At Southlake Public Library, books aren’t the only thing sparking imaginations. Amid all the reading and studying, city Librarian Kerry McGeath will sometimes hear a young boy imitating an airplane engine as the child pretends to fly in combat.
The inspiration comes from dozens of model aircraft that McGeath painstakingly builds and displays in the lighted case at the library.
McGeath estimates he’s assembled more than 120 model planes, counting the collection he has at home. He’s got another 100 or so waiting to be put together.
Even adults are drawn to his massive model aircraft collection. Sometimes, he’ll hear a father and son trying from memory to name as many aircraft as possible. Other times, it sparks conversation among aircraft enthusiasts who are surprised to see the planes at the library.
Cynthia Pfledderer, youth services librarian, said the time and effort McGeath puts into the models represents his personality and the pride he takes in his work at the city. She’s seen the joy the display has brought to library visitors. Pfledderer said “The model airplane display has been up since September and it has been wonderful to see eyes light up on airplane enthusiasts both young and young at heart.” She also adds “I know that he has received many comments and questions about the planes, and even more have stopped to gush over the display.”
As a librarian and deputy director of community services, McGeath has his plate full at work, and he said he gives 100 percent. “When I work here, I leave it all on the field,” he said.
That’s what makes this hobby such a great escape. It’s his escape where he doesn’t have to think but just work with his hands. He typically spends one day a week camped out in a second-floor room above his garage, hard at work on his next project.
Some of McGeath's model planes
The hobby combines McGeath’s love of history, especially World War II, with his other passion: reading. He studies the history, colors and other features of the aircraft to make them as accurate as possible.
Some airplanes even have the pilot’s names on them. He hand paints the models rather than using airbrushes.
But he really prides himself on the less known aircraft that played an important role in history, including the lesser-known Russian aircraft that fought the Nazis on the eastern front.
He’s got even bigger plans for a 1/35-scale diorama showing the Allies fighting Germans outside a French village that he’ll display at his home. He can really let his imagination run wild with realistic trees, creeks, bridges, hills and burned out tanks.
On one end, he’ll have an Allied support camp where workers are repairing Sherman tanks. The far end will be a German base with an 88 millimeter artillery, Panzer and Tiger tanks and troops. The two sides meet in the middle where the battle will be taking place.
In the process, he’s researching uniforms, insignias and vehicles that fought in the Brittany region in northwest France in the months after the D-Day invasion.
He also builds model warships, including battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers and the support ships that were necessary for World War II fleets.
A Tornado GR4 has successfully made its first test flight with the Tactical Information Exchange Capability (TIEC).
TIEC will enable Tornado GR4 pilots to join the digital battlefield, meaning they will be able to communicate in near real-time with other friendly forces, gaining information on the position of all friendly and hostile forces, while passing their own information to other participating units.
The aircraft, flown by BAE Systems Test Pilot John Lawson, took off from Warton aerodrome in Lancashire and was airborne for around an hour, during which time it successfully made contact with the supporting E3D Sentry aircraft and the Tactical Data Link Support Unit at RAF Waddington.
John said: “We joined the TIEC network very quickly and got all the testing done in about forty-five minutes.”
“TIEC is an information data link that passes information directly into the cockpit from bases such as the support unit at RAF Waddington and radar stations, as well as other aircraft such as the E-3D Sentry. This capability really widens the information available – it will be a big improvement over the traditional use of radio and it gives Tornado crews a much bigger and clearer picture of where everyone is, who they are and what they are doing.”
In an emerging era of Network Enabled Capability, it is essential for the UK’s frontline combat aircraft to be able to exploit the information provided by new, resilient, high-capability information infrastructures of which Tactical Data Link (TDL) networks, accessed through TIEC, form a key part.
BAE Systems is expected to complete development flying of TIEC on Tornado during 2012. This will lead to Aircraft Design Authority clearance mid 2012 with delivery of an operational capability later that year.
