Tag Archives: SR-71

507 SR-71, Owning the Airspace Above 60,000 Feet

We speak with an SR-71 crew member, instructor pilot, Wing Commander, airline pilot, and author. In the news, we look at the Airbus Helicopters H160, an F-35 report from the Government Accountability Office, the grounding of the B-1B fleet, and new airports for Thailand. Also, North American fliers are happier, five must-see TV programs about airplanes, the Texas Aircraft Expo, and listener feedback.

Guest

Col. Richard H. Graham in the SR-71 cockpit.

Col. Richard H. Graham in the SR-71 cockpit.

As a 15 year veteran within the SR-71 community, Col. Richard H. Graham is uniquely qualified to tell the Blackbird story. Col. Graham entered the SR-71 strategic reconnaissance program in 1974 and after several years as a crew member, he became an instructor pilot in the SR-71. In 1978 he was selected as the Chief, Standardization/Evaluation Division. In 1980 Col. Graham became the SR-71 Squadron Commander of the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron. Following four years in the Pentagon, Col. Graham was selected to be the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Commander at Beale AFB in June 1987. He has written five books about the SR-71.

We talk about the models of the 50 Blackbirds that were built and their safety. Nineteen were lost, all but one in the first 6 years. Col. Graham tells us about the SR-71 ejection seat and the aerial refueling procedure that uses liquid nitrogen to prevent fuel tank explosions. We also compare the SR-71 with the U-2, and learn about measuring fuel drips, “unstarts,” and the pilot selection and training processes.

Col. Graham’s books are available on Amazon.com, but also on eBay where he offers autographed copies. Look for eBay seller ID SR-71 pilot 1974-1981.

Prior to entering the SR-71 program, Col Graham flew 210 combat missions in Vietnam in the F-4C/D Phantom as well as the Wild Weasel mission. He was a command pilot with more than 4,600 military flying hours. His military decorations include three Legion of Merit awards, four Distinguished Flying Cross medals, and 19 Air Medals.

After serving 25 years in the Air Force, Col. Graham flew for American Airlines for 13 years, accumulating over 8,000 flying hours. He was initially hired at American Airlines as a Flight Engineer, flying the B-727 and DC-10. After 2 years he moved to the right seat of the MD-80 and his last 3 years Rich few as a captain on the MD-80.

With over 16,000 hours total flying time, you can find Rich flying and teaching at McKinney (Texas) Airport (TKI) for the Texins Flying Club.

Aviation News

Airbus’ H160 Helicopter Helps Save Pilots from Their Own Mistakes

The Airbus Helicopters H160 medium duty helicopter is the first of the H generation. Airbus says “the entire design was based on one overriding goal: to create added value for customers in terms of performance, economic competitiveness, safety, and comfort.” The H160 features an advanced “automatic recovery mode” designed to help pilots in difficult situations.

Is the F-35 About to Be Delayed (Again)?

The annual Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the F-35 (published June 5, 2018) has identified 966 open deficiencies. About 20% of them are expected to remain open when the Pentagon is scheduled to begin full-rate production. The GAO is advising the Pentagon hold off until these are addressed.

The Air Force Has Grounded All Of Its B-1Bs Over A Fault In Their Ejection Seats

Air Force Global Strike Command has ordered its B-1 bombers to stand down after finding ‘an issue with ejection seat components’

The entire fleet of B-1B bombers is grounded as a result of an issue with the aircraft’s ejection seats. This follows from the safety investigation after an emergency landing of a B-1B at Midland International Air & Space Port in Midland, Texas on May 1, 2018.

Thailand approves new airports to serve even more travellers – while Maya Bay closes due to overtourism

Maya Bay is closed for four months as a result of over-tourism causing coral reef damage and pollution. At the same time, the approval of two new airports has been criticised by environmentalists.

Airline Story of the Week

Air Canada and WestJet see improved results in passenger-satisfaction survey

A survey of passengers shows that North Americans are happier about airline travel than they have ever been.

Interviews

Reporter-at-Large Launchpad Marzari attended the Texas Aircraft Expo and spoke with Patrick Rydzewski of CTL Aero Solutions, and 12-year old Clare Muska.

See:

Mentioned

#PaxEx Podcast 58, Unpacking sexism at AGM, guns in carryon, pot in transit with journalist Harriet Baskas.

