Archive for the ‘Aircraft’ Category

Happy Yuri’s Night!   Leave a comment

It’s Yuri’s Night!

We need to make a bigger deal out of this.

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Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center   Leave a comment

From the time I was about six, I wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut. Given my age, it was clear that the then-new Space Shuttle, or one of its successors, would be the vehicle I flew to space in. I had a plan–Air Force Academy, fly Blackbirds, test pilot school, then NASA. Other career paths popped into my head, but that was probably the most consistent one.

It was sometime in high school that I let go of it, realizing that, for me, it was not an attainable path. Sometime in college, it was replaced with “amature bike racer” as unattainable dream. But, I never lost my interest in space flight.

So, on New Years Day, we left Tampa to head west. The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is the “retirement home” for Atlantis, one of the surviving Space Shuttle Orbiters.
First View of Atlantis

Where other sites, like Udvar-Hazy, simply have their orbiter sitting on its wheels, the KSC has mounted their orbiter at an angle, with multiple levels of viewing platforms–you can really see all over the spacecraft.
Atlantis--Underside

Atlantis--Side

Goodbye, Atlantis

They also have the payload bay doors open, so you can get a sense of how Atlantis performed its missions.
Atlantis--Payload Bay

I tried to explain to my daughter that, when I was her age, I wanted nothing more than to sit in this cockpit. Right now, however, US manned space flight is more museum artifacts than a reality.
DSC_9618

They had a unique way to explain the 22° glidepath the Space Shuttle used to return to earth–a slide, which my daughter loved.
22º Glide Slope

That Was Fun

The exhibit hall had many other shuttle-era artifacts, such as this glider model. The film at the entrance explained that the director of the program that started the orbiter gathered his team to announce the project, throwing this glider over their heads. One thing I found amusing was how the film showed the delays the project had–a contrast to “we will get to the moon in this decade…”
Shuttle Model

Also on display was the bus that would take astronauts out to the launch pad.
Crew Transport

In the area about the International Space Station, was a mockup of the Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, used to help astronauts maintain their muscles and bones.
C.O.L.B.E.R.T.

I remembered why they named it that way…
Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill

We visited the rest of the facility, including a bus tour that took us past the Vertical Assembly Building (VAB).
VAB and New Tower

The buildings are already being used for new programs, such as the Air Force’s X-37B.
Home of the X-37B


The Kennedy Space Center happens to sit on a wildlife refuge. During the bus tour, I saw a few alligators, a manatee, and the nest of a bald eagle.
Eagle Nest

They are one of three locations that have a Saturn V (the other two being the Johnson Space Center and the US Space and Rocket Center). In the building is a full-scale mock-up of the Apollo Command and Service Module.
Apollo CSM Mock-Up

It also is the home of Apollo XIV.
Apollo 14

Back at the visitor’s center, there were a number of vintage artifacts, such as Gemini 9A.
Gemini 9

A full-scale mock-up of a Russian Soyuz hung over the entrance.
Soyuz

Anyone know how old you have to be to get a driver’s license on the moon?
Who Let Caitlin Drive?

The Rocket Garden outside had a Mercury-Atlas stack, which took the first Americans into orbit (Mercury-Redstone was used for the first two, suborbital flights).
Mercury-Atlas

The Saturn IB booster was used to take Apollo capsules up for their first flight, then subsequent flights to Skylab and the ASTP.
Caitlin and Rebecca by the Saturn 1B

The future of US manned space flight was represented by a mock-up of the Orion capsule.
Orion Mock-Up

Even though there is a fee for admission and it’s in the middle of nowhere, the KSC is probably the best place to see a Space Shuttle and really get a feel for it. For me, it was bittersweet, as it shows that this era of space flight, the one I grew up with, is truly over. Hopefully, the next chapter will be written soon.
Me and Atlantis

Posted 2015-01-20 by Mr. Guilt in Aircraft, Winter Break 2014/2015

A Day at Udvar-Hazy   1 comment

DSC_8039
The Nation Air and Space Museum on the Mall, as I noted, is a bit landlocked, and too small for many aircraft in the Smithsonian’s collection. To accommodate the larger vehicles in their collection, the Udvar-Hazy center opened in 2003 as an expansion to the center. There collection has expanded into this new space. I got to spend a brief time there once on a business trip; on our family vacation, I got to explore the space more fully.