While Virgin Galactic’s public sights are set on offering suborbital space tourist treks on its SpaceShipTwo passenger ships, the company is already quietly eyeing the next step which is orbital space travel.
Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic’s founder and President, publicly admitted the company’s orbital aims last month at the dedication of the Spaceport America facility under construction in New Mexico. But he and other Virgin executives are not pouring in on the details.
Bransod said “Obviously, we want to move on to orbital after we’ve got suborbital under our belts, and maybe even before that.”
Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, a Mojave, California-based aerospace company, have flown several solo glide tests of SpaceShipTwo, most recently on Nov. 17, setting the stage for the first rocket-powered launch trials to follow. Scaled Composites built the first SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic, as well as the spaceliner’s prize-winning predecessor SpaceShipOne.
Branson also said Virgin Galactic will aim to win a NASA contract to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, under the new space agency plan to use commercial spaceships for low-Earth orbit transportation after the space shuttles retire next year.
But the company will have to face a steep competition. No fewer than four companies, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, SpaceX and the Sierra Nevada Corporation, have made their orbital spaceship aims public. Each has said they plan to compete for a NASA contract, as well as pursue space tourism.
The final launch of the iconic Harrier GR9 aircraft was facilitated on the HMS Ark Royal, the United Kingdom’s Flagship, at 0900 on November 24, 2010, approximately 40 nautical miles off the coast of Newcastle.
A Harrier GR9 aircraft
Joint Force Harrier which is based at RAF Cottesmore will decommission as part of the Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR). HMS Ark Royal will also decommission under the review.
Together with her Harrier aircraft, HMS Ark Royal has become an iconic emblem of the United Kingdom, able to project power and strike globally; its versatility and flexibility a significant asset. Being able to position the Ship miles off the coast and negotiate over-flight restrictions to deliver force of devastating effect offers considerable capability to the defense of the United Kingdom.
Although significantly enhanced since their most successful and famous combative sorties during the Falklands conflict in 1982, the present variant, the four Ground Attack and Reconnaissance Harrier GR9s, painted an iconic picture on the deck of HMS Ark Royal, admired for the last time by almost 12,000 visitors when the Ship opened her gangways to the general public in Newcastle.
Harrier pilot Lieutenant Commander James Blackmore (35), the last pilot to ever launch a Harrier from the decks of HMS Ark Royal, said “This is a truly memorable day. We accept the decision to decommission both the Harrier and HMS Ark Royal; however, of course the final launch will be emotional. I have flown over 90 sorties off the Ship and combat sorties in Afghanistan, and the aircraft’s capability still astounds me. Landing an aircraft on a runway which is not in the same location as where you launched from gives exceptional flexibility.” Blackmore also adds “I feel honored and proud to be the last pilot to ever launch a Harrier jet from HMS Ark Royal.”
Both the Harrier and HMS Ark Royal are due to leave the Service next year. Reflecting on the Harrier and HMS Ark Royal, Captain Jerry Kyd, HMS Ark Royal’s Commanding Officer said “As the last Harriers lift off the deck of HMS Ark Royal for the final time it is with a real sense of pride that we remember the fantastic contribution they, and the carriers, have made to UK Defense around the world. The tremendous reception we received in Newcastle last weekend, where Ark Royal was built, reflects the very deep fondness for this iconic warship and her air group. Although we now look back on the significant achievements of the Harrier with immense pride and a tinge of sadness at our loss, we can now look forward to an exciting new chapter of Naval aviation as we continue the training for and procurement of the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.”
Captain Kyd also said “HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship will enter service from 2015 and together with their helicopters and the Joint Strike Fighter, they will be a very powerful strategic asset able to project serious power anywhere in the world, delivering 21st Century Carrier Strike capability. Add to this the new Type 45 Destroyers, the forthcoming Type 26 frigate, the Astute class submarines and the Royal Marine Brigade, the United Kingdom will have a balanced Naval Service that remains in the premier league, working for Britain to deter potential threats, defend our global interests and, if necessary, defeat our enemies.”