5 Must-See Aviation Documentaries on Netflix or Amazon

Aviodrome

Credit

Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

425 Getting Women into the Cockpit

Dassault Falcon 8X

Dassault Falcon 8X

A program that helps get women into the pilot’s seat, American Airlines and FedEx aircraft fires, tech to help your bags from getting lost, another flying car (possibly), the Cirrus VisionJet receives FAA Certification, and we lose a legendary pilot.

Guest

Mary Latimer and her husband, Lawrence, have been in aviation since they met in 1970. They have been involved in the aerial application industry, ferry, maintenance, rebuild, flight training, freight, and corporate aviation.

Mary created the nonprofit Girls in Flight Training (GIFT) Academy that gets women into the cockpit. The goal of this female-friendly flight school is to identify and address the various issues that may be causing women to abandon flight training, and to assist them in overcoming those obstacles. GIFT Week is a once-a-year “Women Only”  event that gives women in any phase of their flight training the opportunity to come together to further motivate their aviation training.

A flight instructor since 1974, Mary is a designated pilot examiner (for private, commercial, and instrument). She was named Flight Instructor of the year for the Lubbock, Texas Region in 2013. Mary is also a retired air traffic controller with twenty-four years of service and flies the Cessna Conquest II twin. She’s an A&P mechanic with Inspection Authorization and an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner.

News

American Airlines Plane Engine Flung Debris in Rare, Risky Failure

American Airlines Flight 383, a Boeing 767-300ER, experienced an uncontained engine failure and aborted the takeoff. The dramatic fire that resulted was captured in amateur video.

ATC communications: AA383 ORD – MIA (Audio by LIVEATC.net).

AA383 Chicago 767 fire highlights evacuation safety issues

FedEx Plane Catches Fire at Fort Lauderdale Airport

Shortly after touching down, the left main landing gear on a FedEx DC-10 collapsed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport. The two pilots escaped safely from the resulting fire. Fire crews arrived quickly, found a trail of fire down the runway.

How Delta And The Airline Industry Plan To Lose Your Bags Less Often

According to Delta, the average cost to get a lost bag to the passenger is $70. Delta invested $50 million on an RFID-based tracking system which is more reliable than traditional barcodes. Delta’s mobile app even lets passengers locate their RFID-equipped bags on a map.

A Glimpse Of Zee Aero’s “Flying Car”

The Monterey Herald newspaper in California published photos of a possible flying car being developed by Zee Aero. Reportedly, Zee is financed by Google founder Larry Page. The aircraft has “an array of small propellers mounted on booms in front of and behind the wing, and a pusher prop mounted beneath the tail.” The Zee website states, “We’re designing, building, and testing better ways to get from A to B.”

Commuter Drones: Uber Hopes to Transcend Gridlock with, Yes, Flying Cars

R.A. “Bob” Hoover: saying good bye to a Hero!

David posts a tribute to Bob Hoover, perhaps the greatest pilot that ever lived.

Cirrus VisionJet Receives FAA Certification

Cirrus calls it “the world’s first single engine Personal Jet” and initial customer deliveries are expected in 2016.

Airplane of the Week

sr-71-flight-manual-coverDavid reviews SR-71 Flight Manual: The Official Pilot’s Handbook Declassified and Expanded with Commentary. While not light reading at 1040 pages, it does provide a different perspective of the world’s fastest airplane. Available from Amazon.com.

Dassault Falcon 8X

Rob had the opportunity to fly the Falcon 8X and gives us some of his impressions.

Rob in the Dassault Falcon 8X

Rob in the Dassault Falcon 8X

Mentioned

Japan is building a flying car for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Bob Hoover Barrel Roll

Airports Commission chair calls for immediate Heathrow third runway vote

The Bally Bomber – A manned, ⅓ scale B-17 replica.

Credit

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

 

AirplaneGeeks 375 Sled Driver Brian Shul

SR-71 Courtesy Lockheed Martin

SR-71 Courtesy Lockheed Martin

Conversation with an SR-71 spy plane pilot, Northrop Grumman wins Long Range Strike Bomber contract, an aerostat breaks loose, Quebec steps in to shore up Bombardier, team forms to produce a “declaration on cyber security” for aviation, and China shows the first COMAC C919 airliner.

Guest

Brian Shul

Brian Shul

Brian Shul served as an Air Force fighter pilot from 1970-1990. Flying close air support during the Viet Nam Conflict, he was shot down near the Cambodian border. Unable to eject, he rode the plane into the jungle and was seriously burned during the ensuing fireball. Lucky to be alive, he spent a year in the hospital and was told his flying days were over.

