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September 19, 1949 – First Flight Fairey Gannet

Fairey Gannet at AirVenture 2014 at Oshkosh

The Fairey Gannet was a British carrier-borne aircraft of the post-Second World War era developed for the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm (FAA) by the Fairey Aviation Company. It was a mid-wing monoplane with atricycle undercarriage and a crew of three, and a double turboprop engine driving two contra-rotating propellers.

Originally developed to meet the FAA’s anti-submarine warfare requirement, the Gannet was later adapted for operations as an electronic countermeasures and carrier onboard delivery aircraft. The Gannet AEW was a variant of the aircraft developed as a carrier-based airborne early warning platform.

Fairey Gannet at Oshkosh 2014

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September 17, 1959 – First Powered Flight of the North American X-15

X-15 at the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio

Test pilot Scott Crossfield flew the North American X-15 under its own power for the first time on September 17, 1959.

The North American X-15 was a rocket-powered aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of the X-plane series of experimental aircraft. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and returning with valuable data used in aircraft and spacecraft design. As of 2014, the X-15 holds the official world record for the highest speed ever reached by a manned, powered aircraft. Its maximum speed was 4,520 miles per hour (7,274 km/h)

(information from Wikipedia)

During the X-15 program, 13 flights by eight pilots met the Air Force spaceflight criterion by exceeding the altitude of 50 miles (80 km), thus qualifying the pilots for astronaut status. The Air Force pilots qualified for astronaut wings immediately, while the civilian pilots were awarded NASA astronaut wings in 2005, 35 years after the last X-15 flight. The sole Navy pilot in the X-15 program never took the aircraft above the requisite 50 mile altitude.

Photo courtesy US Air Force

Photo courtesy US Air Force

 

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September 16, 1958 – First Flight North American Sabreliner

Sabreliner at 2011 Rochester Air Show

The North American Sabreliner (later sold as the Rockwell Sabreliner) is a mid-sized business jet developed by North American Aviation. It was offered to the U.S. Air Force in response to their Utility Trainer Experimental (UTX) program. It was named “Sabreliner” due to the similarity of the wing and tail to North American’s F-86 Sabre jet fighter. Military variants, designated T-39 Sabreliner, were used by the U.S Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps after the Air Force placed an initial order in 1959. The Sabreliner was also developed into a commercial variant.

 

(from Wikipedia)

 

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September 15, 1991 – First Flight of the Boeing C-17 Globemaster

 The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft. It was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas. The C-17 carries forward the name of two previous piston-engined military cargo aircraft, the Douglas C-74 Globemaster and the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II.aircraft. It was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas. The C-17 carries forward the name of two previous piston-engined military cargo aircraft, the Douglas C-74 Globemaster and the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II.

The RCAF operates 4 of these huge aircraft.  The one above is shown lifting off at the 2011 Great Lakes International Air Show in St. Thomas Ontario.

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Just me and a few thousand of my friends

After huge air shows like Oshkosh and Sun ‘n Fun and large ones like Waterloo and Thunder Over Michigan, it was refreshing to attend the Ontario South Coast Air Show.  A smaller, very friendly event where I knew all the performers and and a good number of the spectators.  A lovely way to spend a Saturday.

Ontario South Coast Air Show

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  • Thou shalt not pass!

View photos at SmugMug

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An Open Letter to the Jet Teams

DSC_6103To the Snowbirds, Blue Angels and Thunderbirds

First off, love your work!  You guys and girls are the best of the best and it’s so great to see you all in the air this year.  For a while there it looked like Canada’s Snowbirds were going to be the only military jet team flying in North America  and even that was in doubt if you listened to the rumors at ICAS (International Council of Air Shows) meetings last year.

Can I be so bold as to make one little suggestion that would go a long way to keep the public more interested?  Make your routines shorter.

I was down in Ypsilanti Michigan last weekend for Thunder Over Michigan where the USAF Thunderbirds performed.  I was sitting in the paid VIP area which was probably 300 – 400 feet away from where the jets were parked and from the time that the team announcer took the microphone until we actually saw a jet on the takeoff roll was approximately 20 MINUTES!!  I’ve seen the startup routine that all 3 teams perform and it’s very impressive.  Trouble is that only a small part of the crowd gets to see it.  For security reasons (I assume) the team is parked farther away from the crowdline now than in the past.  For TOM I needed my long lens just to grab a quick picture of the whole team down at the end of the tarmac. You already have the box so no one else is performing which means the majority of the crowd is looking at a blank sky and starting to think of the traffic and the long drive home.

We live in an age of diminished attention spans and increasing prices.  Joe Icecreamlicker spends a lot of money bringing all the little Icecreamlickers to the show and he wants everyone to be entertained so he can enjoy the airplanes without little Johnny whining about how bored he is and Mrs. Icecreamlicker complaining about how hot it is sitting on concrete or asphalt.  Lulls are the kiss of death for air shows that are already far too long.  People have come to see the jet team.  Why keep them waiting?

Revamp the act, let the civilian performers keep going while you go through the important rituals.  Have the announcer wait so that people don’t think the routine has started so maybe they will go get that ice cream or t-shirt and make the concession operators a little happier.  Stick to what you do best.  Flying.  Leave the theatre to Broadway.

 

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My head is in the clouds

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