Tag Archives: NASA

488 NASA Chief Historian

The NASA Chief Historian helps us look at some events from the past, anniversaries coming up, and what the future holds for NASA. Also, the International Trade Commission rules for Bombardier and against Boeing, more information about the pilot in the fatal Icon A5 crash, Putin wants a supersonic civilian airliner, and a look at big aerospace and defense deals in 2017.


Bill Barry, NASA Chief Historian.

Bill Barry, NASA Chief Historian.

Dr. William P. Barry is the NASA Chief Historian. We talk with Bill about the upcoming 60th anniversary of NASA on October 1, 2018, the 60th anniversary of the first U.S. satellite, and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions. Bill gives us some insights into the tragic Apollo 1 accident, known simply as “The Fire.”

Bill also tells us about the Space Launch System, the James Webb Space Telescope, and the emerging role of commercial space companies like Boeing and SpaceX. We touch on the change of the NASA administrator, and even jobs available at NASA through USAjobs.

Bill has been NASA’s Chief Historian since 2010. He began work at NASA in 2001 after retiring from a 22-year career in the US Air Force. Bill worked in NASA’s international relations office for several years, and served as the NASA European Representative at the United States Embassy in Paris before being appointed NASA Chief Historian. A graduate, with honors, of the United States Air Force Academy, Bill also holds a Masters Degree from Stanford University and a Doctorate from Oxford University.

Apollo’s Worst Day: Veterans of NASA’s moon program referred to it simply as “The Fire.” Did it have to happen?

This excellent article by Andy Chaikin appeared in the Dec 2016/Jan 2017 edition of Air&Space Smithsonian. See also Apollo-1 (204) and The Accident, taken from the Report of Apollo 204 Review Board.

Find more at the NASA History Program Office webpage, and follow NASA History on Twitter and Facebook.

Aviation News

100- to 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft from Canada Do Not Injure U.S. Industry, Says USITC

The United States International Trade Commission is “an independent, quasi-judicial Federal agency with broad investigative responsibilities on matters of trade.” The USITC issued this statement on January 26, 2018:

“The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) today determined that a U.S. industry is not materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of 100- to 150-seat large civil aircraft from Canada that the U.S. Department of Commerce… has determined are subsidized and sold at less than fair value. As a result of the USITC’s negative determinations, no antidumping or countervailing duty orders will be issued.”

The Commission’s final report will be published by March 2, 2018, can be accessed on the USITC website.

Roy Halladay Autopsy Findings Catch Industry by Surprise

Former baseball star Roy Halladay died following the crash of his Icon A5 in shallow water last November. An autopsy revealed that Halladay did not immediately die of the impact – a contributing cause of death was drowning. He also had “enough mood-altering drugs in his system to confirm he shouldn’t have been driving a car, much less flying an airplane.”

Russia’s Concorde: Putin proposes supersonic civilian aircraft based on its Tu-160 bomber

Vladimir Putin wants to build a civilian version of the Tupolev Tu-160 supersonic nuclear bomber as a supersonic passenger jet for wealthy customers. The United Aircraft Corporation has told Putin that designers already have a supersonic civilian airliner project.

Global aerospace and defense deals insights: Q4 2017

Pricewaterhouse Coopers reports that the global aerospace and defense industry saw $72 billion worth of deals in 2017. This betters the previous record of $67 billion set in 2015, and represents a whopping 79% increase over 2016. Nine deals with announced value greater than $1 billion accounted for 86% of the total value this year. Global Aerospace and Defense Deals Insights Year-End 2017 [PDF].

The largest deals from 2017:

United Technologies’ $30 billion acquisition of Rockwell Collins tops the list, followed by Northrop Grumman’s $9 billion acquisition of Orbital ATK, Safran’s $8 billion acquisition of Zodiac Aerospace, and Thales’ $5 billion acquisition of Gemalto.

Airline Story of the Week

Southwest Airlines rescues 62 stray dogs, cats from Puerto Rico

Sixty-two dogs and cats were rescued from hurricane-battered Puerto Rico, courtesy of Southwest Airlines.


The Aviators Season Seven.

AirSpace Podcast from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

NP Simulations, the UK flight simulator company based in London.

How Three High Schoolers Won EAA’s Founder’s Innovation Prize

See the Remora Systems website to learn more.

EAA’s Founder’s Innovation Prize (presented by Airbus)

Submissions will be accepted through June 1, 2018. Five finalists will be chosen to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of expert judges.

Interjet images by aviation photographer Paul Filmer:

​Interjet at IAH in 2015. Photo by Paul Filmer.

Interjet at IAH in 2015. Photo by Paul Filmer.

​Interjet at Toluca. Mexico. Photo by Paul Filmer.

Interjet at Toluca. Mexico. Photo by Paul Filmer.

Kiwi airline exec breaks record for world circumnavigation on commercial airlines

Andrew Fisher made a 52-hour, 34-minute journey from Shanghai to Auckland to Buenos Aires to Amsterdam and back to Shanghai. The old record was 55 hours.

Your ADS-B Questions Answered: Get the Facts Here

Did the airlines get an exemption from the 2020 ADS-B requirement, or not…

Rocket Lab’s ‘Humanity Star’ is New Zealand first satellite and the Humanity Star website.