Perhaps my favorite vesical is an SR-71 Blackbird. It also happens to be my second favorite vehicle made of titanium.
Blackbird (3/4 from the Right)

I’ve loved the Blackbird family since I was a kid. I always appreciate the opportunity to see one, especially a record-setter.
SR-71 (Nose)

SR-71 (Rear-Right)

When I was last here, they Space Shuttle Enterprise was the centerpiece of their collection. Since the retirement of the Shuttle fleet, it has been unfortunately moved to New York. The Enterpirse was used for the Approach and Landing Tests. It never went to space. In its place, the Space Shuttle Discovery was rolled in.
Discovery Nose

The Discovery has is the oldest of the remaining Space Shuttles, and the one with the most missions. It first flew in space in 1984, and completed the last of its thirty-nine missions in 2012.
Over the Wing

I just walked around this vehicle several times, staring at it. I imagined myself at its controls so many times in my life.
Discovery Engines

I was sad to think the Shuttles are no longer flying, with nothing to replace them.
Entering the Space Gallery

The Space Gallery had a number of other artifacts, including another film Nikon body modified as an early digital camera.
Early Nikon Digital Camera

An early plan for the Gemini program was for the capsule to return not by splashing into the ocean (as it did), but under a paraglider.
Gemini Paraglider Test Vehicle with Rogallo Paraglider

A testbed capsule was towed behind a car, much like a kite.
Gemini Paraglider Test Vehicle

A mock-up of the Pathfinder lander was there, along with the Sojourner, one of the first robotic rovers on Mars.
Pathfinder

Several warplanes were in the main aircraft gallery. An F4U was hung dramatically by the entrance.
Corsair

The P-40 was famous for the American Volunteer Group, the “Flying Tigers.”
P-40 Flying Tiger

The P-38 Lightening was designed by Kelly Johnson, who also designed some significant aircraft, including my beloved Blackbird.
P-38 Lightening

The P-61 Black Widow was a World War Two era night fighter. My grandfather worked on the early RADAR carried in this craft.
P-61

A B-29, the Enola Gay, loomed large over the World War Two exhibit.
B-29 Nose

One of the first Soviet jet fighters was the MiG-15.
MiG-15

It was no match for the F-86 Saber, which ruled the skies during the Korean War.
Saberjet!

The F-4 and MiG-21 were adversaries in the Vietnam War.
MiG-21 and F-4

F-4 and SA-2

The A-6 Intruder served from the Vietnam to the First Gulf War.
A-6 Top View

The iconic UH-1 “Huey” represented rotary-wing aircraft of the Vietnam War.
Huey

The collection’s F-14 was involved in combat in the 1989 Gulf of Sidra incident, shooting down a MiG-23.
F-14 MiG Killer

I found the collection of prototypes fascinating. The X-35 developed concepts that became the F-35 Lightening II. It is the first aircraft to take off and land vertically and break the sound barrier.
X-35B

The XV-15 developed tilt-rotor aircraft to the point it could become a viable platform.
XV-15 (Top View)

The Northrop N9MB demonstrated “flying wings.”
Northrop N9MB

The 707 was the first US jetliner. It’s prototype is at Udvar-Hazy.
707 Prototype

The supersonic Concord jetliner was there.
Concord

I had never seen one before. It is a gorgeous aircraft!
Concord (Nose)

This Dassault Falcon 20 was FedEx’s first aircraft.
Dassault Falcon 20

The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer set the record for fastest unrefuled circumnavigation of the planet.
Global Flyer

We spent hours admiring this collection–perhaps second only to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in terms of size, but with much more significant aircraft.

