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08 November 2013

Going Viral at a Website Near You

This week, a selection of aviation news and videos that caught my eye.

Seems like everyone is talking about this unbelievable video of skydivers escaping from a crashing plane, as broadcast by NBC. The headcam footage is amazing (and chilling).

Planes Collide in Mid Air – Terrifying Skydiving Accident caught on camera – Exclusive Full – YouTube

When the two small planes carrying the daredevils collided, they were catapulted out prematurely as one of the planes crashed below.

The footage comes from both inside the plane and on the jumpers’ helmets, capturing the frightening scene from many angles. All nine skydivers ended up landing safely and the pilot of the plane that lost its wing was able to eject and come with only a few small injuries.

FAA Air Safety Investigator, Tony James, has produced a great presentation about the top 10 causes of general aviation accidents and how they can be avoided. Definitely worth a watch!

Top 10 Causes Of General Aviation Accidents (2012) on YouTube

It seems like people never get tired of these worst-of lists and here’s the latest one to cross my desk. This particular version has some amazing photographs which made it worthwhile reading for me.

Most dangerous airports in the world

I’m not really sure why this 2006 video is suddenly getting passed around but I have to admit: wow, what a landing!

This beautiful beast can fly to any location within an hour. It’s amazing!

New Hypersonic Spy Plane Being Developed by Lockheed Martin |

A new hypersonic spy plane, capable of flying up to six times faster than the speed of sound, is being developed by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp., according to company officials.
The new aircraft, known as the SR-72, is the unmanned successor to Lockheed’s SR-71 Blackbird, a twin-engine, two-seater, supersonic aircraft that was developed in the 1960s. The company’s new spy plane will be able to fly twice as fast as the Blackbird and three times faster than current fighter jets, accelerating to Mach 6, which is six times the speed of sound, or more than 3,500 mph (5,600 km/h).

You all already know I have a soft spot for these…although really, it’s the gorgeous video that makes this one.

Dave & Lisa’s Helicopter Proposal on YouTube

In May of 2013, a friend of mine Lisa, who is an aspiring photo-stylist approached me and asked if I would help her build her portfolio. She had an idea for a photo-shoot on top of a mountain with her best friend, the extremely gorgeous Sarah Porchetta. I quickly agreed to help, and we decided to be in touch to work out the details.

The next morning, Lisa’s long term boyfriend, and good friend of mine Dave called me excitedly and asked if he could come along on the shoot to propose to Lisa on top of the mountain during the shoot. From there, we started scheming on how to hijack Lisa’s shoot, and turn it into Dave’s proposal to her…

Be sure to read the full story in the about section!

And finally, this photograph of the total solar eclipse last week is amazing!

Total Solar Eclipse 2013 photos from a plane 600 miles off Bermuda

Total Solar Eclipse of November 3, 2013, as seen from 44,000 feet over the Atlantic aboard a 12-person Dassault Falcon 900B jet chartered from Bermuda.

For the first time ever, an aircraft was used to intercept an extremely short eclipse with a perpendicular crossing of the eclipse path. There was zero margin for error, with the plane, traveling near 500mph and hitting the eclipse shadow where it touched down on earth at some 8,000 mph, required to hit a geographic point over the ocean at a precise instant (read on). It is also just the second time a flight to intercept any such super-short eclipse was accomplished successfully! (It was calculated to be seven seconds in our case had we hit dead center, but it appears, being about one second off, we got an instantaneous totality of zero seconds.)

Did you see any exciting posts this week that I missed? Feel free to add them to the comments!

06 September 2013

Aviation News and Posts that Made Me Smile

So, I’m finally back online but boy, do I have a lot of catching up to do. Here’s a number of links, photos and videos that made me smile as I started reading through the aviation news that I had missed.

Young pilots praised for ‘textbook’ crash landing at Victoria Point – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

When the engine started to surge, his 22-year-old instructor, Doug Field, took over but he was unable to get the power back and they began gliding.
Recalling the events, Mr Field said: “We’re at 1,100 feet, we’ve got about a bit under two minutes before we’re going to hit the ground at this point in time.”