Miraculously, after many surgeries and months of physical therapy, Brian returned to active flying duty.  He went on to fly the A-7D, he was in the first A-10 squadron, he taught at the Air Force’s TopGun school in the F-5B, and his flying career culminated by flying the SR-71 spy plane.  

Retiring from the Air Force in 1990, Brian SR-71 enginespursued his writing and photography by starting his own business with Gallery One. He was the first man to write a book about flying the SR-71, all illustrated with his own photography.  He did a second book, both of which are now the most popular SR-71 books worldwide.   Additionally, Brian is the only man in America to fly extensively with both the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels writing books about both of those teams.

Learn more about Brian and his books at SledDriver.com. Find his impressive photography at Gallery One Images.

News

Northrop Grumman wins Long Range Strike Bomber contract

The Pentagon awarded Northrop Grumman the contract to build the Long Range Strike Bomber  (LRS-B), over the proposals from Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The 80-100 plane fleet is scheduled to enter service in the 2020’s after more than $20 billion in development expenditures. According to Defense News, the component manufacturers have been competitively selected but not announced.

Northrop Grumman launched the Americas New Bomber website and is asking American citizens to sign a letter partitioning elected officials to support the new bomber.

How the Army’s $3 billion spy blimp went from boondoggle to laughingstock

The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, (JLENS) is a pair of tethered balloons meant to detect threats to the U.S. such as missiles and manned or unmanned aircraft. According to Raytheon, JLENS “is a system of two aerostats, or tethered airships, that float 10,000 feet in the air. The helium filled aerostats, each nearly as long as a football field, carry powerful radars that can protect a territory roughly the size of Texas from airborne threats.”

Each of the airships is called an “orbit” and the one at Aberdeen Proving Ground north of Baltimore, Maryland broke loose. It was escorted by F-16’s until it came down in Pennsylvania. The 6,700 foot tether was reported to take out power lines causing outages for more than a few people.

Canadian Government Throws Bombardier a Lifeline

After CSeries and Learjet 85 program writedowns, Bombardier posted a $4.9 billion loss in the third quarter. The Learjet 85 program was canceled and the Quebec government will take a 49 percent stake in the CSeries program. Bombardier is a  major Quebec employer.

Airlines step up efforts to tackle cyber security risks

IATA’s 24th AVSEC World Conference was held October 26 – 28, 2015 in Dublin and addressed many cyber security risks. A team has been formed to produce a “declaration on cyber security” that would go to the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in September, 2016. ICAO member states could sign the declaration if they wish, but this doesn’t create mandatory standards.

Countries warned of dangers flying over Sinai

The United States, Germany and Britain all had overflight warnings in place for Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula,  where a Russian passenger plane went down killing all 224 people on board.

China Unveils First Major Homegrown Passenger Jet, Seen As Potential Competitor For Boeing And Airbus

COMAC (the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) rolled out the first C919 airliner which will now undergo ground tests before making its maiden flight in 2016. It is expected to enter service in 2018 or 2019. COMAC said it has orders for 517 of the aircraft.

The Australia News Desk

OzRunways fundraiser

OzRunways fundraiser

Steve’s had a good time at the OzRunways fundraiser for Angel Flight with Matt Hall but now it’s back to work and producing the OzDesk.

CASA says it’ll listen to industry:

KC30A refuels E7A over the Middle East:

Tracey Curtis-Taylor is on her way to Sydney, Australia in a Boeing Stearman:

Across the Pond

Harrier Boys coverPieter reflects back on the iconic Harrier by reviewing the latest book on the subject. Published a few months ago by Grub Street Books, it is a collection of personal stories from RAF and Royal Navy pilots and crewmen. Robert Marston, a Harrier pilot himself, draws together accounts from those who worked with this aircraft. The excitement, camaraderie, and pride shine through in the personal stories of those whose lives were changed by their experience of this iconic aircraft.

Mentioned

Live from the Reno Air Races with SkyChick and Team DarkstarWith Vicky Benzing and L139 owner Dianna Stanger.

Quirky car designer converts light plane into a road-legal vehicle – which he drives his son to school inYou’ve got to love this fun, street-legal, vehicle built using the fuselage of a Cirrus SR22.

Favorite Airplane Paint Jobs

Listeners answered the call to suggest their favorite airline liveries…

From A.V., the Nokair 737’s:

Nokair

From Jeffrey, the Short SC.7 Skyvan:

Peter De Jong

Peter De Jong

Alan Lebeda

Alan Lebeda

From Ian:

Westjet Mickey by Ian

Westjet Mickey by Ian

Credit

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