One last countdown before official Atlantis launch

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With little fanfare, the Kennedy Space Center shuttle launch team gathered Tuesday to begin the 135th and last countdown at 1 p.m. for a shuttle launch, aiming to get Atlantis and its four-member crew off the ground at 11:26 a.m. EDT on Friday.

“The team gets into the mode of ‘This is launch countdown,’ and that’s really the focus that everybody has,” says NASA test director Jeremy Graeber. “To do it one more time is a great feeling.”

The only cloud on the horizon for an on-time liftoff is, predictably, Florida’s thunderstorm-prone summer weather. With a front expected to move over the mid-Atlantic coast on Thursday, meteorologists with the U.S; Air Force’s 45th Space Wing are forecasting a 60% chance weather will delay launch.

“We’ll have real high moisture on Friday,” says shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters. “When we have high moisture, particularly in the low levels, we can pop those thunderstorms and showers early when the sea breeze forms.”

Specifically, the forecast calls for a chance of showers and thunderstorms within 20 nm of the Shuttle Landing Facility, a violation of NASA flight rules that protect for a contingency landing at the launch site, and cumulus clouds within 10 nm of Launch Pad 39A, where Atlantis stands poised for liftoff. The forecast improves for launch attempts on Saturday and/or Sunday, after which the Eastern Test Range schedule shifts to support a Delta 4 rocket launch on July 14 with a GPS satellite for the Air Force. The shuttle’s next launch window opens July 16 if the Delta launches on time.

The abridged, four-member STS-135 crew, headed by Navy Capt. (ret) Christopher Ferguson, arrived at the Florida spaceport Monday afternoon in a pair of T-38 training jets.

“It’s such a pleasure to come down here when you have a rocket on the pad and it’s got your stuff loaded on it,” astronaut Rex Walheim tells reporters gathered at the landing strip.

NASA pared the last shuttle crew from the normal six or seven members to four to accommodate an emergency return on Russian Soyuz capsules, as there is no second shuttle available to mount a rescue mission should Atlantis sustain significant enough damage during launch or while in orbit to prevent a safe re-entry. NASA has preserved a safe haven option for shuttle crewmembers aboard the International Space Station and shuttle rescue capability since returning the fleet to flight after the 2003 Columbia accident.

Ferguson, Walheim, pilot Douglas Hurley and mission specialist Sandra Magnus were all fitted for Soyuz Sokol spacesuits, though just Walheim’s is flying with the STS-135 cargo. The others would be flown to the station as needed.

“The plan would basically change the sequence of when people would come down,” Walheim said in a preflight interview. “Some of the folks on the space station would stay longer than they anticipated, and then as spots free up we’d cycle our crew down one by one. [Russia] also will launch Soyuz spacecraft with just two people instead of three, which leaves a spot for them to come down with one of our crewmembers. We will kind of methodically do that until everybody’s rotated down.” Walheim would be the first to return, followed by Ferguson, Magnus and Hurley.

The goal of NASA’s final shuttle flight is to deliver a year’s worth of food, clothing, supplies and equipment to the space station to buy time in case NASA’s commercial cargo resuppliers, Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital Sciences Corp., encounter technical delays with their programs.

-aviationweek.com

2011 Thunder Over the Blue Ridge airshow to feature F-22 Raptor plane

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MARTINSBURG – The 2011 Thunder Over the Blue Ridge airshow and open house will feature what organizers are calling a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to see the United States Air Force’s F-22 Raptor, a new fighter aircraft that features plenty of power and speed.

Although the F-22 won’t be performing, airshow visitors will have the opportunity to see it up close and learn more about its capabilities from the pilots who fly it.

“Last year we brought you the Thunderbirds and this year we’re going to bring you variety and fire. It’s going to be a different show with a very exciting lineup,” Col. Brian Truman said at the July 1 afternoon press conference, where he and others discussed the free two-day event that is co-sponsored by the 167th Airlift Wing, United Way of the Eastern Panhandle and Eastern Regional Airport Authority.

