Category Archives: AVIATION NEWS

Aviation News of Interest

The Story of World’s Largest Aircraft Comes to a Violent End

As terror strikes Ukraine and its very survival as an independent nation rests in the balance, a steady flow of tragic news and suffering comes from this nation. The immense human suffering is certainly the worst news, but to those of us who love aviation and its history, the recent demise of the world’s largest airplane, the Ukrainian-built Antonov 225 is surely one of those pieces of tragic news, too.   The AN-225 was most affectionately known as Mriya, which in Ukrainian means “dream.”

Thanks to Henry Tenby of JetFlix TV, who made the following video of Mriya several years ago at an airshow, we can appreciate just how huge this behemoth truly was.  The ship, unfortunately, could not be quickly enough flown to safety because its engines had been removed for routine maintenance.  We have included several other good videos of this giant transport jet, an aircraft that had been designed to carry the USSR’s large booster rockets.

Another excellent and comprehensive history of this giant of the skies is found at AeroTimeHub.  The actual destruction of Mriya took place at the Hostomel Airport on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Loree Draude, Ex Navy Fighter Pilot, Talks With Ward Caroll

Lt. Commander Loree Draude

Loree Draude talks about her experiences as one of the first female pilots to be integrated into a carrier air wing.   She served in the US Navy for 10 years, from 1989 to 1999 and left active duty as a Lt. Commander. Loree was one of the first female aviators to make the West Coast deployment of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln.

On Oct. 25, 1994, the then Lt. Draude flew her S-3B Viking (see below) aboard the Lincoln to begin her first six-month deployment as a Navy pilot. It was an important day for another reason, too.

                                   USN Lockheed S-3B Viking Jet Fighter

That same day Lt. Kara Hultgreen, a female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot, was killed trying to land on the Lincoln.

Hultgreen’s death reignited a firestorm of controversy over whether women should be allowed to fly high-performance combat aircraft so Draude inherited both the underlying resentment high performance Naval jet fighters.

From her early days in flight training however, through to her assignment aboard the Lincoln, Draude experienced some institutional resistance to female pilots and some of the hostile atmosphere that obstructed the training and assignment of women to this highly specialized military combat role.

 Commander Ward Caroll

The following YouTube video is of former USN Tomcat RIO and Naval Academy graduate, Novelist, Military.com Editor, Commander Ward Caroll, interviewing at length (43:12 long video), Loree Draude.  We think you will find this interview by a fellow Naval retiree, an inciteful and highly fascinating experience.  You will come away with a better understanding of what our earliest female combat pilots had to endure in order to succeed.  Suggestion:  View this video FULL SCREEN.

 

Early Member of FASF Flies Into the Sunset February 3, 2022

Young USAF Jet Pilot Charlie Overstreet

An early member of the FASF, Charlie Overstreet, took his final flight two weeks ago from his home in El Paso, Texas.  He was also an active member of the El Paso Daedalian Flight 24 and one of its former Captains.  Charlie, over the past ten years, has also been one of our FASF Aviation News Reporters.  He was a long-time docent at Santa Teresa’s, New Mexico’s War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM), and was an active member of its Board of Directors.  Both the Daedalians, the WEAM, and the FASF will sorely miss Charlie’s positive personality and his incessant “can do” spirit.  Here, below, is his Daedalian Flight’s Memorial headline honoring his long service (his wife of 61 years, Mayre Sue, is at the far right with Charlie at a Daedalian gathering):

 

Charles “Charlie” Overstreet passed away on February 3, 2022. He was born in 1937 to Charles and Zelma Overstreet. Charlie’s dad was a Coast Guard officer and his earliest memories were of being at Coast Guard Air Stations all around the country, watching airplanes with his dad and younger brother Lane Overstreet. This inspired a lifelong passion for aviation and patriotism.

Upon graduation from the University of Miami, Where he was a member of the AFROTC unit, Charlie was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF.

