Monday, January 31, 2011

PR: Aviation International magazine now in Austria and Middle East

Cannes, January 31st, 2011 - Aviation International magazine added 6 countries to its network distribution (newstands and FBO) since February 2010.

Distribution expanded in Europe to now include Austria; and five countries in the fast-growing Middle East market now have Aviation International: Kuwait, Dubaï, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and Turkey.

Since Aviation International became bilingual (French/English) in 2010, general and business aviation enthusiasts in many more countries have wished to distribute the monthly magazine.

Published since 1990 and now distributed in over 50,000 copies in more than 25 countries in Europe and Africa, AVIATION INTERNATIONAL strengthens its position as the number one monthly magazine of aeronautical information in both French and English.

About Aviation International
The only European general aviation magazine in both French and English, created in 1990.

The twelve issues of AVIATION INTERNATIONAL published every year bring together a wide range of varied and complete aeronautical advertising. All the articles are entirely dedicated to the pilot and aircraft owner. 50,000 copies distributed each month. All strategic channels are covered with constantly expanding outlets: news stand, subscribers, FBO, airports, private air service companies and airport VIP lounges, aviation & special events (Aero Friedrichshafen, EBACE, Cannes AirShow, Oshkosh, NBAA, Monaco Grand Prix Formula 1, Cannes International Film Festival).

Friday, January 28, 2011

You've heard of Earhart, have you heard of Hart?

Flying far, living short
The end to Akron aviator Beryl Gwyn Hart's life remains a deep mystery
(from, Jan 03, 2011)

Akron aviator Beryl Gwyn Hart took the world by storm in the 1930s. The vivacious redhead won international fame for attempting the first commercial trans-Atlantic airplane flight. Hart didn't achieve the glory of colleague Amelia Earhart, but she did meet a similar fate.

Both pilots are still missing.

The deep blue Atlantic was a world away from the hazy gray of Akron, where Hart grew up in the early 20th century.

She was born Beryl L. Gwyn on Feb. 15, 1900, in Fairmont, W.Va., but moved to Summit County at a young age with parents Russell and Cora Gwyn and sister Georgia. Her father was a butcher at Schwartz Brothers Meats on South Main Street near East Miller Avenue.

The family moved from home to home in South Akron. In one decade, the Gwyns lived on West Long Street, South Main Street, West Crosier Street, San Carlos Court and Lake Street.

A restless spirit seemed to permeate Beryl's life. After attending Akron Public Schools, she graduated from Hammel Business College at age 15.

The pretty, dimpled girl took a job as a waitress at Theodore F. Wagner's restaurant at 1009 S.

Main St. and soon became smitten with the 35-year-old proprietor. The feeling was mutual.

Wagner asked for permission to marry the girl, but her father balked at the 20-year difference. Lying about Beryl's age, the couple eloped in Maryland in 1915.

Life was less than ideal when they returned to Akron. The couple squabbled often. Beryl believed her husband had a roving eye for other waitresses.

After getting divorced in 1917, Beryl found work as a stenographer at the Polsky Co. and as a cigar girl at Hotel Bond.

At age 20, she married Robert Gillen, 23, of Akron, but the marriage broke up in less than a month.

She married her third husband, Albert Hart, an advertising man, in Cincinnati in 1923. The newlyweds set off on a road trip to Chicago a week after the wedding, but their automobile skidded off a highway and crashed into a ditch near Huron, Ohio.

Albert Hart was killed instantly. Beryl, 23, suffered broken legs and internal injuries.

Unlucky in love, the widow focused on work. She ran a Cleveland beauty parlor and saved enough cash to move to New York to study business.

That is where she developed an interest in aviation.

Amelia Earhart's adventures were an inspiration. In 1928, Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across North America and the first female passenger on a trans-Atlantic airplane.

Hart began to take flying lessons at the airport in Newark, N.J., from U.S. Navy Lt. William S. MacLaren, 34, a tall, rugged fellow who looked like movie star Douglas Fairbanks. An adept student, Hart recorded 350 hours of flight time and became one of only 14 U.S. women to hold a transport pilot's license.