Truman, who is vice commander of the 167th Airlift Wing and president of Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Inc., said a variety of military and civilian aerial acts will be part of this year’s lineup.

One new addition will be the U.S. Navy’s Trojan Horseman, a T-28 warbird aerobatic formation demonstration team, which is slated to fly six vintage World War II aircrafts, he said. The team is slated to perform its choreographed “Salute to the Armed Forces” to patriotic music.

Also appearing will be the Black Daggers, the official U.S. Army Special Operations command parachute demonstration team, as well as the Viper East F-16 Demonstration Team, Truman said.

First Lt. Nate Mueller, a pilot who flies C-5 transport aircraft, predicted the F-22‘s “premier display” will “bring out the aviator in everyone who gets an up-close look.”

“This is a rare opportunity to see the world’s most sophisticated fighter aircraft up close and personal right in our own backyard. It’ something people won’t want to miss,” Mueller said.

He said this stealth aircraft is assigned to the Air Combat Command’s 1st Fighter Wing based at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

It has the capacity to cruise at supersonic airspeeds splintering the sound barrier and “boasts being capable of simultaneously conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions with near impunity,” according to a news release announcing the F-22‘s local appearance.

At some point a jet-powered truck will also “roar down the runway,” Truman said. “And we’re definitely going to blow things up with pyrotecnics. … I can guarantee you it’s going to be exciting.”

Last year’s airshow drew an estimated crowd of about 85,000 over the Labor Day weekend. The event will be held Sept. 17-18 this year when it returns to the Eastern Regional Airport. It will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

A children’s village will again be featured in one of the base’s 80,000-square-foot hangers and will offer lots of “unique hands-on activities” courtesy of NASA and others, said Sr. Master Sgt. Todd Kirkwood, who is organizing it.

Organization Vice President Nic Diehl agreed this year’s program has some real crowd-pleasers.

“Most of the acts are new. … And we have a better civilian lineup than we’ve ever had before,” Diehl said.

Donations collected at the 2010 show generated more than $100,000 from visitors, and that money was given to the United Way. Admission is free, but a $10 donation benefiting the United Way is encouraged.

United Way officials stressed the importance of funding generated by the airshow and how it helps support their work within the community.

President Tom Jones said the partnerships that made it possible were “over the top” last year. It was a cooperative effort that included 24 volunteer vendors at the show – most of them United Way agencies, he added.

“It’s a community effort and we’re happy to be part of it,” Jones said.

Wing Commander Col. Roger Nye said the community is a driving force behind this show.

“It is a great opportunity for the families to come out here. We’re talking about community. We don’t do this because we are trying to show off anything about ourselves. It’s about giving the community an opportunity to come and see what the men and women in uniform, who live and work right here, do for this nation and give them a chance to enjoy it,” Nye said. “We’re also very proud of how much money was raised last year and being able to give back to the United Way.”

United Way Executive Director Jan Callen said the $100,000 was distributed in a number of ways, including helping fund The Journal’s Warm the Children program, which offers clothing to area children; and the Warming Hands and Hearts program, which offers heating assistance to those in need.

Callen said the $100,000 generated by last year’s airshow was an important part of the approximately $300,000 allocated to about 30 agencies this week.

“The money from the airshow is almost one-third of what the board had the discretion to give out, and that’s a big deal to us,” Callen said.

-journal-news.net

Meet some of the aircraft in Transformers 3

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After opening last June 29, the movie franchise Transformers has again successfully brought many people to stand in long lines, reserve movie seats, and get their mind blown once again with Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.

The huge number of people that flocked movie theaters since the opening until this weekend may have caused many to move their viewing schedule to later dates so no spoilers for those wanting to personally discover the movie plot themselves. Here is just a little sneak peek about the aircraft involved in the movie.

As we all know, Starscream, the F-22 Raptor Decepticon, has been in the movie franchise since the first movie.  He has always been loyal to the Decepticon leader Megatron. He continues to serve the notorious enemy leader in the third movie.

