Endeavour Lifts-off After Delays

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After more than a month’s delay, the space shuttle Endeavour and 7 astronauts thundered into orbit Wednesday on a flight to the international space station, hauling us a veranda for Japan’s enormous lab and looking to set a record for the biggest crowd in space.

Success came on launch try No. 6, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the liftoff of man’s first moon landing.

The skies cleared, allowing commander Mark Polansky and his crew to embark on their 16-day adventur. One more holdup and they would have tied a record for the most shuttle launch delays.

“The weather is finally cooperating, so it is now time to fly,” launch director Pete Nockolenko called out to the crew. “Persistence pays off.”

Later, from orbit, Polansky radioed, “For all of us, it was a pretty decent wait, but we are thrilled to be here.”

***Get the Space Shuttle Endeavour Model from Warplanes.com***

Southwest 737 Survives Fuselage Rupture

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A Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737-300 made an emergency landing in Charleston, W.Va., on July 13 after a section of the fuselage skin ruptured near the crown, causing the cabin to depressurize.

Southwest Flight 2294 was diverted to Charleston’s Yeager Airport and landed shortly after 6:30 p.m. The aircraft was 30 minutes into its flight from Nashville, Tenn, to Baltimore when the depressurization occurred. Southwest says there were no injuries amongst the 126 passengers and five crew.

According to local reports, the hole developed toward the rear of the fuselage, a view supported by press images which appear to show officials conducting a visual inspection of the area close to the crown above the left aft main cabin passenger door. Airport officials are quoted as saying passengers could see the outside through a roughly “one-foot by one-foot hole.” However Southwest says the cause of the depressurization was “a small hole in the fuselage around mid-cabin near the top of the aircraft.”

Southwest was unable to verify the age or identity of the aircraft involved, though AviationWeek understands it is N387SW, a 15-year old -300 “Classic” that first flew on June 16, 1994. No information has yet been released on the number of cycles flown by the aircraft, or the date of its last maintenance inspection. Southwest adds it is “working with the NTSB and Boeing to determine the causes of the depressurization.”

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Plane crashes in Iran

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A plane crashed Wednesdat in northwestern Iran. Iranian state television reported. All 150 aboard are believed to be dead.

The passenger plane is thought to have crashed near the Iranian city of Qazvin, Iranian Press TV reported.

All on board are “most probably” dead, the news station said, quoting Qazvin Police Chief Hossein Bahzadpour.

The crash occured near Jannat-abad village, near Qazvin.

Tweet to Win: Over $1000 Worth of Model Planes to be Given Away

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Warplanes.com is giving away a wide selection of handcrafted model planes to our friends on Twittersphere to showcase one of the major reasons why we’re still the number one in the model plane industry – and that’s having modelers with the highest level of craftsmanship.

This contest is open to all twittizens especially aviation enthusiasts, model plane collectors or simply anyone who just wants to own one of these eye candies. If you win, you can pick any model plane you want included in this list.

How to enter:

Simple! Just insert the hashtag #warplanes into your tweet(s) as often you want without being obliged to talk about us, Warplanes, at all. That’s just a way to track the tweets of our participants.

We will announce the winners on Twitter so follow Daniel (@warplanes_rock) to keep yourself in the loop!

ThisĀ  contest will only run for 7 days from the starting date, that’s July 15th through 21st. All entries/tweets coming in after July 21, 2009 shall not be credited.

Selection of Winners:

7 winners of model planes and 10 consolation prize winners of discount coupons ($50 off on custom model‘s sale price) will be randomly selected at the end of the contest period and will then be contacted the following day. The lucky ones must supply Warplanes with his/her name, mailing address and telephone numbers. Prizes will be shipped upon receiving the said information.

Note:

Prizes such as model planes and discount coupons are not convertible to cash. We are doing this just for fun and to give everyone a chance to own a model airplane from Warplanes, but if less than 100 people joined the contest, we have the right to change the rules and give away a smaller prize or extend the time limit. So please help spread the word by retweeting! Thanks so much and good luck!:)

SpaceX Falcon 1 RazakSat Perfect Launch

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Last September, SpaceX was successful in getting Flight 4 into orbit but this time the space start-up has successfully put a commercial payload into orbit.

SpaceX was a joint development program of the Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn.Bhd. of Malaysia and SaTReCi who co-developed the RazakSat satellite. A little over an hour into the flight of the Falcon 1, it was confirmed that the second stage rocket had been restarted, deploying the satellite into its correct orbit.

This launch comes hot on the toes of space shuttle Endeavour‘s fifth scrubbed launch earlier in the day, but there was very little warning that the Falcon 1 would be taking to the skies from Kwajalein Atoll. SpaceX rarely gives much advanced warning of their launches, and Flight 5 was just as mysterious as the previous flights. But that didn’t take away from the suspense leading up to a flawless blast off (after a short delay due to bad Pacific weather). Later this year is the planned inaugural flight of the larger Falcon 9.

