Author Archives: fasfric

MAKING OF TIME’S HISTORIC 1000 DRONE COVER PHOTO +

While we’ve all heard of the new DRONE rage, have we ever before seen anything even approaching this sort of orchestration?  Hardly.  This TIME Magazine special cover event seems to be a first for such an extravagant enterprise – – – 1,000 individual Drones flying in perfect synchronization in order to achieve the desired result.  Just imagine creating the software to bring this plan to a successful reality.

Without further ado, here is the short (4:28 long) video of not only the final effect of the project, but of a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes efforts that made it all possible.

Some of our FASF Drone enthusiasts, such as Bob Wright, John Read, and Warren Talbot have already created some footage for our site, so if any of  you out there have some interesting airborne videos from your Drone flights, please let us know and we might be able to share those videos with our viewers right here, too.

Remember, the U.S. Military is already deeply involved in the use and development of their own DRONE technology.  All branches of our Military establishment, however, prefer their own nomenclature for their DRONE ops, preferring to call them UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) rather than Drones.  The Army and Marines are using UAV craft as small as an insect, to as large as the GLOBAL HAWK and even full-sized multi-engined aircraft.

The earliest genuinely successful DRONE or UAV technology was likely first experienced during WWII with the use of DRONES (as they were then called) for target towing missions, but this soon evolved into actual combat applications (see videos below). When one considers that modern computer technology was not available in that era, what was done with simple radio remote controls is impressive.

Interestingly, the small private aircraft called the MOONEY MITE, a single place ship, is and example of what was done after WWII, when wartime Drone work and design helped lead to concepts such as the small primarily wooden constructed MOONEY MITE plane, a small ship designed to fulfill an expected new market made up of returning WWII fighter pilots.  It’s designer, Al Mooney, had worked earlier for the CULVER AIRCRAFT COMPANY just prior to and during WWII, where he was the principle designer of the CULVER CADET an airplane which is discussed in the short (3:45) video immediately below:

Here, again below, are some short videos to show how DRONES were used, long before either computers or even TV were known to the general public.  This first video is 1:24 in length.

As early as WWI, aviation designers and engineers could see the advantages of UAV’s, so had begun work on the concept.  In the post WWI era, and especially in the 1930’s, a great deal of effort, some of it even successful, was undertaken in Great Britain, by the Royal Navy.  In 1933, a modified floatplane called Fairey Queen was tested as the first flightless drone aircraft. It crashed on two out of three trials, but by 1934, Queen Bee, a modified Tiger Moth aircraft, followed with greater success.

Training gunners on these rudimentary models wasn’t a very realistic simulation, but a solution was soon to come from the United States in the form of British-born actor Reginald Denny, and his Radioplane Company. After years of trying desperately to interest the US Navy in the Radioplane-1, Denny finally succeeded in 1939, and over the course of the war some 15,374 models of Radioplane were built.

As an interesting aside, did you know that film star Marilyn Monroe once worked assembling these radio controlled UAV’s?  At that time, her later movie name wasn’t yet part of our culture, so, at Radioplane, she was known as simply Norma Jeane Dougherty, the 18 year old wife of a U.S. Merchant Marine Seaman.

Fast, agile and durable, Radioplanes were fitted with responsive radio controls and were better able to mimic the speed and agility of enemy fighters.  Even during the D-Day summer of 1944, the Allies turned to high-stakes DRONE warfare. Under the code name Operation Aphrodite, radio-controlled bombers were packed with explosives and guided into the air by Allied pilots instructed to eject before their planes reached high-value targets in territory controlled by Nazi Germany. (Killed on one of these treacherous missions was the Navy aviator Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., older brother of U.S. President John F. Kennedy).

Below is a USN video (8:10 long) that depicts the Navy test of a TDR-1 combat Drone in the Pacific:

As for the advent of and actual deployment of the new variety of “insect sized” UAV’s, that will have to wait for a later post, but here is some descriptive material about that avenue of research right here.

1st AF Female Hispanic Ftr. Pilot to Emcee at AirVenture 2018

                                                         Lt. Olga Custodio winning her USAF wings

American Airlines Captain, Olga Custodio

May 31, 2018Hot off the newswire from the EAA:  The EAA Founder’s Innovation Prize has added another highly regarded aviation expert to the lineup for the Tuesday night competition during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018. Retired Lt. Col. Olga Custodio, the first female Hispanic fighter pilot in the United States will be the emcee, presenting the five finalists in the live showdown. The Founder’s Innovation Prize, presented by Airbus, is in its third year and challenges EAA members to share their best solutions for lowering the rate of in-flight loss-of-control accidents, the leading cause of fatal accidents in the general aviation community.

