Category: History

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 aviation history, when Ivan Smirnov crashlanded on the coast of northwest Australia, losing a cigar box of diamonds in the process. The recording was done…

Read more… 22 Jan 21

The Last Flight of B121-120

The Beagle B.121 Pup is a British, single-engine, all-metal aircraft produced in the 1960s. British Executive and General Aviation Limited, who traded as BEAGLE, designed the Beagle B.121 Pup as a replacement for aging Tiger Moths and Pipers; Beagle Aircraft Limited marketed it as “a pilot’s aeroplane”. I found the designation B.121 interesting. B stands…

Read more… 6 Nov 20

Abused fighter planes and the men who love them

A few months ago, I wrote about how to shoot down a fighter jet while flying it, the case of a test-pilot in a Grumman F-11 Tiger who managed to catch up to his own gunfire. One of the fantastic things I found out in the course of writing that piece was that Tom Attridge…

Read more… 23 Oct 20

The MS Estonia 1994 Ferry Disaster Revisited

On the 28th of September 2020, a Swedish documentary called Estonia–The Find That Changes Everything made headlines around the world when they claimed to have found new evidence on the 26-year-old case of the sinking of the MS Estonia. On the 28th of September 1994, The MS Estonia, a cruise ferry operated by Estline, sank…

Read more… 9 Oct 20

How to shoot down a fighter jet…while flying it.

The Grumman F-11 Tiger was a popular US Navy fighter aircraft introduced in 1956. At the time, it was known as the F11F Tiger. Grumman had been working to modernise their Cougar as a part of the Cold War arms race. US aircraft were being outperformed by the swept-wing design of the Soviet’s Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15…

Read more… 21 Aug 20

Arrow Air flight 1285: icing or explosion?

On the 12th of December 1985, a DC-8 Jetliner operating as Arrow Air flight 1285 crashed on departure from Gander, Canada. This was an international charter flight carrying US troops from Cairo, Egypt to their home base of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with stops to refuel at Cologne in West Germany and at Gander. The flight…

Read more… 24 Jul 20

Accident Reports

A Lesson On Keeping The Aircraft in Trim

On the 28th of May 2019, a customer arrived at a flight school at Archerfield Airport, Queensland for their first flight experience. The aircraft that day was a Cessna 152,…

Explosive Decompression on the Ground

The Gulfstream G150, a twin-engine business jet, arrived at Kittilä airport in Lapland on a cold Tuesday afternoon on the 2nd of January 2018, carrying three crew and four passengers.…

Demystifying

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…

Small Plane Gets Stoned

This photograph has been posted to aviation forums repeatedly, each time with a thread of pilots wondering what the hell could have happened to cause the light aircraft to be…

History

The Real “Bionic Man”

Some of you may have spotted the recent comments on Wingless Flight in the M2-F1 by aerospace journalist and author Nigel Macknight, who had written about NASA’s M2-F2 pilot Milt…

Flight 19: The Point of No Return

I was interviewed about Flight 19 for a documentary recently and although I’ve limited the details of the experience to supporters of my personal Patreon (for travel writing and essays),…

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…

Jetpacks and Wingwalking: 2020 keeps getting weirder

Twenty-twenty was always an interesting sounding year, popular with futurists and science fiction writers for having something of a ring to it, a year in which clean fuel and commercial…