On January 26, 1972, a suspected bomb exploded on board a Yugoslav Airlines DC-9 and the debris of the plane rained down on mountains in the former Czechoslovakia. Everyone died except flight attendant Vesna Vulovic. After a long but full recovery, she returned to work for the airlines until she was fired in 1990 for protesting against President Slobodan Milošević's nationalism. Vulovic died in 2016. Watch her story above.
More in this BBC News obituary.
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Again with the military and the sky penises. Last time I posted about this, it was Navy pilots pulling a prank over the state of Washington. This week, it was Air Force fighter jets over Arizona's Luke Air Force Base and the official statement is that it was an "accident." From CNN:
"We've seen the photos that have been circulating online from Tuesday afternoon. 56th Fighter Wing senior leadership reviewed the training tapes from the flight and confirmed that F-35s conducting standard fighter training maneuvers ... resulted in the creation of the contrails," an Air Force spokesperson told CNN. "There was no nefarious or inappropriate behavior during the training flight."
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On November 16, 2017, the crew of a Navy EA-18G Growler jet delighted sixth graders, launched a meme, and pissed off prudes everywhere by drawing a penis in the sky with their engine exhaust over the state of Washington. Their prank caused quite a stir in the Navy, even leading to an "official information dispatch" to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. It's still unknown how much trouble the pilots got themselves into but the Navy Times has just received a copy of the full report thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request. The cockpit transcripts are fantastic. From the Navy Times:
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“You should totally try to draw a penis,” the (pilot's cockpit partner, an electronic warfare office [EWO]) advised.
“I could definitely draw one, that would be easy,” the pilot boasted. “I could basically draw a figure eight and turn around and come back. I’m gonna go down, grab some speed and hopefully get out of the contrail layer so they’re not connected to each other....”
“Balls are going to be a little lopsided,” the pilot advised.
“Balls are complete,” he reported moments later. “I just gotta navigate a little bit over here for the shaft.”
“Which way is the shaft going?” the EWO asked.
“The shaft will go to the left,” the pilot answered.
“It’s gonna be a wide shaft,” the EWO noted.
“I don’t wanna make it just like 3 balls,” the pilot said.
“Let’s do it,” the EWO said. “Oh, the head of that penis is going to be thick.”
For a decade, NASA scientists have worked on an air-to-air photographic technology that will be used to collect data for the agency's next-generation supersonic airplane project. They've just released these absolutely astonishing "first air-to-air images of supersonic shockwave interaction in flight."
“We never dreamt that it would be this clear, this beautiful," says NASA scientist J.T. Heineck.
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The images feature a pair of T-38s from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, flying in formation at supersonic speeds. The T-38s are flying approximately 30 feet away from each other, with the trailing aircraft flying about 10 feet lower than the leading T-38. With exceptional clarity, the flow of the shock waves from both aircraft is seen, and for the first time, the interaction of the shocks can be seen in flight.
“We’re looking at a supersonic flow, which is why we’re getting these shockwaves,” said Neal Smith, a research engineer with AerospaceComputing Inc. at NASA Ames’ fluid mechanics laboratory.
“What’s interesting is, if you look at the rear T-38, you see these shocks kind of interact in a curve,” he said. “This is because the trailing T-38 is flying in the wake of the leading aircraft, so the shocks are going to be shaped differently. This data is really going to help us advance our understanding of how these shocks interact...”
While NASA has previously used the schlieren photography technique to study shockwaves, the AirBOS 4 flights featured an upgraded version of the previous airborne schlieren systems, allowing researchers to capture three times the amount of data in the same amount of time.
There is an abandoned McDonnell Douglas MD87 jetliner parked on the tarmac of Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas airport in Spain. If this is your jetliner, the airport asks that you please move it immediately. Apparently, the plane has been illegally parked for some years. From CNN:
Airport director Elena Mayoral submitted an official notice to the Boletín Oficial del Estado, the official gazette of the Kingdom of Spain, informing the nation of a plane in an "obvious state of abandonment" at the airport...