Interplanetary Cessna

The always excellent xkcd answers the question What would happen if you tried to fly a normal Earth airplane above different Solar System bodies?

Click through for the full explanation but I have to admit, his conclusion gave me chills.

But I’ve never seen the Icarus story as a lesson about the limitations of humans. I see it as a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive. The cold of Titan is just an engineering problem. With the right refitting, and the right heat sources, a Cessna 172 could fly on Titan—and so could we.

G at its best

I love this photo posted in Reddit’s aviation forum:

And here’s the image modified by a user for maximum impact:


As my friend Jon said when he sent this to me, it beats hand-cranking, I guess…

▶ Extreme Airport Approach in Iceland! (HD) – YouTube

OK, maybe it doesn’t look THAT extreme but imagine trying to land that plane rather than stare out at the stunning scenery. I think I’d struggle!

hello kitty airplane fleet for EVA air

Taiwanese airline company EVA air has delved into a collaborative project with Japanese toy manufacturer Sanrio to decorate the exteriors of three of their planes with the image of cartoon cat character hello kitty. The three distinct feline motifs decorate the fleet of A330-300 airbus aircrafts flying highly-trafficked routes in Asia. Beginning in Taipei’s Taoyuan international airport and ending in either Sapporo or Guam, individuals come take to the air in a ‘magic jet’. The ‘global jet’ design connects Hong Kong and Tokyo to Taiwan while ‘apple jet’ planes fly between Taipei, Seoul and Fukoka– each plane shuttling their passengers in totally immersive cute kitten style.

OK, yes, it made me smile but all I can really say is No, thank you! I dread to think what the pilots have to wear…

Wolfe Air Reel on Vimeo

This video truly captures the sheer beautfy of flight:

And finally, a handy-dandy flow-chart for the use of your Ground Proximity Warning System:

OK, I admit it, the old ones sometimes really are the best.

Until next week, keep smiling!

05 July 2013

Baby chickens, touchdown in slow motion and more…

A selection of links and videos that I was perusing when I should have been writing you an interesting post for the week…

Apparently it’s a shame about the plot, however this is some of the most stunning footage I’ve seen in a long time. Eat your heart out, Top Gun.

Aw, so cute!

Chicks away! Chicks away! Baby chickens ‘stowaway’ on cargo flight from Brazil and get a different type of flying lesson from the cockpit | Mail Online

There isn’t an oops big enough for this one…

Small aircraft squawks 7500 by mistake and is met by police upon arrival at vny. – NASA ASRS

While flying VFR from sacramento to van nuys I called la center while approximately 50 mi, 315 degrees from van nuys airport. They asked me to contact burbank approach. Burbank assigned me a squawk code. Several mins later the controller asked me my altitude and I responded 7500′. He told me to squawk my altitude. I replied, ‘squawking 7500′, and the controller confirmed my code.

Be sure to read the whole story, what a scene!

Astounding footage of a touchdown in slow motion:

Via r/aviation, Sukhoi SU-35S fighter faces off an Su-27 Flanker, photo by ICEprod:

This isn’t new news but I didn’t know the story (thank you to RJ Wade!) : Mehran Karimi Nasseri lived in the departure lounge of Charles De Gaulle Airport Terminal One for eighteen years. He was travelling to the UK as a refugee but his briefcase containing his papers was stolen. He boarded the plane for London but was turned away at immigration and returned to France. His story is fascinating.

h2g2 – Mehran Karimi Nasseri – In Transit

On arrival at Charles de Gaulle, he was arrested for attempting to enter the country illegally, having no papers to substantiate his previous predicament. The lost papers also meant the French had no country of origin which they could return him to. This was a pretty pickle with no obvious solution, so the police returned him to the confines of the airport.

Without documentation, Nasseri was unable to fly anywhere, nor was he able to leave the airport to enter France proper for fear of being rearrested for illegal entry. Nasseri had arrived at his own personal hell: Terminal One, Charles de Gaulle Airport.

