Author Archives: fasfric

The Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner & 737 MAX 9 Fly Together

This beautiful short (2 minute) video reminds those of us who carry the spirit of those early First Aero aviators in our own love of flight, was provided by our Aviation News Scout Virg Hemphill, himself a former USAF and Airline Pilot.  The video shows these two modern airliners flying out of this year’s Paris Air Show. Virg reflected . . . “I can imagine how nice it would be to fly these liners.”  Just notice their amazing climb performance, alone, as they lift off from the runway.

Click on the above Cover Photo to see these two new Boeing Creations in Flight – together.

 

U-2 “DRAGON LADY” SPY PILOT RECALLS HIS CLOSE CALLS

From Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill and originally printed in the Riverside CA Press-Enterprise Newspaper.

CAVEAT!

Please make sure to read the remarks and correction just posted below this story by FASF Advisor and former First Aero Commander, U-2 and SR-71 pilot, Major General Pat Halloran, USAF Retired

Your Webmaster’s own cross-checking on the Internet unfortunately was not sufficient to reveal this story’s bogus nature.  Any other knowledgeable readers are invited to add their comments, too.  We always invite critical remarks on our stories simply because our single intent is to print only accurate and truthful posts.

Men like this retired U-2 Dragon Lady pilot rarely get attention from the media, and that’s how they often prefer it.  Either way, unfortunately and understandably, not all U-2 pilots survived their dangerous high altitude careers to tell their stories in their old age, but this high flying pilot’s recollections may be one of those more fortunate exceptions.

U-2S Latest Model Dragon Lady Spy Plane with special mission Electronic Intelligence Equipment in above-fuselage Pod

Cliff Beeler was a spy.

Cliff Beeler at 88 – –  he is now 92 years old

He didn’t hang out on shadowy street corners with his trench coat collar obscuring his face. The Air Force major, now retired, spent his snooping time in a plane.

Beeler, 92, of Riverside, was a U-2 pilot at the height of the Cold War.

His missions took him over Russia, Cuba and China, photographing targets from nearly 80,000 feet in the sky.

His planes crashed more than once. He was occasionally targeted by MIG fighters, and he once landed on and took off from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific using only a few feet of the deck.

Beeler, who grew up in Santa Ana, CA and spent most of his retirement in Santa Barbara, is a resident of Air Force Village West, near March Air Reserve Base. Back surgery in 2012 has left him reliant on a walker (photo below), but his memories are as vibrant as ever.

                       Cliff Beeler picture in his home among his numerous mementos of his unusual USAF career.

He remembers enlisting at 19, during WWII, learning to fly a P-51 fighter, and being on his way to Saipan to get ready for the invasion of Japan. Then the United States dropped its atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki . . .

The war was over, and Beeler was sent home. Unlike many of his fellow pilots who left the service, Beeler stayed in. He learned to fly the Air Force’s first jets and then trained others to fly them.

Then the U-2 program caught his eye. “I wanted to fly the latest,” he said.

“There were never more than 24 pilots in the program,” he said. In 1958, he entered that highly specialized program. He spent seven years flying missions high above the Earth — out of the range of other planes – and most other defenses – in his long-winged and comparatively lightweight aircraft.                              

It was not an easy task, he said.

 Beeler at home near March Air Force Reserve Base, CA

As a plane climbs in altitude and the air thins, it must go faster to avoid a stall. The higher it climbs, the faster it needs to fly. Above 70,000 feet, the critical stall speed approaches the plane’s Mach speed, or the speed of sound — somewhere above 650 mph at that altitude. If that barrier is crossed, the shock waves can break the plane apart. U-2 pilots usually had a window of less than 12 mph between the two speeds! They had to meticulously keep the plane within that narrow speed window for hours at a time.

CLOSE CALLS

Beeler learned the hard way what it meant to violate that window. He was above Louisiana on a night flight when he reached Mach speed.

“It tore the tail off,” he said. “The plane flipped over, and that tore the wing off.”

