inspired other women to take to the skies, among them the legendary Amelia Earhart.

The Legendary Flying Flapper of Freeport

October 8, 2013 by  
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Referred to as the ‘Flying Flapper of Freeport’, Elinor Smith (1911-2010) obtained her pilot license at the age of sixteen, going down in history as the youngest licensed pilot in the world. Her aviation career had many interesting highlights, including the unsanctioned activity of flying a Waco 10 under all four of New York City‘s East River bridges – reportedly the only person ever to do so, and for which her license was suspended for fifteen days. Unknown to Elinor, fellow flyers had been taking bets as to whether or not she would undertake the venture, and whether or not she would succeed. To document the event, they had alerted the press who set up newsreel crews at each of the bridges and caught the stunt on film for posterity.

Elinor Smith was six years-old when she and her brother Joe had their first ride in an airplane – a Farman pusher. She was so enamored with the experience that by the age of ten she was taking flying lessons from American aviator and aerial stuntman Clyde Pangborn. Her legs were too short to reach the rudder pedals and blocks had to be tied to them for her to operate them, but she clearly had a gift for flying. She later took lessons from Frederick Melvin Lund and Bert Acosta. Her father was also a keen student of flying, and he bought a Waco 9 and hired a pilot to train them both. At that time, Elinor was prohibited by her father from taking off and landing the airplane, but when her father was out of town, and following intensive session of instruction, her mother lifted her father’s prohibition. Elinor Smith flew solo for the first time at the age of fifteen, and at sixteen years of age became the youngest US government licensed pilot. The following years saw Elinor make and break speed, endurance and altitude records. She also became the first female test pilot for aircraft manufacturers Fairchild and Bellanca.

After settling down with her husband, Patrick H Sullivan, and raising four children, Elinor Smith went back to flying. She piloted the T-33 Shooting Star Jet Trainer and C-119s during paratroop maneuvers. She became the oldest pilot to succeed in a landing of NASA’s Space Shuttle vertical motion simulator and in April 2001, at Langley Air Force Base, Elinor piloted an experimental C33 Raytheon AGATE Beech Bonanza – she was 89 years old. Elinor Smith died in Palo Alto, California, on March 19, 2010, having left her indelible mark on American aviation history.

Air Traffic and Noise Pollution on the Rise

September 10, 2013 by  
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The fact that reduced engine noise in new aircraft is viewed as a selling point, highlights the problem of noise pollution in highly populated areas. As air travel becomes more accessible to more people, and the number of airplanes landing at and taking off from airports continues to increase, noise pollution caused by this upsurge in air traffic is causing a very real problem in many areas.

London’s Heathrow Airport is a case in point, and as far back as 1996 authorities set up a ‘Day Noise Insulation Scheme’ to assist homeowners living within the boundaries of the airport’s flight paths. The scheme subsidizes the installation of secondary glazing, ventilation and loft insulation in an effort to subdue the noise level in people’s homes. The Heathrow Noise Action program even offers eligible homeowners assistance to relocate if they wish to do so.

A recent report noted that the plan to build a third runway at Heathrow is likely to increase passenger numbers at the airport to 130 million a year. This proposal has been put forward in one form or another in recent years, and has been rejected by residents and the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. He is in favor of building new airports away from highly populated areas, or extending Stansted airport, rather than opening up ways for even more aircraft to land at Heathrow. Management at Heathrow have noted that the expansion at the airport will reduce the number of people affected by the noise, partly because of the demolition of houses that would need to take place to build the runway and extra terminal. It has been reported that the three options being considered will call for the demolition of between 850 and 2,700 properties and that homeowners can expect compensation greater than market value.

Across the Atlantic, New Yorkers in the borough of Queens are also up in arms about airplane noise as the FAA has approved increased use of the so-called ‘Flushing Climb’ from La Guardia Airport in an effort to ease congested airspace. Residents are complaining that they were never consulted and that the noise has become unbearable. The FAA notes that as more airlines comply with precision GPS navigation, technology that will reduce emissions and fuel consumption, the problem of noise pollution will decrease as aircraft ‘glide’ in to land, rather than approaching with engines in full power. But people living with the noise every day are unhappy about waiting for airlines to catch up with technology and a number of citizen groups have arisen to object. It remains to be seen what solutions will be offered by airlines, airport authorities and national authorities in the issue of airplane noise pollution.

Advances in Solar-Powered Flight

August 13, 2013 by  
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The extent to which solar cell and battery technology has advanced was well demonstrated by the aircraft, Solar Impulse, which recently flew across America powered entirely by sunlight. The airplane used monocrystalline silicon solar cells, chosen for their ratio of efficiency to weight, to capture solar energy and convert it into electrical power. While solar-powered planes will not be replacing conventional aircraft for the foreseeable future, the advances in technology are noteworthy and valuable to other alternative energy applications.

The Solar Impulse has a wingspan of more than 63 meters, but only weighs 1,600kg. These long wings serve two main purposes – providing lift and, along with the tail, providing 200 square meters of surface area for the huge number of solar cells needed to harness the power of the sun. These solar cells are the lightest in weight and thinnest (135 microns) silicon photovoltaics, but they still account for up to twenty-five percent of the Solar Impulse’s mass. During the hours of the day when sunshine is at its strongest, the solar cells enable the aircraft to charge its batteries while climbing to its peak altitude of 9,000 meters. Because the airplane is shaped like a glider, when the sun is no longer providing power, the pilots are able to shut the engines off and glide, sometimes for several hours, before switching over to using energy stored in the batteries. The Solar Impulse has managed to stay airborne for 26 hours using this method.

