Capt. Lyndsey Goodman, a C-17 Globemaster III reserve pilot with the 317th Airlift Squadron at Charleston Air Force Base, auditioned for “American Idol” last January 23. Capt. Goodman has flown the half-million pound airlifter into combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, also sings at local nightclubs.Capt. Goodman decided to go to the Air Force because her dad was an Air Force pilot in Vietnam and she just grew around airplanes her whole life. The C-17 pilot added that she wanted to try out for ‘American Idol’ because she has singing since she was a little and just grabbed this opportunity when “American Idol” came to their city.
The captain already has a career handling America’s premier airlifter, but her passion for singing gave her the chance to sing for America’s toughest, and most popular judges — Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell.
Capt. Goodman said, “Auditioning in front of Randy, Paula and Simon, I was probably more nervous than I have been in my entire life. It was really hard to concentrate because of all the cameras. It was a lot tougher than any check ride I have ever had.”
Captain Goodman is one of only two military contestants featured on the show this season, according to “American Idol” producers. After the audition process, she was eliminated by Mr. Cowell, who said he liked her singing but jazz might not be the right format for the show. Captain Goodman didn’t make it to Hollywood but she would still continue flying with the Air Force Reserve.
Yet another thing has been labeled with the three words that we are all too familiar with: “Made in China”. This time, it’s an ARJ21 jet named “Xiang Feng”.
China’s first home-grown regional jet rolled off the production line in Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory last month, along with its name being unveiled at the roll-out ceremony. “Xiang Feng”, which means “flying phoenix”, was chosen in a global competition via the Internet.
Designed and produced by China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I), the ARJ21-700 jet can carry 90 passengers with a maximum range of 2,000 nautical miles. Its maiden flight is scheduled to take place in March 2008, and it is expected to be delivered to the first customers in the third quarter of 2009 after it receives its airworthiness certification in the first half of the same year.
According to vice chief designer Chen Yong, the jet will have to go through more than 170 tests before it gets the certification. He also stated that the ARJ21 focuses on comfort, with a passenger cabin 123 inches wide and seats 0.9 inch wider than that of the Boeing 737, calling the plane’s cabin one of the amplest of any regional plane in the world.
AVIC I has already received orders for “Xiang Feng” aircraft from a Laotian airline company and domestic airline companies, some of which are Shenzhen Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Xiamen Airlines. A source with AVIC I said that the company expects to receive more overseas orders in the first half of 2008.
ARJ21, short for “Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century”, is the first regional jet fully developed by China alone. Currently, China uses foreign-made Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier planes on domestic air routes. AVIC I sees the ARJ21 taking up to 60 percent of the domestic market for mid-size regional airliners over the next 20 years.
A small UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) weighing 4.2 pounds which entered service in late 2003, gained extreme popularity and rave reviews from the U.S. military, the RQ-11A Raven. The Raven is a compact, lightweight, hand-launched Small UAV (SUAV) that can be prepared and launched in minutes for conducting aerial Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions during infantry combat operations, including urban warfare operations/MOUT.
The Raven is battery powered and carries a color day vidcam or a two color infrared camera and it costs $25,000. The Raven can go as fast as 90 kilometers an hour, but usually cruises between 40 and 50. It can go as far as 15 kilometers from its controller on the ground, using GPS for navigation. Each Raven unit consists of three UAVs and one ground control station and is launched by turning on the motor and throwing it to midair, just like throwing a paper-made plane. The Raven only requires three soldiers to operate it and doesn’t require an airfield to launch, since it’s throw-launched.
The Raven is basically a scaled down version of an earlier, nine pound UAV, the Pointer (FQM-151), which also became popular with the Special Forces. But the Special Forces wanted something even smaller and lighter, as they often had to travel very light. There was an even lighter (less than a 1/2 pound) vidcams developed, making it possible to use even smaller UAVs.
The Special Forces army employs 200 Ravens and they are the most enthusiastic users, since the Raven is so small and discreet that most people on the ground won’t notice it even at night. The most common cause of loss is that when a Raven has been shot down, it could lose its communications link or a software/hardware failure on the aircraft. But that’s the only downside since SUAVs like Raven can be used for both daytime and night operations, anytime there’s a requirement for immediate, short range/low-cost real-time intelligence without risking human assets, hence, it minimizes infantry casualties.
Virgin Galactic introduces their new space craft to travel to suborbital space and back.
Developed from Rutan’s SpaceShipOne, a piloted and reusable spacecraft that won the $10 million Ansari X Prize for suborbital spaceflight in 2004, SpaceShipTwo is an air launched vehicle designed to carry six passengers.
The SpaceShipTwo will drop from a twin-cabin high-altitude jet that can double as a space tourist training craft. WhiteKnightTwo carries four engines and a wingspan of about 140 feet, rivaling a B-29 bomber. The WhiteKnightTwo is built to handle unmanned rockets capable of launching small satellites into orbit.