No Passport or Ticket: How a Woman Evaded Airport Security and Flew to London


Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.


485 Women in Aviation International

Our guest is the president and founder of Women in Aviation International. In the news, we discuss the departure of the FAA Administrator, the Air Force tanker program, fighter jet intelligence gathering in Syria, woes at New York’s JFK International Airport, and remembering astronaut John Young.

Woman in Aviation Conference March 2016 reaching $10 million in scholarship awards in 20 years.

Women in Aviation Conference March 2016 reaching $10 million in scholarship awards in 20 years.


Dr. Peggy Chabrian is president and founder of Women in Aviation International, which represents more than 13,000 women and men from all segments of the aviation industry including general, corporate, commercial, and military aviation.

Dr. Peggy Chabrian, Woman in Aviation International.

Dr. Peggy Chabrian, Women in Aviation International.

Peggy tells us about current WAI objectives to promote women in aviation and the progress that has been made. We look at the current legislative action, such as the Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act of 2017 in the House (H.R. 4673) and Senate (S.2244) and note the Women in Aerospace Education Act (H.R. 4254).

Peggy talks about the active Women in Aviation International chapters, the scholarships available, and the annual conferences. The 29th Annual International WAI Conference will be held March 22-24, 2018 in Reno, Nevada, and will include an award ceremony for inductees into the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame.

We note that Women in Aviation International is not for women only and that the membership includes men and women of all ages.

Peggy is a long-time aviation enthusiast and professional aviation educator, a 2,200-hour commercial/instrument multi-engine pilot and flight instructor flying for over 30 years. Most recently she added helicopter and seaplane ratings to her flight qualifications.

Peggy held several top positions in aviation education including Academic Dean and Associate

Rob and David present WAI with a donation on behalk of the Airplane Geeks listeners 2011.

Rob and David present WAI with a donation on behalf of the Airplane Geeks listeners in 2011.

Vice President of Parks College; Dean of Academic Support for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Arizona campus; Director of the Center of Excellence for the Aviation/Space Education at ERAU’s Daytona Beach, Florida campus; and, Chair of the aviation department at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Peggy was the second woman to ever hold the position of dean of an engineering school in the United States.

She serves on several boards and is the past president and board member of the University Aviation Association. Peggy also served on the board of the Experimental Aircraft Association for 16 years. She is the publisher of Aviation for Women magazine, an international speaker, and an author.

Women in Aviation conference exhibition hall.

Women in Aviation conference exhibition hall.

Aviation News

NBAA Thanks FAA Administrator Huerta for Distinguished Public Service

Michael Huerta’s term as FAA Administrator has ended. The White House has offered no nominee to replace Huerta, who previously said he had no intention of staying on. The current FAA deputy administrator, Daniel Elwell, will become the acting head. Elwell was appointed as FAA’s deputy administrator in June. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former Air Force and airline pilot.

The Air Force expects the first delivery from its struggling tanker program this year — but major defects still aren’t fixed

The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker is designed to replace the old KC-135, but several issues have dogged the program. The tanker’s boom can scrape the aircraft being serviced, and there may be difficulties with the camera system used by the boom operator. An issue with the KC-46’s high-frequency radio still concern’s the Air Force.

Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intelligence on the US’s best fighter jets in Syria

Russia and the U.S. have top line fighters operating in Syria, which gives both countries an opportunity to observe the other’s aircraft and collect data.

Water leak floods JFK Airport baggage claim, forces evacuation

A broken water pipe feeding the sprinkler system at JFK International Airport Terminal 4 flooded a baggage claim area. Power was cut and part of the terminal had to be evacuated, stranding travelers without their luggage.

Why Did New York’s JFK Airport Struggle to Cope With Its Flight Backlog After the Bomb Cyclone?

The terminal flooding was preceded by a snowstorm that was worse than expected. The airport was closed and airlines scheduled flights based on the projected time to reopen. But that time was pushed out, causing diversions and turnbacks of many international flights. When flights to JFK resumed, airport capacity was exceeded.

Video: NASA Remembers Moonwalker, Shuttle Commander John Young

Astronaut John Young, who walked on the Moon during Apollo 16 and commanded the first space shuttle mission, passed away at the age of 87. He is the only person to go into space as part of the Gemini, Apollo, and space shuttle programs and was the first to fly into space six times – or seven times when counting his liftoff from the Moon during Apollo 16.

The Airplane of the Week

David brings us Part 1 of the EC-121 Warning Star.


The Fighter Pilot Podcast

To the PSA pilot who made my Christmas Eve


Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.


463 Boom Supersonic

The founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic explains commercial supersonic air travel. In the news, we look at a push out of FAA reauthorization, a court ruling on airline seat size, a NASA supersonic demonstrator, a couple of aircraft carriers, and United Airlines.

Boom Supersonic

Boom Supersonic


Blake Scholl is founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic, the Denver startup seeking to build a commercially viable supersonic passenger aircraft.

We talk about the restrictions that have prevented supersonic flights over the United States, and how modern manufacturing methods allow supersonic airplanes to be built with much lower operating costs than was the case with the Concorde.

