The View from Our Side of the Cockpit Door
Around the World in 20 Days
19:22Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier was one of two men who left the earth's surface and flew in Montgolfier's balloon for the very first time. He also designed a type of balloon that was given his name that flew using a combination of a lifting gas and hot air. More than 200 years later, his design would be used in the balloon that made the first non stop round the world flight. A Rozièr balloon Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier in a Montgolfier balloon De Rozièr perishes in a baloon crash over Wimereux Don Cameron led the way in record breaking and unusual balloon design Double Eagle II Virgin Flyer The successful balloon circumnavigation by Piccard and Jones Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to those Public Domain images available, NASA, the Smithsonian,The Virgin Group, Cameron balloons and Breitling.
Only a Flat Tyre
18:27Each year upwards of 2 million of the faithful make the journey to follow the path of the profit Muhammad to a number of holy sites before their pilgrimage rites are considered complete. Muslims from around the world make this journey which, in modern times, is often completed using air travel, as it was in 1991 when Nigeria Airways wet leased a Douglas DC8 operated by Nationair Canada to help them cope with the season’s increase in passenger traffic due to the Hajj. Under the hot sun of the Arabian desert, the scene was set for a disaster. A Nationair DC8 King Abdulaziz International airport in Jeddah The Maintenance Record analysis The DC8 gear A typical brake fire Excerpt from the accident report Excerpt from the accident report Conditions in the cabin became unsurvivable Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Pedro Aragão, Yousefmadari, ICAO and the USAF.
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21:21They were the pioneers who trod the territory beyond the sound barrier… a place no man had ever been before and which had killed many who attempted the journey. The rocket powered, winged bullet first flew only 42 years after man’s first powered flight, an achievement that still astounds me. To think that a toddler around at Kitty Hawk who saw one of the Wright Brothers first flights, could have heard the world’s first man made sonic boom before they reached the ripe old age of 50 is a true testament to the ability of America’s finest minds and the bravery of their greatest pilots. The Bell X1 in flight The Miles M52 The X Planes US Military astronaut wings The X2 drop The X2 crash The X15 An X15 launch Armstrong with the X15 Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to NASA, the RAF, the USAF, NPRC,
RAF Form 414, Vol 18
18:44It's time for another of my flying logbook tales and it’s May 1987 and I’m on the Australian FA18 No 2 Operational Conversion Unit at RAAF Williamtown starting the final phase on course 1 of 87 before moving onto No 77 Squadron which was to be my home for the next few years. An FA/18B with a pair of BDU33 practice bomb carriers The Salt Ash bombing range A practice bomb strikes the centre of the target The CCIP aiming symbology Mk 82 500lb General Purpose bombs RAAF Townsville Mk82s hitting the target on Cordelia Island Course graduation Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the Welcome Collection and the USAF.
The Battle Above the Somme
19:46The First World War battle of the Somme continues, to this day, to fascinate and appal in equal measures. Much has been written about the ground war the first day of which saw the greatest number of British casualties than had occurred before in the entire history of the British Army… 19,240 were dead and 38,230 injured. The fighting over a 16 mile front lasted almost 5 months, after which the Allied troops had advanced about 6 miles. The butchers bill of casualties was horrendous. The combined Commonwealth countries number reached nearly 60,000 but was dwarfed by the United Kingdom’s casualty number of over 350,000. The battle opened on the 1st of July 1916 with a massed explosion that ranks amongst the largest non nuclear explosions in history and was then considered the loudest human made sound to date, audible beyond London 160 miles away. It was witnessed by an 18 year old RFC pilot. The mine under Hawthorn Ridge Then the dust cleared and we saw the two white eyes of the craters Going over the top The la Boisselle mine crater now and then. Pip's landing The Fokker Eindecker Bristol Fighters A dogfight The battlefield Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to British First World War Air Service Photo Section, Ernest Brooks, Henry Armytage Sanders, H. D. Girdwood, the RFC and the IWM.
Batman and Robin
20:27Robin Olds was a hard drinking, hard working man who led from the front in a way that inspired his men to become a great fighting force. He only became frustrated when he saw mistakes being made by those above him who should have known better and he went out of his way to make his feelings known. He defined what it meant to be a fighter pilot, not only in the air but on the ground with the stunningly beautiful Hollywood actress, Ella Raines, the first of his 4 wives. The court-martial of General William "Billy" Mitchell 1925 West Point students A P-38 Lightning A digital representation of SCAT II A Bf109 Olds and his P51 Mustang SCAT VI A P80 Shooting Star The Gloster Meteor An F86 Sabre of the 71st, Hat in the Ring Sqn The F4 Phantom Robin Olds completes his 100th combat mission Robin Olds in Vietnam after his 4th Mig kill Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to those images in the Public Domain, the Bundesarchive, the USAF, Digital Combat Simulator, Ruffneck88, USAF National Museum and RuthAS.
The Grade 2 Listed Centrifuge
20:14A recent news programme caught my eye when I realised it involved our great friends at the Farnborough Aviation Sciences Trust museum. It reminded me of the group of sadistic so-called doctors who populated the Institute of Aviation Medicine and tortured generations of unsuspecting and innocent RAF aircrew in machines such as the one the article featured, a centrifuge! This aforementioned device which resembles a vast witch’s ducking stool crossed with an iron maiden, first operated in 1955 but was decommissioned as recently as 2019 and has now received Grade 2 protection. The Institute of Aviation Medicine The Farnborough Centrifuge The Cecil Hotel with it's red and white ornate frontage The august medical journal, the Lancet Early versions of oxygen masks An early mobile decompression chamber Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the RAF, FAST museum, The Library of Congress, those images within the Public Domain and the National Museum of Health & Medicine.
RAF Form 414, Vol. 17
19:07The story of my military flying career continues with the new challenge of flying the FA/18 Hornet round the beautiful skies of Australia. The official crest of No 77 Sqn RAAF with its Grumpy Monkey The 77 Sqn Mirages The helmet fitting An FA/18A cockpit Sunset The Head Up Display The location of RAAF Williamtown Firing the gun Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Nick Anderson and Google Earth.
Oh Canada, Our UFO
19:26Featured in a Scientific magazine which offered a first look inside the USAF's new jet fighter, the F-89 Scorpion was to have an interesting history which involved the Battle of Palmdale and a top secret Canadian UFO! A Scientific Magazine cutaway drawing The Fly-off competitors The Northrop F89 Scorpion The 437th Fighter Interceptor Squadron An F6F Hellcat red drone Mighty Mouse rockets 1st Lt Moncla The Canadian UFO The official USAF report Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Scientific magazine, the USAF, USN, NASA, SDASM, RKO Pictures and those available through Fair Use and Public Domain.