Category: Demystifying –  Page 4

Creative Air Marshalling

It’s not often that aircraft marshalling hits the headlines but this video of ME1 Tan Wen Kai of the Singapore Airforce has gone completely viral. Aircraft marshallers use hand-signals to communicate with aircraft on the ground, for example to give directions. It’s the equivalent of guiding someone into a parking space, except there’s not much…

Read more… 5 Sep 14

Banner Planes in Action

I’ve long been obsessed with banner planes. They are fascinating and amazing to watch. When I did my PPL in Spain, I was lucky enough to see them in action every weekend. All excerpts from You Fly Like a Woman: The weekends were busy at Axarquía now that high summer was here. Broad-shouldered young men…

Read more… 6 Dec 13

The Story Behind an Unbelievable Photograph

A reader mailed me this amazing aviation photograph and I knew I wanted to know more. I was surprised at how much I discovered about the photo, which at first glance I thought might be a fake. But the story of who took the photograph and how he managed to get the shot is a…

Read more… 1 Nov 13

5 Things About the Dreamliner That I Didn’t Know

1) The Dreamliner’s noise reduction tech is the results of decades of NASA research The Dreamliner has chevrons – serrated edges on the engine nacelles – in order to reduce the noise. Passengers on the plane before it was grounded say that it is quite noticeably quieter but I hadn’t understood the background. “Evolution from…

Read more… 1 Feb 13

Why do aircraft still have ashtrays in the lavatory?

We’ve all seen this in the toilets of commercial aircraft: a large no-smoking sign with a plainly marked ashtray underneath. Obviously airlines who allow in-flight smoking have ashtrays as a part of the standard model. But are there any of those left? The US banned smoking on domestic flights in 1990 and soon followed up…

Read more… 14 Dec 12

5 Surprising Facts about Black Boxes

Today, aircrash investigations centre around the black box – that is, the flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voice recorder (CVR). I have always thought of them as rather straight forward: one collects flight data and the other records voices in the cockpit. However, when I started to do some research about flight recorders,…

Read more… 27 Apr 12

Accident Reports

Fatal Seaplane Crash at Oshkosh

The flight crew is often the last safety net when things go wrong, making their failures an easy target for us to point at. After all, if the pilot can…

Never Just One Thing: Air Midwest flight 5481 part 2

Last week, we looked at the weight and balance of Air Midwest 5481, which had been underestimated for a number of different reasons. However, although the aircraft was overweight and…

Demystifying

Maintaining the Stores

We don’t often talk about parked aircraft because it is not very common for them to be involved in crashes. However, one of the side-effects of these pandemic times is…

How Many Successful Ditchings of Commercial Airliners?

When I was learning to fly, I remember someone in the pilots’ bar insisting that all that talk about life jackets under your seat was a waste of time; if…

History

The Last Known Whereabouts of the White Bird

The disappearance of L’Oiseau Blanc in 1927 is one of the enduring mysteries of aviation history. The pilots eventually achieved their goal of changing aviation history, but certainly not in…

The History Listen

I was on the radio on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in a show called The History Listen. They asked me to tell them about a famous story in Australian and…

Fun Stuff

The Tetris Challenge

When the Kantonspolizei Zürich (the police department of the Swiss canton of Zurich) posted a photograph on Facebook showing the contents of a standard patrol car, they had no idea…

The History Listen

I was on the radio on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in a show called The History Listen. They asked me to tell them about a famous story in Australian and…