Congratulations SpaceX!

***Visit Warplanes.com to view the complete list of Spacecraft/NASA models***

Continental Airlines adds DirecTV on 15 planes

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HOUSTON, TxContinental Airlines Inc. said on Monday that it has installed DirecTV on 15 planes in its domestic fleet.

The airline said it is aiming to eventually install DirecTV on 200 of its Boeing 737s and 757s.

The systems offer 77 channels. Continental said DirecTV is free in first class and cost $6 per flight in coach where applicable.

***Boeing Continental Airplane Models available at Warplanes.com***

Canadian passenger sings about “United Breaks Guitars”

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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – A Canadian musician has become an Internet sensation after posting a song on YouTube about United Airlines braking his guitar.

Dava Carroll’s video for the song “United Breaks Guitar’s” was posted on site earlier this week and has received more than 600,000 hits by Thursday evening.

The song recounts Carroll’s yearlong struggle to get compensation for what he calls “a vicious act of malice” at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago last year.

Carroll was flying between Halifax and Nebraska when he switched planes in Chicago. The passenger next to him noticed baggage handlers tossing guitar cases outside the plane.

Carroll’s Taylor guitar required 1,400 Canadian dollars (U.S. $1,200) in repairs. He said it still doesn’t play the way it used to but he keeps it for sentimental reasons.

Carroll initially told United he would write three songs about his broken guitar. He plans to debut the second song soon but hasn’t written the third one yet.

***United Airlines Model Planes available at Warplanes.com***

RAF unveils Hawk T.2 advanced jet trainer

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The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) officially unveiled its new BAE Systems Hawk T.2 advanced jet trainer (AJT) during a ceremony at RAF Valley last July 2.

The aircraft, six of which began arriving at the base in April, are the first of 28 T.2 aircraft, purchased at a cost of GBP450 million (USD736 million) to replace the incumbent Hawk T.1 as the RAF’s lead-in fighter trainer.

As well as advanced systems and a more powerful Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour 951 engine, the ‘glass cockpit’ of the T.2 is nearly identical to that of the Eurofighter Typhoon and similar to those of the Harrier and Tornado, allowing for an easier transition for students onto the RAF’s frontline combat force.

Flight Lieutenant Timothy Pye, a pilot with 19 (R) Squadron AJT Development Team, said that, although the T.2 is heavier than the T.1, the more powerful powerplant means that it has about the same thrust-to-weight ratio and so “loses nothing in terms of performance”.

WWII Women Pilots to Receive Medals

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The first women to fly U.S. military aircraft will be receiving gold medals to honor their service to the country under a bill signed last July 1 by President Obama.

About 300 of the 1,000 or so women who were members of the World War II-era Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs for short) are still alive to receive their Congressional Gold Medals. The rest will go to the pilots’ families.

Created during World War II, the all-women unit’s primary mission was flying non-combat military missions in the United States to free up their male counterparts for combat. They flew virtually every type of U.S. military aircraft that existed at the time.

“The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country’s call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since,” Obama said at the bill signing. “Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve.”

Thirty-eight of the WASP pilots died while performing their missions. But it wasn’t until 1977 the WASPs were afforded veteran status.

Joining Obama at the signing was Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who helped shepherd the bill through Congress, three WASP members — Elaine Danforth Harmon, Lorraine H. Rodgers and Bernice Falk Haydu — and five female active duty U.S. Air Force pilots.

What Supersonic Looks Like

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A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor executes a supersonic flyby over the flight deck of the aircraft carrier U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor executes a supersonic flyby over the flight deck of the aircraft carrier

The breaking of the sound barrier is not just an audible phenomenon. As a new picture from the U.S. military shows, Mach 1 can be quite visual.

This widely circulated new photo shows a Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft participating in an exercise in the Gulf of Alaska June 22, 2009 as it executes a supersonic flyby over the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

The visual phenomenon, which sometimes but not always accompanies the breaking of the sound barrier, has also been seen with nuclear blasts and just after space shuttles launches, too. A vapor cone was photographed as the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission rocketed skyward in 1969.

The phenomenon is not well studied. Scientists refer to it as a vapor cone, shock collar, or shock egg, and it’s thought to be created by what’s called a Prandtl-Glauert singularity.

Here’s what scientists think happens:

A layer of water droplets gets trapped between two high-pressure surfaces of air. In humid conditions, condensation can gather in the trough between two crests of the sound waves produced by the jet. This effect does not necessarily coincide with the breaking of the sound barrier, although it can.

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