A formation of Harrier jump jets has made its final journey from HMS Ark Royal – the last such flight from a UK aircraft carrier for about 10 years. Four Harrier GR9stook off from HMS Ark Royal approximately 40 nautical miles (74km) off the coast of Newcastle.
HMS ARK Royal
Both the Ark Royal and the Harriers are being scrapped under cost-saving plans. The Ark Royal was sailing across the North Sea to Hamburg in Germany.
Lt Cdr James Blackmore, who was the last Harrier pilot to leave, said he was immensely proud.
“It is amazing. I watched a Harrier hovering over Chatham dockyard when I was eight years old and I am now fortunate enough to be flying the Harrier today,” he said.
The crew of the 22,000-tonne Ark Royal, which has seen active service in the Balkans and 2003 invasion of Iraq, lined the decks to watch the historic departure.
Captain Jerry Kyd said there was a tear in his eye when the last Harrier left.
“It was an emotional moment and also one of real pride as we look back over 25 years service to Queen and country,” he said. “No naval officer wants to see any ship decommissioned early and she is a fine vessel and she has a fine history.
Petty Officer Andrew Collins, 26, from Glasgow, said: “HMS Ark Royal is like the girlfriend you hate and you only realise you loved her when she has binned you.”
The Ark Royal – the Royal Navy’s flagship – will eventually head back to her Portsmouth base on 3 December.
It will be replaced by the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carrier at the end of the decade, which will carry F35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
According to the head of Dubai-based airline Emirates, passengers showed no hesitation in flying on the world’s largest airliner after an engine blowout on a Qantas A380, but that both Rolls-Royce and Airbus would review designs.
Emirates president Tim Clark said there were no drop in bookings even after a highly publicized November 4 engine explosion. He also predicted that Rolls-Royce would resolve problems in “one or two months”.
Emirates’ 14 A380s are still flying because they have different engines from the type which forced a fully laden A380 to return to Singapore. Its engines are supplied by Engine Alliance, owned by GE and Pratt & Whitney.
As the largest buyer of the A380, with another 76 on order, Emirates is likely to be kept in the loop on any major developments in the fleet, though Clark said he did not have a complete picture of the changes required on Rolls engines.
“Let’s not downplay this. It will have to result in modifications and changes to a large number of engines and there will be difficulties, but in the end Rolls-Royce will get a fix on this. There are perhaps issues with design and control,” he said on Wednesday, Nov. 24. Emirates uses Rolls engines on part of its fleet.
Airbus said two fragments of the inner left engine which blew apart over Indonesia severed two electric cables in the wing. Pilots were later unable to shut a second engine down as a result.
The disclosure has raised the prospect that some A380 systems would be re-routed, but authorities have so far only ordered checks on Rolls engines, and the most visible pressure remains on Rolls to identify a fix and upgrade engines.
Clark said “I am sure Airbus will look at this. They left some dead areas around the engine.” He paid tribute to the safety margins on board the A380, as well as the reactions of Qantas pilots.
“When I heard this I thought goodness me, this is a plane designed for fuel optimization, range and lightness of weight and yet it was robust enough to take this blowout,” he said. “Manufacturers build planes to be safe to the nth power.”
Clark said Airbus faced a problem in re-jigging A380 output to cope with a potential shortage of Rolls-Royce engines. Rolls is considering diverting some engines from the A380 assembly line to supply existing Rolls operators in the A380 fleet — Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa.
Emirates is about to take delivery of a 15th A380 aircraft and its next is not due until September 2011. But this date cannot be shifted forward because customised cabin fittings such as showers, which Emirates offers in first class, will not be ready, Clark said.
He also mentioned the possibility that deliveries could be delayed as Airbus tries to clear a backlog of aircraft which will by then have received upgraded Rolls engines, adding: “If that happens we will have a discussion.”