The plane fell apart, he said, and at 78,000 feet, “I’m out in space. That’s a long way down.”

Fortunately, he was in the always used U-2 space (pressurized) suit with oxygen and had a parachute. After a long free fall, he opened his chute and found himself floating toward the ground. To his right, he could see lights on the ground. To his left, the same. But beneath him, all was black.

He remembered he was over Louisiana

“I thought, ‘That looks like a swamp.’ ”

It was.

“I landed in a big cypress tree,” he said. “My chute got caught and swung me into the trunk.”

Telling the story, Beeler reached down toward his calf, “I always kept a double-bladed knife in my suit leg pocket,” he said. He was able to cut himself free of the parachute and use the ties to temporarily lash himself to the tree.

He took off his helmet and dropped it into the darkness below. There was a distant splash.

“All I could think about was alligators and cottonmouths in the swamp,” he said.

Lucky for Beeler, the breakup of his plane had been spotted on radar. Within an hour and a half a rescue helicopter was overhead.

Another close call came over Cuba . . .

Beeler said MIG jets would fly beneath the U-2 planes, at about 50,000 feet. The fighter pilots would sometimes attempt to reach the spy planes by turning on their afterburners and flying straight up, higher than the Mugs were capable of operating effectively.

A Cuban pilot’s effort was particularly memorable, Beeler said.

“I look back and there’s this MIG tumbling about 50 feet off my wing,” he said. The plane was so close that he could see the pilot’s face.

Remembering, Beeler turned his hand cockeyed in front of his face. “His goggles were like this and his face was . . . ” The sentence ends in a grimace, Beeler’s eyes and mouth wide. “He was sure scared up there.”

Beeler took the U-2 on numerous missions over Cuba, providing information on the country’s armaments and the strength of its air force. Images from U-2 flights, he said, showed that Castro had only a few dozen bombers instead of the more than 400 he had claimed.

At one point, Beeler said, President John F. Kennedy stopped by the then U-2 headquarters in Del Rio, Texas, to talk to the pilots.

“He said, ‘You guys gave me information that prevented World War III at least twice,’ ” Beeler said.

AMAZING IMAGES

Sometimes the U-2’s high resolution, long-range camera captured images that had nothing to do with national security.

During one Cuban mission, Beeler spent some time following the coastline. Afterward, he was called into the lab by the man in charge of analyzing the film.

“He showed me a picture of this Cuban gal sunbathing nude on the beach,” Beeler said. “It was so clear I could see she had blue eyes. (The analyst) said, ‘The only film these guys want to work with is your film.’ ”

Returning from another mission, he took some images over San Diego. Later, he was shown a photo of a man sitting in his backyard reading the paper.

“I could read the headline on the newspaper,” he said.

Beeler is somewhat famous among USAF U-2 pilots for his landings of his Dragon Lady on an aircraft carrier (below left). The landing followed a mission over northeast Russia . The U-2’s 80-foot wingspan meant it could only go a short distance before it collided with the superstructure of the ship. Because of the ship’s speed and a headwind, Beeler said he was able to touch down and come to a stop in only about five feet!

U-2 Landing on USN Carrier CV-66, the USS America

“When I came aboard they had a ceremony welcoming the Air Force into the Navy. I said, ‘I don’t have much I like about the Navy except one thing,’ ” he said. That one thing was the Navy pilots’ leather jackets. Before he left the ship the following day, the Captain had given him one.

Above is a view of a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft parked on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS AMERICA (CV 66).

It lasted.

“I gave it to my son last week,” he said.

 

AFTER THE U-2

Among the military photos and plaques on the wall of Beeler’s room is a framed row of medals from his service, including the Distinguished Service Cross.

He points to the photo of one plane, an experimental B-46 medium bomber.

“It was a God-almighty bomber,” he said. But he declined a chance to fly it and similar bombers.

“I didn’t like the mission,” he said. “Go out and drop bombs. I wanted to shoot things up.”

