This Week’s Book Review – SAC Time

Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.... [Read More]


Great Moments in French Aviation

Dassault RafaleAviation Digest reports today that “Rafale Ride Leads To Inadvertent Ejection By Over-Stressed Passenger”.   An April 6, 2020 report by the French military’s air accident investigation branch recounts a March 2019 flight in which  a contractor employee, responsible for test activity for his employer, was offered a surprise treat: a back-seat ride in a Dassault Rafale, the French front-line fighter aircraft.

Because the gesture was meant as a surprise, the passenger was informed only hours before the flight, leaving little time for him to prepare. The passenger did not feel he could decline the gesture, bowing to the social pressure imposed by his colleagues, the report said.... [Read More]


The United Kingdom Lost 40% of its Domestic Airline Flights Today

Flybe (airline) logoThis may not be on your radar, but it’s a big thing in Europe.  Flybe, the largest regional airline serving the United Kingdom, collapsed yesterday, after failing to secure a rescue bridge loan from the UK government.  All of their planes are grounded and all flights cancelled.  They have defaulted on all carriage contracts, including those pre-paid.

This is a catastrophe for many small communities in the British Isles, for which Flybe provided the only feeder service to the major hubs for long-range flights.  Flybe accounted for around 40% of all domestic flights in the United Kingdom.  Imagine the consequences if 40% of all domestic airline flights in your country were cancelled for an indefinite period and with no warning.... [Read More]


The “Trumpster” was in my home town…

The only problem is my timing. We went to eat at our local watering hole at 4:15, 1615 for the rest of the world and our military friends. We were returning at 5:25, (that’s 1725), or should I say, attempting to return.

Continue reading “The “Trumpster” was in my home town…”


Never Mind Cameras; What is This Airplane?

Dad was in OSS in China in 1945.  At debriefing in D.C. immediately post-war, Donovan ordered them all not to talk. (I have that letter now.)  So he didn’t talk, just bore with his memories in silence.  The exceptions were a brief outline of the tale, and a scrapbook of photos that we looked at often, but never were taught details about what we saw.... [Read More]


Crosswind Landings in this Winter’s Storms

Really impressive windstorms continue to come in one after another in Europe this year.  When one hitting the UK makes the news, in Switzerland we know it’s around 24 to 36 hours before it gets here.  I’m still waiting for the tree felled in my yard by Ciara to be cut up and removed, and Dennis is on the way.  With high winds come severe crosswind landing conditions at airports not lucky enough to have runways that align with the wind direction.  Crosswind landing is one of the most demanding operations in flying, especially for large transport aircraft.  Here is an Etihad Airways A380 landing in a strong crosswind during Storm Dennis at Heathrow Airport in London on 2020-02-15.

... [Read More]


Butterfingers! Airbus A350s Lose Engines after Drinks Spilled

Airbus A350 console with coffee stainTwo Airbus A350 XWB airliners on international flights, one last November and another on January 21st, 2020, had their starboard Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines shut down en route and fail to restart when pilots attempted the recovery procedure.  The most recent incident was on a Delta A350 bound for Seoul, which diverted to and landed safely in Fairbanks, Alaska after the engine failure.  The airline which experienced the failure in November 2019 has not been identified, but is believed to be a Korea-based Asiana A350 flying from Seoul to Singapore, which diverted to Manila on November 9th.

In both cases, the engines shut down some time after a pilot spilled a drink on the centre console where engine controls are located.  The Delta flight lost its engine 15 minutes after a drink was spilled on the console, and the suspected Asiana’s engine shut down an hour after tea was spilled on the console.  In both cases, the flight recorder indicated the electronic engine controller had closed the high-pressure shut-off valve after receiving inconsistent output from the control panel.  In both cases the integrated control panel and electronic engine controller were replaced and the planes returned to service.... [Read More]


Saturday Night Science: Sonic Wind

“Sonic Wind” by Craig RyanPrior to the 1920s, most aircraft pilots had no means of escape in case of mechanical failure or accident. During World War I, one out of every eight combat pilots was shot down or killed in a crash. Germany experimented with cumbersome parachutes stored in bags in a compartment behind the pilot, but these often failed to deploy properly if the plane was in a spin or became tangled in the aircraft structure after deployment. Still, they did save the lives of a number of German pilots. (On the other hand, one of them was Hermann Göring.) Allied pilots were not issued parachutes because their commanders feared the loss of planes more than pilots, and worried pilots would jump rather than try to save a damaged plane.

From the start of World War II, military aircrews were routinely issued parachutes, and backpack or seat pack parachutes with ripcord deployment had become highly reliable. As the war progressed and aircraft performance rapidly increased, it became clear that although parachutes could save air crew, physically escaping from a damaged plane at high velocities and altitudes was a formidable problem. The U.S. P-51 Mustang, of which more than 15,000 were built, cruised at 580 km/hour and had a maximum speed of 700 km/hour. It was physically impossible for a pilot to escape from the cockpit into such a wind blast, and even if they managed to do so, they would likely be torn apart by collision with the fuselage or tail an instant later. A pilot’s only hope was that the plane would slow to a speed at which escape was possible before crashing into the ground, bursting into flames, or disintegrating.... [Read More]