Virgin Galactic now offers ticket aboard SpaceShipTwo for an initial price of $200,000. The ticket cost is expected to drop after the first five years of operations. The space tourism firm plans to eventual launch flights out of a terminal at New Mexico’s Spaceport America, with additional trips through the aurora borealis to be staged from Kiruna, Sweden.
If traveling around the world is not enough, it is now possible to travel to outer space and back to the earth.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A group of European designers and companies are currently in production on a radical redefinition of what a general aviation aircraft is. As what they call the designed aircraft “SmartFish” is actually modeled after a tuna.
The objective of the SmartFish project is to create a totally new kind of airplane type that can be used for everything from light sport aircraft to business jets to commercial puddle jumpers that carry up to 20 passengers. It targets fuel economy, safety, visual beauty and a minimization of moving parts.
According to the SmartFish website:
The SmartFish proof of concept will be realized in collaboration with following companies: Extra (world leader in aerobatic aircraft) for system integration and test flights, Leichtwerk for interpretation statics and dynamics, LTB Borowski for composite manufacturing, Liebherr Aerospace for Landing Gear System development, DLR (German Aerospace Center) for flutter analysis and inlet optimization, RUAG Aerospace for wind tunnel testing, and EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (they did a great job for Alinghi) for overall design optimization.
Who doesn’t find world records interesting? It’s always fun to know “the smallest” or “the fastest”, the most extreme of the most extremes. The following are some aircraft-related world records. These are official; they’re all in the Guinness World Records.
Smallest jet aircraft
A home-built Bede BD-5J Microjet owned by Juan Jimenez of San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA is the world’s smallest jet aircraft. It measures 3.7 m (12 ft) long, has a 5.7 m (17 ft) wingspan, and can fly at 483 km/h (300 mph). The Microjet weighs only 162 kg (358 lbs), which is much, much lighter than an elephant.
Most aircraft flown in as a passenger
This record belongs to Edwin A. Shackleton of the UK. As of January 2007, he has flown in 841 different types of aircraft, including balloons, airships, helicopters, and microlights. His first flight was in 1943 in a De Havilland DH 89 Dominie. That’s a lot of flights!
Fastest 100m team aircraft pull – 737 class
On January 27, 2001, a team of ten Royal Marine reserves from all over the UK pulled a Boeing 737-300 that weighed 37 tonnes (81,500 lbs) a distance of 100 m (328 ft) in 43.2 seconds at Manchester Airport.
Heaviest aircraft pulled (individual)
An even more impressive feat than the aforementioned was performed by David Huxley, who on October 15, 1997 at Sydney, Australia, pulled a Boeing 747-400 a distance of 91 m (298.5 ft) in 1 minute and 27.7 seconds. The 747-400′s weight was a whopping 187 tonnes (184 tons).
Perhaps the most notable of all the shipwreck stories would be the Titanic tragedy. The root cause of the wreck was still a debatable issue; was it just purely caused by accident or was caused by recklessness? It was really an irony that such a ship which was once considered as “the ship of dreams” and “the unsinkable” would end up as a dreadful nightmare and would be infamously known as the “world’s most famous shipwreck.”
Way back on April 10, 1912 in Southampton, England, after four days of hiring crew members, loading supplies and making the final inspections, passengers started to went onboard the Titanic. The Titanic proceeds to Cherbourg, France and then to Queenstown, Ireland, picking up additional passengers and crews.
The ship performs beautifully, found to be extremely stable. Congratulations poured in by radio from other ships, often with warnings of icebergs ahead. In the next three days, the weather was beautiful and the sea was calm. Ice warnings continue to come in on the radio. On April 14, at 6 pm, the course of the Titanic is shifted slightly south and the speed continues to increase. All through the evening, ice warnings come in on the radio, but many are not relayed to the Captain.
At 10 pm, the Californian was stopped in heavy ice and sends out warnings. The radioman on the Titanic tells the Californian wireless officer to “Keep Out! Shut Up! You’re jamming my signal.” Thus, the Californian shuts down its radio for the night. At 11:30 pm, lookouts see a slight haze ahead and ten minutes later, signaled the bridge: “Large iceberg dead ahead.” The First Officer orders “Hard-a-starboard.” All engines were stopped and then ordered full reverse. The watertight doors are also ordered closed.
Titanic veers to port, but it was too late. An underwater spar rips a 300-foot hole, opening five forward compartments to the sea. A quick inspection reveals the unthinkable: Titanic is sinking. The distress call was sent out. Shortly after the midnight, the lifeboats are ordered uncovered, but there was only room for 1,178 people if the boats are filled to capacity. Signal rockets were fired.