After he left the service, in 1965, Beeler said he worked on the Apollo 5 program for three years. He was in charge of purchasing the equipment for the swing arm on the launch tower, he said.

He spent the next 25 years selling airplanes. He had his own dealership in the Santa Barbara area.

When his wife, Mary, developed Alzheimer’s disease, he retired to take care of her. After five years, he felt he needed help, so he moved with her to Air Force Village West, which has a nursing home on its campus.

“She lasted 11 days after I brought her here,” Beeler said. “I guess I kept her about as long as I could.”

The couple, who were married for 65 years, had two sons. The elder son lives in nearby Corona, CA, and comes to see him most days, Beeler said.

For Veterans Day, he said, he doesn’t have any big plans.

“I’ll probably sleep late,” he ventured.

Above is a short (2:37) SILENT (NO SOUND) video showing the 1964 CIA conducted aircraft carrier test operations with the U-2 being conducted aboard the USS CV-61, the Ranger, a Forestall Supercarrier, the first to be built with a slant deck, enabling successful Dragon Lady operations.

Latest (U-2S) Dragon Lady Specifications

Lockheed U-2S General Specifications

  • Length: 63 ft.
  • Wingspan: 103 ft.
  • Height: 16 ft.
  • Wing Area: 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Empty Weight: 14,300 lbs.
  • Loaded Weight: 40,000 lbs.
  • Crew: 1

Lockheed U-2S Performance Specifications

  • Power Plant: 1 × General Electric F118-101 turbofan
  • Range: 6,405 miles
  • Max Speed: 500 mph
  • Ceiling: 70,000+ ft.

FIRST AERO’S “DRAGON LADY” RETIREMENT IS CANCELLED!

An Air Force U-2 flies a training mission. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds)

No spring chicken, the Lockheed U-2 spy plane, affectionately known to those who manage her deployments, as the “DRAGON LADY,” is already a genuine senior citizen, having been in continuous operation since the mid 1950’s, making her now over 62 years old.

Operated by our own fabled 1st Aero Squadron in the conduct of the identical Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission in which the 1st Aero was first engaged out of Columbus, NM during the Punitive Expedition 101 years ago, this impressive aircraft has a long history helping maintain the defenses of the United States.

The famous lady is a single-jet engine, ultra-high altitude aircraft operated by the USAF, but first flown regularly by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It provides day and night, high-altitude 70,000 + feet (21,336 m), all-weather intelligence gathering. The U-2 has also been used for electronic sensor research, satellite calibration, and communications purposes.  At such altitudes, its pilots must wear regular space suits, in case of an emergency loss of cabin pressure

Early versions of the U-2 were involved in several events through the Cold War, being flown over the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, and Cuba. In 1960, Gary Powers was shot down in a CIA U-2A over the Soviet Union by a surface-to-air missile. Another U-2, piloted by Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr., was lost in a similar fashion during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

The U-2 is one of a handful of aircraft types to have served the USAF for over 50 years. The newest models (TR-1, U-2R, U-2S) entered service in the 1980s. The current model, the U-2S, received its most recent technical upgrade in 2012. The entire craft retains its distinctive early model appearance, but the newest versions are much larger, and also contain a much larger and more powerful jet engine.  Their old cockpits, which had the traditional round analog instrument gauges, now boast the latest hi-tech rectangular “glass” instrument displays.

These famous ships have taken part in post–Cold War conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have also supported several multinational NATO operations.  Their home base, where new pilots are trained to fly them, is Beale Air Force Base (BAFB), about an hour’s drive north of Sacramento, California.

Two of our FASF Advisory Board members, General Patrick J. Halloran and Col. Stephen “Chi Chi” Rodriguez, once flew the Dragon Lady and also commanded the First Aero Squadron at BAFB.

As you can see, in the above short (3:50) video on a U-2 shooting “touch and go” practice landings at BAFB, it lands with the vital help of another U-2 pilot driving a muscle car down the runway.  The earth-bound pilot talks the U-2’s pilot safely down onto the runway, because the plane’s pilot cannot see the runway clearly enough to land unaided.