In addition to the flight across America, from San Francisco to New York, the Solar Impulse has also completed flights in Europe and from Europe to North Africa. The next goal is a trip around the world, but as pilot André Borscheberg notes, while technology is able to sustain 24 hours flights, the pilot is not. There is only space for one pilot in the current aircraft, with very little room to move about and next to no room for essential equipment such as a parachute and oxygen. To make a trip around the world, the aircraft will need to be larger in order to allow the pilot space to move around and catch some sleep. No doubt these, and other, obstacles will be overcome as technology keeps advancing.

Exciting Edutainment at the National Soaring Museum

April 9, 2013 by  
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Located at Harris Hill near Elmira (the ‘Soaring Capital of America’), New York, the National Soaring Museum was established in 1978 and is dedicated to preserving the history of motorless flight. It features an impressive collection of gliders for visitors to view, while offering a range of fun educational programs and access to computerized flight simulators. Moreover, the museum oversees the National Landmark of Soaring program which currently recognizes sixteen sites as having had a significant impact on the history of motorless aviation in the United States.

Visitors to the museum can expect to see a large collection of gliders on display, some of which date back to the late 1890s and many of which are on permanent display, having been restored at the museum’s Restoration Shop. These include two gliders built by Backstrom (1954 and 1963), jokingly referred to as ‘flying planks’; four gliders by Bowlus nicknamed ‘Super Albatross’, ‘Baby Albatross’, and ‘Senior Albatross’ (1933-1942); a 1896 Chanute-Herring glider; three 1930 Franklin PS-2s; two gliders by Goppingen, nicknamed ‘Minimoa’ and ‘Wolf’; Nelson gliders ‘Dragonfly’ and ‘Hummingbird’ (1949 and 1953 respectively); fifteen gliders built by Schweizer between 1937 and 1972; and two Wright glider replicas.

Educational programs include the popular “Sleep with Sailplanes” – an overnight camp which includes a tour of the museum; fascinating presentations on meteorology and aeronautics; a hands-on ‘aerogami’ experience of paper sailplane construction and flight testing; cockpit orientation; building a full-scale replica of the wing rib of a 1902 Wright Glider; testing flying skills on computerized flight simulators and an overnight stay at the museum.

Named in honor of Col. Eileen Collins of Elmira, who was the first American woman commander of a Space Shuttle, the Eileen Collins Aviation Camp hosted by the National Soaring Museum features a week-long program offering children the opportunity to discover the wonders of aviation, among other activities. The program includes bus trips to the Eileen Collins Observatory, the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, the Elmira-corning Regional Airport flight tower and the Schweizer Aircraft Corporation. Presentations by various groups, a sailplane ride, a power plane ride and a tethered hot air balloon ride are other aspects of the camping experience, as are swimming, picnic lunches and building and launching a rocket.

Air Force Week 2012

August 1, 2012 by  
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Endorsed by the Air Force Chief of Staff, Air Force Week is an action packed “show & tell” where the general public can gain insight into the role of the Air Force in American society. The program includes Air Force Displays at Pier 86 next to the Intrepid Sea, air & Space Museum and an Air Force Thunderbirds Flyover, both on Sunday August 19. For more information visit the Air Force Week Website.

Dates: 19-21 August 2012
Venue: Various Venues, including Pier 86
City: New York
Country: United States

Flight of the Future at Five Times the Speed of Sound

November 1, 2011 by  
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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.

Wings of Eagles Discovery Center

December 14, 2009 by  
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Aviation enthusiasts and hobbyists will be able to find all they dream of and more at the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center at Elmira-Corning Regional Airport in Horseheads, New York. Previously known as the National Warplane Museum, the centre is dedicated to the memory of the brave pilots who fought wars for freedom, and the machines that assisted them in their missions. History is preserved within the walls of the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center, and welcomes visitors of all ages to explore and discover aviation through its interactive and educational exhibits.

Each year, the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center hosts a variety of aviation related events for the public to enjoy, but also accommodates personal events, military reunions and tour groups. The exhibits within the centre detail numerous historic events, but there is also a vast collection of aircraft, such as fighter planes, transport aircraft and scout planes, for visitors to marvel at, some dating as far back as 1919. Some of the airplanes are in the process of being restored, others are only for exhibition purposes and a small number offer visitors the opportunity to take a ride in one of these historic wonders.

For the adventurous visitor who wants to take to the skies there a few aircraft to select from, some being military airplanes, whilst others were used by civilian pilots. The aircraft used for visitor rides include a SNJ (AT-6) Texan, N2S (PT-17) Stearman and a PT-19 Cornell. In the collection visitors will find a variety of aircraft that are airworthy, but are only used for display purposes. Look out for the Stinson L-5 Sentinel, Mikoyan MiG 21Fishbed, McDonnell F2H-2P Banshee and Westland HAR10. Fascinating replicas, missiles and automotive displays can also be seen. Another great feature of the centre, over and above its extensive aircraft collection, is the flight simulator exhibit. Here, visitors will see how pilots are trained, with a Fresca 125 Helicopter, HotSeat Flight Simulator, C-97 Flight Engineer Training Station and Singer General Aviation Trainer simulators on display.

The Wings of Eagles Discovery Center is a wonderful attraction for the entire family to enjoy, and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 4 pm, and from 12 pm to 4pm on Sundays. Visit this memorable museum and be transported through the history of aviation into modern technology and the latest aviation discoveries.

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