And that’s it for today but I hope I brought a small smile to your face. I’m away for next week but I have an amazing video and story for you when I get back!

07 June 2013

In the News

Last week, I was struck by the difference in headlines: The BBC reported Heathrow Airport runways closed for emergency landing while a rather less professional journal chose the headline Plane on Fire Flying Over Central London.

Anyway, the AAIB have released a special bulletin regarding the Airbus A319 that had an engine fire departing from Heathrow on the 24th of May. The fan cowl doors from both engines detached on take-off, which punctured a fuel pipe on the right engine and damaged the aircraft.

AAIB Bulletin S3/2013

Following the event, photographs of the aircraft, taken prior to pushback, were provided to the AAIB. These photographs show the fan cowl doors unlatched on both engines.

The aircraft had undergone scheduled maintenance overnight. This required opening the fan cowl doors on both engines to check the Integrated Drive Generator (IDG) oil level.


And speaking of oops…

Finnair forced to repaint A330 livery after embarrassing copyright violation ~ The Aviation Writer

Finnair has been promoting a brand new Airbus A330 livery, designed by European clothing and home furnishing retailer Marimekko… only to find out the design was copied from Ukrainian folk art.

The plagiarism was initially reported by Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, which noticed the similarities between Marimekko’s pattern and a 1963 painting by the late Ukrainian folk artist Maria Primachenko.

Some very red faces in Helsinki at the moment.

This video is old but shows some incredible low-level helicopter flying:

One of the commenters says:

Some facts for you that can be verified: a) the type of flying shown here is military type of flying, trained in the german HEERESFLIEGER since 1960s. b) The Pilot was at least 50 years old, when this was recorded. c) he still lives d) No (ZERO) casualties in the German Heeresflieger while doing low level flying in 50 years of training. e) Numerous world championships in helicopter acrobatics for these guys

It’s hard to believe that no one was hurt in this emergency landing straight into a house:

Small plane crashes into Herndon apartment as family sleeps – The Washington Post

Ventura said he sprang from his bed to find a surreal scene: A small plane had crash-landed in his living room with its nose resting on the floor next to the fireplace. A battery sat on a sectional couch, and a yawning hole in the ceiling opened to the night sky.

As Ventura stood in shock, he said the pilot and a passenger clambered out of the cockpit of the single-engine Cessna 177, and an awkward moment ensued.

“The pilot asked if we were okay,” Ventura said. “I told him that we were all good.”

I was entranced by this feature in io9 on aviation graveyards, featuring amazing photographs from all over the world:

The World’s Most Bizarre Aircraft Graveyards

Also, loving this video as a plane taxis past the abandoned aircraft at Pinal Airpark, Arizona:

I would love to get the chance to fly over these places for a better look…

And because looking at dead planes can be sad-making, here’s a video of the first A350 XWB, freshly painted in Airbus livery.

Finally, I saw today that Why Planes Crash is #9 on Amazon in the top rated books in aviation. Thank you so much for supporting my project, it’s incredibly motivating. I can’t wait to show you all the next one!

08 March 2013

Things That Make Me Smile


Radio Communications for Beginners: in which One One X-Ray gets slightly confused coming into Muenster/Osnabrueck, with subtitles and background laughter by Steve Paul. I have to say this is also a great example of why a controller should be able to switch into the native language to try to help a clearly confused new pilot.


This poster has been making the rounds. I’m not sure who wrote the original but it’s spot on.


Get a virtual seat on an helicopter flying over Kamchatka, where four volcanoes erupted at the same time. Hit fullscreen (the icon on the right of the playing video) and then use your mouse to look around as the helicopter brings you close and personal.

360 video, Plosky Tolbachik Volcano, Kamchatka, Russia, 2012


Three people linked this story to me. I think it’s lovely.

United Airlines delays flight for man to see dying mother –

He started crying, obviously distraught. The flight attendants brought napkins for his tears, said they would do what they could to help, and most importantly, got his connecting flight information to the captain, he told CNN.