This reporter has watched the U-2’s performing their touch and go routines at BAFB and will attest to their almost unique airport operation.  In addition to their need of another ground-based guide pilot driving the speeding chase car down the runway, when they slow down and lose their wing’s lift, one of the wings will drop down onto the runways surface, requiring ground crew members riding in the “guide” car to jump out to place wing-leveling “Pogo Sticks” under each wing tip. The spindly “Pogos” have small wheels where they touch the ground, enabling the U-2 to again begin taxiing to its hangar with the wings more level.

Notwithstanding its old age, the Dragon Lady will apparently be with us for some time to come.

The USAF has just announced that it has dropped its plans to begin retiring the U-2 Dragon Lady around 2019.

That was the date listed in previous spending plans drafted by the Air Force. But the Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal 2018, beginning Oct. 1, doesn’t include any retirement date for the Cold War-era workhorse.

“There is not a retirement date for the U-2 in this budget,” Maj. Gen. James Martin, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for budget, said during a budget briefing at the Pentagon. “We plan to keep that platform well into the future.”

It’s a capability that we need and we also need the capacity as well,” Martin said.

Budget uncertainty in previous years played a role in recent recommendations to retire the U-2, the general said. But “the world changed in August 2014,” he said, in an apparent reference to the start of the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

The spending plan must balance the keeping demands to deal with today’s threats while preparing for future missions, the Air Force General said.

As a result of additional spending in the recently enacted 2017 budget and the proposed 2018 plan, “We have more resources [where] we can keep both around,” he said of the U-2 and the RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude drone intended to replace the Dragon Lady.  The Global Hawk drone is also flown by the First Aero Squadron at Beale.

The Air Force in 2016 estimated it could save $2.2 billion by retiring the U-2, Defense News reported.

Northrop Grumman Corp., the Falls Church, Virginia-based manufacturer of the Global Hawk, is retrofitting that large drone with sensor systems similar to the U-2’s. For example, the company in February successfully tested an MS-177 multi-spectral sensor made by UTC Aerospace Systems and designed to surpass the Dragon Lady’s Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System, or SYERS-2.

Nevertheless, the Air Force so far is adamant in keeping both platforms.

“We need both to meet the demand of ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance),” General Martin said.

DOOLITTLE LONE SURVIVOR TO BE GUEST AT AIRSHOW

Story thanks to Aerodrome Aviation Scout, Virg Hemphill.

DOOLITTLE RAID’S LONE SURVIVOR

Commemoration of Doolittle Raid’s 75th Anniversary will be held at this year’s AirVenture 2017 Aviation Extravaganza

June 7, 2017

 

Dick Cole by Mitchell Bomber at AirVenture 2012 – Lone surviving Raider at 100 years old.

The lone remaining veteran of the famed Doolittle Raiders mission of April 1942 and at least 16 B-25 bombers will be part of the raid’s 75th anniversary commemoration and air show activities at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017.

The activities will honor those involved in the daring mission that included 16 B-25 bombers that departed from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, and bombed military sites in Japan. The Doolittle Raiders, led by legendary pilot Jimmy Doolittle, then faced hardships after their airplanes made forced landings in China and other areas.

“The Doolittle Raid 75 years ago was important not as much for its military gains as it was a morale lift to an American military and public that had been buffeted by bad news in the months immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member benefits who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions. “Our activities at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this year will connect our attendees with the importance of this mission, as well as the people and aircraft involved.”

Among the highlights of the 75th anniversary commemoration will be an evening program on July 26 with 101-year-old Dick Cole, the only remaining member of the 80 original Doolittle Raiders, as well as Jimmy Doolittle’s grandchildren, Jimmy Doolittle III and Jonna Doolittle Hoppes.

