Category Archives: Aircraft

Ballooning with National Champion Pat Cannon

(Originally posted on 2012-02-24 as /archives/7634)

I rode with pilot Pat Cannon during part of the 2001 Highland Village Balloon Festival. Mr. Cannon won the Balloon Federation of America National Championship a number of times, so this was an incredible opportunity to see just how precise balloon piloting can be.

balloon_flame-Edit-512x172

The challenge was to fly a minimum distance, and put a bean bag on a target.

We met at the event’s location for the pre-flight pilot meeting. Balloons are best-piloted during early morning or early evening (the Trey Ratcliff hours), so this was very early in the day.

We participated in the First Flight Ceremony. In my case this involved the pilot saying some words, and pouring champagne on my hair, but I observed other folks participating in another “secret version”. 1%-ers have nothing on balloonists.

We drove to the location, unfolded the balloon, and filled it with hot air (see image above). A number of other pilots followed our chase vehicle, and began their flights from nearby (see image below), but there was nothing special about that location piloting-accuracy-wise. Mr. Cannon chose that location because that’s where he wanted to land at the end of the event. The location chosen was a new development that was under-construction. The roads where there, and were free of debris, but construction had not yet begun on any of the homes. We used one of the roads like a heliport.

balloons-Edit-512x182

Before preparing to take off, he launched a small black helium balloon called a pie-ball (short for pilot-balloon). He used a sextant to follow the pie-ball, and estimated the wind’s speed and direction at various altitudes.

The pilot steers the balloon by choosing a direction, and then going to the altitude who’s wind is blowing in that direction. The balloon requires a certain amount of time to get to any chosen altitude, so the pilot needs to plan for that, and the intervening wind vectors, at each step.

Before leaving the pilot told me that we were going to:

  1. Fly over Lake Lewisville
  2. Make a 90-degree direction-change over the lake
  3. Fly to the target, which was here, and then
  4. Fly back to our starting place.

That’s exactly what he did:

  1. We flew a right-triangle
  2. Mr. Pat Cannon tossed his bean bag within 2-feet of the target’s center and then
  3. We then returned to the chase vehicle. No chasing required.

My legs were shaking during the first half of the trip. I have a fear of heights. Motorcycle riding in bad weather has helped me cure much of that since then.

One amazing thing about ballooning is that you can hear everything on the ground. Your vehicle is travelling at exactly the speed of the wind. Sound is as clear as if their were no wind at all.

People run out of their houses to see the balloon. This is early morning, so they are half-dressed. They notice that the pilot can see them in their nightwear and then run back into their houses.

Boaters were also on the lake to see the balloons. Pat Cannon brought his basket down to visit some boaters. He was able to have the bottom of the basket skim the water, but our feet never got wet, and I never saw any water on the basket floor. Another balloonist attempted to do that too, and his basket immediately laid-down on its side in the water; he, and his passengers got wet.

Are angry landowners a risk when landing? Yes. Pat Cannon told me about a landowner that started shooting his balloon as he flew over the shooter’s property. He was not even trying to land there. Mr. Cannon was well-prepared with the two-way radios that pilot’s use, a GPS, and even a mobile phone. The shooter was surprised when the police arrived at the scene. (Robert Munafo told me that people like to shoot trains too.)

Pilot Pat Cannon is an extremely skilled pilot. He has most of the existing pilot endorsements. He flew helicopters for the US Army during the Vietnam War. He is a FAA safety examiner, and he regularly flies Mitsubishi MU-2s for Turbine Aircraft Services, Inc. where he is a Principal.

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F4U Corsair – P51 Mustang – B29 Bomber

(Original post date: 2016-08-30.)

B29 P51 F4U - noise removal - dynamic cont

Click here to purchase image.

CAF Heart of America Wing 2015 Airshow

From Commemorative Air Force

P51 Mustang “Gunfighter”  (details for this exact aircraft)
B29 Superfortress “Fifi” (details for this exact aircraft)

From Cavanaugh Flight Museum

F4U Corsair (details for this exact aircraft)

 

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Great Photos of Margaret Hamilton: a Computer Programmer and Rocket Scientist

(Originally posted on Aug 9, 2015 as /archives/10518)

WIRED magazine recently published a story about Margaret Hamilton (2015-10-13).