USS Enterprise (CVN 65) is scheduled to celebrate its 49th birthday in its homeport of Norfolk, Va. Tomorrow, November 25.
Big E’s 49th birthday will take place as the crew celebrates Thanksgiving.
Enterprise is the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and with the exception of USS Constitution, is the oldest commissioned warship in the Navy. CVN-65 is the eighth U.S. ship bearing the name Enterprise and was commissioned Nov. 25, 1961.
During the commissioning, then Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally Jr. called the ship a worthy successor to the seventh Enterprise (CV 6), which was the most decorated ship in World War II. In his remarks, Connally said Enterprise will reign for a long, long time as “queen of the seas.”
“Big E”, as the crew affectionately named her, is the largest aircraft carrier to ever be built. One of a kind, Enterprise stretches 1,123 feet and weighs 73,858 tons. Enterprise is the only ship to ever house eight nuclear reactors.
The ship’s first mission was to track and measure the flight of Mercury ‘Friendship 7′. Big E’s efforts culminated May 5, 1962 when Cmdr. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., became the first American to break the barrier of the Earth’s atmosphere and ascend 116.5 miles in the Mercury capsule.
Big E has played a role in almost every major conflict since her commissioning. From the Cuban Missile Crisis, through multiple tours off Yankee Station in the Vietnam conflict, cold war tensions, and culminating with it’s rapid response on 9/11, Enterprise has been there to answer the nation’s call time and again.
Throughout Enterprise’s naval career, it has earned many accolades and distinguished itself honorably time and time again. Enterprise has played a vital role in establishing sea power for the U.S. in the past and, with its upcoming deployment, will continue to do so into the future.
Enterprise Carrier Strike Group consists of Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), the guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Barry (DDG 52) and USS Mason (DDG 87), USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), Carrier Air Wing 1 and Destroyer Squadron 2.
Qantas’s Airbus A380s will begin to resume service this weekend, with the first few aircraft being used on the “Kangaroo routes” from Australia to London.
A spokesman from Qantas said that one A380 – VH-OQF – is being ferried from Los Angeles to Sydney, and it will operate the QF31 service from Sydney to London via Singapore on November 27. A second aircraft – VH-OQE – will also be ferried across from Los Angeles later this week, and will be used on London routes either from Sydney or Melbourne.
The spokesman also said that no timetable has been announced for the return to service of the rest of the six Qantas A380s, although the initial focus will likely be on increasing A380 frequency on the London routes. Qantas will not be operating A380s on its longer Los Angeles routes until it has done sufficient in-flight analysis on the London routes. The spokesman commented that it is “being very circumspect about transpacific flying.”
Qantas says it has voluntarily suspended A380 service on routes that regularly require use of maximum certified engine thrust, “and will continue to do so until further operational experience is gained or possible additional changes are made to engines.” It says this is an operational decision in line with its conservative approach to safety, and is not a manufacturer’s directive. Pilots will still have access to maximum certified thrust if necessary during flight.
The first aircraft to be ferried back to Sydney has had two of its Trent 900 engines replaced – one is an overhauled engine from Rolls-Royce, and the second is from another of the carrier’s A380s.
Since Nov. 4, the Qantas A380 fleet has been grounded due to the uncontained failure of a Trent 900 on an A380 flight from Singapore and the subsequent discovery of problems in other Trent 900 engines. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says that up to 16 Trent 900 engines may require modification or replacement.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says it has “given a green light to a plan developed by Qantas to return its A380 aircraft to service.” This plan describes how the A380s will be operated, together with “additional safety measures and required inspections.”
The agency’s Director of Aviation Safety John McCormick said the decision to resume A380 flying has been “closely analyzed by CASA’s technical staff.”McCormick also stated that “CASA has looked at how Qantas will be carrying out the additional inspections of the Trent 900 engines, changes to the way the engines will be operated and how Rolls Royce service bulletins will be met.”