He entered pilot training at Big Spring, Texas where he met his future wife Mayre Sue. They married in the summer of 1961 when he finished B-47 Stratojet bomber training and was assigned to Forbes AFB, Kansas. While in Kansas, Charlie and Mayre Sue had two sons.  The oldest Charles Overstreet was born in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crises, Charlie had to take a couple of hours off a nuclear alert to be at the hospital. James Overstreet was born just before his dad left for B-52 Stratofortess bomber combat crew transition training at Castle AFB, California. In 1969 Charlie and his B-52 combat crew joined the conflict in Vietnam, where he flew 55 combat missions during Operation ArcLight. Upon returning from South East Asia, Charlie left active duty with the USAF.

In 1971 the US Customs Service Sky Marshal program hired Charlie and in 1972 he was promoted to a Special Agent/Pilot position in San Antonio, TX.  He transferred to DEA in 1973 as one of the initial stand-up cadre. Within a couple of years, he helped stand up the air branch supporting sensitive counter narcotics’ operation, sometimes doing things with airplanes that are generally frowned upon today.

In 1985 he transferred to El Paso, retiring from DEA in 1994. Refusing to slow down, for 17 years Charlie taught as a substitute teacher at Coronado High School. After retiring from teaching Charlie became a volunteer at the War Eagles Air Museum, he just loved being around airplanes. Charlie enjoyed working with his colleagues on the War Eagle museum staff and as a docent for visiting students.

One of his most recent and passionate endeavors was honoring our Texas and New Mexico veterans through the organization and development of the Santa Teresa Veterans Memorial Park in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. He enjoyed hunting, skeet/trap shooting, cigars, and traveling around the world with his family and friends. Charlie was a member of Safari Club International, The Order of the Daedalians, and the FASF.

Charlie 2nd from Right with his fellow Daedalians (L to R) Roger Nichols, Bob Pitt, Ric Lambart, and at far right, Mario Campos, all at Holloman AFB (HAFB), NM.

              Charlie introduces WEAM CEO, Mike Epp at Daedalian Meeting just  this past November 3, 2021

                                     Charlie at Daedalian Meeting Podium this past November 2021

              Charlie at Daedalian luncheon table with his wife, Marye Sue, and Colonel Alan Fisher at left.

Services were held at Martin Funeral Home, in  El Paso, yesterday (Monday), February 14, 2022.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations for Charlie may be made to the Veterans Project-Santa Teresa Charitable Foundation, 2660 Airport Road #780, Santa Teresa NM 88008.  We already miss you, Charlie.

 

Importance of Philosophy & Logic in WWII Warplane Design

Doc Edwards Deming NM

The idea for this unique WWII story came from FASF Aviation News Scout, Doc Edwards, at left.

This story is about how a brilliant statistician and mathematician from Hungary, helped save countless American Fight Crews during WWII – all done from the comfort of his offices at Columbia University in Manhattan.

Abraham Wald (; Hungarian: Wald Ábrahám, Yiddish: אברהם וואַלד; (1902-10-31)31 October 1902 – (1950-12-13)13 December 1950) was a Hungarian/Hungarian Jewish mathematician who contributed to decision theory, geometry, and econometrics and founded the field of statistical sequential analysis. One of the more well-known statistical works of his during World War II was how to minimize the damage to bomber aircraft taking into account the military’s survivorship bias in his calculations.  That subjective bias was what was leading the military brass to the wrong conclusions about where to add armor to their warplanes, particularly to bombers.

Professor Abraham Wald, Ph.D. lecturing at Columbia University in New York City

Wald’s family home-schooled him until college. He graduated in mathematics from King Ferdinand I University in 1928 and next graduated from the University of Vienna with a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1931.

Wald’s mathematical capabilities were world-class, and he particularly excelled at turning abstract ideas into solid statistics.

Austria was not a good place to be for a foreigner in the 1930s, as the country was in economic and political turmoil. Despite his credentials, Wald struggled to find work in this environment, partly because he was foreign, and partly because he was Jewish.

Luckily for Wald, he was given a job by economist Oskar Morgenstern at the Austrian Institute for Economic Research. While he was here, he was invited to work at the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics in Colorado in the United States. At first, he wasn’t sure whether he should accept the invitation, but with the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938, Wald quickly made up his mind to head for the U.S.

