Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Spitfire: Whatever became of Evelyn ?

The Spitfire "Evelyn"

Whatever became of her ?

Many of us aircraft nuts who grew up in South Africa were enarmoured by Evelyn, the only airworthy Spitfire, lovingly restored at the SAAF museum in Lanseria. 
We were all distraught when she was subsequently sold to a foreign collector.

I recently did an online search, and discovered her whereabouts:

Spitfire HF. IXe MA793, painted as "Evelyn"  SA in the 1980s

This aircraft was produced at Castle Bromwich and was delivered to 6 MU RAF on 21 July 1943. It was shipped to the Mediterranean on 5 August 1943 and was operated by the Mediterranean Allied AF till it was transferred to the USAAF on 31 October 1943. It was returned to the RAF in May 1944 and stored with 39 MU in the UK till it was sold to the South African AF on September 30, 1948, serialled 5601.

 It is currently on display at the "TAM Asas de Um Sonho" Museum, located in Sao Carlos, Brazil. It is also the only airworthy Spitfire in South America. The aircraft was donated to the museum by Rolls-Royce and painted in the colours and markings of RAF ace Johnnie Johnson.

About the restoration:

The Spitfire "WR RR" or known locally in SA as not the original aircraft Bob Rogers flew in WW II

This aeroplane, historical as it is, was merely painted to resemble his Spitfire. It was not his original Spitfire they restored from the scrap heap and painted as WR RR. Evelyn was named after his wife. His actual Spitfire WR RR; was a clipped wing Spitfire MK9E, which he flew as 40 Sq OC in Italy. Bob's aircraft is often depicted as the aircraft above in models and aviation paintings, but the historical truth is that his original aircraft was a clipped-wing MK9E.

"Evelyn" today, in Brazil

Serial #: MA793
Construction #: Unknown
Civil Registration: N930LB
Model: HF Mk. IXe
Name: None (Known as "Evelyn" In SA, Painted as above)
Status: Airworthy

Only Spitfire existing known to have flown with USAAF.
Delivered to RAF as MA793, 19??.
- Assigned to 6 MU in July 1943.
Transferred to USAAF as MA793
- BOC: Oct. 31, 1943
- SOC: May 1944.
Delivered to South African Air Force 5601, Sept. 30, 1948.
Meerhof Hospital for Handicapped Children, Pretoria. Apr. 27, 1954-1967.
- Displayed in playground.
Larry Barnett & Alan Lurie, Johannesburg, 1967-1986.
- Rebuilt to flying condition.
- First flight Aug. 29, 1975, Johannesburg-Jan Smuts.
- Flown as SAAF PT672/WR-RR.
- Loaned to SAAF, Lanseria AB, 1976-1986.
Larry Barnett International California, Inc., Los Angeles, CA, July 14, 1986-1999.
- Shipped to Chino, CA, first flight Jan. 1, 1987.
- Operated by David G. Price/Museum Of Flying, Santa Monica, CA Aug. 1986-1999.
-- Flown as RAF/EN398/JE-J
Rolls Royce PLC, Filton, UK, 1999.
Transportes Aereos Regional- TAM/Wings Of Dreams Museum, Sao Carlos, Brazil, 1999-2002.
- Shipped to Brazil from Camarillo, CA, Jan. 2000.
- First flight, Jundai, Brazil, May 3, 2002.
- Flown as EN398-JE-J.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

P 51 Mustang Oddities I

P 51 Mustang Oddities Part 1

As the top fighter aircraft of the end of WW2, the Mustang has had a few interesting (and some odd) spin-offs:

The North American F-82 Twin Mustang is probably one of the strangest, born on the success of the twin boom-tailed P38 Lightning someone had the idea of combining the fuselages of 2 Mustangs. 

They built 270 of these things, and interestingly the first three North Korean aircraft shot down during the Korean war were victims of these unusual aircraft.

Based on the iconic P-51 Mustang, which rose to fame as one of the USAAF’s most successful fighters of WWII, the F-82 Twin Mustang more or less lived up to its name. It was essentially two P-51′s fused together at the wing and the horizontal stabilizer. It was initially intended to be  a very long-range (VLR) escort fighter to accompany Boeing B-29 Superfortresses on their missions over Japan. However the first F-82′s were only ready for service after WW2 had come to an end.