Soundwave first appeared in the second Transformers movie, Revenge of the Fallen, as a satellite hovering Earth to gather information about the location of Megatron‘s corpse and the location of the All spark shard. He did do much battle in the second film but he hustles in the final war between the Autobots and Decepticons in the third film.

Although Laserbreak is a condor-like Decepticon, I think he is still somehow an aircraft since he is a machine and all. He carry out many tasks for Megatron in Dark of the Moon.

Other than Transformers transforming into aircraft, both real and fictional aircraft were featured in the third film.

The Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was brought in the movie to add more military action in the film. Amazing V-22 Ospreys were also used in the film. The space shuttle Discovery also starred in the film but I won’t tell you why. Just go and watch the movie!

When it comes to the fictional part, Decepticon fighter aircraft were also in the film aiding the Decepticons and unleashing havoc upon Earth.

-comicbookmovie.com

-wikipedia.com

Reasons for US Airlines not flying the A380

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ATLANTA - Three U.S. carriers are also the world’s three biggest airlines (United, Delta and American) but little indication exists that any of them have any particular desire to fly the world’s biggest passenger airplane.

Four years after the introduction of the Airbus A380, which can carry up to 600 passengers, 49 aircraft are flying for six international airlines, and orders have been placed by a total of 18 airlines.

Moreover, no U.S. carrier seems close to purchasing the A380, although Airbus spokesman Clay McConnell said that “eventually you will see some U.S. airlines order it.”

So far, the A380 has defied skeptics,, to the point that its story no longer revolves around doubts and questions, but rather around what destination will be the next to gain service.

The destinations don’t currently include Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston or Newark, where U.S. carriers operate their principal hubs. Rather, the U.S. airports with A380 service are all international gateways served by foreign carriers with hubs on the opposite side of the Atlantic or Pacific. These airports include Los Angeles, Miami, New York (Kennedy), San Francisco and Washington Dulles.

The U.S. carriers, “prefer frequency over size,” said aviation consultant Scott Hamilton. In their hubs, several times each day, dozens of airplanes fly in, exchange passengers and fly out, and the carriers often prefer to serve international destinations more than once a day – or they simply don’t have enough passengers to a given destination to fly an A380.

“When I look at the current crop of managers, the guys running airlines in the U.S. today, they don’t appear to be the kind of people who manage their businesses to have bigger airplanes,” added Avondale Partners analyst Bob McAdoo. “Instead, they want to manage smaller airplanes and more frequencies to their hubs.”

In any case, it seems clear that only two U.S. carriers, Delta and United, are potential 380 customers, because they are the only two operating super large aircraft – Boeing 747s – today. Also, both fleets include both Airbus and Boeing jets, unlike American, which is all Boeing.

-thestreet.com

Honoring the Red, White, and Blue: Warplanes presents the 4th of July Sale!

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The coming of July marks the most honorable and celebrated American holiday of all, the 4th of July or Independence Day. The declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain happened on July 4, 1776. Ever since, this national holiday brings forth the patriotism and camaraderie among American civilians, government officials, and military men. Grand fireworks, parades, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, family gatherings, political ceremonies are the usual events held to celebrate Independence Day.

Warplanes would like to show its nationalism by joining in the celebration of America’s independence. Warplanes is holding a Fourth of July Sale on a wide selection of wood plane models which would make your holiday celebration twice the fun! Ranging from B-10 Bomber models to KC-135 Refueling Position models, these models are now at unbelievably low prices with another less $5 off of them! Also, these models’ shipping is free of charge! No hidden costs, no hidden fees. Your July 4th celebration just got better!

How to avail our Fourth of July Sale?

Be a fan of Warplanes and like us on Facebook !

Visit http://www.facebook.com/modelplanes for other details.

No wings, No rotor blades – New aircraft flies

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IAT21, an Austrian research company, presented a revolutionary new type of aircraft called the D-Dalus at the Paris Air Show.