“I want to thank EAA for honoring the Raiders at their 75th anniversary,” said Cole, who was copilot for Doolittle in the lead aircraft. “Thank you for paying tribute to us even though we never felt like heroes. We were just doing our job. We can also never forget the men who fought at Wake, Midway, and all across the Pacific. See you at Oshkosh.”

Other highlights include:

  • Arrival of at least 16 B-25 bombers at AirVenture by Tuesday, July 25, with the aircraft parked in AirVenture’s Warbirds area. Notable aircraft already confirmed include Panchito (Delaware Aviation Museum); Briefing Time (Mid-Atlantic Air Museum); Yankee Warrior (Yankee Air Museum); Miss Hap (American Airpower Museum); Barbie III (Cavanaugh Flight Museum); Devil Dog (Commemorative Air Force); and Miss Mitchell (Commemorative Air Force – Minnesota Wing).
  • Several programs at the popular Warbirds of America Warbirds in Review speaker series.
  • Sixteen B-25s flying in the warbirds air show on Tuesday, July 25, and re-enacting the 1942 Doolittle Raid to start the night air show on Wednesday, July 26.

Other highlights will be announced as they are finalized.

VIDEO below depicts the famous Raid’s evolution.  It is  2:43 Long

EAA’s Annual AirVenture 2017 Promotional Video is below.  It i 2:27 long

Dick Cole in 2017

 At the left, is another photo of General Mitchell’s co-pilot.  Dick was in the right seat during that historic B-25 raid that took off from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to bomb Tokyo soon after Pearl Harbor.  This picture was taken in Atlanta, GA, during the 75th Reunion of the Flying Tiger OrganizationDick is the last survivor of the Doolittle Raiders, he is now over 100 but he will once again return to Oshkosh this month – – – along with 16 flying B-25s.

One of Raiders takes off toward Tokyo in 1942

Lt. Col. Doolittle, pilot; Lt. Richard E. Cole, copilot; (back row) Lt. Henry A. Potter, navigator; SSgt. Fred A. Braemer, bombardier; SSgt. Paul J. Leonard, flight engineer/gunner. (U.S. Air Force photo) (We originally erred in names on this photo, but the sharp eye of Bill Madden, FASF Airfield Site Director, caught the goof! Now the names are all correct – Thanks, Bill.)

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO FLY FOR THE U.S. AIR FORCE?

A fighter pilot conducts pre-flight checks inside an F-35A Lightning II before a training mission April 4, 2013, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Brett Clashman. 

USAF Announces New Pilot Incentive Pay Bonuses

Story and photo courtesy of Aerodrome Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill.

The Air Force on Monday unveiled a tiered bonus system to combat a chronic pilot shortage, with bonuses of up to $455,000 over 13 years for fighter pilots.

And while the benefit clearly takes aim at fighter pilots, it’s also designed to target aviators across a number of platforms, including drones, and for periods of as short as one year.

“Pilot retention right now is in a crisis when it comes to fighters, and we’re changing around the way we do incentive pay,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in announcing the initiative during a breakfast in Washington, D.C. The bonus “will encourage pilots to stay where they are needed most,” she said.

The new Aviation Bonus Program is an expansion of Aviator Retention Pay and puts into place the cap authorized for the incentive under the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. It also details for the first time the “tiered” benefit, with specific amounts based on specialty area.

$35K a Year for Fighter, Drone Pilots. Fighter and drone pilots are slated to receive the highest maximum bonus of $35,000 a year, while special operations combat systems officers the least at $10,000.

Here’s a look at the different tiers for the bonus, according to figures released by the Air Force:

Tier 1 — Fighter Pilot (Air Force Specialty Code: 11F)

Bonus eligibility based on one-year, two-year, five-year, nine-year, or up to 24 years of aviation service (13-year maximum) commitments.
Maximum annual bonus: $35,000.

Tier 2 — Bomber Pilot (11B)/Special Operations Pilot (11S)/Mobility Pilot (11M)

Bonus eligibility based on one-year, two-year, five-year, or nine-year commitments.
Maximum annual bonus: $30,000.

