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The Boeing 747-8 Freighter landed at exactly 5:35 p.m. at the Paris Le Bourget Airport in Le Bourget, France after the first transatlantic flight of a large commercial airplane powered on all engines by a sustainable aviation jet fuel.
Boeing pilots Captain Keith Otsuka, Captain Rick Braun and Cargolux Captain Sten Rossby piloted the 747 Frieghter from Washington Everett to Le Bourget equipped with four of its General Electric GEnx-2B engines powered by a blend of 15 percent camelina-based biofuel mixed with 85 percent traditional kerosene Jet A fuel. However, there are no changes were made to the airplane, its engines or operating procedures prior to departure. Normal flight parameters were followed and approved in advance by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
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The U.S. Air Force has lifted a two-week-old flight ban that had grounded the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, following a power problem on a plane at Edwards Air Force Base in California. While the probe continues, engineers determined that it is safe to resume test flights, said Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office.
Flight operations will resume for the rest of the planes, which are based at Edwards and at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.However, two F-35s based at Eglin in Florida will remain grounded because they lack the monitoring systems used in developmental test aircraft that can detect any problems in flight.
The F-35 is the Pentagon’s biggest procurement program at a planned $382 billion to buy 2,457 of the stealth F-35 jets in different versions for the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The F-35 may be a target for budget cuts as the Pentagon is pressed to help lower the federal deficit. The Defense Department will need to find at least $325 billion in cuts over the next 10 years in the first phase of a $2.4 trillion deficit- reduction agreement approved by Congress. Another round of $500 billion in defense cuts may be imposed if Congress fails to approve enough budget savings in other areas.
The Air Force has also grounded Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor, the military’s most advanced fighter, because of reported problems with the plane’s system for supplying oxygen to the pilot. The flight ban on the F-22, in effect since May, remains until an investigation is completed in a few months, said Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel John Haynes.
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TITUSVILLE, Florida – A World War II veteran relives his wartime adventure by flying the very same airplane he once did six decades ago.
Avrid Shook flew during the war and was assigned to the China, India, Burma (CBI) Theater. He flew the famous C-46 Commando and C-47 Skytrain among many others, such as the B-25, B-17, C-124, C-119 and a fabric covered bi-plane called the Tiger Moth.
So in honor of his 91st birthday, Shook requested to be able to fly again in the first aircraft he trained on those many years ago — the Tiger Moth. On Saturday, he took to the sky from the Valiant Air Command at the Warbird Museum in Titusville.
Shook was stationed around the world including Korea and Japan. He retired in 1964 and has two children, six grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
He has been a member of the Valiant Air Command for about 5 years; often volunteering during our Open Houses to stand by our exhibits and regal visitors with stories of his exploits and experience.
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Len Hodges found his wings again.
The 89-year-old Royal Air Force veteran hadn’t flown in a Harvard Mk. IV flight trainer in 68 years. But he got his chance last week, taking a ride in the swift, yellow trainer when it visited Niagara District Airport — the same airport where he learned to fly as a Tiger Moth pilot in 1943.
As he climbed down from the wing of the plane, he was grinning from ear to ear.
The Harvard Mk. IV plane was just one piece of history brought to life as six vintage aircraft were brought out to the tarmac and shown off. They were part of the Yellow Wings initiative, a program flying coast to coast to draw attention to the history of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
The airport was once part of that plan: As the former No. 9 Elementary Flying Training School, it graduated more than 1,800 pilots during the Second World War, sending them off with the basics of flight under their belts to earn their wings at more advanced schools.
Hodges is among the surviving graduates. ”It brings back a lot of memories,” he said prior to his flight.
At St. Catharines, he said, he trained in Tiger Moths rather than the Fleet Finch aircraft typically used. He moved up to the Harvard elsewhere, finding the plane easier to handle than those he flew here.
But the challenge of learning didn’t cow him. ”I wanted to fly, and I loved it,” said Hodges, who went on to fly B-24 Liberator bombers over Southeast Asia for the Royal Air Force.
Dave Hadfield, team leader of the Yellow Wings tour, said there were bound to be a few flying aces that came out of the Niagara operation.
“St. Catharines was a big operation,” he said. “One of the World War II hangars is still here, but it was a larger operation in those days.”
He said pilots did their first 50 hours in flight here, zipping about in bright-painted planes often dubbed yellow perils. They’d move up to fly Harvards elsewhere, and finally split off to fighter or bomber school.
The Yellow Wings have stopped at many of the old schools already, he said, with more on the agenda. They started their journey in British Columbia and plan to touch down at every base involved in the Air Training Plan.
In St. Catharines, they joined in a re-dedication ceremony for a monument at the airport terminal, honouring the flight school.
Hadfield said Canada started with only a handful of airmen. He said British prime minister Winston Churchill asked the country not to send 10 pilots to war right away, but to send 10,000 in a year.
