B-2’s and U-2’s at play in England

The USAF has sent three B-2 stealth bombers to England for exercises, along with a U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.  Courtesy of The Aviationist and photographer Daffyd Phillips, here’s a high-resolution video clip of the aircraft taking off and landing over there.  It includes some of the closest, clearest shots of the B-2 I’ve yet seen. Note the U-2 “chase car” that follows the aircraft during takeoff and landing.  It’s a vital part of the support crew.  Details at the link. Peter

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Sunday morning music

One of the advantages of the so-called “digital age” is that it allows us to recreate sounds and sound effects that had long been lost to history.  One can electronically alter what one hears so that it resembles sounds that were made long ago, but which can’t be accurately reproduced today for any number of reasons. One of those sounds is the Orthodox liturgical chant used in the Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople, later a Moslem mosque following the fall of that city in 1453, and today a museum.  The acoustics of the Hagia Sophia were legendary, and added greatly to the impact of the liturgical

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Adventures with lawnmowers

At the end of last summer, our old lawnmower (a low-end Toro unit we bought when we moved here in 2016) blew its engine in fairly spectacular fashion:  a loud bang, a puff of white smoke, and a deafening silence thereafter.  Our local small engine repair shop said it was deader than the proverbial doornail.  I asked the mechanic’s advice on a replacement, and he said that none of the low-end machines were worth getting these days.  He pointed out that all their engines either came from China, or incorporated Chinese-made parts, and estimated that none of them had a

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Another interesting Russian aviation video

Yesterday we had a look at the “blended wing body” Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber.  This morning, here’s a Russian Mikoyan MiG-31 interceptor training with an Ilyushin Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft.  They’re flying over the Kamchatka Peninsula, which has some spectacular scenery. Sadly for Russia, her Air Force is reliant on far too many old designs.  The Il-38 first flew in the 1960’s, and the MiG-31 in the 1970’s.  Their systems have been modernized since then, but their basic design is well and truly outdated.  Russia currently can’t afford to replace them, either.  (That’s no grounds to sneer, of course:  the USAF has the same problem.  In 2015,

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A close-up look at a blended wing body

Here’s some interesting footage of a Russian Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber refueling in flight from an Ilyushin Il-78 tanker.  Note the so-called “blended wing body” of the Tu-160, where the wings blend seamlessly into the fuselage in an unbroken lifting surface. Although the design bureau would almost certainly deny it, the physical resemblance between the Tu-160 and the US Rockwell B-1 bomber is striking, almost certainly because the Soviet Union copied the early B-1 blended wing body design.  Here’s a B-1 bomber refueling in mid-air, to give you a similar perspective;  note the similarities in design. Peter

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A very wet takeoff

Here’s footage taken a few days ago of a US Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy transport taking off from Prestwick in the UK during a heavy rainstorm.  It kicks up a lot of spray. I wonder what landing would be like, with that much water on the runway?  I suppose the Galaxy is heavy enough that it wouldn’t aquaplane, but a lighter aircraft might be a different story. Peter

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OK, warbird fans, you can geek out now

A treasure trove of World War II-era aviation blueprints have been saved for posterity.  Warbird Digest reports: AirCorps Aviation of Bemidji, Minnesota has just announced that they have acquired a massive trove of original manufacturing drawings for North American Aviation (NAA) covering types such as the P-51, T-6, B-25 and P-82. Ken Jungeberg was the head of the Master Dimensions department at Columbus in 1988 when the factory closed its doors. When he heard that North American was planning to burn all the WWII era drawings in their archive, he knew he had to do something. He began writing letters and making calls to his superiors, advocating to save

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“Plankton powered rubber duck bombs”???

The new Armed Forces minister in Britain is raising eyebrows (and not before time, IMHO!) with his views on the future of warfare. Special Forces of the future should be planting malware in enemy servers rather than fighting wars with daggers, the new armed forces minister said yesterday. James Heappey, a former Army officer, said … the military needed ‘to think the incredible’ to win wars now and referred to the Alexa smart speaker as a model for innovation, adding: ‘Alexa, fight my war.’ . . . Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) think tank, he said: ‘We have

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About that “open container law” for Airbus aircraft .

. it looks like I wasn’t far wrong! Last week I wrote about electrical issues with three different Airbus aircraft after liquids were spilled on control panels in the cockpit, including uncommanded engine shutdowns.  I asked whether an “open container law” might be needed for Airbus cockpits. What’s the old saying about “There’s many a true word spoken in jest”?  Flight Global reports: Airbus A350 operators have been ordered to define a “liquid prohibited” zone in the cockpit, after two incidents in which beverage spillages on the centre pedestal led to in-flight shutdown of a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine. . . . In

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Do we need an “open container law” for the cockpits of Airbus planes?

For the benefit of readers overseas, most localities in America have so-called “open container laws“, forbidding the presence of opened bottles or other containers of alcohol in many public places, usually including vehicles in motion. In the case of Airbus airliners, I’m referring to open containers in the cockpit holding any liquid, not just alcohol, because they seem to have a problem with spills affecting their electronics. Airbus and Rolls-Royce are investigating two incidents in which A350s experienced uncommanded in-flight engine shutdown after drinks were spilled on controls situated on the cockpit centre pedestal. . . . One of the incidents involved a Delta Air Lines

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