Posted 2014-09-14 by Mr. Guilt in 2014 Summer Vacation, Aircraft

National Air and Space Museum   Leave a comment

SpaceShipOne and the X-1
While in Washington, we wanted to check out the National Air and Space Museum (NASM). The NASM is home to a variety of historically significant aircraft. As air and space geeks, it was heaven.

We wanted to check out both sites, but started with the location on the Mall. Right when you walk in, you can see two spaceplanes. My personal favorite is the X-15.
X-15, right side

This research craft was flown in the Sixties. Three were built. One crashed, and the other is at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. They set a number of records, and twice flew beyond the internationally recognized boundary into space (100 KM).
X-15, left side

Across from the X-15 was the most recent spaceplane, SpaceShipOne. This was the first manned, non-government craft to enter space.
SpaceShipOne (Belly)

SpaceShipOne (Top)

It was exciting to see something I followed make history among aircraft I read about in books, such as the X-1 (above), or The Spirit of Saint Louis.
SpaceShipOne and The Spirit of Saint Louis

Speaking of the X-1, the first aircraft to break the sound barrier was neat to see.
X-1

Nearby was another early supersonic research craft, the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket. It was the first aircraft to go twice the speed of sound.
Douglas D-558-2

On the floor was Columbia, the command module of Apollo XI.
Apollo XI

The P-59 Airacomet was also in the entry gallery. This was the first American jet fighter. It was, however, an underperformer, and never saw combat.
XP-59 Airacomet

The P-59 was replaced by the P-80 (later F-80) Shooting Star. During the Korean War, an F-80 won the first jet-to-jet engagement. The prototype was at the NASM.
XP-80

Walking through the galleries, there is an impressive look at naval aviation. A number of aircraft from several years were represented, including an A-4.
A-4

I couldn’t get a good shot of the original Wright Flyer, but they did have one of the few remaining Wright bicycles on display.
Wright Bicycle

A bicycle would later be the powerplant for the Gossamer Albatross.
Gossamer Albatross

This F-104 served as a chase plane for NASA, including the X-15 program.
NASA F-104

The space gallery is dominated by a mock-up of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program (ASTP).
ASTP

They had a reentry module from a Soyuz–the only one I’ve ever seen.
Soyuz Reentry Module

I was amused by the markings on the capsule. “Man Inside! Help!”
Man Inside! Help!

The space gallery actually had an early digital SLR. It was a Nikon film body mated to a Kodak image processor, doubling the size of the camera. Good thing there is no gravity there.
First Digital SLR

A traveling exhibit of the photography of Spirit and Opportunity included a full-scale mockup.
Spirit Mock-Up

It was great to see all the significant aircraft. The only downside of the NASM is that it is a bit landlocked, with no room to grow. As a consequence, there is a limit to the size and quantity of aircraft they can house. However, the next day, we would get to see the solution to that problem.
SpaceShipOne (Side)

Posted 2014-09-07 by Mr. Guilt in 2014 Summer Vacation, Aircraft

Goodyear Airdock   Leave a comment

Our last stop during our Romantic Weekend in Akron was a drive-by of the Airdock, the construction hanger of Goodyear Areospace, now owned by Lockheed Martin.
Airdock 1

The Airdock was used during World War II for the construction of military blimps. It is 55 million cubic feet of empty space–it’s large enough to have its own weather inside. Lockheed is looking at building new airships inside this large building.
Airdock 2

Posted 2014-07-21 by Mr. Guilt in Aircraft, Ohio

Scott Field Heritage Air Park   Leave a comment

Spring break for 2014 is low key, but we did spend a few days in Saint Louis, Missouri. On the way, we stopped near Bellville, Illinois. This is the home of Scott Air Force Base. In honor of the men and women who serve there, just outside the gate is Scott Field Heritage Air Park, a collection of the airlifters that were based at Scott.

The first aircraft you encounter is a C-141, a heavy airlifter.
C-141

Next to it was a KC-135, a plane specializing in mid-air refueling of other planes.
KC-135

The C-130 is perhaps the most successful transport aircraft ever produced. New models are still rolling off the factory line.