McCormick notes that Qantas provided extensive documentation and briefings in support of the plan. “Qantas has devoted considerable resources to making sure the return to service of the A380 will meet all relevant safety requirements,” he says. CASA will continue to monitor A380 operations, using data supplied by Qantas.
Qantas has confirmed that it is still taking delivery of two new A380s before the end of this year and a further two in early 2011.
A Fort Drum-based operation that brought in tens of millions of dollars for the Army by rebuilding and selling AH-1 Cobra helicopters is about to ship its last four aircraft, bringing a successful and profitable venture to a close.
About 10 years ago, every Cobra in the U.S. fleet began arriving at Fort Drum to be retired through the post’s Foreign Military Sales shop near Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. Some were gutted for parts and used as military training apparatus; most were refurbished here and sold to military customers overseas.
The last four refurbished helicopters head to the Royal Thai Air Force this winter, officially ending the Army’s Cobra retirement program.
“The Army normally gave individual instructions to units to tell them how to get rid of aircraft,” said Chuck Florence, a quality assurance representative who oversees the FMS program at the Directorate of Logistics’ Aviation Logistics Management Division. “They used to take them to the DRMO (Defense Reutilization Management Office).
“(But) the program manager, who is in charge of the life cycle of the Cobra down at (Redstone Arsenal), Huntsville, Ala., said ‘let’s try something different.’”
Once a helicopter arrived, it was stripped of its parts, its fluids drained and paint blasted off. New wire harnesses were manufactured at Fort Drum and installed. Flight controls, generators, battery compartments and overhauled engines were located, purchased and mounted.
Each restoration took roughly 5,500 man-hours to complete and nearly $1 million in parts and materials. The rebuilt product is remarkable to see.
“This is how it would have looked when it came out of Bell back in the 1970s,” Florence said of the four Cobras soon to depart for Thailand.
Todd Gibbs, a senior mechanic at the FMS shop, said he thinks the DS2 federal contractors here are the best in the business.
“I would bet my next paycheck that the best structural sheet metal mechanics on the East Coast are right here at Fort Drum,” Gibbs said. “I only say that because I really do have a lot of pride in what we do.”
It was because of those skills that 10th Combat Aviation Brigade recently sent the FMS shop two crashed OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.
The Army began phasing out the Cobra in 2000 to bring the Comanche and Apache attack helicopters online. The Cobra was discontinued in part because it did not fight well in the dark, it could not house the Hellfire missile and the Army did not want a third scout-attack helicopter, Florence said.
Since the Vietnam War, the U.S. military’s total inventory of AH-1 Cobras reached 469 units. When Col. William Gavora, Redstone Arsenal’s Scout-Attack Helicopter Program manager, initiated the Cobra retirement program at Fort Drum in 2000, ALMD personnel here jumped into gear.
“(The Army) allotted $10.2 million for the retirement of the Cobras,” Florence said. “In the end, it really didn’t cost the Army anything.”
Last Nov. 18, the Boeing Phantom Ray unmanned airborne system successfully completed low-speed taxi tests at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.
Craig Brown, Phantom Ray program manager for Boeing, comments that the “Phantom Ray did exactly what it was supposed to do.” Brown also said “It communicated with the ground control station, received its orders and made its way down the runway multiple times, allowing us to assess its performance and monitor the advanced systems on board.”
The tests were the first for the Phantom Ray following its rollout ceremony in May. Boeing now will prepare Phantom Ray to travel to Edwards Air Force Base, California, on top of one of NASA’s modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. At Edwards, Phantom Ray will undergo high-speed taxi tests before making its first flight. The flight-test program will last approximately six months.
Dave Koopersmith, vice president, Advanced Boeing Military Aircraft stated that “The autonomous nature of this system is unique, so achieving this milestone speaks volumes about the technology and expertise of Boeing, the Phantom Works organization and the Phantom Ray team.”
Phantom Ray is designed to support potential missions that may include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; suppression of enemy air defenses; electronic attack; strike; and autonomous aerial refueling.