Heavenly Bodies – Part III

Wondering how we got here? Click to catch up with Heavenly Bodies – Part I and – Part II Flight without wings On June 4th, 1982, a Kosmos-3M launcher shot BOR-4 serial number 404 out of the atmosphere for the first time. Once in space the vehicle deployed itself into orbit, eight micro-thrusters orienting the tiny craft as it flew. The wings, which had been … Continue reading Heavenly Bodies – Part III

Heavenly Bodies – Part II

Feature Image: X-24 research pilots (L to R) Einar Enevoldson, John Manke, Richard Scobee, Tom McMurtry, Bill Dana, and Michael Love. (NASA photo) Missed Heavenly Bodies – Part I? Catch up here Down to earth By the second half of the 1960s, the future of lifting bodies was looking bright. Thanks to R. Dale Reed’s lightweight M2-F1, followed by the heavyweight M2-F2/M2-F3 and HL-10, NASA … Continue reading Heavenly Bodies – Part II

Heavenly Bodies – Part I

Falling with style Dangling below a thundering 234-UT Chinook helicopter on August 30th, 2017, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser® was lifted 12,500 feet above Rogers Dry Lake to have its flight systems tested. It may have been a rather undignified ride for the small, re-usable spacecraft, but while the Chinook was thrashing at thin air near it’s practical flight ceiling, the Dream Chaser was nearer … Continue reading Heavenly Bodies – Part I

Somme 101

The battle above Today marks 101 years since the first day of the Battle of the Somme. And, while the bloody hours of July 1st, 1916 have become a by-word for military disaster, the operation above the trenches was an absolute triumph. Compared to the British Army’s 57,470 casualties and the German Army’s approximately 12,000, the Royal Flying Corps finished the day with just one airman … Continue reading Somme 101

On Spitfires (Part One)

‘Indicator’ tells all ‘Indicator’ filed a long series of impressions of Allied aircraft for Flight magazine in the years after World War 2. While Flight didn’t give his identity away (most likely because he was still in uniform) he was definitely a test pilot – probably at the RAF’s Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment, Boscombe Down. Mind you, he also seems to have done some … Continue reading On Spitfires (Part One)

The loss of ‘Old Bag of Bolts’

“…But Bolts couldn’t make it back with the remaining fuel. She headed towards an island for an emergency landing. Her position was radioed to aid in the rescue of her crew. Then Bolts gave out of gas. She sat down in the water a few hundred feet off shore… Members of her crew swam to safety and later were rescued by a submarine. Beyond saving … Continue reading The loss of ‘Old Bag of Bolts’

Wright Savers

They were ex-fishermen mostly, but to say they’d chosen a safer life ashore would be a lie. The Surfmen of the 19th century United States Life Saving Service were the forerunners of today’s US Coast Guard, a service that’s still renowned for helping aviators in need. History’s first ground crew A hundred years ago, those brave men lived in windswept stations along the worst stretches … Continue reading Wright Savers

Leader of the revolution

Of all the great aviation stories out there, my favourites are the ones that take me completely by surprise. And so it was with this. I assume you’ve seen the footage of legendary German test pilot Hanna Reitsch flying the twin-rotor Focke-Wulf Fw.61 inside Berlin’s Deutschlandhalle sports stadium during February 1938. If not, here it is: It begs the question – where were “our” helicopters? … Continue reading Leader of the revolution