Blake describes how Boom aims to build a small supersonic airliner that is accessible and affordable, and not “a flying gas can with a billionaire in the front of it.” We look at the tradeoff between loudness and efficiency, as well as propulsion and airframe issues, and the objectives of the “Baby Boom” demonstrator. First flight of that ⅓ scale aircraft is targeted for late 2018.

Boom looks to have the full size 55-seat supersonic airplane in air at the end 2020, with first delivery to launch customer Virgin in late 2023. Blake tells us that Boom has 76 pre-orders across 5 airlines.

Prior to establishing Boom Supersonic, Blake held leadership roles at Amazon.com, and he was co-founder and CEO at Kima Labs, which was acquired by Groupon. Blake is an avid pilot and holds a BS in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Isaac Alexander at Boom Supersonic HQ June 2017, looking through the aircraft in virtual reality.

Isaac Alexander at Boom Supersonic HQ June 2017, looking through the aircraft in virtual reality.

Boom Supersonic engine model.

Boom Supersonic engine model.

Aviation News

House pushes back must-pass aviation bill to September

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) says House action on the FAA reauthorization bill will be pushed back to September.

Citizens for Ontime Flights radio ad takes BizAv to task for paying nothing:

Court Rules the FAA Must Reconsider Regulating Airline Seat Size

The Flyers Rights passenger group asked FAA to write rules governing seat space. The FAA rejected the request, saying it was a comfort issue, not a safety issue. Now a three-judge federal appeals court in Washington has sided with Flyers Rights and it goes back to the FAA for a better response.

NASA Has a Way to Cut Your Flight Time in Half

A small-scale model of the NASA/Lockheed supersonic jet was tested in the wind tunnel in June. NASA will take bids in August to construct a 94 ft. demonstration model, and expects to spend $390 million to build and test the demo plane.

Aircraft carrier Ford successfully lands and launches its first flight

The USS Gerald R. Ford launched and recovered its first fixed-wing flight, an F/A-18F Superhornet from the Air Test and Evaluation Squad based at Patuxent River, Maryland. The carrier employs new technology, including the advanced arresting gear system (AAG) and an electromagnetic launch system, (EMALS).

Up close with a US super carrier and the pilots fresh from combat operations

The USS George HW Bush is participating with the Royal Navy in the Saxon Warrior exercise. Lt Cdr Michael Tremel of the Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-87 Golden Warriors shot down a Syrian Su-22 Fitter, the first US air-to-air kill since a USAF F-16 shot down a Serbian MiG-29 in 1999, during the Kosovo campaign.

United Airlines Reports Second-Quarter 2017 Performance

UAL reported second-quarter revenue of $10.0 billion, net income of $818 million, diluted earnings per share of $2.66, pre-tax earnings of $1.3 billion, and pre-tax margin of 12.7 percent.


ABCI (Aviation Business Consultants Inc.) is looking for great aviation freelance writers who can create press releases, articles, and blog posts for aviation industry clients.

Politico Morning Transportation

Aviation Geek Fest Seattle 2017 is Happening! – AirlineReporter

Tesla Model S is being used as chase car to launch spy planes on Royal Air Force base

Video: U-2 Spy Plane Vertical Take Offs at RAF Fairford

Three High School Students Awarded Founder’s Innovation Prize


Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps. All Boom Supersonic photos courtesy Isaac Alexander.


406 Innovations in Flight 2016

The Airplane Geeks attended the Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Airplane Geeks Innovations in Flight 2016

The Airplane Geeks: Micah, Brian, Max, Benet, David


Commander Brian McGlaughin, USCG

Commander Brian McGlaughin

Commander Brian McGlaughin

The United States Coast Guard is celebrating 100 years of aviation in 2016, and we hear about the mission of Coast Guard, flying in Alaska, the Sikorsky HH-52 Seaguard that was inducted into the National Air & Space Museum, the new C-130J, and of course, the 100th celebration activities.

Steve Lott, The Boeing Company

Steve Lott

Steve Lott

Steve is the Director of Communications for Boeing, based in Washington D.C. He talks about Boeing’s 100th year anniversary and explains that July 15, 2016 is Founders Day, when Bill Boeing had his first flight. Boeing employs a number of full time historians, and maintains a very large historical archive, including many photographs.

Steve tells us about the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall renovation at the NASM downtown on the Mall, and reminds us about the excellent The Age of Aerospace series. This documentary explores the last 100 years of aviation history and is presented by Boeing and Discovery Communications.

Captain Caitlin Diffley, USAF

Captain Caitlin Diffley

Captain Caitlin Diffley

Captain Diffley is the Regional Director for the United States Air Force Academy Admissions Office for the Northeast. She describes opportunities at the Academy and the many concentrations offered. Learn more about the application process at AcademyAdmissions.com.

Max Flight

During a brief lull in the interviews, David and Benet decide to “interview” Max and hear about his visit outside the Museum to see the aircraft and automobiles on display. Max also describes his experience at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania.

Steve Maloney

Steve Maloney

Steve Maloney

Steve is a contemporary artist from California who transformed a boneyard U.S. Army Huey helicopter into a mixed-media sculpture. The helicopter served as an air ambulance during the Vietnam War, and Take Me Home Huey is now touring the U.S. to honor Vietnam vets and facilitate conversation about their service.