He had only been in Colorado for a few months when he received yet another offer, this time for a professorship of statistics at Columbia University in New York. He accepted the offer, moved to New York City, and became part of the Statistical Research Group (SRG) at the university.

The SRG was a group of incredibly intelligent experts in statistics that was assembled to solve military-related problems during WWII. W. Allen Wallis, the SRG’s director, said the group was “the most extraordinary group of statisticians ever organized, taking into account both number and quality.”

The group was hugely respected, and the results of its work were taken seriously by the military, who loaded aircraft’s ammunition in an order recommended by the SRG, for example. Naturally, all of the group were exceptionally bright, but none more so than Wald, with his brain fine-tuned for the abstract.

Wald’s particular abilities would soon come in handy.

Survivorship bias

With the war claiming many U.S. aircraft, the military wanted to increase the armor protection of their bombers to increase their survivability, but they were unsure of the best places to put this armor and were frankly unqualified to find out themselves.

Illustration of hypothetical damage pattern on a WW2 bomber. (Photo Credit: Martin Grandjean [vector], McGeddon [picture], Cameron Moll [concept] CC BY-SA 4.0)

Where do you go with such a specific issue? The Statistical Research Group, of course!

The group was given the task of analyzing the damage received by Allied aircraft from enemy fire, and recommending the best way to increase their chances of survival. It was here that Wald made massive bounds in “survivorship bias.”

When bombers returned from missions, they’d often come home covered with bullet holes. However, these bullet holes were not evenly distributed around the aircraft but were actually concentrated on the wings and fuselage, almost twice as much as places like the engines.

Why were bullets concentrating on the fuselage and wings? Were German pilots trained to aim there? Were they firing futuristic homing bullets? Military officers came to the seemingly obvious conclusion that the armor should be added in these areas, as after all, they were taking the most fire, right?

Not quite. Wald quickly realized what was happening, and the solution was simple.

Bullets holes weren’t found on areas like the engines because aircraft that had been shot here didn’t come home! Wald believed bullets were actually hitting the aircraft equally all over, but because the ones hit in the most vulnerable areas didn’t come home, the data incorrectly suggested that these areas weren’t being hit at all.

The only aircraft that could be examined were those that came home — the survivors. The aircraft that were being brought down weren’t available for inspection, thus creating the survivorship bias.

The massive amount of damage on bombers’ fuselages and wings was actually evidence that these areas did not need reinforcing, as they were clearly able to take a large amount of punishment. Therefore, as Wald concluded, the armor should be placed on the areas that seemingly received the least damage.

The military listened to Abraham Wald’s advice and began increasing armor protection over these more vulnerable areas. Statistics on how many lives this saved during the war or since then are unavailable, but there are likely many people around today that wouldn’t be if Wald hadn’t made his contributions to the survivorship bias.  The following 9-minute video by TJ3 History does a good job of illustrating Dr. Walds work.

Like Amelia: But Only 19, She Successfully Circled the Globe

An ultralight plane piloted by a young woman from Belgium took off from Albuquerque (ABQ), New Mexico, in the United States, on September 10, 2021, headed northward. But it was no ordinary flight. ABQ was but one of many stops on 19-year-old Zara Rutherford’s record-breaking attempt to fly solo (“Zolo” in urban slang) around the world.

It turns out that she succeeded, now holding the title of the youngest woman to achieve this feat in a single-engine aircraft, taking over from Shaesta Waiz, an American from Afghanistan, who circumnavigated the globe solo at age 30 in 2017.

Rutherford, who also holds British nationality, will dramatically cut the gap to the youngest male holder, Travis Ludlow, who was 18 years (and 150 days) old when he accomplished the same thing in July 2021.

The first woman to fly solo around the world was Geraldine ‘Jerrie’ Mock, a housewife from Columbus, Ohio. Mock completed the 23,103-mile flight in 29 days 11 hours 59 minutes, landing at Port Columbus Airport on April 17, 1964.

Rutherford’s aim with her solo circumnavigation flight in the two-seater Shark Aircraft was to reduce the gender gap in aviation, as well as in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

“With this flight, I want to encourage girls and young women to pursue their dreams,” the aviatrix wrote on her website, Flyzolo.com. 