Under Spanish law, authorities must publish official notices about the plane for three consecutive months and then wait a year to see if the owner comes forward to claim it.
If they do not, the plane will be considered legally abandoned and will be sold off by the state at a public auction.
From El País:
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In 1990, the airplane flew for the first time for Iberia, according to online magazine Preferente.com. Eighteen years later it was acquired by Pronair, a charter airline headquartered in Albacete in Castilla-La Mancha. But the airline, which at one point was flying regularly to China, closed down in just a year due to the increase in fuel prices and the 2008 financial crisis.
Two years later, the plane was acquired by Saicus Air, a Spanish airline based in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. The airline operated two airplanes from Madrid and up until that point, had been dedicated to transporting cargo. The plane was meant to fly passengers between Spain and the Republic of Guinea Bissau in west Africa.
An EVA airlines flight attendant, supported by her union, complains the airline has failed to curb a routine problem flyer. Her recent experience sounds absolutely dreadful.
Folks need different types of assistance on a plane. I can absolutely understand the hardship of using an awful airplane restroom that is barely designed to work for the base human model. No one should feel shame for asking for legitimately needed assistance. The more you read this story, however, the more it seems that this passenger was not just asking for help.
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Accompanied by representatives from the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union, the flight attendant, who declined to give her name, said an overweight man confined to a wheelchair informed her he required assistance going to the bathroom about two hours into the flight.
The man asked the flight attendant making the complaint and two other female members of staff to help him remove his underwear, indicating he was unable to do so himself.
"I felt that as a flight attendant, removing a passenger's underwear was beyond the scope of my responsibilities," said the deputy cabin service head.
Despite their reluctance, three female members of the flight crew, EVA has no male flight attendants, tried to cover the passenger's genitals with a blanket while taking off his underwear.
The flight attendant said it was then that the passenger slapped her hand causing her to drop the blanket and exposing himself. He also demanded that the lavatory door be kept open, otherwise "he couldn't breathe."
The crew managed to keep the door closed, but when the man was finished, he refused to leave the bathroom unless they help him wipe his bottom.
Once a month, Delta Air Lines holds a "garage sale" at one of its facilities near their flight museum adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The New York Times' Jackie Snow visited this curious surplus sale. Turns out, many of the shoppers lining up to buy galley carts, oscilloscopes, earbuds, posters, branded silverware, and maybe even a scavenged coach class seat actually are Delta employees. From the NYT:
Perry De Vlugt, a Delta flight attendant based in Salt Lake City, has a basement full of Delta memorabilia; his collection was profiled in The Salt Lake Tribune, and he has a website dedicated to his hobby. He doesn’t know how many items he has, but he’s out of room in the 1,000-square-foot space dedicated to his collection...
Over the years, the sale has expanded to include decommissioned plane parts, service items and promotional material. Pieces as varied as pre-9/11 steak knives, coasters, an aircraft lavatory, old menus and timetables have been snapped up by collectors. The priciest item sold has been a $500 pressurized door from a DC-9 plane, and the sales contribute between $70,000 and $100,00 to the flight museum each year.
When Delta updates its branding, changes technology or over-orders or retires parts, those items are offered up to the sale.
“They suffer my wrath if they throw out anything before we get to take a look at it,” said Judy Bean, the sale’s manager and a Delta employee for 48 years.
"Stocking Up at an Airline’s Garage Sale" (New York Times)
Delta Surplus Sale (Delta Museum)
(Images: Delta Flight Museum posts on Facebook)
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The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is investigating multiple reports of UFOs over the coast of Ireland on Friday. From the BBC:
(A British Airways) pilot, flying from the Canadian city of Montreal to Heathrow, said there was a "very bright light" and the object had come up along the left side of the aircraft before it "rapidly veered to the north..."