Watch the trailer of the documentary film about the role Hueys played during conflicts as told by pilots, mechanics and helicopter crew members.

Bill Barry, NASA

NASA Chief Historian Bill Barry (seated, far left) and some airplane geeks

NASA Chief Historian Bill Barry (seated, far left) and some airplane geeks

NASA Chief Historian Bill Barry tells us about some of the other anniversaries in 2016, including the first Viking lander on Mars 40 years ago, the 10th anniversary of the first COTS (commercial off the shelf technology) contact for launch services delivering material to the Space Station, the 100th anniversary of Langley, and even the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Bill talks about naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise rather than Constitution, the aeronautics programs at NASA, and public interest in NASA activities. Be sure to visit the NASA History webpage.


Take Me Home Huey

Take Me Home Huey


Micah and Brian

Micah and Brian


Airplane Geeks would like to thank the National Air & Space Museum for inviting us back to the Innovations in Flight event. This is a must-attend, bring your family event held the Saturday before Father’s Day in June.

Photo credits: @ProfVanderhoof, @dronemama, @maxflight

Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

403 Bits & Pieces XVI

This is a Bits & Pieces episode, where we ask the co-hosts and other contributors to provide pre-recorded segments, then we stitch them together and it’s Bits & Pieces.

NASA Interviews

Dr. Richard Wahls and David Vanderhoof

Dr. Richard Wahls and David Vanderhoof

David Vanderhoof spent a day at NASA Langley Research Center (LRC) which is adjacent to Joint Base Langley Eustis, and he recorded several interviews. NASA LRC is leading the charge the revitalize focus on the first “A” in NASA: Aeronautics.

The first interview is with Dr. Richard Wahls, the Advanced Air Vehicles Program Strategic Technical Advisor. David and Dr. Wahls talk about the new X- Plane Program and how it is focusing on environmental issues to make commerical, GA, and military aviation “greener.”

Peter Coen

Peter Coen

The second interview is with Peter Coen, the Commercial Supersonic Technology Project Manager. They talk about “shaping the boom” by changing the shape of the aircraft. While not eliminating the boom, it does reduce its impact on the ground.

David also recorded two other interviews at NASA Langley. He spoke with Dr. Allen about the Autonomy Incubator, and that interview can be found at The UAV Digest.com #145. David also talked with Frank Jones about sense and avoid technology and sUAS package delivery. Find that conversation at The UAV Digest.com #149 which will be released a few days after this episode. You can follow NASA Langley on Twitter at @NASA_Langley. Thanks to Kathy Barnstoff and Bill Baley for arranging the interviews.

Airport Security Lines

Brian Coleman talks about long TSA lines.

On the Mark

Rob Mark has another On the Mark segment titled Don’t Let Congress Cut the NTSB’s TV Time.

Listener Recording

Gary tells us his story of buying his own Piper PA-38 Tomahawk.

Our Maine(e) Man Micah

By popular request, Micah brings us a timely update to his piece, News Reporting and the Sport of Speculation or The Surge in Sensational Surrealism. Plus a little bonus piece from Micah called Lighter Than Nomenclature.


Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

AirplaneGeeks 392 Aviation Safety with Todd Curtis

Dr. Todd Curtis, founder of AirSafe.com, talks about about MH370 on the second anniversary of its loss, laser and drone threats to aviation safety, an aviation maintenance competition, and improving the quality of media reporting of aviation accidents. In the news, we discuss supersonic planes, all-woman commercial flights, the longest flights, and air service to Cuba.


Dr. Todd Curtis

Dr. Todd Curtis

Todd Curtis is an aviation safety analyst, author, and publisher. He founded AirSafe.com in 1996 to provide the public with useful information about airline safety, fear of flying, plane crashes, TSA security, and other issues of concern to the traveling public.

While an airline safety engineer at Boeing, Todd was directly involved in many plane crash investigations, including TWA flight 800, and he was part of the engineering development team for the 777.

In addition to writing several books on aviation safety and security, Todd has also written the book Parenting and the Internet. He’s been a frequent on-air aviation expert on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, CBC, BBC, Discovery Channel, NPR, and many other major news media outlets around the world.


Visit AirSafe.com for airline safety and security information, as well as information about fear of flying, flying with cash, child travel, the airline complaint process, baggage tips, and much more. Follow @airsafe on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.


QueSST X-plane concept, courtesy Lockheed Martin

QueSST X-plane concept, courtesy Lockheed Martin

NASA selects Lockheed Martin to design supersonic X-plane

Under the preliminary design phase of the quiet supersonic technology (QueSST) program, Lockheed Martin will lead a team to design a half-scale supersonic X-plane that uses boom-suppression technology. NASA administrator Charles Bolden said, “Now we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.”

NASA plans to start building the supersonic X-plane in 2019, with first flight scheduled in 2020. The acoustic survey would begin in 2021 in southern California and continue for several years. The Lockheed Martin team includes subcontractors GE Aviation and Tri Models Inc.

