The Ugly Ducklings

The Ugly Ducklings

Whilst we are discussing quaint idioms, many of us trust that old American adage, “If it looks good, it’ll fly good” attributed to both Neil Armstrong and Bill Lear and is something that all pilots understand. There is something about a fine looking aircraft that makes it appear trustworthy and gives one confidence that it will perform well. Sadly, I know of one company, however, who seem to have looked at their aircraft through bottle bottom glasses… or perhaps they never got the memo.

The Dunne D5


The Type 184

The Cardington Gasbag


The Shorts S38


The Singapore


The Shorts Empire flying boat


The Sunderland


The COW gun


The Sunderland’s internal bomb racks


The Sunderland’s rest facilities


The Bombay


The long legged Stirling


The unlikely looking Seamew


Hurel-Dubois Miles 106 Caravan


The Shorts SC 7 Skyvan


The Shorts SD360


The coolest Skyvan ever… Pink!



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Marinha do Brasil, Short Bros of Cardington, the RAF, Shorts, the Library of Congress, SADSM, George Jackman, the Royal Navy, Adrian Pingstone, Tomás Del Coro and those images orphaned or in the Public Domain.

The Fall of American One

The Fall of American One

The aircraft was named ‘Flagship District of Columbia’ and was only the 12th Boeing 707 ever made. It was delivered to American Airlines in February 1959 so at the time America was taking its first steps into the void of outer space it was a mere 3 years old. It hadn’t long been out of it’s periodic inspection and with less than 8,000 hours on the airframe N7506A was expected to have a long and productive life ahead… a wish that would be dashed in a few short minutes.

The New York skyline


An American Airlines Boeing 707 at LAX


Changes in apparent span and the effects of sideslip on a swept wing when yawed


The 707 rudder control system


Wreckage from American Airlines flight 514


The Calverton crash still smoking


A New York ticker tape parade


The flight recorder trace from the American One’s final moments


A reconstruction of the track of Flight One


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Jon Proctor, San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives, the Civil Aeronautics Board and Ted Quackenbush.

RAF Form 414, Vol. 15

RAF Form 414, Vol. 15

The Royal Air Force’s Pilots Flying Logbook is a sturdy publication, cloth bound in blue with gold printing on the cover, on the inside of which are the instructions for use. Para 1, sub para (a) it states that the Book is an official document and is the property of Her Majesty’s Government… well, good luck trying to get this one back!

The star of the Top Gun movie


The much admired RAF Phantom QWI badge


The island of Cyprus was famous for its rough red Kokinelli wine


The 20mm SUU23A Vulcan cannon


A typical Cypriot meze


Mrs A moving yet again


Receiving my 1000hrs Phantom badge




The F4 rear office


The arrival of son No1


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Gage Skidmore, Google Earth, Thomas Fedor and Cyprus Tourism.

Don’t Upset the Jet 2

Don’t Upset the Jet 2

Last week we chatted about historic incidents that led to aircraft upsets. This week we talk to a newly qualified airline pilot who is undergoing advanced Upset and Recovery Training at a British training school. We also speak to the school’s chief pilot and one of the instructors, an ex Mig 29 pilot.


Basem undergoing upset training at BAA in a Grob



One of the BAA’s Extras


Basem off to be turned upside down!


Adrian… Basem’s ex Mig 29 instructor


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Capt Nick Anderson

Don’t Upset the Jet 1

Don’t Upset the Jet 1

With the arrival of jet powered airliners, commercial pilots entered a new world of high altitude flying in large swept wing aircraft at velocities approaching the speed of sound. They were often unprepared for the challenge and before long unexpected and unexplained loss of control events began to worry the world of aviation. These events initially occurred when an aircraft was upset from its normal benign straight and level environment and ended up in a high speed dive, something that was rare in the earlier days of straight winged, piston powered airliners. Hence, they became known as Jet Upsets.

Coffin Corner!


Upsets involve extreme attitudes


Less than perfect cockpit design often contributes to upsets


A Pan Am B707




China Airlines A300


The tragic result of the China Airlines upset


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Boeing Company, Geni, the NTSB/CAB, Guido Allieri and the JTSB.

Giants of Ukraine

Giants of Ukraine

In the world of Slavic folk tales there are giants in Ukraine but as aviators the ones we are interested are the giants that the fabled aircraft designer Oleg Antonov designed. This is his story.

The OKA1 glider


Antonov at the Leningrad Polytechnic


The OKA38 Stork


The An-2


The An-12 Cub


The An-24 Coke


The vast An-22 Cock


The huge An-124 Condor


The flight deck of the An-124


The mighty Mryia, An-225, carrying a Buran project space shuttle


The destruction of a dream, the Mryia was a victim of the Russian invaders who recently attacked Ukraine


Oleg Antonov


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the Antonov Design Bureau, the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute, the Central Design Bureau for Gliders, Arpingstone, Igor Dvurekov, Dmitriy Pichugin, Toshi Aoki, Yevgeny Pashnin, Vasiliy Kob and Дизайнер: А.Безменов.