The President with 5 Stars Also Had Wings

If you are looking for a poster child for "overachiever" you might consider Dwight D. Eisenhower. This Kansas farm boy rose from modest beginnings to become one of only five Americans to achieve the five-star rank of General of the Army and the only one of those to become President of the United States. (see note... Continue Reading →

Speedy Pit Stop

Mid-air refueling is impressive by any standard. For two or more aircraft to join together while flying at 300 mph, it requires pilot skill and technological sophistication well beyond average. Among the many impressive things about this feat is how quickly it happens. Modern refueling tankers deploy fuel at a rate of about 6,000 pounds... Continue Reading →

Tuning the Helicopters

Musical instruments can be costly, and any band student who has had to lug a tuba or bell set on a school bus knows they can be unwieldy, too. The Sousaphone or cello is nothing, however, compared to the principal instruments in  Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Helikopter-Streichquartett" -- four operational and flying helicopters. "Helikopter-Streichquartett" (German for "Helicopter String... Continue Reading →

I Tawt I Taw a RNAV (GPS) Approach to Runway 16

Pilots use agreed-upon geographic locations as reference points for navigation. Many times, these points have no distinct visible features, but they have been designated as points on a map so pilots can line up for landing or perform another maneuver. These locations, known as intersections, are identified with 5-letter names and are published on pilot charts and other... Continue Reading →

Building Zeppelins Took a Lot of Guts

photo credit: Alexander Sovpel. Used by permission. During much of World War I, sausage consumption was illegal in Germany. The reason was to preserve the supply of cow intestines, which were needed to seal Zeppelins and prevent hydrogen from leaking from the vehicle. Ultimately, 140 Zeppelins were constructed. Each one required the intestines of 250,000 cows. The... Continue Reading →

When the Flight Attendant Tells You How to Fasten Your Seat Belt, Pay Attention

Captain Tim Lancaster was in command of British Airways Flight 5390 on June 10, 1990, when the windscreen failed and he was sucked out of the cockpit. The plane, a BAC 1-11, was at 17,300 feet, one-hour into its flight between Birmingham Airport in the United Kingdom and Málaga, Spain, when incorrect retention bolts on... Continue Reading →

With a Little Help From My Friend Adversary

The SR-71 Blackbird was one of the greatest tools of espionage ever built. Flying at speeds of Mach 3, it could out-fly any enemy fighter or surface-to-air missile. In addition to its unmatched speed, the design of the aircraft made it nearly invisible to radar. In short, it was a technological marvel that gave the... Continue Reading →

It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s an Inflatoplane!

Goodyear, the manufacturer of tires, developed an inflatable airplane called GA-468, but commonly known as the Inflatoplane. The Inflatoplane's performance was comparable to that of a a J3 Cub. The airplane was wheeled out like a wheelbarrow and inflated in about 5 minutes using less air pressure than a car tire. The two-cycle 40-hp Nelson... Continue Reading →

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