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 | Dreamstime.com 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

Take a closer look

Feature photo (above) by Ron Kroetz | Flickr.com CC-BY-SD 2.0 The views of aircraft arrivals over (or should that be across?) Maho Beach, Sint Maarten are hardly a revelation anymore. Although they don’t get any less spectacular with time. What is news (for me at least) is this video, which details the arrival of a KLM 747-406M from the cockpit side of things…     More … Continue reading Take a closer look

Under the Bridge

  AvWeb titled their coverage “Silly Pilot Tricks, Part… (We’ve Lost Count)”. And rightly so. On Saturday May 1st, 2004, a certified pilot flew her Skyfox Gazelle, with passenger, under Sydney Harbour Bridge. Needless to say, the tempting duck under the deck was, and remains, strictly forbidden. In the ten years since, no-one has been quite able to explain how a CPL- and Instructor-rated pilot could … Continue reading Under the Bridge

Safety, Edwardian-style

  If you still can’t believe World War One pilots were never issued with parachutes, this glimpse into Edwardian attitudes may help… Last post, I shared Flight magazine’s account of the first fully documented spin recovery (‘Parke’s Dive’), from August 31st, 1913. But before we move on, here’s an editorial that appeared just two weeks later, on September 13th, 1913. Even though Parke was restrained … Continue reading Safety, Edwardian-style

Black Beauty

  airscape doesn’t usually ‘do’ livery photos, but then it’s not that often you see one so, er, not-usual. This is 787-9 Dreamliner ZK-NZE in Air New Zealand’s ‘All Black’ livery. Air New Zealand was launch customer for the 787-9 and this was their first airframe. Incidentally, the ‘all black’ and silver fern are both recognised New Zealand motifs, while the ‘koru’ on the tail … Continue reading Black Beauty


  All this talk of future commercial airplanes rings with echoes of the past. Of course the 1940s’ Horten and Northrop flying wings are well known. But Britain was pushing on the technological ceiling at the same time – with their Armstrong Whitworth A.W.52. A grand vision While not a true flying wing (it had vertical surfaces at each wing tip for yaw control) the A.W.52 was … Continue reading A.W.52

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