MacLaren made news in 1930 by announcing his intention to make ''an ordinary flight'' across the Atlantic to prove the feasibility of cargo planes. The married man also made headlines by revealing that his co-pilot was a widow. One reporter described Hart as ''red-headed, pretty and agreeably feminine.''

After receiving $25,000 in financial backing, MacLaren and Hart ordered a Bellanca CH-300 twin-float seaplane with a 300-horsepower engine and pontoons. They named the black-and-white aircraft Tradewind.

MacLaren told reporters that he wasn't going to take any unnecessary risks on the flight.

''We're going to carry some freight to Europe and back by the safest, sanest route, and I believe we can make money from the start,'' he said.

He said he chose Hart to fly the plane under his navigation because he needed a pilot ''who not only would obey my orders implicitly but also would have perfect confidence in me.''

He looked over his list of students and picked out the one who was the most skilled.

''It happened to be Mrs. Hart,'' he said.

The former Akron woman was thrilled to be selected.

''Naturally, I jumped at the chance to make this trip,'' she said. ''It will be an important flight and a valuable experience. But our success is entirely up to Mr. MacLaren. He's the boss.''

The aviators planned to fly 650 miles from New York to Bermuda, where they would refuel and travel 2,042 miles to the Portuguese city of Horta in the Azores islands. Then they would fly another 1,520 miles to Paris.

They expected to spend 50 hours in the air before delivering 250 pounds of mail and food.

The pilots bid relatives farewell and took off Jan. 4, 1931, from North Beach in Queens, N.Y. For good luck, Hart carried a five-leaf clover, a rabbit's foot and an Indian penny.

Almost immediately, there was trouble. MacLaren's sextant, an instrument used for measuring distance, broke on takeoff. The Tradewind encountered heavy fog and the pilots got lost.

They flew 1,500 miles and spent 16 hours in the air, but they couldn't find the islands. MacLaren ordered Hart to double back to Norfolk, Va., where they landed before fuel ran out.

After buying a new sextant and repairing an oil leak, they prepared to try again Jan. 7.

A 1931 silent newsreel shows Hart and MacLaren wearing aviator togs and putting on their helmets and goggles. They smile, wave to the camera and take their seats in the cockpit.

The propeller rotates. The Tradewind taxis along the coast for about eight seconds before going airborne. The film ends.

The Tradewind made a perfect landing at Hamilton, Bermuda, about eight hours later. The pilots rested for two days before resuming the journey.

Weather conditions were fair in Bermuda, although experts predicted that the Tradewind might encounter squalls and rain on the way to the Azores. MacLaren decided the forecast was nothing to worry about.

After filling the seaplane's 460-gallon fuel tanks, MacLaren and Hart prepared to take off at 12:15 p.m. Jan. 10, 1931.

''White-clad Bermudans and winter visitors, including many Americans, cheered wildly as the machine skimmed the harbor waters and then mounted in the air to disappear a few minutes later in the haze to the eastward,'' one reporter noted.

The Tradewind was due over the Azores at 11:15 a.m. A crowd gathered in Horta to welcome the plane, but it didn't arrive.

Passing ships were radioed to look for the Tradewind. Islanders began to fire flares after dusk.

Reports trickled in that villagers on Sao Miguel island in the Azores believed they saw an object fall into the ocean several miles off the coast. Rescue efforts were made in rough seas. No debris was found.

It's unfathomable today, but MacLaren had failed to equip his plane with a radio or life raft. He believed that if the Tradewind had to land in the ocean, the pontoons would keep it afloat.

The five-leaf clover, rabbit's foot and Indian penny weren't enough. Hope faded fast.

The rescue effort ended after sailors searched remote islands, but saw no sign of survivors.

Hart and MacLaren were lost, but their cause was not. Commercial cargo flights became a reality by the end of the decade.

The Tradewind tragedy foretold the disappearance six years later of Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan in the Pacific Ocean. Searchers have looked for that wreckage for 73 years.

