Down On The Water

Over the years, the age of the giant flying boats has been romanticised into a gilded memory of glamorous, spacious and luxurious air transport that finally conquered the world’s greatest oceans. But if the era was really so fabulous, why was a gifted aircraft designer (and experienced air traveller) like Dr. Beverley Shenstone convinced that it had to end as quickly as possible? And why … Continue reading Down On The Water

Remembering United N4713U

Back in May, I published ‘Death of an Airliner’ – the, oh, let’s call it ‘surprising’ post-accident life of Boeing 747-122 msn #19875/89 which, as United Airlines Flight UAL 811, suffered an explosive decompression out of Honolulu in February 1989. You may recall that the aircraft was safely recovered to HNL through the skill of Captain David Cronin and his crew. Despite substantial damage, she was … Continue reading Remembering United N4713U

Sound barriers

As Ron Rapp commented after Part One of this feature, supersonic business jets work to entirely different economics than airliners. For private flights, the main driver is time saving and the enhanced productivity that comes with it. There’s no pressure to share the cost of a flight between as many passengers as possible, or to keep the ticket price competitive at the cost of catering and … Continue reading Sound barriers


Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared in perplexing circumstances just over one year ago now, on March 8th, 2014. Plenty has been published about that tragic anniversary already, but it brings to mind the equally shocking and mysterious disappearance of an Australian airliner many years before… An aviation mystery that would only be solved by the sheerest chance – and only after almost thirty years. Operating successfully March 21st, 1931 was … Continue reading Missing

On the numbers

Feature image (above) ©  Robbie Schubert | Following my recent post from the dawn of modern commercial aviation (see Constellation Crossing) I thought it would be interesting to compare the state of air transport today – 69 years later. So, in my incessant web trawling, I came across the website of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), a non-profit dedicated to giving the global … Continue reading On the numbers

Constellation crossing

Feature image © Thomas Kirn G-AHEM (cn 1978) ‘Balmoral II’, sister to our story’s aircraft G-AHEL ‘Bangor II’. It’s not widely known that BOAC, forerunner of British Airways, continued to fly global services throughout World War 2 – and by 1945 no airline had more experience crossing the Atlantic. At war’s end, the airline was swift to acquire five Lockheed C-69 transports, completed as L-49 Constellations, … Continue reading Constellation crossing

Airline futures

  An avweb flash entitled Smaller Aircraft Tails Possible caught my eye back on December 5th. It linked to a story from CalTech, called Sweeping Surfaces for Greener Planes – relating how researchers at that eminent institution hope to reduce tail sizes (and weight, and drag, and fuel consumption) by using active flow control air to supplement the authority of a smaller rudder at low airspeeds. Changing the … Continue reading Airline futures