 Development of the North American F-82 Twin Mustang began back in 1943, when the company began work on a fighter that could travel over 2,000 miles (3,220 km) without refueling. Although the aircraft is based on the P-51 Mustang, there were a number of changes necessary to make the aircraft airworthy and fit for its role. The fuselages were lengthened by 57 inches (145 cm) in order to accept additional internal fuel tanks and equipment. The center section of wing was also completely redesigned. Within this central wing six M2 Browning machine guns were fitted. In addition the outer wings were strengthened so they could carry additional fuel in external drop-tanks, or extra ordinance such as rockets or bombs.

The North American F-82 Twin Mustang’s first outing didn’t prove very successful as the aircraft was unable to get off the ground. After a month of investigation engineers figured out what the problem was. The propellers had been designed so that they spun in opposite directions to counter each other out, and they both turned upwards as they approached the center wing. However this resulted in all the lift from the central wing being cancelled out from the drag of the propellers. By switching the rotation of both propellers, so they now met as they were turning downwards, the problem was rectified.

Early prototype F-82′s both featured fully equipped cockpits so the pilots could alternate control on long flights. However later night-fighter versions of the F-82 Twin Mustang only had flight controls on the left side. The right side cockpit was for the radar operator.
To match its odd design the F-82 had another quirk. It was one of the only aircraft in which the trainer version was faster than the combat version. This was due to the fact some of the earlier F-82′s were powered by British-made Merlin engines. However the US military decided it would be more fitting if the aircraft featured an all-American engine, so later aircraft were fitted with less powerful GM Allison engines.
During its lifetime the F-82 Twin Mustang saw service as a long range interceptor to safeguard against Soviet air attack, it operated as a radar-equipped all-weather night fighter, it was used as a air-to-ground attack aircraft, it was the first aircraft to take part in a combat mission during the Korean War and it was the first aircraft to score confirmed kills in the Korean War. Interestingly, although the F-82 Twin Mustang excelled during the first few months of the Korean War, as the conflict went on it was becoming increasingly obvious that propeller driven aircraft had no future in air-to-air combat as jet fighters were increasingly deployed by both sides.
After just seven short but busy years of service the North American F-82 Twin Mustang was retired in 1953. It remains one of the most successful weird aircraft ever to have flown.
At least five examples of the North American F-82 Twin Mustang exist today, and they are held in various museums and locations across the US.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Swiss Air Force Jets Landing on the Highway

Swiss Air Force Highway Landing Maneuvres

Some classic pics, never been seen before, forwarded to me by Captain Werner Naef (Ret.) of the Swiss Airforce. They depict maneuvres he took part in with the Swiss Air Force for a possible Cold War situation where their bases had been destroyed, and they needed to land on the nation's highways:

Werner (L)  and Friend with a Pilatus Trainer, high in the Swiss Alps

This post has raised some discussion on a German Language Aircraft Fan-Site "Flugzeug Forum" recently.

Neither Werner or myself have been able to register or post a comment on questions posed on that site; so here a reply from one of the pilots (pictured above) involved: 

"Since I'm not authorized (as a non-member of that forum) to respond directly I can only mention that some comments have already answered the question this most recent Blog has been asking.
In all the fotos on your website that show Swiss Venoms or Hunters on a highway landing I've been part of those events. The Venom event was the first ever seeing air force jets landing on highways, and the Hunter one was at a later date, but had been the first one with Hunters going to land on a Swiss highway."

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Turbulence ahead: Turbulence 101

Turbulence 101 or "Turbulence for Dummies"

Useful information for fearful flyers

Jet wake or wash turbulence

On a recent flight to New Orleans, our 65-seat plane was gliding through the sky as smoothly as a swan on an unruffled lake. Then it hit a bump. And another.

A soda on a tray sloshed in its cup. The aircraft dipped, pitched and dropped several feet. A couple calmly set down their sandwiches and locked hands.

The flight attendant suspended beverage service and strapped herself into her seat. I looked out the window, at the clear blue sky and the bunny-tail clouds, and cursed the diabolical force that I could feel but not see.

When planes hit turbulence, we often start to despair and think the worst. Falling to the ground like a disabled bird, for example. But experts tell us to banish those doomsday thoughts.

"Planes don't come crashing out of the sky," said Patrick Smith, a pilot with 20 years of experience. (One exception: If you're Denzel Washington playing a tortured soul who turns a plane upside down to stop its dive in the new film Flight.)