Somewhere in the deep blue Atlantic, a forgotten plane is also waiting to be discovered.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PR: 4 Issues of CONTACT! now online as a free gift!

CONTACT! Magazine editor and publisher Patrick Panzera and his wife of 31 years, Veronica Panzera, manning the CONTACT! Magazine booth at the Golden West Regional Fly-in. Patrick is also the editor of EAA's Experimenter eNewsletter.

Got this press release today:

Last year CONTACT! Magazine celebrated its 100th issue. This year we celebrate our 20th year as a nonprofit corporation, fulfilling an educational and a philanthropic mission -- serving the experimental aviation community.
To commemorate these milestones we've placed four recent issues of CONTACT! Magazine on line as a free gift to all who are interested in experimental aviation at its finest.

Check them out at:

Petticoats to Pants: Women, Flying, and Death-Defying Feats in 1920s Florida

Petticoats to Pants: Women, Flying, and Death-Defying Feats in 1920s Florida

SEAS is a professional maritime archaeological consulting firm that believes in sharing the excitement of discovery with the public through blogging, media events, public outreach initiatives, and volunteer participation – a significant dimension for a research and consulting firm.

I'll just share a few paras from their blog entry from Jan 5. Go to the link above to read the whole thing:
While doing some online research yesterday I came across this picture and it piqued my interest. Who was Mabel Cody and why was she performing death-defying trapeze acts on Florida’s beaches? I did a little research and here’s what I found.

Mabel Cody, who was the alleged niece of Buffalo Bill Cody, was just 23 years old when she performed on Vilano Beach. Aviation daredevils across the United States were performing shows of this nature during the roaring twenties. These barnstormers, as they were often called, advertised their upcoming shows by flying over the town pulling a banner about the event. In the early days of barnstorming the act of flying was enough to draw a crowd. But, as time progressed, people became bored with watching level flight and so the mid-air performances began.

Here’s an article from the Jacksonville Times-Union written in 1999. This article discusses the courage of Mabel Cody as she braved pants and discouraging phone calls from women in Jacksonville who did not think her behavior was particularly becoming for a woman of her time.
The flight of fearless Mabel Cody
By The Times-Union
Published Sunday, November 28, 1999

Mabel Cody took the phone off the hook.

The women of Jacksonville were annoying her.

“It’s my own neck,” she said.

Women began calling when they heard Cody was going to leap from a speeding car to a flying airplane at Pablo Beach.

She would be the first woman in the world to do this, although her colleague, Bugs McGowan — Lt. Bugs McGowan, that is — had done it a couple times.

Sig Haughdahl, Norwegian speed demon, would drive the car. One Lt. Heermanese, otherwise unidentified, would fly the plane. The stunt would cap a day of thrills and chills by the Mabel Cody Flying Circus.

Crowds were expected from miles around to watch the fearless Mabel Cody match the daring of the famous Bugs McGowan. The barrage of messages from the women of Jacksonville came out of the blue, however. They took Mabel Cody aback.

It was late November 1921.

Women had won the vote the year before. Feminism, if not strident, was a-flutter. Cody, who wore pants, boots and goggles, was not in the mainstream of the movement, nor had she hitherto attracted the attention of her sisterhood.

She was perplexed by the concern lighting up the switchboard of the Mason Hotel.

“Women without number have been calling me,” she complained to The Florida Times-Union.

“Daytime, nightime, all the time, telling me how they wish I would not risk my life, and they hope I will not do anything foolhardy at Pablo.”

She asked hotel owner George Mason to have her room telephone disconnected.

Mabel Cody was barely 20 and the star attraction of one of four aerial “circuses” that criss-crossed the South and hung out on Florida’s east coast, especially Daytona Beach.

Actually, in November 1921, Bugs McGowan was the star of the show, but “Bugs McGowan’s Flying Circus” hardly had the cachet of “Mabel Cody’s Flying Circus,” especially in the opinion of the boss, Richard “Curly” Burns, who was more attracted to Mabel than to Bugs.