When he got off the airport train and was running toward the gate, “I was still like maybe 20 yards away when I heard the gate agent say, ‘Mr. Drake, we’ve been expecting you,'” he said.


If I needed to explain to someone why flying is such an amazing experience, I would simply shut up and show them this video.


This is nothing to do with aviation, but if you’ve ever travelled on the London Underground, this is sure to bring a smile to your face.

The original Mind the Gap returns … | | The Importance of Being Trivial

Wonderful news from the northbound platform of the Northern Line at Embankment Tube station. London Underground have reinstated the original Mind the Gap announcement – just so that the widow of the man who said it can go and hear his voice.

What’s made you smile this week? Leave me a link in the comments!

25 January 2013

Close Calls

This week, I want to share with you a collection of close calls (each with a happy ending) collected from around the Internet.

The FAA are investigating this video of a stunt aircraft coming dangerously close to people on the ground. A commenter who claims to have been on site when the video was filmed says that the stunt was planned, briefed and completely safe and that the camera angle makes the aircraft look closer than it is. All I can say is that the person holding the camera didn’t seem briefed, she seemed to be scared out of her wits.

Smoke in the cockpit « Contract pilot tales

I’d been warned.

I was a lowly flight instructor in the days after Sept 11, 2001. Flying jobs were next to impossible to find so I was “biding my time” as a flight instructor in Merritt Island, Florida. My flight that fateful day was to do a flight-review with an 80-something year old lady. She was a retired US Navy officer and I’d been told she had a bit of a strong character. Her doctor had told her she shouldn’t be flying any more but she decided to come to our flight school to prove otherwise. I’d never flown with her before but other flight instructors urged me not to sign her logbook ( for a flight review ) if I wasn’t comfortable.

Read the whole story on Contract pilot tales

This video of an engine fire after lightning strike is eerie to watch.

A Turkish Airlines flight suffered an engine fire due to lightning strike during its descend to I.zmir Adnan Menderes Airport (LTBJ)

Turkish Airlines flight TK-2348, an Airbus A321-231 registration TC-JRI, landed at LTBJ safely at 22:05 UTC
Passengers exited the plane normally. There were no injuries and no impact on airport operations.

Pilot ejects from fighter plane moments before crash

With his £20 million fighter plane hurtling towards the ground, Captain Brian Bews had little time to think. The 36-year-old pilot was forced to choose between battling to save the plane, or bailing to save his life. He chose the latter, launching himself out of the cockpit with the ejector seat and parachuting down to earth – miraculously landing unharmed, as his plane exploded in a mass of flames and black smoke.

These spectacular pictures show just how close Capt Bews, who has clocked 1,400 hours of flying time, came to death.

This happened a few years ago but I hadn’t seen the photograghs before. Captain Bews made a full recovery from his injuries.

I found this interesting collection of photos and story was posted onto Reddit.

Lear 35 wing strike – Imgur

So, I had an interesting day at work.

There was an 18 knot cross wind when the plane landed at 1am. Pilot said that he stalled a wing, and his wing struck the ground. As soon as he hit, he said he hit full power as quick as he could and pulled up, and looped around for another shot at landing. 2nd times the charm. Pilot did not inform tower of wing strike, just said he missed and looped around for another try. There was FOD all over the runway obviously. Real shady of the PIC to not inform anyone. I was called out at 2am to put the plane in the hangar

Click through to see the photographs of the damage and read the full story. The pilots departed with the fuel leak, hoping to make it from Canada to Mexico. I guess as it hasn’t been in the news yet, they must have made it…

EAA News – Chambliss Reportedly OK After Crash in El Salvador

“I was watching him the whole way. The plane crashed into small trees and flipped over. The airplane was badly damaged, but Kirby extracted himself and walked to a clearing. I had immediately called for the rescue helicopter and they were there very quickly. A testament to the readiness of the El Salvadorian military. Kirby is fine with superficial scrapes and bruises.”

The video is in Spanish but gives a good view of the wreckage and the removal of the (remains of the) plane from the crash site.

Meanwhile, I’m still hoping for a happy ending for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Any word yet?