Brian Tillotson, a senior technical fellow at Boeing, once comforted a nervous flier with this warm biscuit of wisdom: "This plane is designed to survive a crash, and this is nothing." He recommends that timid travellers adopt his mantra as their own high-altitude om.

Despite the hard facts and the placating statements, turbulence can rattle even fliers with nerves of reinforced steel. Two main factors weaken our resolve like kryptonite: our lack of control and our limited understanding of atmospheric conditions and airplane mechanics.

"Turbulence is far and away the number one concern of fearful fliers," said Smith, who hosts the website Ask the Pilot. "If I get 10 letters from nervous fliers, nine of them are questions about rough air."

Instead of staying in the dark, where things go bump in the cabin, I turned to scientific and airline industry experts and asked them to demystify turbulence and describe any advances in the art of its detection and avoidance. Armed with this knowledge, we can sprout wings of confidence that will carry us gently through the rough spots.


Class, pull out your e-notebooks for Turbulence 101.

By simple definition, turbulence is a disturbance in the regular flow of air. (Experts often use water as an analogy, such as an eddy on a river or a fish in the waves.)

The agitated air moves up or down or sideways, putting pressure on the plane's wings.

The vessel responds by pitching like a rodeo bronco or bouncing like a pogo stick. A plane, however, is not easily bullied by rogue air. It's built to resist. (For visual proof, check out the YouTube video of Boeing testing the wing strength of the 787.)

"On a roller coaster, everyone is screaming for joy," said Larry Cornman, a physicist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "In an aluminium tube 30,000 feet in the air, it's the same principle, but you have no control."

Atmospheric chop is not monolithic but divided into subgroups with distinct characteristics.

Clear-air turbulence is caused by variations in the jet stream. It ramps up in winter, when the jet stream - zippy air currents in the Earth's atmosphere - migrates south, and often plagues flight paths over the Pacific.

Convective turbulence is created by thunderstorms and often occurs in the summer, when rumbling storms dominate the weather forecasts. Low-level turbulence is associated with strong winds, terrain and buildings, while wake vortex turbulence results from a lift as strong as a tornado.

Finally, if you've ever flown over the Rockies and landed at Denver's international airport, you've probably witnessed your cup of coffee shimmy and shake. The culprit: mountain wave turbulence.

"Turbulence is normal. It's part of the sky," said Smith. "It's not about the plane but where the plane is."

Turbulence follows a rating system similar to that of a spice-o-meter at an Indian restaurant - light, moderate, severe and extreme.

Cornman describes the stages, from mild to serious, as water rippling in a glass, liquid flowing out of the vessel and the cup flying through the air. Most passengers experience the swirling and spilling phases, but never the most intense situations, which can cause injuries and structural damage.

When a weather system threatens such peril, pilots do their utmost to avoid the roiling air. If stuck in an ugly patch, they will attempt to steer the plane toward calmer air, climbing to a higher altitude or changing course.

Pilots rely on numerous systems to track turbulence, including weather forecasts, radar, communication with air traffic control and updates from other planes in the vicinity.

"In general, we have a reasonably good idea of where the rough air is," said Smith. "But it can be more of an art than a science."


To help take the guesswork out of the pin-the-tail-on-the-turbulence game, physicists and other industry specialists are working on innovations that detect unsettled air.

For instance, Boeing installed the Vertical Gust Suppression System in the new 787 Dreamliner. VGSS acts like a super-beagle: Sensors in the plane's nose detect volatile air, then relay the message to the aircraft's brain, which automatically makes adjustments to reduce the bump. Passengers will probably sleep right through the tweak.

In May, the company received a patent on another invention, a GPS unit that can read the "twinkle" of the radio waves for more than 200 miles, thereby identifying erratic air flow. (Quick debriefing: Stars appear to twinkle when upset air bends and bobbles the light as it travels through the atmosphere; same deal with radio waves. Apologies for crushing the fantasy of stargazers who thought that little aliens living on stars were flicking their bedroom lights on and off.) At this early stage, no planes are equipped with the GPS unit.

Cornman, who was instrumental in the GPS program, is also tackling the turbulence issue at the federally funded center. Under the sponsorship of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), he and collegues developed the In Situ Turbulence Reporting Program, detection software that allows participating airlines (Delta, United and Southwest so far) to share reports on rough air.