Custodio retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve with 24 years of service. Among her countless achievements, she was the first Hispanic female to graduate from U.S. Air Force undergraduate pilot training, became the first female T-38 UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training) flight instructor at Laughlin Air Force Base, and then became the first female T-38 pilot instructor training flight instructor at Randolph AFB. She was awarded the Air Force Air Education and Training Command’s Aviation Safety Award for superior airmanship during a bird strike and engine failure emergency and for executing a safe heavyweight landing in weather minimums.

After resigning her U.S. Air Force commission, Custodio entered the Reserve as an officer training school instructor and began her 20-year career flying for American Airlines. She has logged more than 11,000 hours of flight time.

See Custodio and the five Founder’s Innovation Prize finalists at An Evening with Innovators on Tuesday night July 24 at Theater in the Woods.

Those who still wish to submit their idea for the competition must do so before 11:59 pm CT on Friday, June 1, for a chance to win one of three cash prizes.  Visit www.EAA.org/prize to learn more.

Below is a 7 minute long video is of an interview by FOX NEWS TV of Retired USAF and American Airlines Pilot, Olga Custodio.

MORE ON AMERICA’S NEW FRONT LINE FIGHTER – THE F-35

Long overdue on its scheduled delivery, and clearly well over its earliest budget estimates, the F-35 has hardly been without its share of public scrutiny and even legitimate criticism.

But here are a few videos to help you understand that this machine’s status – and reputation – are in a constant state of flux, but do appear to be moving in the right direction, in terms of the Stealth Jet’s ability to not only overcome its early deficits, but to actually pleasantly surprise even some of its harshest critics as to its true lethal combat capabilities.

Below, by way of The joint Forces Channel, is this 2:28 long video that poses this post’s basic question re the current combat readiness of the Air Force’s latest 5th Generation fighter, in particular, how it stood up in the skies above Edwards Air Force Base to combat capabilities against the Air Force’s middle aged 4th Generation (now more accurately, 4.5 generation), but thoroughly and actual combat proven, F-16 Viper (or, if you prefer the official General Dynamic’s Name – the Fighting Falcon:

Below, thanks again to The Joint Forces Channel, is a 2:12 long video entitled:

Reaction of a highly experienced combat F-16 Pilot After Flying the new F-35

Below, 7:24 long, courtesy of “New Update Defence” is a video entitled:

Here’s why the F-35 once lost to F-16s, and how it made a stunning comeback.

And here is a short commentary video (1:56 long) by USMC Colonel Steve Gillette, entitled “Why the F-35: It can go where other aircraft can’t.”

Remember: Next Time You Pass or Stop at Chicago’s Airport

Virg Hemphill

Chicago has two memorable stories, stories that seem to be very much unrelated, but . . . once again, Virg Hemphill reminds us on this MEMORIAL DAY, to stop and reflect about our nation’s amazing history.  Here are those two Chicago stories.  Both unique – – – and both the amazing truth.

 

 

STORY NUMBER ONE

Many Years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago.  Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic.  He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.”  He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason.  Eddie was very good!  In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well.. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well.  For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day.  The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however.  He had a son that he loved dearly.  Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education.  Nothing was withheld.  Price was no object.

And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong.  Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision.  Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al”Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity.  To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great.  But he testified, anyway.

Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street.  But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine. The poem read:

“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own.  Live, love, toil with a will.  Place no faith in time.  For the clock may soon be still.”

STORY NUMBER TWO

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare.

He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier
Lexington in the South Pacific.

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission.  After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank.
He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier.  Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American-fleet.

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless.  He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet.  Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger.  There was only one thing to do.  He must somehow divert them from the fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes.  Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another.  Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.

Undaunted, he continued the assault.  He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return.  The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale.  It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet.  He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.  This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.

A Year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29.  His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare airport in
Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor.  It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.

SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?

Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’sson.

Official USN Photo of  young Lieutenant Butch O’Hare in cockpit of his Navy Fighter

Editor’s Note:  I was blessed to have been a guest among the official delegation at the actual Name Commissioning of O’Hare Airport back in 1949.  My father, a Navy vet himself,  had known young Eddie O’Hare during the early war years, and was the Navy official at the event, so he (thankfully) took his son along for the historic occasion. It was then that I first heard this amazing story, although related to me in a less dramatic form.  The official story, as told to the assembled crowd at the occasion, made no mention whatsoever about the hero’s father.  Of course, Chicago O’Hare field went on to become the world’s busiest airport and remains a major hub for much of the continental – and international – air traffic in the nation.

Can You Take a Little Over Five Minutes to Remember Them?

 Virg Hemphill

Once again, Virg Hemphill (at left), an Air Force veteran Pilot himself, suggests we take a few moments this weekend to stop and remember those who helped us enjoy the freedoms we tend to take so much for granted.

While this national holiday weekend we affectionately call, MEMORIAL DAY, often involves wonderful family and friend time outdoors, and also possibly joining other loved ones to watch main street downtown parades, or great sporting events, such as the INDY 500,* Virg thinks – and we at the FASF agree – that we should still find or make just a few minutes (his selected video below is precisely 5:34 minutes) to reflect; to remember those young men and women who gave so much that we might enjoy our unparalleled and so widely envied American liberties.