An example of each of these aircraft at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio. Typically, they have greater significance than the examples here. Their C-141, for instance, is known as the Hanoi Taxi, which brought the last of the US POWs back from Vietnam. However, one aircraft they lack is a C-9A Nightingale. A version of the McDonald Douglas DC-9 airliner, it was optimized for areomedical evacuation–it was practically a flying hospital.
C-9A, Front Two-Thirds

What is significant about it, to me, is that my father flew the C-9. Scott AFB was his last posting while in the Air Force, and we lived there when I was in the first and second grade. He didn’t fly the example on display (it was in the Pacific Theater when we were at Scott), but definitely flew the type.
C-9A Nightengale, Side View

We didn’t spend terribly long there–if it wasn’t right off the Interstate, we probably wouldn’t have gone–but it was definitely good to show my daughter this bit of family history.

Posted 2014-04-03 by Mr. Guilt in Aircraft, Spring Break 2014

US Space and Rocket Center   1 comment

Barilleauxs on the Moon

For a trip to Louisiana, Google Maps recommended going through Alabama. Only ten miles out of our way was Huntsville, Alabama. It is home to the United States Space and Rocket Center, which is affiliated with the Marshal Space Flight Center. A lot of early work on rockets was here, under the direction of Werner Von Braun, who helped design a variety of early United State rockets. As a family of geeks, we felt we had to stop.

Arriving in Huntsville at just before midnight, we knew our hotel was cool, as we were offered a “rocket view.”
Rocket View

The centerpiece artifact is one of three actual Saturn Vs in existence. Outside the building, they have a mock-up set up vertically, as though ready for launch.
Vertical Saturn V Mock-Up

Inside, laying on its side (similar to the one in Houston), is the actual Saturn V.
Saturn V, from the Top

It dwarfs one of Von Braun’s first rockets, the V-2, which was tucked next to its engines.
V-2 and Saturn V Engines

The powerful engines that made up the first stage was the F-1. I suspect that the engine alone was as big as the V-2 (my daughter for scale).
Caitlin and the F1

There were many Apollo artifacts on site as well, including the walkway to the “white room” at the top of the launch tower. This was the last walk the astronauts would take before boarding the capsule.
Walkway to Apollo

The Apollo 16 capsule was on display. This was the penultimate mission to the moon. It was commanded by my previous favorite astronaut, John Young.
Apollo 16

The gloves for the astronauts were custom made based on casts of their hands. The casts for the Apollo 11 crew were in the Center. Aldrin had huge hands compared to his crewmates.
DSC_3765

One artifact was Von Braun’s slide rule. In an era where I have the equivalent o a 1980’s supercomputer in my pocket, it is an amazing reminder of how simple the tools were that got us to the Moon.
Von Braun's Slide Rule

After the Columbia disaster, NASA ran tests on the thermal protection on the leading edges of the wings. The test articles, shot with simulated foam, were on display, holes and all.
Space Shuttle Leading Edge Impact Test Article

The US Space and Rocket Center is the only place where a “full stack” Space Shuttle is on display–orbiter, external tank, and solid rocket boosters all put together. The orbiter, Pathfinder, was a mock-up NASA built for testing procedures for mounting the shuttle made of wood and metal. It was purchased by a Japanese company for display, made to look more like the flight vehicle. It was later purchased and brought to Alabama.
Pathfinder on the Side

A T-38 chase plane was under the orbiter.
T-38 Talon

A travelling exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci was present. They had replicas of his notebooks.
Replica of Da Vinci's Notebook

Da Vinci's Notebooks

Outside was an example of my second-favorite vehicle made of titanium, an A-12 Oxcart, a member of the Blackbird family.
Oxcart Front Right Three-Quarters

It did look like it needed some care, but it was good to see.
Oxcart Front Right Three-Quarters, Low

We had a great time exploring the site, and looking at our nations rocket heritage.
Pathfinder Rear

Posted 2013-12-31 by Mr. Guilt in Aircraft, Geeky

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth   Leave a comment

“An astronaut is someone who’s able to make good decisions quickly, with incomplete information when the consequences really matter.”