Also in his bag of new tricks: radar software that can track "stuff embedded in the air," a useful tool for recognizing convective turbulence, and "lidar," lasers that detect small particles in visibly clear air and measure their motion. Delta uses the new radar capability, and the Hong Kong airport has installed the uber-lasers. Researchers are also throwing some brain cells at improving weather forecasting, which could inform pilots of upcoming chop.

"Turbulence is pretty dynamic," he said. "Pinning it down is pretty hard."


If you're a nervous passenger, you've most likely heard this one before: Flying is safer than driving.

Don't argue with the prophet, because it's true.

"Commercial air traffic, in terms of turbulence, is pretty darn safe," said Cornman. As evidence, he cited the last crash caused by turbulence - in 1966 near Mount Fuji in Japan.

In 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 9,442,000 car accidents, including more than 22,000 fatalities and almost 2 million injuries. The same year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) documented one major accident and 14 injuries on commercial planes, and no fatalities.

But don't be so quick to unbuckle your seatbelt and freely roam the cabin. Turbulence is the No. 1 cause of in-flight injuries, with crew members often suffering the highest number of bangs, bruises and broken bones. The FAA reported that turbulence injured five passengers and 28 crew members last year. Over the same period, the NTSB investigated 10 turbulence-related accidents.

"If people followed the rules," said Smith, "the statistics would be even lower."

Protecting yourself is as easy as insert, click, adjust. Even when the pilot turns off the sign, keep your seatbelt on. If the plane suddenly jolts, you don't want to bump heads with the ceiling.

You can also reduce the intensity of turbulence with a little planning. Larger jets provide more stability than smaller planes. For example, in the same wily patch of air, a passenger in a 747 might feel a mild bounce, while a traveler in a six-seat Cessna might complain of moderate bumps. Also, choose a seat in the middle rows, over the wings, instead of in the front or back of the cabin.

"Imagine a soda straw. Hold it in the middle and see how it flops," explained Tillotson of the phenomenon. "Air pushes on the wing. The nose and tail bounce."

Most important, remember that the rockiness will pass. With this as your mantra, sit back and enjoy the short ride on the atmosphere's waves.

"Instead of the seatbelt sign," said Cornman, "the pilot should turn on the 'wheee!' sign."

I'll throw up my hands to that.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Saab Gripen E/F: Switzerland's next fighter aircraft

Swiss Intro to Saab Gripen E/F

Defence and security company Saab’s Gripen E/F Test Aircraft has now been introduced to Switzerland. 
It took place during the Swiss Air Force spectacular annual flight demonstration at the Axalp-Ebenfluh shooting range. 

Saab took the aircraft to Switzerland on invitation of Armasuisse, which is responsible for the acquisition process of a new fighter to replace the Swiss Air Force´s fleet of F-5 Tiger. The Swiss Government officially declared their type selection of Gripen as the replacement in November of last year.

Every year, the flight demonstration at the Axalp event attracts thousands of spectators that hike up the mountain for hours to reach the shooting range, which is situated at more than 2 000 meters above sea level. This year was no exception, it is estimated that approximately 7 000 people witnessed the event.

The Gripen E/F Test Aircraft was flown by a Swiss pilot in the front seat and with a Saab test pilot in the back seat.

“We have been flying with two Swiss pilots during a week for the Axalp event and the aircraft has performed excellently. We are now looking forward to continue the test flight programme in cooperation with Armasuisse and the Swiss Air Force,” says Richard Ljungberg, Chief Test Pilot at Saab. “The flights at Axalp was a good opportunity to show Gripen in Switzerland, both to the public and politicians.”

“This week we gave the Swiss people including media and key stakeholders from the Security commission (SiK) the opportunity to see, touch, and feel the aircraft. It was truly a magnificent week and we proved that the Gripen, is as we all know, outstanding.”

Gripen E/F, the next generation Gripen, is an advanced and modern fighter aircraft system that meets the demands of tomorrow’s air defence from countries around the world. Saab keeps building on experiences from previous versions of Gripen which have a proven track record with five air forces.

The next generation Gripen will have a dramatically enhanced performance. The Gripen E aircraft delivered to Switzerland will be a state-of-the-art fighter aircraft system with advanced capabilities. The new software and hardware (e.g. the new AESA radar) of the next generation Gripen E have been tested and demonstrated in the Gripen E/F test aircraft.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

US Navy Seals Reprimanded over game

Seven US Navy Seals face disciplinary action after it was revealed they worked as consultants on EA's Medal of Honor: Warfighter game.

