Sailing Off to Hawaii

Sailing Off to Hawaii

Hawaii became the most recent state to join the union in 1959 and is now the third wealthiest.  Following it’s annexation, Hawaii became an important naval base for the US Navy so it is hardly surprising that they should be the first to attempt a flight from the US mainland to the island.  Aviation had already arrived at the islands in 1910 courtesy of Bud Mars, the Curtiss Daredevil.


The Hawaiian Archipelago


The annexation of Hawaii


J C Mars


Commander John Rodgers


Rodgers in the Wright Flyer


The PN9 flying boat


Rodgers and his crew survive to be welcomed into Hawaii


The Atlantic-Fokker C-2 Tri-motor


Atlantic-Fokker C-2 “Bird of Paradise” arrival in Hawaii


The start of the Dole Air Race


In all, six aircraft were lost or damaged beyond repair and ten lives lost.


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Google Map Images, Bain News Service, Harris and Ewing, the Library of Congress, Hawaii Aviation, the USAF and the SDASM.






Images under Creatiove Commons licence with thanks to

Crash Investigation is No Accident

Crash Investigation is No Accident

It was the 13th of May 1912, a Monday, when a Flanders F3 Monoplane took off from Brooklands in Surrey, a county of England.  The pilot was the aviation pioneer Edward Victor Beauchamp Fisher and his passenger the American millionaire Victor Mason.  Fisher had an Aviator’s Certificate, the 77th to be issued, had learned to fly at Brooklands and was a flying instructor there.  He had also worked with both A V Roe (the founder of Avro) and Howard Flanders, whose monoplane he was flying at the time.  The two men had made two or three circuits of the airfield at about 100ft, the 60 hp Green engine operating well when, in a left turn, the aircraft fell to the ground killing both the aviator and his passenger before catching alight and burning.  In the early days of aviation such accidents were fairly common but what sets this one apart is that it was the first in history to become the subject of an accident investigation by an official civilian body… the Public Safety and Accidents Investigation Committee of the Royal Aero Club.


Brooklands airfield and motor racing circuit circa 1907


The Flanders F3/4


The Wright crash


Lt Frank Lahm


The 1920 Air Navigation Act


The 1926 formation of the NTSB


NTSB Investigators


The Challenger disaster



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Daimler Chrysler AG, Bain News Service, National Museum of Health and Medicine, the USAF, UK Gov, NTSB and the Kennedy Space Centre.

The Twelve Crashes of Christmas

The Twelve Crashes of Christmas


The 12 days of Christmas are generally thought to run from the 26th of December to the 6th of January and is an important period of religious celebration or for those of us who observe Christmas in a more secular manner, it’s more likely to be a traditional time of recovery following our holiday excesses and to welcome in the New Year. Of course, those of us in the Aviation industry often remember dates by events that occurred on a particular day and the most memorable are often the most tragic.  With that in mind I present the 12 crashes of Christmas.


The TU144


Earthrise from Apollo 8


The Lockheed A-12 Oxcart


The C-130


The Avro Ten


The Vickers Wellington


The Handley Page O


The captured bomber


Gustav Hamel and Eleanor Trehawke Davies


Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man


The Flying Machine


The Convair 440 Metropolitan airliner


Amelia Mary Earhart


Earhart’s Electra


Amy Johnson



A Finnish Fokker


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Michel Gilliand, NASA, the USAF, State Library of Queensland, the RAF, US National Archives, the Rijksmuseum, Luc Viatour, SDASM,and those images within the Public Domain.

Around the World in 20 Days

Around the World in 20 Days

Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier was one of two men who left the earth’s surface and flew in Montgolfier’s balloon for the very first time. He also designed a type of balloon that was given his name that flew using a combination of a lifting gas and hot air. More than 200 years later, his design would be used in the balloon that made the first non stop round the world flight.

A Rozièr balloon


Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier in a Montgolfier balloon


De Rozièr perishes in a baloon crash over Wimereux


Don Cameron led the way in record breaking and unusual balloon design



Double Eagle II


Virgin Flyer


The successful balloon circumnavigation by Piccard and Jones



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to those Public Domain images available, NASA, the Smithsonian,The Virgin Group, Cameron balloons and Breitling.

Only a Flat Tyre

Only a Flat Tyre

Each year upwards of 2 million of the faithful make the journey to follow the path of the profit Muhammad to a number of holy sites before their pilgrimage rites are considered complete. Muslims from around the world make this journey which, in modern times, is often completed using air travel, as it was in 1991 when Nigeria Airways wet leased a Douglas DC8 operated by Nationair Canada to help them cope with the season’s increase in passenger traffic due to the Hajj. Under the hot sun of the Arabian desert, the scene was set for a disaster.


A Nationair DC8


King Abdulaziz International airport in Jeddah


The Maintenance Record analysis


The DC8 gear


A typical brake fire


Excerpt from the accident report


Excerpt from the accident report


Conditions in the cabin became unsurvivable



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Pedro Aragão, Yousefmadari, ICAO and the USAF.

Higher, Faster

Higher, Faster

They were the pioneers who trod the territory beyond the sound barrier… a place no man had ever been before and which had killed many who attempted the journey. The rocket powered, winged bullet first flew only 42 years after man’s first powered flight, an achievement that still astounds me. To think that a toddler around at Kitty Hawk who saw one of the Wright Brothers first flights, could have heard the world’s first man made sonic boom before they reached the ripe old age of 50 is a true testament to the ability of America’s finest minds and the bravery of their greatest pilots.


The Bell X1 in flight


The Miles M52


The X Planes


US Military astronaut wings


The X2 drop


The X2 crash


The X15


An X15 launch


Armstrong with the X15


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to NASA, the RAF, the USAF, NPRC,