Tier 3 — C2ISR Surveillance Pilot (11R)/Combat Search and Rescue Pilot (11H)

Bonus eligibility based on one-year, two-year, or five-year commitments.
Maximum annual bonus: $28,000.

Tier 4 — RPA Pilot (18X/11U/12U/13U)

Bonus eligibility based on a five-year commitment.
Maximum annual bonus: $35,000.

Tier 5 — Combat Search and Rescue Combat System Officer (12H)

Bonus eligibility based on a five-year commitment.
Maximum annual bonus: $20,000.

Tier 6 — Fighter Combat Systems Officer (12F)/Bomber CSO (12B)

Bonus eligibility based on a five-year commitment.
Maximum annual bonus: $15,000.

Tier 7 — Special Operations Combat Systems Officer (12S)/C2ISR Surveillance CSO (12R)

Bonus eligibility based on a five-year commitment.
Maximum annual bonus: $10,000.

 

Jenny and Scott AFB Celebrate Joint Centennial Together

Thanks to FASF Member Virg Hemphill, Aerodrome Aviation Scout, for this story from SAFB.

Dorian Walker, Chairman of Friends of Jenny, flies the JN-4 Jenny, at Bowling Green, Ky. The Curtiss JN-4 along with Scott Air Force Base are celebrating a century of service. The Jenny is scheduled to perform at the Scott AFB Centennial Air Show and will also be on display for spectators to view the aircraft. Photo by Senior Airman Tristin English

Scott Air Force Base News

June 1, 2017 1:52 PM

Curtiss JN-4D Jenny, Scott celebrate 100 years of service
By Senior Airman Tristin English

375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

One of the highlights for Scott’s Centennial Airshow and Open House on June 10 and 11 will be a flyby and display of an historical aircraft that has rich ties this region as well as the beginnings of flight.

The Curtiss JN-4D Jenny is possibly North America’s most famous World War I aircraft. It was a twin-seat, “student-in-front-of-instructor,” dual-control biplane. Its tractor propeller and maneuverability made it ideal for initial pilot training, and was widely used during World War I to train beginning pilots, with an estimated 95 percent of all trainees having flown a JN-4.

In 1917, Congress allocated $640 million to build more of these trainers because at that point there were only 32 airplanes in the Army in which only 10 or 12 were serviceable.

“Flying a 100-year-old aircraft is not like flying anything that’s in the air today; there’s no dynamic stability,” said Dorian Walker, Chairman of Friends of Jenny, a group that is dedicated to building and flying these aircraft. “It has big wings, which is good if you lift, but it’s got a lot of drag. So you’ve got two things that are normally associated with flying that are working against each other. Drag and lift. So you’re kind of battling those elements.”

Three members of the Friends of Jenny group built the aircraft that will fly at the airshow—a remarkable task since it had to be built from scratch and by matching up designs that would work safely for today’s aviation environment.

“To build one of these airplanes is amazing on so many levels,” said Dorian. “It’s amazingly frustrating because there’s no list of, ‘well this is what you do next.’ It starts with a process. The process is research … and trying to understand what went into making it—and then once you’ve done that you say, well, what about plans? Are there any plans?”

Retired Lt. Col. Gary Wickliff, Treasurer & Board of Directors for Friends of Jenny explained how they acquired the plans from the Smithsonian, but even that was tricky.

“Like with any plans, they’ll change a number somewhere so if you don’t catch it you’ll be trying to find a number that doesn’t exist anymore. You may have the new number or the old number and you just have to know where to supersede it,” he said.

Ultimately, the Jenny was built in three different phases. The main project was started in Kentucky, the wings were built in Lebanon, Tenn., and the plane was put together and painted in Tompkinsville, Ky., and flown there for its initial flight.

They kept the original wood air frame, but built a contemporary engine to the original specs and acquired some updated aviation technology. However, like the original, there are no brakes and no tail wheel—just the tail skid which was used as a brake. The air frame is exactly what people would’ve seen 100 years ago.