Several ships hear the distress call and change course for help. The closest was the Carpathian, which was 58 miles away. The Californian was actually within sight of the signal rockets, but with the radio off for the night assumes the ship in the distance is a tramp steamer and continues on. Wallace Hartley and his band played lively ragtime tunes in the first class lounge almost to the very end. They were last heard playing “Nearer, My God, To Thee”, a song Hartley had always said he would choose for his own funeral.
At 2:17 AM, the stern began to lift clear of the water. One minute later, a huge roar was heard and everything crashed toward the bow of the ship. The lights blinked once and went out. At 2:20 am, the Titanic silently slid to the ocean floor 13,000 feet below. Two hours later, the Carpathian picked up the first lifeboat. At 5:30 am, the Californian finally hears of the disaster and moves to help, but arrives just as the last boat is pulled from the water. At 8:50 am, the Carpathia sets sail for New York with 705 survivors, leaving the search for additional survivors to the other ships.
It was stated in the story that the radioman didn’t heed the Californian officer’s warning that there was heavy ice in the vicinity that evening and the warning wasn’t relayed to the Captain. Due to poor communication and recklessness, Titanic, the once so-called as the “unsinkable” sank, resulting to a serious loss of many lives.
I have read stories about heroism ever since I can remember. Most of it got my interest but only liked few and these two are meant to be shared. As for most, we have different definitions of hero and who we call hero with great pride, but these heroic stories will surely give meaning to family pride.
Many years ago, Al Capone was a very influential man though he wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from booze and prostitution to murder, together with his so-called mob. Capone had a lawyer which he calls “Easy Eddie”, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Al out of jail for a very long time. Added to his perks, Capone paid him very well as well as special dividends, mansion, wheels, and all the conveniences of the day.
Eddie gave his family the best of everything but often times he would wonder about his son, he couldn’t pass on a good name and a good example. After some time, Eddie reached a difficult decision and wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. Eddie decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Capone, clean us his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against an angry, trigger-happy mob.
Within the year, Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a Chicago Street. He had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he would ever pay.
The next story was probably the one of the many stories that were never told. World War II had produced a lot of heroes but not just the World War II alone. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare whom his patriotism and heroism was molded by a man he looked up to.
Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day, his entire squadron was sent to a mission. After airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank, it was impossible to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier.
He dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning, he saw a squadron of Japanese aircraft speeding their way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a mission, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save their fleet nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.
He dove into the formation of Japanese planes, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. He wove in and out of the broken formation and fired as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. He dove at the planes trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many as possible and rendering them unfit to fly.
Finally, the Japanese squadron took-off in another direction. And for his act of heroism, he became the Navy’s first Ace of World War II and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later, Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age 29.
So what do these two stories have to do with each other? Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son. So the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, give some thought to visit Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor.
The main problem of Airbus and Boeing is keeping up to meet its demand. Both Airbus and Boeing had 2,754 orders just last year and will undeniably increase this year — even as new orders slow — and its passenger jets are mostly sold out through 2011 or even later. Both companies have struggled to get new models to the airlines lining up to buy them.
Last Wednesday, Boeing reported that it was going to push back its first flight for the 787 Dreamliner by as much as three months because of supply chain problems and slow progress on the assembly line. Because of this postponement, Boeing could not start delivering the airplane until early 2009, instead of late this year.
Airbus’ A380 superjumbo has been delayed as well while the company redesigned its A350 model to compete against its planned competitor 787. Airbus said it defeated Boeing last year 453 to 441 while it was left behind in new orders by 72 civilian jets.
A record year is a record year and the Airbus order figures look strong, but the longer-term reality may be rather different.
- Doug McVitie, Managing Director of Arran Aerospace
It’s a good business to be in because there are only really two players.
- Sandy Morris, ABN Amro Analyst.
It’s indeed a very close fight between these major airplane manufacturers but then it doesn’t matter anymore who would be the first. The biggest challenge amongst Airbus and Boeing is to meet production deadlines.
A new featherless bird may soon be soaring the skies, and a company based in Wrexham will be helping it. Tritech will be providing components for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s engines’ heat management system. The Welsh company, which employs around 200 people, already supplies over 800 parts to Boeing’s rival Airbus.
Tritech’s Commercial Director Alan Dustan said that the deal with Boeing was secured after attending Japan’s JA2004 Airshow with International Business Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government’s international trade arm.
The 787 Dreamliner is Boeing’s first all-new jet since 1995. It is the only big commercial aircraft made mostly of carbon fiber rather than aluminum, and it is much more fuel efficient than its competitors, producing 20% less CO2. It is the most environmentally friendly plane ever built. The Dreamliner’s first test flight is scheduled for August or September, and 600 orders have already been placed for the airliner.
The words “environmentally friendly” were what actually caught my attention in this story. Flying causes a lot of pollution, and it’s wonderful that Boeing is addressing this issue. Hopefully all subsequent aircraft will be built and designed with the environment in mind, and in the near future we can all reduce our carbon footprints significantly, not only in traveling but in everything we do as well.