Cathay Pacific leaks 9.4 million travelers' passport numbers and other data

Cathay Pacific started investigating a potential breach in March; by May they'd learned of breaches to a system with 9.4 million travelers' data on it, then for some reason they didn't tell anyone about it, until now: "The following personal data was accessed: passenger name; nationality; date of birth; phone number; email; address; passport number; identity card number; frequent flyer programme membership number; customer service remarks and historical travel information." They are sorry if you are upset: "We are very sorry for any concern this data security event may cause our passengers." Read the rest

A database of instructions for making different paper airplanes

Fold N Fly is a visual database of paper airplane designs, sortable by aerodynamic properties (distance, airtime, etc), and difficulty of folding. Some pretty exotic designs, too! (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

"Like Lord of the Flies": working at the TSA really sucks

A new report summarizing three years of investigationsfrom the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the TSA calls out the agency for its "toxic leadership culture, misconduct, mismanagement, whistleblower retaliation and obstruction," citing these as the reason for the agency's 20% annual attrition rates. Read the rest

The history of wingwalking as told by a wingwalker, whilst walking on a wing

There's no one better to teach you about the history of folks walking on the wings of planes than a fella walking on the wing of a plane. I mean, that's pretty much as gonzo as you can get. Read the rest

TSA + CBP test new facial recognition tech & computed tomography scanners at LAX

A new facial recognition technology screening system will soon be used on some travelers who pass through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Read the rest

TSA: the fact that our secret surveillance program hasn't caught anyone means it's working

Late last month, the Boston Globe published a blockbuster scoop revealing the existence of "Quiet Skies," a secret TSA program that sent Air Marshals out to shadow travelers who were not on any watchlist and had committed to crime, on flimsy pretenses like "This person once visited Turkey." Read the rest

Quiet Skies: Air Marshals are following thousands of random Americans through airports and on planes, for no articulatable purpose

Federal Air Marshals are furious that they have been tasked to follow thousands of Americans who are not on any watch-list and not suspected of any crime; they shadow these people (who are selected for surveillance on the basis of flimsy criteria like once having visited Turkey) and send minute-by-minute updates to the TSA, noting whether their targets are sleeping, using more than one phone, waiting until the last minute to board their planes, observing boarding areas from a distance, and other innocuous behaviors. Read the rest

Watch pilots eject at over Mach 8 on test track

Servicemembers willing to undergo dangerous test pilot duties are remarkably brave. The military is now conducting tests on different body sizes to ensure women serving as pilots get the same safety benefits. Read the rest

Student blocks deportation of Afghan asylum-seeker by refusing to sit down and let the plane take off

Elin Ersson is a 21 year old Swedish social work student who boarded a plane at Gothenburg airport yesterday and refused to sit down until an Afghan asylum-seeker who was to be deported that day was offloaded and allowed to remain in Sweden. Read the rest

British Airways won't let you check in while ad-blocking, insists that passengers post personal info to Twitter "for GDPR compliance"

British Airways was outed by security researcher Mustafa Al-Bassam for telling passengers they couldn't help with delays and other problems unless they posted their personal information publicly to Twitter, in order "to comply with the GDPR." Read the rest

Major airlines won't fly kidnapped children anymore, but Trump is still welcome in the UK

United Airlines and American Airlines have signalled the end of their participation in Trump's practice of kidnapping children to scare away potential asylum seekers, (AA: "We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it"; UA: "Our company’s shared purpose is to connect people and unite the world. This policy and its impact on thousands of children is in deep conflict with that mission and we want no part of it") -- but Theresa May's Tory government has failed to rescind its invitation for Trump to stage a state visit to the UK, despite the "deeply disturbing" images of kidnapped, distraught children. Read the rest

I was gifted a scenic flight over Black Rock City ​

I have a long history with Burning Man, both on playa and off, but I did not know until last year that ​a small group of ​generous Burner pilots ​gift scenic flights ​-- ​at their own expense and discretion -- over Black Rock City during the event.

The catch? Well, first you need to go to Burning Man, which means getting a ticket. Then, once you're out there, you have to get up real early, put your name on a list at the Black Rock City Municipal Airport and wait -- in the heat, for hours -- for your name to be called. Since the planes are small and each ride is about half an hour long, the wait to get that amazing bird's eye view can be upwards of six hours or more.

I woke up late on Saturday, the morning of the Burn. It was the last day pilots were gifting these rides for 2017, so I pedaled over anyway and put my name on the list. It was 9 AM and the guy in charge warned me it would be at least six hours before I'd be airborne, if I was "lucky." The airport was a fair distance away from where I was camping, so I decided to stay put. To kill some time, I asked the airport staff if they needed a volunteer. As luck would have it, they did.

I spent about 45 minutes organizing papers in an air-conditioned trailer (oh yeah) and the remainder of my three-hour shift checking passengers against flight manifests at the gate. Read the rest

Southwest wouldn't let mixed-race family fly until mom "proved" parenthood

Last Monday, UC Berkeley woman's basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb and her fiance Patrick Martin tried to board a Southwest flight with their one year old, biracial son; they presented the check-in clerk with their son's passport, but the clerk refused to let them fly until she showed the clerk Facebook posts or a birth certificate to prove that she was her son's mother. Read the rest

Vanuatu will use drones to deliver vaccines across its remote chain of tiny islands

Vanuatu and UNICEF have issued a request for tender inviting drone companies to bid on a contract to deliver vaccines along the nation's chain of tiny, remote islands -- 83 volcanic islands strung along a 1600km atoll. Read the rest

The TSA has a secret enemies list of people who've complained about screeners

We all know that the TSA maintains a secret watchlist of suspected terrorists who are somehow suspicious enough that they can be denied the right to fly or be subjected to humiliating screenings (but not suspicious enough to charge with any crime), but it turns out that that TSA has another watchlist of problem fliers -- people who've complained about TSA screeners, as well as people who are accused of having "assaulted" screeners (the definition of "assault" includes women who've removed screeners' hands from their breasts). Read the rest

Secret Nazi experimental plane was an epic piece of vaporware

Behold the incredibly weird-looking Horten Ho 229 -- an all-wing "wonder weapon" plane that the Nazis frantically developed even as they were collapsing and losing WWII. Read the rest

Last summer, Southwest tried to kill a rule that would have tightened up engine fan blade inspections

This week, Southwest flight 1380 lost an engine in midair when one of its fan-blades cracked; it was the second time in recent years that this happened to one of Southwest's Boeing 737s. Read the rest

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