Category: 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 way that they had hoped. It has only just come to my attention that I haven’t written about this mystery here, so I hope…

Read more… 21 May 21

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

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

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…

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…

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…