CBS News reported that seven members of Seal Team Six consulted with EA over two sessions, and shared classified information that had been given to them by the Navy.

Seal Team Six is the team that carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and CBS stated that one of the Seals that consulted with EA actually partook in the raid.

The seven Seals who worked with EA have been issued letters of reprimand, which effectively means they cannot be promoted, CBS said. They have also been docked half their pay for two months.

The seven members of Seal Team Six are still on active duty, although four have since transferred to different squads.

Further action is possible, and CBS reported that their careers as Seals may now be over.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

2 x Faster than Bugatti Veyron: Honda to enter Jet Market ?

Does Honda have it's sights set on the Personal Jet Market?

Honda has started producing a machine almost twice as fast as the Bugatti Veyron.

The new release seats six and is expected to cost about $4 million, but you can't take the controls without a pilot's licence.

The Japanese manufacturer claims the HondaJet "is the fastest, highest-flying, quietest, and most fuel-efficient jet in its class".

Prospective pilots cruise in the jet at almost 780km/h at 30,000 feet. It can cruise at 43,000 feet but the furthest it can travel is less than 2200 kilometres.

International travel might be best left to commercial carriers, as the HondaJet could not fly from Sydney to Singapore without stopping at least twice for refuelling.

Honda is the first car manufacturer to have entered the private jet business, but many others have a history of flight.

A statement released by the company said aircraft production had been a long-term goal.

"The HondaJet is Honda's first-ever commercial aircraft and lives up to the company's reputation for superior performance, efficiency, quality, and value," it said.

"The challenging spirit upon which Mr Soichiro Honda founded Honda Motors is still alive today as Honda Aircraft fulfils one of Honda's long-standing dreams to advance human mobility skyward."

Honda says its jet is unlike others because its engines are mounted over the wings.

It is not yet certified for public use.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

WW2 B17Survival story

WWII B-17 Survival Story

A great story forwarded to me by Werner Naef:

B-17 "All American" (414th Squadron, 97BG) Crew

Pilot- Ken Bragg Jr.
Copilot- G. Boyd Jr.
Navigator- Harry C. Nuessle
Bombardier- Ralph Burbridge
Engineer- Joe C. James
Radio Operator- Paul A. Galloway
Ball Turret Gunner- Elton Conda
Waist Gunner- Michael Zuk
Tail Gunner- Sam T. Sarpolus
Ground Crew Chief- Hank Hyland

A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of World War II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named All American, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunners turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew - miraculously! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.

When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

 The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.

Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the empennage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been "used" so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane and land it.
Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear.

When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed onto the ground. 

The rugged old bird had done its job. 

Research and historical fact show some inaccuracies in the story as above:

This story is also well known. They think the German fighter
pilot was already dead, killed by a B-17 gunner, when he
crashed into the B-17.

The 97th Bomb Group was based in North Africa at that time, not England. 

Their base was in Algeria.
Still a great feat of airman ship to get her home.

 The photograph was most likely taken from another B-17,not a escorting P-51 fighter. 
P-51’s did not start flying escort until 1944.
Still a great story.

Their base:
Chateau-dun-du-Rhumel Airfield Field, Part of Twelfth Air Force 97th BG
Type Military Airfield Coordinates 36°08′39″N 006°07′53″E Built 1942 In use 1942–1943 Controlled by United States Army Air Forces 

Chateau-dun-du-Rhumel Airfield is located in Algeria, now an abandoned military airfield in Algeria, located about 6 km north-northwest of Chelghoum el Aid, in Mila province, about 47 km southwest of Constantine.

During World War II it was used by the United States Army Air Force Twelfth Air Force during the North African Campaign against the German Afrika Korps. The airfield was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and its primary use was that of a heavy bomber airfield, with concrete runways, hardstands and taxiways. Billeting and support facilities consisted of tents. The 2nd Bomb Group and the 97th Bomb Group were the primary tenants at the airfield, both flying B-17 Flying Fortresses missions over targets in Italy; Tunisia; Sicily and Sardinia. The 1st Fighter Group flew escort for the Fortresses, as well as attacking enemy ground targets of opportunity.