I was born in the 60’s. Since then we had the space age. Then we had an information age. Now biology is where science is making the big leaps. It is sad that people are denying all-that-we-know about the foundation of that science.

Here are photos of Margaret Hamilton. “She eventually became the director and supervisor of software programming for Apollo and Skylab.” So there you go: great photos of a computer programmer, and rocket scientist. Cool.

Margaret Hamilton standing next to listings of the actual Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) source code.
Margaret Hamilton standing next to listings of the actual Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) source code.
Margaret_Hamilton_in_action
Hamilton during her time as lead Apollo flight software designer.

License: NASA-created images are in the public domain.

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NASA’s Apollo Archive Is Free To Use

(Originally posted on 2015-10-15 as /archives/10563)

The entire NASA Apollo Archive has been uploaded to a Flickr account. The images are public domain, and there’s lots of room for improvements. Have fun post processing those photos.

Maciej Winiarcyk has done the best work so far (that I am aware of). He’s been photostitching digital panoramas of the moon. Here is an example:

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Corsair Taxi Back Version 3 – CAF Heart of America Wing 2015 Airshow

(Originally posted: 2016-09-15)

“FG-1D with F4U-5 wings painted like a F4U-1 flown by Archie Donahue,” Jack Cook (quote) Paul Danger Kile (image).

This is the Cavanaugh Air Museum’s Corsair. It lives in Addison Texas. My apartment used to be at the end of its airport’s runway, but I made this image in Kansas.

If you would like a large print, then click here, or on the image, to go to Redbubble. The native resolution is 4515 x 2540

f4u-taxi-back-3.

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Walkaround: Cessna Bird Dogs and Piper AE-1

(Post date: 2016-08-30.)

I usually only accept my images when they “make a good picture”. These walkarounds have a different priority. In this case it’s to get as much detail as possible for modelers: free flight, paper, RC, styrene kits, all types.

This post is for the Cessna Bird Dog and similar warbirds (including a Piper AE-1). The bird dog was most famously used in Vietnam to find targets. There were Airforce pilots in large propeller planes, and fast jets, but then there were the people that flew these tiny little airplanes at low level, while being shot at, to find targets, and downed pilots.

If you have any interest in these airplanes, or the soldiers that flew them, then you need to read Mark Berent’s books. He was there. The books are excellent.

If you would like the highest resolution versions of these copyrighted images, or prints, then please let me know, and I will upload them to Redbubble.com or 500px.com.

N3752L

Airplane Model: (1962?) Taylorcraft DCO-65
N3752L - TAYLORCRAFT DCO-65 - Left

N4763E

Airplane Model: 1951 CESSNA 305 D
Engine Type: Continental O-470 A&C65 Series
N4763E - 1951 CESSNA 305 D - Instrument Panel

N3044L

Airplane Model: Piper AE-1 (1942 Piper J5C)
Engine Type: Lycoming O-235-C

This one’s an ambulance (with a mannequin in it). To see what the ambulance looks like with the top closed, see the background of the first N50573 image below.

The bird dogs are related to the Cessna 170, this one’s related to the Piper J5 Cub.
N3044L - 1942 PIPER J5C - Ambulance

N50573

Airplane Model: 1942 Taylorcraft DCO-65
Engine Type: Continental A&C65 Series
N50573 - 1942 TAYLORCRAFT DCO-65 - Birddog - Right

N50573 - 1942 TAYLORCRAFT DCO-65 - Birddog - Front and Filter

N50573 - TAYLORCRAFT DCO-65 - Left Distance

N50573 - 1942 TAYLORCRAFT DCO-65 - Birddog - Left

 

 

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Two Famous Big-plane Barrel Rolls

(Originally posted on 2016-11-19)

A barrel roll is a 1g maneuver. If done right, there’s no stress on the airplane, or more accurately, the stress is identical to that of not doing any aerobatics at all.

It’s so gentle that that late Bob Hoover doesn’t even spill his drink while pouring it:

Here’s Tex Johnston’s famous Boeing 707 Dash-80 Prototype Roll:

By Boeing Dreamscape (Flickr: Dash80TaxiTestK62712-5) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Boeing Dreamscape (Flickr: Dash80TaxiTestK62712-5) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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