The 19-year-old pilot cites her inspirations as Lillian Bland, Bessie Coleman, Valentina Tereshkova, and Amelia Earhart. Not content with flying solo around the world, another one of Rutherford’s dreams is to become an astronaut.

Becky Lutte, Associate Professor in the Aviation Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, noted that women represent less than 20% of the aviation workforce in most occupations, including only 5% of airline pilots and 2.5% of maintenance technicians.

“Outreach to young women is essential to closing the gender gap in aviation,” Lutte said.

The below composite video is 6:34 minutes long.

Here are some of the interesting data that summarizes here flight’s accomplishments.:

Aircraft used: The Shark, an Ultralite built-in Slovakia, Czech Republic.

Total distance covered in flight: 52,080.3 Miles (over twice the distance of Jerry Mock’s flight!)

Total time in flight: 200 hours

Landings: 71

Number of stops: 69, including 10 diversions to airfields other than planned

Returns to the same airfield from which departed: 2

Longest Leg: 2000 KM, or 1080 Nautical Miles (NM)

Longest Leg over water: 1861 KM or 1005 NM

Highest Altitude Flown: 13,800′ (Over Greenland)

Continents into which flown: 5

Countries into which flown: 31

Highest Temperature Experienced: 31 Degrees Celsius (87.8 Fahrenheit) in Indonesia

Lowest Temperature: -34 Celsius (- 29.2 degrees F)

Boeing’s Plan to Remake the F-15 Into a “Stealth” Fighter

From Sandboxx,  January 21, 2022

Back in 2009, Boeing’s Silent Eagle aimed to make the world’s most prolific air superiority fighter into something more by injecting stealth into the F-15’s legendary DNA. The result may have been the most broadly capable F-15 the world had ever seen, delivered just in time to compete with what would become a foreign sales powerhouse, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Here, below, in a 17:21 long video, is a summary of that project and its potential outcome for the USAF.

USAF Goes Back To Sea After Long Hiatus from SA-16 Days

USAF MC-130J Amphib Aircraft Is Coming . . . later this year.

From US Defense News – January 16, 2022

The C-130J is an incredibly versatile aircraft, and since its creation, it’s landed on rough fields, in arctic locations, and even an aircraft carrier.

Yet, it cannot land on water, which covers about 71% of the planet. As national strategic objectives shift focus to littoral regions, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) is advancing new approaches to expand the multi-mission platform’s runway independence and expeditionary capacity. In partnership with the Air Force Research Lab’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (AFRL-SDPE) directorate, AFSOC is developing an MC-130J Commando II Amphibious Capability (MAC) to improve the platform’s support of seaborne special operations.

“The development of the MAC capability is the culmination of multiple lines of effort,” said Lt Col Josh Trantham, AFSOC Science, Systems, Technology, & Innovation (SST&I) Deputy Division Chief. “This capability allows the Air Force to increase placement and access for infiltration, exfiltration, and personnel recovery, as well as providing enhanced logistical capabilities for future competition and conflict.”

The development of a removable amphibious float modification for an MC-130J would enable “runway independent” operations, which, according to Trantham, would extend the global reach and survivability of the aircraft and Air Commandos. “Seaborne operations offer nearly unlimited water landing zones providing significant flexibility for the Joint Force,” Trantham said.

You can watch it right here, there is no need to leave the page for YouTube.  Please try and tolerate the automated voice-over used by US Defense News.  The content is worth overlooking the computerized voice. The following video is 8 minutes long.


McDonnell Douglas X-36, the Tailless Stealth Fighter

The McDonnell Douglas X-36 Tailless Fighter Agility Research Aircraft was built in the late ‘90s in collaboration with NASA with the objective to reduce weight and drag while increasing range, maneuverability, and, most importantly, survivability. To achieve all these goals, they decided to get rid of the traditional empennage found on most aircraft, a feat that many contractors and government organizations had tried for decades. This short (10:24) video is courtesy of Dark Skies.

To achieve all these goals, they decided to get rid of the traditional empennage found on most aircraft, a feat that many contractors and government organizations had tried for decades. But that wasn’t its only impressive asset. Watch and see what else they did.

