A pair of Kenyan Air Force Northrop F-5 Tiger II fighter jets buzzed their own airbase recently, resulting in some impromptu topiary of a nearby tree. The soldiers filming the event sure got a laugh out of it. But whoever is responsible for clearing up the mess probably won’t find it so funny.
The Northrop F-5 is a light supersonic jet which is operated by many countries as either a fighter aircraft or an advanced jet trainer. The aircraft is extremely popular due to its low unit cost, good reliability, and highly commended flying qualities – even being compared to the far more expensive F-16.
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During the second world war, and in the decades after, there was an explosion in aircraft technology. Aircraft manufacturers from around the globe were producing new concepts on an almost weekly basis, and one of the prototypes to emerge in the early years of the jet age was the Convair XF-92. The Convair XF-92 was originally conceived as a point-defense interceptor – basically a very-short range fighter designed to defend a particular location – but as the project developed it was changed to a purely experimental role. It’s design influenced several subsequent delta-wing aircraft.
The original 1945 United States Army Air Force (USAAF) brief for which the Convair XF-92 was constructed, called for a supersonic interceptor capable of reaching an altitude of 50,000 ft in just 4 minutes. Consolodated-Vultee (later Convair) responded with the XF-92. It was to be powered by a ducted rocket and a turbojet engine built by Westinghouse.
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Knowing exactly where your enemy is lurking is one of the greatest advantages a military commander can have over his opponent. During World War Two, while the navies of the allies were playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with their counterparts in the axis navies, this was never more true. Aerial observation played a key role in finding out where the enemy fleet, or single vessels, were stationed, or where they were headed.
In the build up to the war, the Royal Navy but out a brief for a long-range, slow-flying, low-noise aircraft which could be launched from a carrier and could shadow enemy fleets without being detected, and all the while report back their position to their own fleet. Five companies, Percival, Short Brothers, Fairey Aviation, General Aircraft Ltd and Airspeed, took up the challenge and submitted proposals for such aircraft. Of these five designs five were selected for further development, and both General Aircraft and Airspeed got the funding to build two prototypes each.
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The IAI Phalcon, or the EL/M-2075 Phalcon to give it its full title, is an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) active electronically scanned array radar system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in the early ’90s. The advanced radar, which up until 2008 was considered to be the best AEW&C system available (according to the Federation of American Scientists), was primarily designed to be fitted in the nose of a Boeing 707, although it could also be fitted to other aircraft, including the Boeing 767, 747, some Airbus aircraft and the Lockheed Martin C-130.
The Phalcon radar system was built for both the Israeli military, as well as for export. It is designed for airborne early warning, tactical surveillance of airborne and surface targets and intelligence gathering.
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The American Helicopter XH-26 Jet Jeep was an extremely compact single-occupant helicopter developed by the American Helicopter division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corp. It was designed to fulfill a U.S. Air Force brief which called for a collapsible, air-droppable, easily assembled helicopter which could be used for observation, liaison and reconnaissance missions.
The aircraft was requested by the military in 1951, and by 1952 the first test flights had been successfully accomplished.
The XH-26 Jet Jeep was constructed primarily from aluminium, although the tail section was formed from fiberglass. The interior was extremely basic and small, with just enough room for the single pilot. The bubble-shaped side windows provided a little extra elbow room, and could also be removed if required. There was no ballistic protection for the pilot, and no armaments were provided either.
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The very real danger of bird strikes during take-off or landings was perfectly illustrated in 2010 by the miraculous Hudson River ditching of US Airways Flight 1549. But birds are one thing. Hitting a buffalo with a Boeing is not something any airline pilot expects to come across during their career.
But that’s exactly what happened on November 6, 2014, when a Boeing 737-800 operated by SpiceJet – India’s fourth largest carrier – smashed into a Buffalo during take-off from Surat Airport near Mumbai. Thankfully the aircraft had only just started to pick up speed, allowing the pilots time to abort the take-off with enough room to bring the jet safely to a halt on the runway. The aircraft had 146 passengers and crew aboard and fortunately nobody was injured. The Buffalo wasn’t quite so lucky, and was killed on impact. Unsurprisingly.
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The Abrams P-1 Explorer was a one-of-a-kind aircraft developed by the aerial photography pioneer Talbert Abrams. He designed the aircraft specifically for aerial photography and survey, as there was no other aircraft of the time which fulfilled his requirements.
Most aircraft of the time had their engines up front, and oil from these early, dirty engines would run backwards along the fuselage and coat the lens covers of the cameras resulting in blurred photos. In addition the front mounted engine meant a louder cockpit, and forward (especially forward and downward) vision was obscured. To top it all off, most light aircraft of the time were designed to be nimble and aerobatic, not stable and easy to fly.
Frustrated by the lack of a suitable aerial survey aircraft (previously he had used a Curtiss Jenny) Abrams hired aircraft engineers Kenneth Ronan and Andrew Edward Kunzul to design and build an aircraft which would overcome all these issues. His brief called for a rear-mounted engine, a long wingspan for a more stable aircraft, and swept back wings for better side vision from an all-glass (actually Plexiglass) cockpit. It is said that the compound curve Plexiglass windows of the P-1 Explorer were the first to be fitted to an aircraft.
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An Australian man drove an airplane to the bar for a drink… It sounds like the opening line of a joke. But it’s not. It’s just what happened in a remote Australian town last Friday.
Police were called to the Purple Pub in Newman after a large crowd had started to gather around a wingless light aircraft. The plane’s 37 year-old owner, who is described euphemistically by the police as a “local character” was inside having a drink. Staff and drinkers at the bar gave the man a slightly different description, labeling him a “legend”.
The two-seater Beechcraft aircraft had been driven across the town under its own power, during which time a small convoy of vehicles had slowly assembled behind it.
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The remote control model building community is ridiculously active and innovative. Especially when it comes to making model aircraft which look like they would be incapable of flight – but actually do so surprisingly well. Combine that with the shape of the Star Trek Enterprise (Enterprise D for total nerds), which always looked like it would never be able to fly in an atmosphere, and you have the recipe for one weird RC toy.
Captain Picard’s scaled-down flagship might not be warp-powered, in fact it relies on a small propeller housed in the saucer section, but it seems to be more than enough for the lightweight foam-built model. Control of the model is accomplished via ailerons at the back of the saucer, and an elevator at the rear of the model.
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The official Boeing store is selling off a bunch of ejector seats from the iconic McDonnell F-4 Phantom II jet interceptor, one of the United States’ most successful fighter aircraft. Serving from the ’60s to the ’90s in the USAF, and still in service with several air forces around the world, the F-4 is one of the most numerous fighter jets ever built. In fact one was shot down as recently as 2012 when a Turkish F-4 was hit by Syrian air defences while on a reconnaissance flight near the border.
The F-4 Phantom II also holds the record for the last US fighter jet to be flown to achieve ace status in the 20th century. During the Vietnam war, the USAF had one pilot and two weapon systems officers, and the US Navy one pilot and one radar intercept officer, achieve five aerial kills against other enemy fighter aircraft.
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