This Week’s Book Review – From Kites to Cold War

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.... [Read More]

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“Does anybody know how to land this plane?”

Garmin Autoland systemWhen flying in small, single-engine aircraft, passengers have two persistent worries: what happens if the engine quits, and who’s going to land the thing if the pilot keels over?  Modern aircraft engines, especially turboprops and turbofans, rarely fail (the ubiquitous Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6  had, as of 2016, an in-flight shutdown rate of one per 651,126 hours, which means that if you were to fly in a single-engine plane powered by one 24 hours a day, 365/66 days a year, you’d only experience an in-flight engine failure, on average, once every seventy-four years).  Besides, most engine failures would occur in cruise, when there’s plenty of altitude and velocity to glide to a sufficiently open and flat area that the plane can be landed, if not totally intact, entirely walkable-away-from by those onboard.

As improbable as it may seem, incapacitation of the single pilot may actually be the more probable circumstance.  Garmin, developers of a wide variety of GPS units and avionics, have just announced the latest update to their G3000 integrated avionics suite for light aircraft, which incorporates “Autoland” technology.  When the avionics detect that the pilot has become unresponsive or a passenger presses the (flip-up guard protected) “Emergency Autoland” button, the system takes control of the plane, identifies a landing strip sufficiently long and within range, contacts air traffic control, navigates to the landing strip, avoiding terrain, lands autonomously and shuts down the engine on the runway.  Here is a demonstration of the system.... [Read More]

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Book Review: Always Another Dawn

“Always Another Dawn” by A. Scott Crossfield and Clay BlairThe author was born in 1921 and grew up in Southern California. He was obsessed with aviation from an early age, wangling a ride in a plane piloted by a friend of his father (an open cockpit biplane) at age six. He built and flew many model airplanes and helped build the first gasoline-powered model plane in Southern California, with a home-built engine. The enterprising lad’s paper route included a local grass field airport, and he persuaded the owner to trade him a free daily newspaper (delivery boys always received a few extra) for informal flying lessons. By the time he turned thirteen, young Scott (he never went by his first name, “Albert”) had accumulated several hours of flying time.

In the midst of the Great Depression, his father’s milk processing business failed, and he decided to sell out everything in California, buy a 120 acre run-down dairy farm in rural Washington state, and start over. Patiently, taking an engineer’s approach to the operation: recording everything, controlling costs, optimising operations, and with the entire family pitching in on the unceasing chores, the ramshackle property was built into a going concern and then a showplace.... [Read More]

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Airbus A320neo: A Matter of Balance

Airbus A320neoIn the never-ending effort to squeeze more passenger revenue from a given capital cost and fuel burn, Airbus is now making their A320neo and A321neo single-aisle airliners available with what they call the “Space-Flex” cabin interior option.  This relocates the galley and toilets, which were previously at the front of the cabin, to the very rear.  This, combined with relocation of some doors, allows six more passenger seats in economy without changing seat spacing, expanding standard seating to 189 and the certification limit to 194, which makes it a close competitor to the Boeing 737-8 / MAX 200, which is marketed for a two class configuration of 178 (12 business, 166 economy) with maximum certification for 200 passengers.

The toilets and galley are heavy, and placing them at the back of the plane shifts the centre of gravity aft near the point where the plane would be unstable.  This is particularly a problem in European two class configurations, where business has the same seats as economy but the centre seat is never occupied, resulting in less mass near the nose of the plane.... [Read More]

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This Week’s Book Review – Admiral John S. McCain and the Triumph of Naval Air Power

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.... [Read More]

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This Week’s Book Review – Winning Armageddon

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.... [Read More]

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The excrement meets the impeller…

Ratburger Boys and Girls, science fiction is becoming science fact!

be afraid, be very afraid……

Continue reading “The excrement meets the impeller…”

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Learning Late in Life

I love flying craft of all kinds; however, my passion is more of an awe of the aesthetics and history of flying, and my technical knowledge is limited. That’s why I was delighted to come across this book at a thrift store. Despite the strange green stains streaking a page,  it’s a keeper.  It is right on my level and I’m learning some terminology and concepts that are new to me.

Here’s a question: There was an illustration of an early experiment with flight, when a monk leapt from a building in giant wings and broke both legs. Why did he not fashion a dummy about his height and weight and toss it off the building before dreaming of launching off himself?

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This Week’s Book Review – Taking Flight

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears, I post the review here on Sunday.

Book Review

‘Taking Flight’ explores the beginning of commercial aviation

By MARK LARDAS... [Read More]

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