“The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was likely our largest (contribution) to victory in the Second World War,” Hadfield said. “We were the aerodrome of democracy.
“We trained over 200,000 people and we did it in an incredible hurry.”
Many were pilots from the United States and other countries.
“It was a magnificent accomplishment — never been equalled in Canadian aviation. It’s not something you read about in the history books.”
It’s a history that’s being lost, Hadfield said. He noted many Second World War veterans are old, and more and more are dying.
“That whole knowledge is disappearing, but by maintaining these aircraft and flying them we can preserve that history.”
It wasn’t just flight that brought Hodges to put down roots here, though. He’s originally from Basingstoke in the U.K. but has lived here since 1947. Here, he said, he met his wife of 64 years.
“I’m a war husband,” he said.
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Boeing is looking at expansive and more modest changes to the 777 widebody to keep the product viable, but a strategy decision is not likely soon, says Air Lease Corp. Chairman and CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy.
Boeing is already in talks with potential customers about the so-called 777X, says Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Jim Albaugh.
Some of the proposals being looked at include a brand-new engine to replace the GE90, which General Electric would first have to develop, Udvar-Hazy says.
Also on the agenda are potentially a new wing, or, at least, aerodynamic improvements.
Udvar-Hazy says the options range from major changes to a Band-Aid approach to keep the aircraft competitive versus the Airbus A350-1000.
Some options are “extremely costly, in terms of development and would involve significant redesign of the airplane,” he says.
The near-term focus for Boeing will be on getting the 787 into customer hands, he adds, so, “I don’t think Boeing is going to come to any quick decision.”
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For the dozen lawmakers tasked with producing a deficit-cutting plan, the threatened “doomsday” defense cuts hit close to home.
The six Republicans and six Democrats represent states where the biggest military contractors — Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co. and Boeing Co. — build missiles, aircraft, jet fighters and tanks while employing tens of thousands of workers.
The potential for $500 billion more in defense cuts could force the Pentagon to cancel or scale back multibillion-dollar weapons programs. That could translate into significant layoffs in a fragile economy, generate millions less in tax revenues for local governments and upend lucrative company contracts with foreign nations.
The cuts could hammer Everett, Washington, where some of the 30,000 Boeing employees are working on giant airborne refueling tankers for the Air Force, or Amarillo, Texas, where 1,100 Bell Helicopter Textron workers assemble the fuselage, wings, engines and transmissions for the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
Billions in defense cuts would be a blow to the hundreds working on upgrades to the Abrams tank for General Dynamics in Lima, Ohio, or the employees of BAE Systems in Pennsylvania.
For committee members such as Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., the threat of Pentagon cuts is an incentive to come up with $1.5 trillion in savings over a decade. Failure would have brutal implications for hundreds of thousands workers back home and raise the potential of political peril for the committee’s 12.
“I think we all have very good reasons to try to prevent” the automatic cuts, Toomey told reporters last week when pressed about the impact on Pennsylvania’s defense industry. “That is not the optimal outcome here, the much better outcome would be a successful product from this committee.”
The panel has until Thanksgiving to come up with recommendations. If they deadlock or if Congress rejects their proposal, $1.2 trillion in automatic, across-the-board cuts kick in. Up to $500 billion would hit the Pentagon.
Those cuts, starting in 2013, would be in addition to the $350 billion, 10-year reduction already dictated by the debt-limit bill approved by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama this month.
Not surprisingly, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has described the automatic cuts as the “doomsday mechanism.” He’s warned that the prospect of nearly $1 trillion in reductions over a decade would seriously undermine the military’s ability to protect the United States.
For the Pentagon, “we’re talking about cuts of such magnitude that everything is reduced to some degree,” said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank. “At that rate, you’re eliminating the next generation of weapons.”
Committee members will face competing pressures as they try to produce a deficit-reducing plan.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a possible successor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton if Obama wins a second term, Sen. John Kerry is certain to be protective of the budget for the State Department.
Yet the Massachusetts Democrat, who recently said he would seek a sixth term in 2014, represents a state that was fifth in the nation with $8.37 billion in defense contracts this year, behind Virginia, California, Texas and Connecticut, according to data on the federal government’s website USAspending.gov.
In Tewksbury and Andover, Mass., deep defense cuts could have serious ramifications for thousands of Raytheon employees working on the Patriot, the air and missile defense system. It was heralded for its effectiveness during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and is now sold to close to a dozen nations, including South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.
Whatever decisions Kerry and the committee make will affect Massachusetts-based Raytheon, which was fourth in defense contracts this year at $7.3 billion, behind Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics. Raytheon also has operations in Arizona, home to another committee member, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl.