For the test flight, the Jenny was brought into a 1,200 foot grass median between a runway and a taxiway. At the end of the median, on the other side of the runway, was a pond of water and on the reverse side was a wooded hill.

“You think about flying this for the first time, and the courage it takes. You can’t go out and get lessons on how to fly this, so when you strap yourself in the first time you don’t know exactly what to expect. It takes a lot of courage and good aviation skills that have to be brought to bear,” said Wickliff.

Myron Callaham, Board of Directors with Friends of Jenny, said “It gives you a great respect for the early aviators because everything they did was for the first time, and many times didn’t know what to expect, so it took a lot of courage to push the envelope.”

Dorian added, “This is the 21st Century, so you don’t fly planes without brakes and you certainly don’t take off on that short of a field with a conventional type airplane. I sat in there and got the crank up and listened to the engine. I had a lot of questions about what was about to happen, but the one thing that calmed my nerves and boosted my courage was the relentless number of hours, time and commitment of all those who had come to bring this icon of aviation to this particular moment. And, guess what? It flew!”

A lot goes into planning a trip in the Jenny. They choose a route that has runways that are close to the prevailing wind at the time that they’re flying. The wind and the weather can change in any moment and they have to be ready to adjust their travel plans.

And, since the Jenny was built as a trainer, it only has a 24 gallon fuel tank and it burns about 11 gallons an hour, maybe more depending on the wind, so it will take about half a day with two refuel stops before arriving at Scott Air Force Base.

Dorian said, “I really believe in the notion that you need to understand your past, look at what worked and what didn’t work as a foundation for building a better future. The more we know about the past, maybe the better we can build that future. We’re delighted to be coming to the airshow and open house. We’re praying for good weather and delighted to be a part of the 100th Anniversary of Scott Air Force Base!”

Dorian Walker, Chairman of Friends of Jenny, flies the JN-4 Jenny, at Bowling Green, Ky. The Curtiss JN-4 is possibly North America’s most famous World War I aircraft. It was a twin-seat, student in front of instructor, dual-control biplane. Photo by Senior Airman Tristin English

Read more here:


2 Minute Video of Restored Jenny Flight!

Watch this restored 1917 Jenny as it is hand-cranked and takes to the air at the Owls Head Transportation Museum, in Owls Head, Maine. This original Jenny is part of the outstanding collection of pioneer era air and ground vehicles in the collection of the Owls Head Transportation Museum. As with most of this collection, the Jenny can be seen flying on this video, or in person at one of the ten special events that take place each year at the museum, in Owls Head Maine.

WORLD’S WIDEST NEW AIRPLANE EXHIBITED IN CALIFORNIA

New Stratolaunch Space Booster Craft of Paul Allen’s displayed for public for the first time

Built under the guidance of Paul Allen, former co-founder of Microsoft, this large airplane was rolled out of its hangar and exhibited to the public today.  The craft has two fuselages, six wing mounted engines, 28 wheels with an astounding wingspan of 385 feet.

Video of the World’s Widest new airplane is rolled out for its first public showing today. (3:50) above.

The twin-fuselage aircraft, the idea of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, was pulled out of its Mojave Air and Space Port hangar in California to begin fueling tests — the first of many ground tests.

Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch’s chief executive officer, said the goal is to have a launch demonstration by 2019.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be actively conducting ground and flight line testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port,” Floyd said in a statement. “This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft, so we’re going to be diligent throughout testing and continue to prioritize the safety of our pilots, crew and staff.”

While the Stratolaunch has the biggest wingspan, but the Russian Antonov An-225 is longer. When business mogul Howard Hughes‘ “Spruce Goose” lumbered into the air in 1947, the H-4 had a then enormous wingspan of 320 feet, 65 feet shorter than the new Stratolaunch.

Allen, owner of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, has written about his desire to see more use of low Earth orbit launches into space, a technique he asserts is less inclined to break the bank.