World’s longest all-women operated flight is ready for take off

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Air India set the record for the longest all-women operated and supported flight, which flew non-stop on March 6 from New Delhi to San Francisco. The cabin crew, cockpit crew, check-in staff, and customer care staff were all women

Air India will operate 20 all-women domestic flights on March 8

Air India said it would fly 20 all-women domestic flights March 8 to commemorate International Women’s Day. Every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated by Air India with all-women crews on selected international and domestic sectors.

Boeing 777 Flies Seven of the World’s 10 Longest Airline Routes

The longest flight in the world is the 8,819 mile flight between Dubai and Auckland, New Zealand. Emirates inaugurated the route with an A380, but switched to the 777-200LR the next day. Of the ten longest flights in the world, the B777 is used on seven of them, and the A380 flies the other three.

Starting June 1, 2016, United will begin the 8,446-mile San Francisco-Singapore service with a 787-9, making it the third-longest flight in the world, and the longest scheduled flight by any U.S. carrier.

These Are All the Proposed Flights From America to Cuba

The U.S. and Cuba have agreed to permit 110 daily flights between the two countries: twenty daily flights to Havana, and ten daily flights to nine other international airports. The deadline for airlines to submit applications to the Department of Transportation for proposed flight routes has expired, and eight airlines applied.

Listener Recording

My Favorite Airplane – Yet Again, by Micah, our Main(e) Man.


Airplane Geeks Podcast Archive

Aviation Geek Fest Seattle 2016

Bjorn’s Corner: Engine architectures

Leading Edge Photography

Why did the half-plane, half-helicopter not work?


Opening music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

AirplaneGeeks 390 Lightspeed ANR Headsets

We learn all about Active Noise Reduction headsets with the founder and CEO of Lightspeed Aviation. In the news: Bombardier job cuts and a CS300 order, the NASA aeronautics budget request, United 747 retirements, and the FAA reauthorization bill stalls. We also have the winner of the John Mollison print.

Allan Schrader

Allan Schrader, founder and CEO, Lightspeed Aviation.


Allan Schrader is founder and CEO of Lightspeed Aviation, a leading producer of active noise reduction headsets for aviation. Lightspeed introduced their first product in 1996 at EAA AirVenture and continues to develop and offer innovative products.

Allan tells us how he started Lightspeed and the sound cancellation technologies involved. We learn about the labs dedicated to delivering quieting, comfort, and fidelity; the headset trade-in program; and the different acoustic signatures of GA airplanes, helicopters, and airliners. Allan also talks about the introduction of the wireless headset, and integrating headsets with cockpit information to enhance the cockpit experience.

Allan has a civil engineering degree and an MBA, and started his career at Tektronix  where he learned about product development and operations. Allan left Tektronix to launch a startup company producing wireless headsets, then after five years he and some of his Tektronix co-workers started Lightspeed Technologies to design and make Active Noise Reduction headsets.


Bombardier to Cut Workforce by 10%, Gets New CSeries Orders

Bombardier plans to cut about 7,000 jobs from its worldwide workforce of 71,000. Layoffs are expected in both Canada and Europe, split between the company’s plane and train operations. The better news is that Air Canada placed orders for 45 firm and 30 option CS300 airplanes.

Boom! NASA Wants to Bring Back Supersonic X-Planes

The $19B FY 2017 NASA budget request asks for $790M to be used for aeronautics research impacting the safety, capacity, and efficiency of the air transportation system; a major new experimental flight initiative to demonstrate and validate new technologies that dramatically reduce fuel consumption, emissions, and noise, and open new markets for U.S. industry; and research and development for revolutionary low carbon emission aircraft, including associated transportation systems, as part of a multiagency effort to enable a 21st century clean transportation system.


United Airlines tells pilots it may retire all of its Boeing 747s by 2018

Aviation journalist Brian Sumers reports that almost a year ago, United indicated that its 747 fleet would be around for a while, with maybe a 2020 decision point based on aircraft maintenance requirements. Now however, pilots were told that 747 retirements may occur at a faster rate. If United does move to retire the 747 quickly, they say they will accelerate deliveries of new widebodies.

Reauthorization Bill Stalled In Committee

The FAA reauthorization bill which would privatize ATC will not be introduced to the full House as scheduled. Facing widespread opposition to the bill, Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster will instead try and consolidate support. Expect the bill to be amended before it re-emerges from Committee.

John Mollison Print Giveaway

Grandpas Untold StoryWe announce the winner of the John Mollison signed print showing the B-25 flown by Dick Cole and Doolittle, Bud Anderson’s P51B, Alden Rigby’s P51D, and Maury Magneson’s P47. John was our guest on Episode 388 where he told us about his “Old Guys and Their Airplanes” video documentaries.

We also play a moving recording called “Grandpa’s Untold Story” that describes how the picture of one man’s B-17 came to be on the wall of his grandson.

Airplane of the Week

Listener Glenn Towler tells us the history of the English Electric Lightning.


Airfare is finally getting cheaper

Why We Fly Podcast

Ryan Hothersall’s photos of the E4 when it visited Adelaide, South Australia in 2005.


Opening music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.


