Category Archives: Aircraft

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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Air to Air with Justin de Reuck 2014

(Originally published on 2015-04-12 as /archives/10278)

Here is Justin de Reuck’s website.
Here is Justin de Reuck’s Vimeo channel.

I used to take photos from small planes (many times) and a balloon (once). Most of those were lost. What do I miss the most? My images of the Thousand Islands.

What am I afraid of? Heights. How much? Terrified. Did I go up in planes anyway? Regularly. Nothing like this though.

How does he hold the camera when the plane is upside down? They are doing positive-g aerobatics, so it feels the same regardless.

Here’s Tex Johnston doing a positive-g roll in a 707:

Here’s Bob Hoover, poring an ice tea, while simultaneously doing a positive-g maneuver. Amazing:

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USA Rules for Model Aircraft (Planes, Drones, Helicopters, Etc.)

(Originally posted on /archives/10835)

Short Story

  1. Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) members may continue to follow AMA’s safety guidelines, even if in some cases those conflict with the FAA’s rules.
  2. All model aircraft users, with radio controlled aircraft over 0.55 lbs. (aeroplanes, quadcopters, helicopters, drones, etc.), need to register with the FAA at https://registermyuas.faa.gov/ .
By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Background

It’s called “UAS” registration, but all model airplanes over 0.55 lbs. come under this umbrella.

Congress specifically excluded the FAA from regulating model airplanes flown by AMA members, as part of the “2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act“, section 336, which is law.

No matter, FAA officials saw YouTube videos of people doing dangerous things with flying toys, and proceeded to impose the new regulations on everyone.

Recently, the FAA agreed that AMA members are allowed to follow the AMA’s Safety Guidelines, even if those conflict with the FAA Safety Guidance. That’s consistent with section 336.

What part was a concern? The no flying over 400 feet part. There are model airplane competitive events that would be unflyable under that rule, and there are model airplane competitive events that would be more-dangerous under that rule. Also: there are model aircraft flying events that are actually held at airports (famously: Joe Nall Week) .

You Must Follow This Ever-changing List of Temporary Flight Restrictions (traditionally communicated as NOTAMS)

AMA Academy of Model Aeronautics National Model Aircraft Safety Code

FAA Safety Guidance

  • I will fly below 400 feet
  • I will fly within visual line of sight
  • I will be aware of FAA airspace requirements: www.faa.gov/go/uastfr
  • I will not fly directly over people
  • I will not fly over stadiums and sports events
  • I will not fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
  • I will not fly near aircraft, especially near airports
  • I will not fly under the influence

AMA FAA FAQ

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The Fastest Woman On Earth Attempt -and- Where Will Our Future Pilots Come From?

(Originally posted Aug 1, 2015 on as /archives/10506)

Here’s a video about becoming the fastest woman on Earth

I dig land speed record videos.

What’s with the fighter-pilot-oxygen-mask?

Is it for cooling (not oxygen) like on a racing helmet?

Pilots use oxygen to fly unpressurized planes at high altitudes. Why do that? If there’s a stronger tailwind up there, then they can save time and fuel. I read a story about a check-delivery-pilot that did this, but became oxygen-deprived by mistake. Most military flying requires oxygen masks too.

A commercial pilot is not what many people think it is.

(The rest of this post is USA-centric.)

The people that fly for the airlines, need an Air Transport Pilot License (ATPL). The ATPL requires 750 to 1500 hours (depending on your training) of flying. The people that we usually call “commercial pilots”, are actually ATPs. The commercial pilots license is different.

Where will our future pilots come from?

That check-delivery-story reminded me of my concerns about where the USA will get its future pilots.

How does a pilot get 750 to 1500 hours of experience, which is just one of the requirements for the ATPL?

  • Delivering our checking-acount-checks from bank-to-bank at night. The “Check 21 Act” of 2003, made it legal to send scans of checks. So no more “flying checks”. Two-billion dollars of flights (per year?) are now gone: “poof”.
  • Fly as an airline co-pilot, but now they also need an ATPL (as-of July 15, 2013).
  • As a flight instructor
  • Charters
  • Corporate aviation
  • Plane rental, but that’s expensive; 1500 hours costs $112,500 to $600,000. (at $75 to $400 per hour for small non-turbine planes).
  • The military
  • Etc.

Without check deliveries, and non-ATP co-pilots, where will get enough pilots with enough hours? I have no idea, but it will become a problem without some future change.

For More See:

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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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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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