“While some will argue there is peril in serving on this committee, we believe there is far greater peril in leaving these issues unaddressed,” Kerry said in a joint statement with Murray and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., after they were selected by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
In February, Murray celebrated when the Air Force ended a decade-long saga of delays and missteps and awarded one of the biggest defense contracts ever, a $35 billion deal to build nearly 200 air refueling tankers, to Boeing, a mainstay in her home state.
Boeing was fourth on the list of donors to Murray from 2007-2012, with its political action committee, individual employees and family members contributing $102,610.
Michigan is home to two committee members, Republican Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton, and General Dynamics work on the Abrams tank. The state is struggling with a 10.5 percent unemployment rate, which is above the national average.
Already facing the prospect of $350 billion in defense cuts over 10 years, the Pentagon could look to scale back some projects, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the stealthy aircraft that has been plagued by cost overruns and delays.
Lockheed Martin, in conjunction with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, is building 2,400 of the next generation fighter jet for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as working with eight foreign countries. But the cost of the program has jumped from $233 billion to $385 billion; some estimates suggest that it could top out at $1 trillion over 50 years.
Questioned about the defense cuts, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen recently said that “programs that can’t meet schedule, that can’t meet cost … requirements are very much in jeopardy and will be very much under scrutiny.”
The Joint Strike Fighter is being built in Fort Worth, Texas, and Palmdale and El Segundo, Calif. Those are the states of committee members Reps. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems also have operations in Pennsylvania.
The Pentagon could decide to scrap the program or scale it back while upgrading the existing F-15 and F-18 aircraft, a troubling prospect for lawmakers from the states that benefit from F-35 production.
In the military world, however, reducing the number could make it more costly.
“The problem when you cut back in numbers is you increase the number for one, you increase the cost for one,” said Laicie Olson, a senior policy analyst with Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “Sometimes it’s almost better to buy more.”
Boeing, in a statement, said it has been “anticipating flattening defense budgets for some time.” Company spokesman Daniel C. Beck said that while Boeing is trying to improve production and efficiency, it’s moving into new markets such as cybersecurity and energy management.
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The U.S. Air Force and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are setting up an engineering review board to investigate the loss of the second, and final, Hypersonic Test Vehicle (HTV-2) shortly after launch from Vandenberg AFB, California, on Aug 11.
Contact with the vehicle was lost around nine minutes into the flight. In accordance with loss-of-signal precautions the HTV-2 destroyed itself before completing a third of its planned 30-min Mach 20 gliding flight towards a target area near the Kwajalein Atoll.
In its first statement on the failed test, Darpa says “the Minotaur IV vehicle successfully inserted the aircraft into the desired trajectory. Separation of the vehicle was confirmed by rocket cam and the aircraft transitioned to Mach 20 aerodynamic flight. This transition represents a critical knowledge and control point in maneuvering atmospheric hypersonic flight. More than nine minutes of data was collected before an anomaly caused loss of signal. Initial indications are that the aircraft impacted the Pacific Ocean along the planned flight path.”
Darpa HTV-2 program manager Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz says “we know how to boost the aircraft to near space. We know how to insert the aircraft into atmospheric hypersonic flight. We do not yet know how to achieve the desired control during the aerodynamic phase of flight. It’s vexing; I’m confident there is a solution. We have to find it.”
HTV-2 was designed to demonstrate the high lift-to-drag aerodynamics and high-temperature materials needed for sustained hypersonic flight, with the goal of validating technology for a vehicle able to reach anywhere in the world in 60 min.
The Aug. 11 test was a repeat of the first HTV-2 flight last April which ended when a control anomaly developed at around the same point in the flight. The second vehicle was modified with a sturdier flight control system as a result of investigations into the loss of the first HTV-2, though it is not yet known if these changes had any impact on controllability or if the second loss was due to unrelated causes.
Data from the review board will “inform policy, acquisition and operational decisions for future Conventional Prompt Global Strike programs—the goal of which, ultimately, is to have the capability to reach anywhere in the world in less than one hour,” says Darpa in the statement.
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Soar in glory with a magnificent B-52 Stratofortress Big Ugly Fat Fellow Model Airplane from Warplanes. Built by Boeing, the long-range subsonic B-52 Stratofortress has been in service since it was first introduced. This jet-powered strategic bomber is primarily used by the United States Air Force and by NASA. It has been referred to as “BUFF” or “Big Ugly Fat/Flying Fellow” since “Stratofortress” is rarely used outside of official contexts. 56 years has passed since it has been introduced and many B-52 planes have retired yet other B-52 airplanes are still in service.
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Celebrate agriculture through a Custom Grumman G-164 Ag Cat Model Plane crafted by Warplanes. The Grumman single-engine biplane was first brought forth in the 1950s specifically designed for agricultural aviation. The crop dusting aircraft got its name from the naming tradition of using the suffix “-Cat” in Grumman plane names. Thus, the agricultural biplane was christened “Ag-Cat.”
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