Unlike other aircraft, the D-Dalus does not use wings or rotors to achieve flight. It’s a rectangular sled that can takeoff using four mechanically-linked contra-rotating cylindrical turbines.

In English, this means that the D-Dalus uses the thrust from its four 2200-rpm turbines to push the aircraft up. If the aircraft begins to pitch or roll in any direction, it uses counter thrust to right itself.

The D-Dalus is also extremely maneuverable because it can also direct thrust in any of the xyz axes in a 360-degree fashion. So it can take off and land vertically, hover perfectly, and move in any direction while doing so. Of course the vehicle would be impossible to fly by stick alone, so a pilot will be heavily assisted by computer algorithms to maintain balance. Much like another improbable flying aircraft like the B2 Stealth Bomber.

IAT21 also claims that the aircraft needs little maintenance and will be cheaper than using current vertical-takeoff-and-liftoff aircraft with moving parts like the hover capable F35 Lightning II or the still used Harrier. The D-Dalus also has much smaller landing footprint compared to the large rotor-blade span of cargo helicopters like the Boeing CH-47 Chinook.

Currently IAT21 is in a collaborative partnership with Cranfield University in the United Kingdom to push the D-Dalus through full flight certification. IAT21 is also working on upscaling the engine, the external hull shape, and the integration of next generation guidance and control systems.

IAT21 plans to bring D-Dalus’ technology to search and rescue drones at sea and over land. In the longer term, the researchers hope to develop a passenger version for use in public transport networks.

-pcworld.com

Newly installed parachute saved attorney from plane crash

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New details are emerging about a plane crash last Monday, in which a prominent Ashland attorney escaped with his life.

Those details of his harrowing fall from the sky and how he survived come from his family.

John Booth Farese returned to his home in Ashland Tuesday after an overnight stay at The Med in Memphis.

Family members say his survival is nothing short of a miracle.

Those who know him best say John Booth Farese never saw a gadget he didn’t like or didn’t have to have eventually.

An aircraft pilot for decades, Farese recently bought a parachute system to help him, and his passengers survive a plane crash.

His brother, Steve Farese, says that parachute saved him from an almost certain death. “You know, I’m old enough where supposedly nothing could surprise me, but yeah, it’s a miracle he survived.”

As in formal chief technology officer for the family law firm, John Booth was an early adopter of all things electronic.

Known as “Captain Kirk” around the office, he brought radio phone technology to the firm and many other technological improvements.

The parachute, only just installed, became his savior when his Cessna 182 plane’s engine suddenly stopped.

“He had only gotten up to about three hundred feet when his engine stopped, so he only had a split-second timing to make a decision. He said he’s lost all control he was auguring in nose first and he had just been briefed on the parachute.” Said Steve Farese.

It’s believed the parachute had only deployed about 80 percent before Farese’s Cessna 182 hit a wooded area in Marshall County off Bicycle Road.

It may not have slowed his descent very much do to it’s low altitude, but Marshall County Sheriff Kenny Dickerson says it was enough. I’ve seen pilots and passengers killed with a lot less damage than what this plane had occurred.”

So you might say, technology saved John Booth Farese.

His Brother says it all goes back to his childhood in the Boy Scouts.”That’s the way he is, and I think his Boy Scout attitude, he was an Eagle Scout and a Scoutmaster that he likes to be prepared.”

John Booth Farese suffered no broken bones in the crash but he was pretty banged up with a big knot on his head, and he remains in a back brace.

-wreg.com

New executive added to F-35 management team

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Lockheed Martin reinforced its F-35 joint strike fighter management team Monday by bringing in a new senior executive whose experience has mostly been with the company’s naval weapons systems.

The appointment of Orlando Carvalho as F-35 vice president and deputy was part of a broader reshuffling of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics management team in Fort Worth overseeing development of the new warplane.