* Remember:  Eddie Rickenbacher, great American Fighter Pilot and WWI Ace, started his career racing cars, including at Indianapolis (he later became the famous “500” racetrack’s owner).  And who was it that gave him his first airplane ride?  None other than Glenn Curtiss, himself once the holder the world’s speed record on a motorcycle that he himself built.  Here, below, is a short video (3:53) taken at the Curtiss Museum, of their replica of the Curtiss V-8 engined motorcycle that he rode to such world fame. 

Glenn was born in Hammondsport, NY, in 1878.  Curtiss was gifted with insatiable curiosity, mechanical ability and great ambition.  As his remarkable achievements began to accumulate, this soon became evident. By the time he reached his teens, bicycles and speed had become a near-obsession with the young speed demon.

He was a champion bicycle racer for years,  but soon began to progress into designing and building his own motorized machines. By 1902, Curtiss, with three employees, was manufacturing his own motorcycles under the trade name, “Hercules“.

In a measured-mile run at Ormond Beach, Florida, on Jan. 23, 1907, Curtiss’ V8 powered motorcycle was officially clocked at 136.3 mph. On that day, and for years afterward, Glenn Curtiss carried the title, “Fastest Man on Earth“. The engine used in his record-setting motorcycle served as a prototype for what would later be used in the Curtiss Jenny airplanes, the very aircraft that lifted the First Aero Squadron into the skies over Mexico in 1916.

 

Hilarious Talk by AF Maj. Brian Shul (Ret.): “LA Speed Check”

Virg Hemphill

Thanks again to our Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill  (L), for this memorable video. This short 5:07 minute talk from the stage by former First Aero SR-71 Blackbird pilot, Brian Shul, entitled “LA Speed Check” is a real laugh generating piece of jet pilot “hangar talk” – – –  one that brings laughs from pilot audiences each and every time. While the talk is meant for a pilot audience, that fact doesn’t very much diminish the laughs generated each time the Major share’s his short story with non-pilots . . . Without further ado, let’s have his words bring some humorous guffaws back into being.

Maj. Brian Shul stands in front of his SR-71 Blackbird in his regular space suit.  Shul was an  injured  POW in Vietnam.

One of our Advisors was also a famous Blackbird pilot, as well as a Commander of the First Aero Squadron: General Patrick J. Halloran.

Our F-35 Stealth Fighter vs. the Russian S-400 SAM System

This following (top) analytical video (6:32 in length) was produced by “Covert Cabal.” Although your editor has not yet been able to ascertain the actual personal identity of the producer of this military analyst’s documentary, it was decided to feature it, anyway.

Under normal protocols and precautionary procedures this fact would alone prevent us from publishing the video below, but the apparent objectivity and competency of the video itself inclines us to share it with our viewers, regardless of its anonymous nature. Once we are able to identify the owner of “Covert Cabal,” we will of course let you know.

Thanks to the Society of the Daedalians and the Air Force’s 461st  Test Squadron, your Editor just completed a rare “inside” tour of the F-35 Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California this past Wednesday and Thursday, but has, as yet, not received any of the tour video or stills of this newest and highly touted U.S air services multi-role asset.

Your editor was expectedly prohibited from taking any photos or videos of his own, by virtue of the extreme secrecy surrounding this versatile F-35 military weapon system and platform. Any pertinent graphics of the visit we are able to share here must first be cleared by the Edwards’ and/or the Pentagon’s security offices. New F-35 Test Operation images and videos from this recent visit should be posted at some time in the near future – – – so please stay tuned.

Regardless, we’d like to take this opportunity to laud the high caliber of all the personnel encountered on this visit to Edwards; all of whom, from the security guard airmen at the Base’s entry gates to the leaders and Airmen of the Test Squadron, who hosted the visit.  These Air Force and Civilian contractors proved beyond hospitable, gracious and informative to the extent permissible, considering the highly classified nature of their Flight Test Operation.

In particular, we’d like to complement the following individuals who did so much to make the visit meaningful: Steven Zapka, Public Affairs, who personally guided the visit; Stephen K. Robinson and Tony Moore of the AIR FORCE FLIGHT TEST MUSEUM at Edwards; and Lt. Colonel Tucker “Cinco” Hamilton, highly experienced Test Pilot, and Commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron. The up front coordinator of the event was Lockheed-Martin F-35 Test Pilot, Scott “Shark” McLaren.

This newest Lockheed Martin multi-role 5th generation fighter, the “Lightning II,” is named after the company’s legendary twin-engine Lockheed “Lightning” fighter of WWII fame.

Below is a short (3:20) video of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter showing off its unique capabilities.

Another comprehensively explanatory clip of this newest Joint Task Fighter in action (7:28 long), courtesy of Military.Com and DISCOVERY HD, follows below: