Miles Aerovan – Ugly but Useful

Miles Aerovan

The Miles Aerovan, or to give it its full title, the Miles M.57 Aerovan, was a short-range, low-cost transport aircraft developed by the British aviation manufacturer Miles Aviation.

The Miles Aerovan was of simple construction, using primarily a combination of plywood and metal. It had a fixed tricycle undercarriage, and three vertical stabilizers and rudders. It was twin-engined, and the fuselage was of a short, bulbous, yet practical design, leading to its “Aerovan” name.

The two-seat cockpit featured a large plexiglass canopy providing the pilots with excellent forward and lateral vision. In addition there were four round windows on either side of the aircraft for the benefit of any passengers onboard.
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Mil Mi-10 Helicopter Skycrane

Mil Mi-10 helicopter

When the Soviet military wanted some heavy lifting done, they called in a Mil Mi-10 helicopter. This behemoth was a military transport helicopter developed from the more conventional looking Mil Mi-6. Designed in the late 1950s at the request of the Soviet government, the Mil Mi-10 (NATO reporting name Harke) was designed to carry its loads externally – unlike the Mi-6. This meant that it could carry larger cargo, and as the helicopter itself was lighter, it could also carry heavier loads.

The first prototype of the Mil Mi-10 helicopter was completed in 1959. It used the same engines and avionics as the Mi-6. But the fuselage was smaller and narrower. It also featured long, gangly legs which meant it could either taxi over its cargo, or the cargo could be maneuvered underneath for attachment. Inside the Mil Mi-10 helicopter there was space for up to 28 passengers, or up to 6,600 lbs (3,000 kgs) of cargo. The Mi-10 could carry up to 33,000 lbs (15,000 kgs) externally on its load platform.

The first flight of the Mil Mi-10 helicopter was on 15 June 1960. Testing continued uneventfully until May the same year, when the first prototype crashed killing everyone on board except for the navigator/radio operator. The cause of the crash was attributed to a problem with the gearbox.
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Ejector Seat Chair by Hangar 54 – the manliest of man chairs

Ejector Seat Chair by Hangar 54

Hangar 54 is a UK-based company setup by two brothers three years ago. They specialise in re-purposing old aircraft parts for use as furniture or room decor. Each piece is unique and fabricated by hand. They’ve made desks out of jet engine cowlings, sofas out of drop tanks and wall clocks out of fuselage sections. But their latest item is this stunning ejector seat chair called simply the MK3.

Based on a deactivated Martin Baker ejector seat, Hangar 54 have trimmed it using not just any old leather, but the leather from a WWII aviator’s jacket. The base is a beautifully intricate exhaust manifold which has been chrome dipped, as has the chair itself.
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Tug boat sparks plane crash false alarm

Canary Islands plane crash false alarm

A tug boat towing an unusual shaped cargo (which turned out to be a crane) has sparked a false alarm of a ditched aircraft off the Spanish Island of Gran Canaria.

Local media reported that the aircraft had been forced to ditch in the Atlantic ocean and rescue services had been dispatched. However the Spanish authorities were quick to announce it was a false alarm.
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Bachem Ba 349 “Natter” – vertical takeoff, rocket-powered interceptor death trap

Bachem Ba 349 Natter rocket powered fighter aircraft

The Bachem Ba 349 “Natter” was a radical prototype aircraft produced by Nazi germany during the final years of the war when the allies were starting to push ever closer to Berlin. The aircraft was essentially a very early version of a homing missile, and it was just one of several similar projects to be under development in Germany at the time. The primary target of the Bachem Ba 349 was to be the allied bombers which were slowly bringing the German war machine to a halt.

The Bachmen Ba 349 was designed by Dr Eric Bachem, an engineer who until 1944 worked for aircraft manufacturer Fieseler. In fact the Ba 349 was a development of one of his Fieseler designs. The aircraft was built from wood, glued and nailed together. The pilot was afforded some protection in the form of a bulletproof windshield and an armour plated seat.

Powering the Bachem Ba 349, nicknamed “Natter” (adder in English), were five rockets. Four Schmidding SG34 solid fuel rocket boosters provided the thrust to fire the aircraft up its 20-metre high vertical launch ramp and into the air. After 10 seconds these burnt out and were jettisoned. A larger bi-fuel rocket motor inside the fuselage provided the thrust for the remainder of the flight.
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All-new Goodyear blimp takes to the skies

2014 new Goodyear Blimp

Goodyear’s newest blimp has taken to the skies for its first flight. The giant blue and yellow floating sausage will undergo tests for the next two months in order to evaluate the new airship, and also provide training opportunities for the pilots and crew.

The new Goodyear blimp will be christened this summer, before travelling to cities across the US and doing its usual promotional thing.
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North American XA2J “Super Savage”

North American XA2J Super Savage

The XA2J “Super Savage” was a prototype carrier-based attack aircraft which the North American Aviation company developed for the US Navy shortly after the Second World War.

The aircraft was a derivative of the smaller AJ Savage, it also featured turboprop engines instead of the earlier aircraft’s radial engines, and the turbojet engine fitted in the tail of the AJ Savage was removed entirely. Initially it was proposed that the Super Savage could be constructed from the base AJ Savage with just a few alterations. However it soon became clear that to achieve the desired performance, more drastic modifications would be needed.

Like the AJ, it was a high-winged monoplane with unswept wings. The wings were fitted with leading edge slats and large trailing edge flaps, and folded outside of the engine nacelles to ease storage aboard ship. It had a crew of three: pilot, co-pilot/bombardier and gunner who sat in a pressurised cabin in the nose of the aircraft.
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U-2 Spyplane pilot talks about what it takes to fly at over 70,000 ft

U-2 spyplane cockpit view

It’s safe to say that Colonel Lars Hoffman, Commander of the US Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, is probably one of the most experienced and skilled pilots in the world. He’s flown many of the world’s most advanced aircraft, but one of them, the Lockheed U-2 is among his personal favorites.

And that’s strange, because in an interview with Richard Hollingham of the BBC, his accounts of flying the U-2 make it sound like a complete pig.

For starters, its nickname is “Dragon Lady” – because it’s a dragon at low altitude, and a lady at high altitude. I’m guessing dragon is polite Air Force slang for “doesn’t fly very well”. It requires chase cars to help with the landing because getting it down on the ground safely is so difficult. Even when it’s at its 70,000 ft (13 miles) cruising altitude it’s not all plain sailing. Amazingly Hoffman reveals there’s just a 10 knot window between the maximum speed that the aircraft can fly before it breaks up, and the stall speed! Because of this ludicrously small margin for error, at altitude the U-2 always flies on autopilot.
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World’s first supersonic private jet to have windowless cabin

Spike Aerospace S-512 supersonic jet

Spike Aerospace, a Boston-based company currently developing the world’s first supersonic private jet, have just announced that in the interests of performance and safety, their S-512 jet won’t have any windows in the passenger cabin. Instead the passengers will view the world outside on massive ultra-high definition displays that run the length of the cabin.

Spike Aerospace say there are several reasons for removing the windows from the cabin. Firstly, windows cause significant challenges in designing and constructing a strong, safe, aerodynamic aircraft fuselage. They require addition structural support, which in turn adds to the overall weight of the aircraft, reducing performance and efficiency.
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Recreation of the 1937 Bugatti 100P aircraft brought to life by dedicated enthusiasts

Bugatti 100P aircraft

Ettore Bugatti became famous in the early part of the 20th century for producing some of the world’s most exquisite automobiles. What most people, myself included, didn’t know, was that he also had a go at aircraft design.

Originally designed in collaboration with Ettore Bugatti and Belgian engineer Louis de Monge, the original 1937 Bugatti 100P is considered by many to be one of the most technologically advanced airplanes of the era. The 100P featured cutting-edge aerodynamics with forward swept wings, a zero-drag cooling system, and computer-directed flight controls, all predating the development of the best Allied fighters of World War II. It was powered by two 450-hp engines squeezed into the narrow fuselage, and it was designed to reach speeds approaching 500mph. A feat previously only achieved by aircraft with twice the horsepower.

The 100P was also much more compact than most aircraft of the era, with a wingspan of nearly 27-feet and an overall length of approximately 25.25-feet. In June 1940, Bugatti stopped work on the 100P and concealed the plane to prevent its discovery by the German military. Though the plane survived the war, it was left in a condition unfit for flight. Amazingly the original aircraft still survives, currently residing at the AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
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