Light as air

The art of science Apparently I’m not the only one to have noticed the photogenic beauty of wind tunnels and what goes on inside them. So it seems appropriate to celebrate the beautiful images that have been captured in wind tunnels over the decades. Now, this isn’t a study of wind tunnels or their history, or even of aerodynamics. It’s simply a collection – and … Continue reading Light as air

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

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

Thrown up

While shots of grinning TV presenters experiencing weightlessness aboard ‘Vomit Comet’ flights are a dime a dozen these days, images of aircraft actually flying the mission are harder to find. So here are some shots of the last NASA Reduced Gravity aircraft from an accompanying T-38. NASA ended their Reduced Gravity Program in July 2014. Private operator Zero Gravity Corp still provides the service from various airports around … Continue reading Thrown up

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