Oshkosh Countdown – 99 Days To Go

airshow, aviation, Oshkosh, photo

Ken Mist

2011.  Boeing brings aircraft ZA001 – the first 787 to Oshkosh.  At this point, the future for the Dreamliner looked very bright.  This was, of course, before the battery issues arose.

Ken Mist

The “Pride of the Fleet” now sits in the Mojave desert and will probably end up at the Museum of Flight near its birthplace in Washington State.

Today In Aviation History – April 15, 1952- First Flight Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

aviation, aviation history, First Flight

from Wikipedia

April 15, 1952.  First flight of the B-52.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons.

Beginning with the successful contract bid in June 1946, the B-52 design evolved from a straight-wing aircraft powered by six turboprop engines to the final prototype YB-52 with eight turbojet engines and swept wings. The B-52 took its maiden flight in April 1952. Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B-52 Stratofortress replaced the Convair B-36. A veteran of several wars, the B-52 has dropped only conventional munitions in combat. The B-52’s official name Stratofortress is rarely used in informal circumstances, and it has become common to refer to the aircraft as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat F**ker).

The B-52 has been in active service with the USAF since 1955. As of 2012, 85 were in active service with nine in reserve. The bombers flew under the Strategic Air Command (SAC) until it was inactivated in 1992 and its aircraft absorbed into the Air Combat Command (ACC); in 2010 all B-52 Stratofortresses were transferred from the ACC to the new Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs have kept the B-52 in service despite the advent of later aircraft, including the canceled Mach 3 B-70 Valkyrie, the variable-geometry B-1 Lancer, and the stealthB-2 Spirit. The B-52 completed fifty years of continuous service with its original operator in 2005; after being upgraded between 2013 and 2015, it is expected to serve into the 2040s. A B52-H at Thunder of Niagara 2011.

Today In Aviation History – April 9, 1967 – First Flight Boeing 737

aviation, aviation history, First Flight

 April 9, 1967.  The first flight of the Boeing 737.

The Boeing 737 is a short- to medium-range twinjet narrow-body airliner. Originally developed as a shorter, lower-cost twin-engined airliner derived from Boeing’s 707 and 727, the 737 has developed into a family of nine passenger models with a capacity of 85 to 215 passengers. The 737 is Boeing’s only narrow-body airliner in production, with the -600, -700, -800, and -900ER variants currently being built. A re-engined and redesigned version, the 737 MAX, is set to debut in 2017.

Originally envisioned in 1964, the initial 737-100 flew in 1967 and entered airline service in February 1968.  Next, the lengthened 737-200 entered service in April 1968. In the 1980s Boeing launched the -300, -400, and -500 models, subsequently referred to as the Boeing 737 Classic series. The 737 Classics added capacity and incorporated CFM56 turbofan engines along with wing improvements. In the 1990s Boeing introduced the 737 Next Generation with multiple changes including a redesigned wing, upgraded cockpit, and new interior. The 737 Next Generation comprises the four -600, -700, -800, and -900ER models, ranging from 102 ft (31.09 m) to 138 ft (42.06 m) in length. Boeing Business Jet versions of the 737 Next Generation are also produced.

The 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. The 737 has been continuously manufactured by Boeing since 1967 with 7,865 aircraft delivered and 3,680 orders yet to be fulfilled as of December 2013. 737 assembly is centered at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington. Many 737s serve markets previously filled by 707, 727, 757, DC-9, and MD-80/MD-90 airliners, and the aircraft currently competes primarily with the Airbus A320 family. There are 1,250 Boeing 737s airborne at any given time on average, with two departing or landing somewhere every five seconds as of 2006. 

(from Wikipedia)

Today In Aviation History – March 30, 1930 – First Flight – Boeing C-204 “Thunderbird”

aviation history

CF-ALAMarch 30, 1930.  First flight of the Boeing C-204 Thunderbird, the first aircraft built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada in Vancouver. Only 4 of these 4 passenger aircraft were built and they flew in BC until 1939.

The Thunderbird was powered by the Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine which provided a cruise speed of 95mph over a 350 mile range.

Today In Aviation History – 1963 – First Flight Boeing 727

aviation history

b727February 9, 1963.  First flight of the Boeing 727.

The Boeing 727 is a mid-size narrow-body three-engine jet aircraft built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It can carry 149 to 189 passengers and later models can fly up to 2,400 to 2,700 nautical miles (4,400 to 5,000 km) nonstop. Intended for short and medium-length flights, the 727 can use fairly short runways at smaller airports. It has three Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines below the T-tail, one on each side of the fuselage with a center engine that connects through an S-duct to an inlet at the base of the fin. The 727 is Boeing’s only trijet aircraft.