No need to “watch on YouTube,” since it is right here, embedded in your FASF webpage.

THE BOEING X-36, A SUPER MANEUVERABLE STEALTH FIGHTER || 2021

Now, you might ask, why have we changed the manufacturer’s name from McDonnell Douglas to Boeing?  It’s simple; if perchance you don’t know the answer: What happened?  McDonnell Douglas (MD) was bought out by Boeing in 1997, so all those MD programs and projects now became known as Boeing.  The following brief (3:51 min) video is narrated by computer AI, so see if you can tolerate the mechanical voice, and learn some more about this unusual and radical tailless-designed fighter. The following clip is from Warthog Defense.

Here, below, is another X-36 Video clip on the strange-looking research fighter, courtesy of AviationDesigns-MG.  It is 4:35 long.

The X-36 Was a Crazily Maneuverable Stealth Fighter. Why Wasn’t it Built?

And, next, below and produced by “Weapons of the World,” let’s see the answer to the above question: Why didn’t the radical new design get produced?  This video is only 1:55 long.

1910: The Beginnings of a Pioneering Airshow in California

From today’s “Fly’nthings” Post about early American Aviation – This was a century and 12 years ago!

           Dr. Lakshmi Vempati by PT-17 Stearman

Click on the above poster to go to the Fly ‘n Things website/blog. There you will find an intriguing post by blogger/aviator Dr. Lakshmi Vempati, (at Left) a woman who was born in India, and at the age of 10, suddenly became infected with the aviation bug. This, in turn, led to her immigration to the U.S. where she completed graduate degrees, culminating with her doctorate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Dr. Vempati is a Private Pilot with her Instrument Rating and is currently advancing toward her Commercial license.  As an engineer, she has done work for both the FAA and NASA.  She is a Research Engineer and Analyst with experience providing extensive modeling, simulation, analysis, and software development assistance to the U.S. Government Aerospace agencies and other private-sector enterprises.

Here is the intriguing story about the above lead poster, which was first published this month by the Transportation History Site:

January 10, 1910

The first major airshow in the United States — as well as one of the earliest airshows worldwide — made its debut at Dominguez Field in Los Angeles County, California. Approximately 254,000 spectators turned out for the 10-day extravaganza, which was characterized by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the greatest public events in the history of the West.”

Charles Willard and A. Roy Knabenshue, inspired by an airshow that took place the previous year in the French city of Reims, selected the Los Angeles region for the show because of its agreeable January climate. Invitations went out to pilots of all sorts of aircraft — monoplanes, biplanes, balloons, dirigibles — to take part in the event’s various competitions.

The participants for the Los Angeles International Air Meet included such leading aviators of that era as Glenn Curtiss and Louis Paulhan. The Wright Brothers also attended, but did not participate; they showed up with lawyers in an attempt to prevent Curtiss and Paulhan from flying. Orville and Wilbur claimed that both of those pilots had features on their aircraft that violated the brothers’ patents. (Ultimately, however, Curtiss and Paulhan were each able to take to the skies after all; the former set a new airspeed record, while the latter broke records in flight endurance and altitude.)

Other aviation greats were likewise on hand for the Los Angeles International Air Meet. Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, who achieved acclaim as the Chief Aeronaut of the Union Army Balloon Corps during the Civil War, attended the airshow with his nine-year-old granddaughter Florence Leontine Lowe; she would become world-famous as “Pancho” Barnes, an aviation pioneer who broke Amelia Earhart’s speed record in 1930 and eventually operated a bar and restaurant in the Mojave Desert that was frequented by such test pilots as Chuck Yeager and Buzz Aldrin.

Image Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the 1910 Los Angeles Air Meet, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1910_Los_Angeles_International_Air_Meet_at_Dominguez_Field

Ft Worth Aviation Museum – Anniversary of the FAS Stopover

One of our vigilant members saw this item on our FAS’ history and brought it to our attention.  An interesting anecdote, along with some new archival photos of the Squadron’s stopover in Ft. Worth TX over a century ago.  We think you’ll find it an interesting, although, short (7:29) video.