The Widow Makers

The Widow Makers

Widow Maker is an epitaph attached to aircraft that present a particular risk to the life of the pilot. Many times this name is inappropriately used but in some cases, sadly, it is all too valid.  This is the story of two such aircraft.


The Martin B-26B Marauder.


A USAF recruitment poster featuring the Marauder.


Chuck Yeager in the NF104, an aircraft that would nearly kill him after he lost control and ejected. His helmet was punctured and the oxygen within caught fire badly burning him.


The F104A.


The F104 was the first fighter to be fitted with the M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon.


Images under the Creative Commons licence, with thanks to National Museum of the USAF, Michael Wolf, Charles E Brown and the US Gov.

Bathtubs, Potatoes, Shoes and Flatirons

Bathtubs, Potatoes, Shoes and Flatirons

There are some sleek and elegant aircraft out there and some pretty ugly ones too!  Despite gaining nicknames such as the Flying Bathtub and the Flying Potato, many of these amazing flying machines did a great job in furthering our understanding of spaceflight.  This is the story of the Lifting Body aircraft.

Three of the NASA experimental lifting body aircraft.


The Mig105 Spiral, nicknamed the Flying Shoe.


Images shown under creative commons licence with thanks to NASA and Bernhard Gröhl.

Mare’s Tails and Wooly Fleece

Mare’s Tails and Wooly Fleece

Luke Howard, the man who changed castles into Cumulus and mares tails into Cirrus.  No weather forecast would be complete without his system.


Cumulus cloud.



Cirrus cloud.


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Acabashi and PiccoloNamek.

Killing Myths

Killing Myths

An attempt to distill the crash of Air France 447 down to the the simple causes and dispel some of the fanciful and unhelpful theories that surround this accident.


The accident aircraft, an A330-200.


The location of the wreckage of Flight 447.


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Pawel Kierzkowski, Valter Campanato/ABr and Roberto Maltchik Repórter da TV Brasil.