The 727 followed the 707 quad-jet airliner with which it shares its upper fuselage cross-section and cockpit design. The 727-100 first flew in February 1963 and entered service with Eastern Air Lines in February 1964; the stretched 727-200 flew in July 1967 and entered service with Northeast Airlines that December. The 727 became a mainstay of airlines’ domestic route networks and was also used on short- and medium-range international routes. Passenger, freighter, and convertible versions of the 727 were built.

The 727 was heavily produced into the 1970s; the last 727 was completed in 1984. 1,832 were built.  FedEx flew a number of 727 freighters until last 2013.  The one shown above at Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland Florida was donated to the Central Florida Aerospace Academy .

Today In Aviation History – 1969 – First Flight Boeing 747

aviation history
picture by Adrian Pingstone via Wikipedia

picture by Adrian Pingstone via Wikipedia

Happy 45th Birthday to the Queen of the Skies.  The Boeing 747 first flew on February 9, 1969 and the world of commercial air travel has never been the same.

The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport aircraft, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet. It is among the world’s most recognizable aircraft and was the first wide-body ever produced. Manufactured by Boeing’s Commercial Airplane unit in the United States, the original version of the 747 was two and a half times larger in capacity than the Boeing 707, one of the common large commercial aircraft of the 1960s. First flown commercially in 1970, the 747 held the passenger capacity record for 37 years.

The four-engine 747 uses a double deck configuration for part of its length. It is available in passenger, freighter and other versions. Boeing designed the 747’s hump-like upper deck to serve as a first class lounge or (as is the general rule today) extra seating, and to allow the aircraft to be easily converted to a cargo carrier by removing seats and installing a front cargo door. Boeing did so because the company expected supersonic airliners (development of which was announced in the early 1960s) to render the 747 and other subsonic airliners obsolete, while the demand for subsonic cargo aircraft would be robust well into the future. The 747 was expected to become obsolete after 400 were sold, but it exceeded critics’ expectations with production passing the 1,000 mark in 1993. By December 2013, 1,482 aircraft had been built, with 55 of the 747-8 variants remaining on order.

The 747 remains my favorite mode of intercontinental travel and I’ve been lucky enough to travel in jumbos operated by – Air Canada, CP Air, Lufthansa and British Airways.

(info from Wikipedia)


Today In Aviation History – 1986 – Boeing Purchases de Havilland Aircraft of Canada

aviation history

On this day in 1986 de Havilland Aircraft of Canada was sold to Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company of Seattle, Wash, for $155 million, and renamed the “Boeing Canada, de Havilland Division”. De Havilland was Toronto’s largest industrial employer with almost 5,000 employees, and one of the biggest companies in Canada’s aerospace industry.

Boeing bought the company in an effort to better position itself to compete for a new Air Canada order for large intercontinental airliners. The contract was eventually won by Airbus, which received an order for 34 A330 and A340 aircraft. This highly controversial move came amid allegations of bribery. Following the failure in the competition, Boeing put de Havilland Canada up for sale.

Boeing’s ownership of De Havilland Canada (DHC) in the 1980s was disastrous. Even with a full order book, DHC was consistently unable to turn a profit. Boeing said in 1989 that it would sell the unprofitable de Havilland unit. In June 1991 the Canadian Government rejected a proposal by a French-Italian consortium to buy the de Havilland division of Boeing of Canada. Michael H. Wilson, Canada’s trade minister, said he was not satisfied that the bid by Aerospatiale S.A. of France and Alenia S.p.A. of Italy would benefit Canada. The companies said they want the Government to contribute $500 million (Canadian), or $440 million (United States), over 10 years for research and development.

In 1992, Bombardier and the Ontario government purchased the company from Boeing. It was finally sold to Bombardier Inc. as part of Bombardier Aerospace Group in 1992 and since known as de Havilland Inc. The Avions de Transport Regional venture had bid to acquire de Havilland, but was rejected by the European Commission. British Aerospace had also expressed an interest in bidding for the division.

Happy 40th Birthday


Qantas 747-400
Qantas 747-400 “LongReach” at Heathrow Airport

The venerable Boeing 747 celebrates its 40th birthday today. Up until the introduction of the Airbus 380, the 747 was the giant of the commercial aviation world. She was the first to be called a “Jumbo”.

The 747 will always be my favorite mode of air travel. The size, the power, the sheer majesty of a 747-400 at takeoff always makes my heart beat a little faster than any other airplane. The first time I flew on one was back in the 80’s – a CP Air “Empress”. Years later I had a guided tour of an Air Canada combi (half passenger/half cargo) as it cruised above the Atlantic and then spent 2 of the greatest hours of my life up on the flight deck shooting the shit and drinking coffee with a very accommodating Captain and FO. I’ve been on aging KLM’s, Lufthansa and refurbished British Airways models. I’ve been in coach, business and on the upper deck. I sat in Row 1, farther forward than the flightdeck. Every flight was a memory I’ll always cherish.

The chances of flying on a 747 are still there. Boeing has a new version on the books. I hope to board the beast again.