AirplaneGeeks 381 Ballistic Recovery Parachutes

Ballistic Recovery Systems

A conversation about aircraft parachute systems with the founder of Ballistic Recovery Systems, HondaJet certification, the Cirrus Vision SF50, British Airways displeasure with Heathrow expansion plans, abandoned 747 freighters, and efficient but not accurate airport firefighters. Also, the Millennium Falcon, the Handley Page Herald turboprop, ATC job opportunities, and WATS tables.


Boris Popov

Boris Popov

Boris Popov is the founder of Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS). In 1975, Boris survived a 400-foot fall in a collapsed hang glider and the incident led Boris to develop a whole-aircraft parachute system. Ballistic Recovery Systems was founded in 1980 and their first parachute for the ultralight aircraft market was introduced in 1982. In 1983 the system had its first save of an aircraft and crew and since then has saved hundreds of lives

In 1998 the company collaborated with Cirrus Aircraft to develop the first recovery parachute system used on a type-certified aircraft, the Cirrus SR20. Since then, there have been 56 Saves of Cirrus Aircraft with 114 survivors, resulting in a fatal accident rate that’s half that of typical GA aircraft. The company also offers parachutes for the Cessna 172, Cessna 182, and about a dozen light sport aircraft, including the new Icon A5 seaplane.


Honda Aircraft receives type certification for HondaJet

HondaJet earns type certificate

Achieving type-certification brings Honda Aircraft close to customer delivery of the HondaJet. The small, jet-powered airplane features an over-the-wing engine mount, natural laminar flow, a composite fuselage, and a Garmin® G3000 next-generation all-glass avionics system. Power comes from two GE Honda Aero Engines HF120 powerplants.

Cirrus Teases Vision SF50 Performance Numbers

Cirrus Aircraft has released flight profile details of the Vision SF50 single-engine light jet. With a maximum ramp weight of 6,040 pounds, and a fuel load of 296 gallons/1,983 pounds, takeoff ground roll is 2,036 feet. At FL280, maximum cruise at 300 ktas burns 69 gph/462 pph, for a range of 1,000 nm. Fuel burn drops to 47 gph/315 pph and speed to 242 ktas at best-economy cruise, with range up to 1,200 nm.

Heathrow expansion: British Airways threatens to move out of UK

International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh isn’t happy with plans for Heathrow’s expansion. That plan includes a new runway, a new terminal, an underground train link, and a very expensive (£800m) car park. Walsh says all this would double the £40 fee they pay now for a return trip.

Be an Astronaut: NASA Accepting Applications for Future Explorers

NASA is looking for astronauts and the astronaut candidate application website is now live and accepting submissions through Feb. 18, 2016.

Malaysia hunts owners of Boeing 747s abandoned at airport

In an effort to remove three abandoned Boeing 747 freighters from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Malaysia, airport officials posted a notice in several newspapers giving the owners 14 days to pay the parking fees and remove the planes. Otherwise, the airport would dispose of the planes. The freighters have now been claimed by Swift Air Cargo, a Malaysian company.

Fire fighters spray foam on wrong plane during engine emergency

An Air China Boeing 737 had an engine fire while taxiing at an airport in China. This was reported by pilots of another plane who observed the fire. The firefighters arrived and dutifully covered the plane in foam – the reporting plane, not the one with the fire.

The Airplane of the Week

Can you feel it? There has been an awakening, the Dark and the Light. David’s Journey to the Force Awakens ends this episode with the ship that has been in more movies than any other:  the YT-1300 Freighter called the Millennium Falcon. “She’s the fastest hunk of junk in the Galaxy” and has some really cool #AVGeek connections.

If you want to know more check out these links:

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith Easter Egg – Millenium Falcon

5 Things You Might Not Know About the Millennium Falcon

From World War to Star Wars: The B-17 and The Ghost

Fate of the Jedi, “Millennium Falcon” SpecPlate and Crucible–class

From World War to Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon

Across the Pond

Handley Page Herald copyright DestinWorld Publishing

An early production model Handley Page Herald in BEA livery demonstrating a single engine fly past – Copyright DestinWorld Publishing

Matt Falcus returns to Across The Pond and discusses his latest book The Handley Page Herald about the two-engined turbo-prop aircraft that proved reliable and useful in service, but failed to capture the volume of orders expected. Airline service lead to a later life as a cargo and freight carrier until it finished service in 1999.

From the Timeline series, Matt is looking for new authors and contributors to grow the series of aircraft, airport and airlines books.

Aviation photographer Paul Filmer wrote in: “What a great British aircraft. In the late 80s early 90s I worked for Channel Express in Guernsey, Channel Islands and flew jumpseat in many flights from Guernsey to Bournemouth and return. We flew boxed cut flowers out and mail and express freight (FedEx, DHL etc) inbound. The cargo capacity was 5 tonnes and it was very popular with the loaders as the large cargo door was low to the ground. I loved my time flying on these pax aircraft turned freighters.”

Paul sent in a photograph of a Page Herald in service, and one of a hand carved model he had custom made recently:

Handley Page Herald by Paul Filmer

Handley Page Herald by Paul Filmer

Handley Page Herald model



Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at brotherloverocks.com.


AirplaneGeeks 376 Van’s Aircraft Founder and CEO Dick VanGrunsven

Vans RV-14

Van’s Aircraft kitplanes, Boeing doesn’t plan to change the Dreamliner for Emirates, NASA is looking for astronauts, the first customer-built SubSonex jet flies, the Pilatus PC-12 business jet also has its first flight, and livestock pass gas.