Astronaut Chris Hadfield was on two space shuttle missions, as well as commanded the International Space Station earlier this year. He became well known for for savvy use of social media and music to get people excited about the space program. In his new book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, he continues this mission.

As you might expect, Commander Hadfield’s book is filled with stories from his time in the space program. But, what’s more, he explains the mindset of an astronaut. This mindset is one which I think can be applied to any field–I know it would work in my job. It can be characterized by hard work and preparation (“sweat the small stuff”), and thinking about how what you do can contribute to the overall operation, and learning everything you can, in case it becomes necessary.

A good example of thinking about how your contribution impacts the rest of the mission comes when he talks about aiming to be a zero. Hadfield talks about how you can be a “plus one” (a fully beneficial member of the mission), a negative one (who causes problems for the mission), or a zero. When entering a situation, Hadfield suggest being a zero: even if you think you can make significant contributions, holding back observing, and trying to not create problems. Once acclimated, start to ease towards “plus one” status.

I highly recommend this book. Not only does it give a fascinating look at the modern space program, but a great way to look at life.

Posted 2013-11-21 by Mr. Guilt in Aircraft, Books

Canadian Museum of Aviation and Space   1 comment

While in Ottawa, we went to the Canadian Museum of Aviation and Space. As the name implies, it is a museum dedicated to planes and spacecraft that were notable to Canada. There were several notable artifacts.

Perhaps the most noteworthy was the nose of the Avro CF-105 Arrow, a fighter that was developed in Canada in the 1950s. Had it been completed, it would have been the most advanced interceptor of its day.
CF-105 Nose

After about a year of test flights, the program was cancelled, under significant controversy. Adding insult to injury was that the prototypes and all the jigs and other equipment specific to is production were ordered destroyed. All that remains is the nose section on display at the museum behind a CF-18. Even that bit was done at a great deal of personal and professional risk to those who saved it. The Cf-105 is one of the many “what might have been” stories of aviation.
Hornet and Arrow

Under pressure from NORAD partners, the BOMARC missile was purchased instead (and also on display).
BOMARC

Another unique aircraft was the one the Arrow was meant to replace, the CF-100 Canuck.
CF-100 Canuck

The CF-104 is the RCAF designation of the F-104 Starfighter.
CF-104

While still in service, a CF-18 (the Canadian designation of the Boing F/A-18) was on display.
CF-18

This one’s unit appears to use a cougar as its mascot.
Cougar on a Hornet (1)

The cougar is also on the vertical stabilizer. Also notice the signatures on the inside of the opposite one–I’m not sure what they are, as I didn’t even notice them until I was reviewing my pictures.
Cougar on a Hornet (2)

The museum had a bit of Hadfield-mania was present in the museum. The guitar he took on his first flight was on display.
Hadfield's First Space Guitar

Over the entry hall is a Canadiar CT-114 Tutor trainer, in the colors of the Snowbirds.
Inverted Snowbird

Another was awaiting restoration.
Awaiting Restoration

While a relatively small museum, it was a great overview of Canadian aerospace history, and had several unique pieces.

Posted 2013-07-08 by Mr. Guilt in Aircraft, Summer Vacation 2013

Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum   1 comment

Our first stop on our summer vacation was the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum. It is located in Neil Armstrong’s birthplace, Wapakoneta, Ohio. They have many artifacts from the famous astronaut’s life.

Outside, you’re greeted by the F5D Skylancer. Armstrong flew this prototype aircraft to develop maneuvers for the unfortunately canceled X-20 Dyna-Soar program.
Caitlin, Rebecca, and the Skylancer

Inside, there was the Areonca Champion he got his pilots license in, along with a model of the X-15 he flew as a test pilot.
Armstrong's Aircraft

The Gemini VII was Armstrong’s first mission into space. He saved his crew, quickly thinking to fire the retrorockets to compensate for a faulty thruster that had his ship in a spin. The capsule from that mission is on display.
Gemini VIII

There are a lot of other artifacts, including a moon rock, at this museum honoring one of Ohio’s great astronauts.
Family at the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum

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