(Another Virgin pilot said) there were "multiple objects following the same sort of trajectory" and that they were very bright.
The pilot said he saw "two bright lights" over to the right which climbed away at speed.
One pilot said the speed was "astronomical, it was like Mach 2" - which is twice the speed of sound.
According to the IAA, the matter will be "investigated under the normal confidential occurrence investigation process." Meanwhile, the BBC quotes an astronomer who suggests what the pilots saw could have been a meteoroid aka "shooting star."
image: not the actual UFO over Ireland
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This gorgeous 1960s aerodynamic test model of a NASA supersonic transport plane from the space agency's Langley Research Center can be yours for $5,685. On offer from Agent Gallery Chicago, it's approximately 51" long with a wingspan of 24" and "built of wood and composite materials." Unfortunately, one of the fins has snapped off but I'm sure the right person could work wonders with a little balsa wood, X-acto knife, and paint.
"RARE 1960'S NASA AERODYNAMICS SST MODEL" (via Uncrate)
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Police arrested Bruce Michael Alexander for groping a sleeping woman seated in front of him on a Southwest flight from Texas to New Mexico. In the police car, Alexander reportedly told police that "the president of the United States says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts." From USA Today:
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The woman said she felt Alexander's hand move from behind her and grab her right breast. She said she fell asleep about 20 minutes into the flight and not long after, she felt him touch her but assumed it was an accident, according to court documents.
About 30 minutes later, she said she felt Alexander's hand grab the back of her arm and grope around her ribs and then her breast.
The woman then stood up and told Alexander she did not understand how he could think that was OK and he needed to stop.
There's no better way to beat the heat on your next beach vacation than to hold on for dear life while being blown around by the power of a jet engine. Read the rest
Starting Thursday, Singapore Airlines will offer a nonstop flight between Singapore to New York, becoming the longest commercial non-stop route at 19 hours in the air. That's 3 hours longer than Quantas Airlines' Perth to London long haul. To handle the distance, Singapore Airlines ordered nearly 50 of Airbus's new A350-900 ULR (for Ultra Long-Range). From CNN:
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"The A350 is a clean-sheet design that has been designed for those long-range flights," Florent Petteni, Airbus' aircraft interiors marketing director for the A350, tells CNN Travel.
All A350s share Airbus' design philosophy that makes the aircraft cabin feel more like a room, rather than a long tube. The plane has high ceilings, sophisticated LED lighting, almost vertical sidewalls and a low noise level.
These features, along with a maximum in-cabin simulated altitude of just 6,000 feet, all combine to provide an improved passenger experience, according to Petteni.
During its 1970s heyday, the Concorde, the commercial supersonic plane that did NYC to London in under three hours, wasn't just a revolution in aerospace engineering; it was an icon of industrial design, set the bar in luxury travel, and, quite literally, embodied the jet-set lifestyle. Now, my friend qnd colleague Lawrence Azerrad, the creative director of the Grammy-winning Voyager Golden Record vinyl box set we released last year, has created a glorious art book about the Concorde and its scene in the sky. The book, Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde, overflows with historical and technical information and stunning photos of the plane, its marketing materials, and amenities designed by the likes of Andrée Putman, Raymon Loewy, and Sir Terence Conran who wrote this book's foreword. From CNN:
Taking a branded item home was part of the experience. Anything that could be removed from the plane would be taken by passengers as a souvenir. Some of these items were particularly sought after, like those designed by Raymond Loewy, the father of industrial design who created cabin interiors for Air France.
"He used a very forward-thinking, futuristic approach for that time, down to the design of the seats, the headrests, the fabric and, probably more famously, the stainless steel flatware, which Andy Warhol would famously steal," said Azerrad. "There's a story where (Warhol) asked if the person sitting next to him was taking theirs, she said no and he took her set."
Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde is a magnificent celebration of the history of our in-flight future. Read the rest
Since the 1950s, wildlife departments have airdropped fish from planes to repopulate remote lakes. Above is video shot by Kamas State Fish Hatchery.