Photo of Van and RV-10 by Jim Koepnick.

Dick VanGrunsven

Dick (“Van”) VanGrunsven is founder and CEO of kitplane maker Van’s Aircraft. Van has been flying since 1956 and has logged more than 15,000+ hours (the majority of it in airplanes of his own design) and holds CFI, multi-engine, and ATP ratings.

We talk with Van about the kitplane business in general and the Van’s Aircraft planes in particular. Van tells us what it is about the character of the planes that makes them so popular with kit builders and with the pilots who fly them. We also touch on personal jets, the decrease in numbers of amateur built planes, and how the availability of used experimental planes contributes to shrinking sales of new kits. Van also talks about getting good flight instruction in experimental aircraft.

Throughout high school and college Van flew a Cub and a Taylorcraft from the 670 foot grass strip on his parent’s farm. After finishing engineering school and a stint in the Air Force, he purchased a homebuilt 65 hp Stits Playboy, which he rebuilt with a 125 hp Lycoming engine, bubble canopy, Hoerner style wingtips, and an all new set of cantilever aluminum wings to replace the strut-braced wood and fabric originals. Renamed the RV-1, the Playboy flew like a new airplane.

Van flew the RV-1 from 1965 through 1968 but he felt something better was possible. He wanted an airplane that was able to fly in and out of any reasonable airstrip, with enough power and maneuverability to do good basic aerobatics, and cruise as fast as possible. He reluctantly sold the RV-1 and began design and construction of a completely original airplane.

The single-seat RV-3 flew for the first time in August 1971. Van quit his job at a forklift manufacturer and began supplying basic kits for the RV-3.

Over the next forty years, Van’s Aircraft became the acknowledged leader in the kit aircraft world.  New aircraft, from the RV-4 through the Light Sport RV-12 and now the “widebody” RV-14,  have been introduced and each has proven successful in the marketplace. For most of that time, Van was chief engineer, head designer, and CEO of the company.

For homebuilt resources, see the Van’s Aircraft homepage and Facebook page, the independent Van’s Air Force site, and the EAA homepage.

Guest Co-Host

Mark Newton in his RV-6

Mark Newton in his RV-6

Mark Newton is an Australian private pilot who started learning to fly in 1999, after a weather diversion as a passenger in a Grumman Traveller light aircraft wound-up as an unexpected overnight stay at a gliding field. Over the years Mark has flown 24 types of gliders, and he holds a glider instructor rating.

Gliders in Australia don’t require pilot licenses, so Mark didn’t start training for his PPL until 2008. He bought a well-built RV-6 in 2011, and enjoys using it for traveling to distant parts of the country, aerobatics, the odd “$100 hamburger,” and installing “RV-grins” on new aviators as part of their first taste of flight, including several who have gone on to gain pilot licenses of their own.


Boeing says will not make changes to Dreamliner stretch for Emirates

Emirates has said they will decide in 2016 if they will order almost 100 planes, either the Boeing 787-10 or the Airbus for A350-900. Emirates needs long-range planes that can operate in hot climates. Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth says, “The plan is not to change the aircraft, we really like what we have.”

Wanted: Astronauts. Got the right stuff?

NASA announced that by summer 2017 they will begin recruiting a new astronaut class of 8 to 14 people. This is an item that Yong-Lim Foo should pay attention to, our listener from Singapore. There are some basic requirements: You have to be between 62 and 75 inches tall and have a military, science, or technical background. You could end up on the International Space Station, traveling to the moon, or maybe even going to Mars. For more information, see http://www.nasa.gov/astronauts.

First Customer-Built SubSonex Personal Jet Flies

Redge Greenberg, of Durango, Colorado, received the first SubSonex kit (S/N JSX0003) in February and is now the first customer to build and fly the SubSonex Personal Jet. The SubSonex is sold as a Quick Build Kit only. Greenberg has 4,500-plus hours in numerous aircraft and says, “…I never got the chance to fly a jet. I first saw the prototype of the SubSonex at Oshkosh, and followed the development for over a year. When Sonex offered the jet as a kit, I was first in line. Like my RV8, the SubSonex is aerobatic, but the Sonex company also included a ballistic parachute for extra safety.”

Swiss-built business jet to compete against Cessna Citations

Pilatus Aircraft is entering the business jet market with its six-passenger PC-24, which had its first flight in May. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2017, the second half of that year for U.S. deliveries. This will compete with the Cessna Citation business jets.

No Evidence Farting Livestock Caused Emergency Landing, Airline Says

The Aviation Herald reported that a Singapore Airlines plane with 2,186 sheep onboard diverted to Bali after “exhaust gasses and manure produced by the sheep” caused the smoke detector to go off. The airline says there is no evidence the livestock were responsible.

