The Tetris Challenge – military edition

The so-called “Tetris Challenge” appears to be sweeping through the Twitterverse.  In it, military, first-responder and other units and organizations display their equipment, laid out in a tight pattern as if to fill up every space (as in the video game Tetris), and photographed from above.  A quick Internet search on “Tetris challenge” produces dozens of links, and “Military Tetris challenge” focuses in on that aspect of it.  A lot of people appear to be having a lot of fun. I’ve been browsing through military-related Tetris Challenge pictures.  Here are a few examples (click each image for a larger view).  First,

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Saturday snippet: urinary frigidity

A few weeks ago, I published an excerpt from the late Brigadier Dick Lord’s history of the South African Air Force, “From Fledgling to Eagle“.  It was well received, particularly because it was very funny, and I had several requests for more of his tales of flight and fighting in the service of three different countries.  I’m happy to oblige, and I’ll post more snippets from his books at odd intervals in future. This tale comes at the end of his advanced training as a pilot in Britain’s Fleet Air Arm, during the very early 1960’s.  It’s taken from his autobiography, “From

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Oh, my itchy trigger finger . . .

Yesterday Miss D. and I went to the Guardians of Freedom Air Show at Sheppard Air Force Base near Wichita Falls.  It was a lot of fun, with a surprisingly good range of aircraft for a training base, including the F-22 and F-35 fifth-generation combat aircraft.  There was a decent-size crowd, too. While we were walking from the parking lot to the entrance to the display area, our attention was caught by a silver dart-like aircraft zooming low over the runway, quite close to us. I don’t know what I looked like to my wife, but I could feel the tension right away as I recognized it. I must have

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It’s a bittersweet feeling . . .

Two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers are paying an official visit to South Africa at present.  They landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria yesterday.  Here’s video of one of them on final approach, escorted by two South African Air Force Hawk trainer aircraft.  I know the area where the photographer was standing very well;  I’ve stood there myself more than once, watching aircraft arriving and departing. It was a bittersweet sort of feeling for me to watch that video, for two reasons. The first is that, back in the days of my active military service, any such Russian (i.e. Soviet) aircraft showing up within

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I bet that got dust up his intakes

An Algerian Mig-29 made an extraordinarily low pass over Mecheria airfield a few days ago.  If he’d towed a lawnmower behind him, I reckon he’d have got a full bag of grass cuttings in no time at all . . . The heavy smoke from the engines is a hallmark of the Mig-29, just as it was for the F-4 Phantom II. The later development of the MiG-29, the MiG-35, is better in that respect, but the smoke is still visible. Peter

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Not so much a flypast as a blowdown

It seems an Indonesian Mil Mi-35 gunship (an export version of the Mil Mi-24) recently made an unexpected and very low flypast during rehearsals for a military parade in the Natuna Regency, in the Riau Islands.  That proved to be not a good idea . . . I hope they had backup copies of those billboard posters.  I suspect the originals were probably damaged beyond repair. Peter

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A very interesting statistic from the Israeli Air Force

The Israeli Air Force is renowned as a ferociously effective defender of its country.  Its pilots are amongst the most professional in the world, and it operates the most up-to-date aircraft it can afford.  Therefore, I was struck by an interview given to Breaking Defense, revealing a very interesting statistic. “Last year 78 percent of the IAF’s operational flight hours were performed by UAS [unmanned aerial systems]. This year the number jumped and is 80 percent,” Lt. Col. S. told me at the Tel-Nof Air Force base, where the largest Israeli drone, the Heron-TP flies from. The Heron, the squadron commander said, is performing a

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Er . . . oops?

It seems a South Korean factory had an unexpected delivery the other day, courtesy of the US Armed Forces. A U.S. military helicopter accidentally dropped a metal container unit being airlifted Monday in South Korea, damaging a building but causing no injuries, officials said. The container was being carried via sling load by a 2nd Infantry Division helicopter when it fell onto a building in Yongin, just south of Seoul. “By all accounts, it did cause property damage, but nobody was injured,” said 2nd ID spokesman Lt. Col. Martyn Crighton. There’s more at the link, including a picture of the flattened factory.  Apparently

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“The airplanes that rescue Ebola patients”

That’s the title of a very interesting article in Popular Mechanics.  It’s a long article with a lot of detail, far too much to include here;  but I’ll post a series of short excerpts to give you an idea. … two humanitarian medical workers helping out with the Ebola crisis in Liberia had come down with it. Their names were Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, and while everyone wanted to get them home, they had no idea how to do so safely. “The general dogma was, you don’t bring the zombie apocalypse to a city that doesn’t have zombies,” Walters says. But

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Flying over Everest – some amazing video footage

Helicopters (the Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil, specifically the B3 high-altitude version, the first helicopter to land on the summit of Mount Everest in 2005) are used to rescue climbers in difficulty in the Himalayas.  Here’s a montage of footage shot from them during their missions.  Some of it is amazing. I almost got vertigo watching some of the shots in full-screen mode.  I imagine the pilots have to be amongst the best in the world at what they do, to manage a helicopter in the extremely thin air and high winds of those altitudes. Peter

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