"They kind of flutter down, so they don't impact very hard," said Kamas State Fish Hatchery supervisor Ted Hallows. "They flutter with the water and they do really well."
From an article Hallows wrote in Wildlife Review (PDF):
Many of the lakes in Utah are excellent places to fish, but you can’t get to them with a truck or a car. The Uinta Mountains alone have more than 650 fishable lakes. The best way to stock many of these valuable fisheries—and sometimes the only way to stock them—is from the air…
What used to take the old-time biologists and their pack trains months to stock can now be stocked in a few hours with an airplane. And using an airplane stresses the fish less. That means more of them will survive their fall to the water.
More at The Kid Should See This: "Aerial stocking: Utah wildlife departments drop fish into lakes from airplanes"
— Pattern (@Pattern) August 29, 2018
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Pilot: "It's not my first day in New York. It's not my first day in an aircraft."
From the Irish Times:
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The Aer Lingus plane referred to as “Shamrock 104 Heavy” throughout the recording had gone down the runway southwards, and was intending to turn left across the Atlantic and towards Ireland.
The pilot saw a storm upon take off to his left that he deemed unsafe and so carried on straight to await further instructions.
While the pilot thought the storm was unsafe to fly through, the air traffic controller became agitated telling the pilot no other aircraft had deviated from the requested course.
Air travel sucks. It’s always cramped. One person, per plane, is paid to bring a tuna and onion sandwich on board so that its odor can be pushed through the air re-circulation system (FAA Regulations, yo), and there’s never enough booze in those wee bottles to make a proper drink from. But hey, at least you don’t have to worry about bed bugs!
From Fox 5 NY:
Passengers on flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to India are complaining about bed bug infested seats.
In one case this week a family complained their infant was covered in bites and bleeding by the time the 17-hour flight landed in Mumbia.
Pravin Tonsekar tweeted Air India photos of his seat with apparent bed bugs on them.
Air India replied with a comment that it is: "Sorry to hear this. Sharing the details with our maintenance team for corrective measures in this regard."
Another passenger tweeted to the airline that his family flew out of Newark on July 18 and his wife and three children were covered in bed in bites all over their body. He asked, "Is this what we paid $10,000 for???"
Actually, no. You paid for a seat, in-flight meals, fuel, airport taxes, and a place to stash your luggage. The bugs were a freebie.
A quick Duck Duck Go search revealed that this wasn’t the first airborne bed bug encounter that’s found its way into the news. In 2017, a Canadian family got eaten up by the little buggers during a nine-hour flight on a British Airways flight from Vancouver to London. Read the rest
In absolute crap weather conditions, two U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crews were dispatched to Jumbo Mountain, 39 miles west of Ketchikan, Alaska on Prince of Wales Island: a charter plane with 11 passengers was reported to have crashed. After making the flight to the purported crash site, battling wind rain and poor visibility all the way, the Coast Guard arrived at the crash site and reported in: all 11 souls on board, while battered from a rough landing on the side of a mountain, were very much alive.
From The BBC:
Commander Michael Kahle, of the Coast Guard in Juneau, Alaska, congratulated the aircrew of the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters who conducted the rescue.
"Cases like these exemplify the versatility of our aircrews and how capable they are to expertly perform rescues from the ocean or even mountainsides," he said in a statement.
Coast Guard spokesman Charly Hengen told local media that the rescue pilots had only about a quarter mile of visibility due to fog during the mission.
The pilot at the stick at the time of the accident was 72-year old Mike Hodgins, flying for a charter company called Taquan Air. The NTSB is investigating the accident, but in the meantime, damn: a plane crash on the side of a damn mountain where the plane comes out largely intact and all of the passengers survived? It might come out that the incident occurred due to pilot error but, in the meantime, I want a grizzled vet like Hodgins flying all of the planes, all of the time. Read the rest