The Australia News Desk

Across the Pond

Pieter visits the Science Museum in London to show what visitors can see from an aviation perspective in the center of London. He gives a quick review of the aviation, aerospace and space exhibits on display and talks about other potential aviation sites to visit in the capital and elsewhere in the UK. The Science Museum is free and has a couple of hours worth of aviation exhibits if you want to slowly browse. If you want to speed around you can do them in less than an hour. However, the reset of the Museum will attract some attention as well and worthy of a whole day if you can spare it. Pieter also suggests making contact with him, if you are visiting and he (and his network) will help point you in the direction of aviation sites to visit in both London as well as the rest of the UK.


Barrage balloon cuts power to Seattle and causes air raid scare on January 12, 1942

Benfica safety video with Emirates:

Do you know what this clock is? Can you explain the markings? Leave any information in the comments.


Flying 101 paint job:

flying 101 paint job

Garmin AOA indicator calibration, via listener Craig:


Photos by Neil from San Francisco Fleet Week:

nrphotography L-27

nrphotography L-29-2

nrphotography L-27-2


Photo of RV-14 copyright Van jones photos.

Photo of Van and RV-10 by Jim Koepnick.

Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at brotherloverocks.com.


AirplaneGeeks 370 NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System

The NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System, the European Aviation Safety Agency takes issue with pilot license renewal practices in Germany, medical requirements under the Pilot’s Bill of Rights, ICAO creates a site for aircraft tracking, the consequences for air traffic controllers who make mistakes, and the first woman cleared to fly the F-35A Lightning II.


Linda Connell

Linda Connell

Guest Linda Connell is Director of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System and a Research Psychologist for NASA Ames Research Center. The ASRS collects and acts on voluntarily submitted aviation safety incident/situation reports from pilots, controllers, and others.

Linda has been working at NASA Ames Research Center since 1981, and has participated in a number of studies with domestic and international research teams exploring human factor issues in aviation environments.

A Registered Nurse and member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Linda continues to evaluate proactive aviation safety information on a variety of topics, including pilot/controller voice communication, emergency medical helicopter operations, aviation maintenance, cabin safety, and technology applications in aviation environments.

We talk with Linda about the formation of the ASRS, the process to collect safety data in a way that guarantees immunity, the analysis of the data and how subcontractors are utilized, and the 10 day window. We also discuss the alerts process and how to submit reports.


EU Challenging Germany’s Air Safety Authorities Post Germanwings Crash

The European Aviation Safety Agency says license renewal practices for pilots in Germany favor privacy over safety. Noting that Germany has addressed some of the concerns, the EU says others remain.  If Germany does not comply with the Commission’s demands, it could be taken to court.

Pilot’s Bill Of Rights Changes; One-Time Medicals For Some

The Pilot’s Bill of Rights introduced earlier this year by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. was designed to waive the third-class medical for private pilots flying light aircraft. Now the bill has changed to include:

  • An online aeromedical course every two years.
  • Logbook entries that certify the pilot has seen their personal doctors at least once every four years (and received any needed treatment for medical conditions).
  • A one-time medical for new pilots and pilots who haven’t had a medical in the last 10 years.

ICAO starts aircraft tracking information web page

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has created a Global Tracking Initiatives web page to serve as “a repository of documents related to aircraft tracking.” The page presents a timeline of events and documents. Adoption of a 15-minute aircraft tracking Standard is expected at the end of 2015.

Air traffic controllers making major errors remain on job, including at IAH

KPRC-TV in Houston, Texas reports that “air traffic controllers who have made major errors have been allowed to stay on the job, without loss of rank or pay.”  This has occurred at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, and at other airports. KPRC reporter Joel Eisenbaum asked, “So you can make an error that causes a plane to crash and you’re not losing your job?”

The FAA response was, “The FAA has learned through experience that a non-punitive safety culture encourages employees to share information and engage in frank and open discussions about situations that they might otherwise be reluctant to bring to a supervisor’s attention. In cases involving willful neglect or dereliction of duties by an employee, the agency does not hesitate to take the appropriate measures as defined under agency policies and collective bargaining agreements.”

Textron Aviation customer Wheels Up completes capital raise

The New York-based private aviation membership company Wheels Up has an order for 105 Beechcraft King Air 350i’s, and has raised $115 million in capital for business expansion.

Boeing’s new tanker achieves first flight

Boeing flew the KC-46A Paine Field in Everett, Washington for a four hour first flight. The KC-46A is based on the Boeing 767 commercial airliner.

Other Segments

Lieutenant Colonel Christine “Grinder” Mau

Lieutenant Colonel Christine “Grinder” Mau

  • David attended the Joint Base Andrews’ open house on September 19th 2015, where he interviewed Lieutenant Colonel Christine “Grinder” Mau, Deputy Commander for the Operations Group of the 33rd Fighter Wing. Col. Mau was the first woman cleared to fly the F-35A Lightning II, and one of only 52 women fighter pilots in the USAF. She talks about what it’s like to fly the F-35A, and believing in your dreams.
F-35A and R2D2

F-35A and R2D2

  • Micah gives us some thoughts on the late Alan Purwin.
  • Brian talks with listener Hendrik in Hamburg, Germany.


Listener Photo

Michael sends this photo from his Cirrus SR22T looking over Los Angeles on airway V186 from the Paradise VOR to Van Nuys VOR, September 17, 2015. The light in the top right of the picture is a 777 going into LAX.

Cirrus SR22T looking over Los Angeles


Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at brotherloverocks.com.