Known units assigned to the airfield were: HQ 5th Bombardment Wing, March– August 1943 HQ 7th Fighter Wing (later 47th Bombardment Wing), 11 January – 1 March 1943 2d Bombardment Group, 27 April- – 7 June 1943, B-17 Flying Fortress 97th Bombardment Group, 8 February – 1 August 1943, B-17 Flying Fortress 1st Fighter Group, February – 29 June 1943, P-38 Lightning

When the Americans moved out in late 1943, the airfield was dismantled and abandoned. Today, there is almost no evidence of its existence, as the land has returned to agricultural use. Faint outlines of dispersal pads, runways and taxiways can be seen in aerial photography, and there may be a number of agricultural buildings on a former concreted aircraft parking/maintenance area to the south of the field. 


Landing plane clips SUV, rips off landing gear

Landing light plane hits SUV ripping off part of landing gear

A motorist driving by a regional US airport was shocked to be clipped by a landing plane.

Pilot William Davis was approaching Northwest Regional Airport in Roanoke, Texas, at the weekend when he managed to clip a Volvo SUV driving along an airport access road adjacent to the runway.

Davis' wife filmed the entire incident which shows the plane's landing gear being ripped off but it still managed to skid to a half just off the runway and William Davis walked away unscathed.

Watch the actual video:

The coupe in the car, Frank and Heather Laudo, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

"I saw it about a second before it hit us. I was opening my mouth to go 'duck!'" Frank Laudo said. "The next thing you know there's shattering," he told

"It was kind of like a hawk with its talons coming up and scooping the car," Heather Laudo said. "And the talons breaking off."

Chinese Stealth Fighter Emerges ?

Images of a Chinese Fighter Aircraft emerge:

Images have emerged on Chinese defence sites that appear to show a new Chinese fighter aircraft in flight.

The flight was said to be the first conducted by the aircraft that is now being commonly referred to as the Shenyang J-31. Previous reports have variously given the aircraft's designation as the J-21, J-31 or F-60.

Images for the aircraft first appeared in mid-September 2012 and were said to be taken at the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation airfield.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Bomb of an Auction!

An online auction has been set up for anyone looking for a "bomb" of a Christmas present.

An Auckland-based munitions collector has put up for sale an original MK 84 500lb (227kg) bomb and a New Zealand New Seacat missile.

Starting bids for both items - which are on offer on TradeMe - begin at $1000, with the online auction set to close at 3.57pm on Sunday.

The 227kg bomb is filled with plaster and the owner states it ''turned up as a garden ornament (minus tail) many years ago''.

''Once I had it checked out as safe (and free from explosives!) by an Airforce ordinance specialist I refurbished the body and sourced an unused 1969 tail,'' the seller wrote.

''It's a totally awesome bomb and would be the showpiece of any collection, another item that would make for the ultimate man cave decoration.''

The seller said it was about 2.5m long and ''very heavy''.

The Seacat missiles is 1.5m tall.The seller wrote that the item was one of the few decommissioned missiles of its type to remain intact.

''Have a look at pictures of all of the major ordinance collections in NZ and you won't see one of these,'' the item's blurb stated.

''This is a truly rare opportunity to own a piece of missile history, a 'must-have' for any ordinance/naval collection and a unique addition to any man cave.''

The seller added: ''I have owned this for close to 20 years ... reluctant sale but looking to fund a new project.''

 © Fairfax NZ News

Something Different: WW2 Carrier pigeon w secret message found!

And now for something completely different!

A British man has found the remains of World War II carrier pigeon in his fireplace complete with a canister attached to a leg containing an encrypted WW2 message.

David Martin, 74, found the bird's remains while renovating a unused Victorian fireplace at his Surrey home not far from the wartime headquarters of General Bernard Montgomery.

"It could have been a secret message for him. I hope it is something interesting it will be amazing if we discover an unknown detail from such an important part of British history," Martin told Britain's Daily Mail.

Martin said he and his wife Anne "were stunned it was like Christmas had come early. The chimney was full of hundreds of twigs and rubbish and then I just started finding various bits of a dead pigeon."

At first they thought it might be a racing pigeon "until we spotted the red capsule and our eyes just lit up."

Carrier pigeons have been used since ancient times to relay messages from behind enemy lines and the capsule Martin found was the kind British troops used during World War II.

The message, written by a Sergeant W Stott, contains 27 codes that each contain a combination of five numbers and letters. The message was destined for "X02," which is believed to be the classified designation for Britain's Bomber Command.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

Amelia Earhart's sad demise

Dozens heard Amelia Earhart's final, chilling pleas for help, researchers say Distilled from 2 posts in the  Washington Post a...