Eric Branyan, who has been serving in the F-35 deputy position, will become vice president and program manager. Both men will report directly to Larry Lawson, F-35 executive vice president and general manager, who oversees the plane’s engineering, testing and production.

Lockheed spokesman Joe Stout said the moves mean that Branyan will have primary responsibility for managing the day-to-day production of new aircraft. Carvalho “has a fantastic record of managing complex programs,” Stout said, and extensive experience in software, systems engineering and international business.

“As we move into higher production and ultimately full-rate production on the F-35,” Stout said, “we want to make sure we have all the best athletes on the program we can bring from Lockheed Martin.”

Launched in 2001, the F-35 program has fallen badly behind schedule in development, testing and production.

It has far overrun initial cost estimates and several subsequent estimates, requiring the Defense Department to repeatedly reschedule the program and allocate billions of additional dollars.

Members of the Senate Armed Service Committee expressed outrage at the continued delays and cost increases at a recent hearing on the program.

Lockheed has made progress in the past year toward getting test airplanes completed and flying the most basic of tests. But much critical development work involving weapons and targeting software has yet to be performed and tested.

Pentagon and other government experts have warned that this phase of the program is often more complex and troublesome.

Carvalho has been employed by Lockheed for more than 30 years. He was previously president of Lockheed’s Mission Systems & Sensors unit, essentially a separate division of the company. Before that appointment, he held a number of management posts in the naval weapons systems area of the company, including development and production of the Navy’s Aegis anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic missile system.

In other moves, John Larson, who was previously vice president and program manager, will become vice president of program management over all Lockheed Martin Aeronautics programs. Susan Kiehl, who previously held that post, was named vice president over improving and implementing Lockheed’s earned value management process, a government-mandated system of monitoring costs and schedule progress.

-star-telegram.com

Entire fleet of USAF F-22 Raptor jets grounded

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Officials said that the US Air Force has grounded its entire fleet of F-22 fighters, after problems emerged with the plane’s oxygen supply.

The radar-evading F-22 Raptors have been barred from flying since May 3 and Air Force officials could not say when the world’s most advanced fighter planes would return to the air.

“The safety of our airmen is paramount and we will take the necessary time to ensure we perform a thorough investigation,” spokeswoman Captain Jennifer Ferrau said June 25.

The Air Force was probing possible breakdowns in the oxygen supply system for the plane after several pilots reported problems, according to the journal Flight Global.

In one case, an F-22 scraped tree tops before landing and the pilot could not remember the incident, indicating a possible symptom of hypoxia from a lack of air, the magazine reported.

Ferrau said it was too soon to say for certain that the technical problem was related to an onboard oxygen generating system, known as OBOGS.

“We are still working to identify the exact nature of the problem. It is premature to definitively link the current issues to the OBOGS system,” she said.

Since January, F-22 pilots have been barred from flying above 25,000 feet (7600 metres), following the crash of a Raptor jet in Alaska during a training flight.

Officials said that grounding an entire fleet of aircraft is a rare step,.

In November 2007, the Air Force grounded all F-15 fighters after one of the planes broke apart in flight and crashed.

The planes were not allowed back in the air until March 2008, said Major Chad Steffey.

The Air Force has more than 160 F-22 Raptors in its fleet and plans to build a total of 187.

The planes have not been used in the NATO-led air campaign in Libya or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

-adelaidenow.com.au

Bombardier New CSeries Flight Deck Unveiled at Paris Air Show 2011

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Bombardier’s new CSeries flight deck tour was a success at Paris Air Show 2011.

Bombardier announced that it will deliver up to 30 of the jets to Korean Air earlier this week.

The company’s twitter account, @Bombardier_Aero, tweeted that it is working with Rockwell Collins to design the concept for the aircraft, which is slated for delivery to customers in 2013.

Korean Air will be the first Asian carrier to choose the CSeries, putting Bombardier’s backlog of the aircraft to 123 firm orders and 119 options.

The  360-degree view of this high-tech flight deck is a must-see.

-aviationweek.com

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