Bugs had up until that time been the one that did the tricky auto-to-airplane maneuver, standing in a speeding car and grasping a swinging ladder from a passing plane.

Burns had given Bugs the rank of lieutenant, although Bugs actually had been but an enlisted man in the Army, where he did not fly but hung around with enough people who did fly that he learned enough to join a flying circus.

Mabel up to then had been a wing-walking, loop-looping, parachuting daredevil who had yet to attempt the auto-to-car trick.

Her history-making attempt was planned for Pablo Beach mostly because Haughdahl was in Jacksonville for the races at the Florida State Fair.

Haughdahl was perhaps a bigger celebrity than Mabel, Bugs and Curly put together.

He had been burning up race tracks all over the civilized world and even then was aiming at beach-driving speed record held by Tommy Milton. For Mabel to launch herself from the Speed King’s Flying Frontenac would be a double coup for Curly.

“Just because I happen to be a woman, a lot of women think it is their duty to remind me of the fact,” Mabel Cody fumed to the press.

“Every time I sit down to sew or to write a letter, some timid member of my sex wants to tell me what she thinks about me risking my own neck!

“For heaven’s sake! It’s my neck, and I guess I’ll risk it any time I feel like taking a chance,” she told the Times-Union.

The newspapers said “several thousand” people made the trip from Jacksonville to the scene of the show, about three miles south of Pablo Beach. It was a big day for Sig and Bugs. Mabel got rained out.

The Norwegian Speed King kicked up speeds of 115 mph in beach tests. Four times Bugs McGowan nipped up to the wing skid of the passing plane. Pilot Heermanese was given sustained applause for his steady handling of the plane in what the paper called “humpy” air.

But when it was Mabel’s turn, the clouds opened. Disappointed, she vowed to try again within the week. Heermanese turned the plane over on Anastasia Island a couple of days later, however. Haughland was called to other things. (He later would be the man who decided Daytona needed an oval racetrack.)

Three years later, Mabel Cody stood in the back seat of a car traveling 70 mph down the strand of Pablo Beach. Thousands cheered as she grabbed the ladder of a plane roaring inches above her head. The plane lifted Mabel Cody from the speeding car and the rung broke.

Cody clung an instant to the broken rung with one hand and reached for the next. Sickeningly she fell to the beach, even before the applause had stopped. She landed on her feet and was “swung into a series of somersaults by the impact,” the newspaper said.

Mabel Cody was unconscious when Curly reached her. They drove her in an ambulance all the way to St. Luke’s Hospital in Jacksonville. A stunned and anxious crowd returned somberly to Jacksonville.

Luckily, a movie camera filmed the whole thing.

Four weeks later, the film showed at the Imperial Theater.

Mabel attended the premiere.

She had the same pilot do loop-the-loops over the city before the show to draw a crowd

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why Women Are Only 6% of Pilots

Just found about this on GolfHotelWhisky (the free online magazine and airport guide for pilots).
Dr. Penny Rafferty Hamilton, Ph.D. recently completed a two-year research project that led to the Teaching Women to Fly website. Her project involved surveying 157 female pilots, 54 of whom were in training, and the results of this work produced a list of 101 Ideas to Increase Women’s Success in General Aviation. This list was further reduced into a Top Ten list and the Top 10 Barriers That Stop Women From Learning to Fly.

Her findings? The cost of flying, although No. 1, on the list, is not the main challenge for would-be female pilots because as Scott noted, the nine items that follow can easily fit into the broader categories of educational quality and customer service that were revealed in a recent AOPA survey.

At the end of his post, Scott concluded by saying:

Certainly, men and women learn differently, but the same is true among individuals of the same sex. It all comes down to the school environment, the relationship between students and teachers.

Points well worth noting. Dr. Hamilton’s website is also well worth checking out by any female pilots or would-be pilots.

And make sure to watch this video:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pearl: America’s youngest licensed pilot featured in DVD

America’s youngest licensed pilot featured in DVD

The true story of the youngest licensed pilot in American history soars high with a DVD and Blu-Ray release of the award-winning movie “Pearl.”

Produced by the Chickasaw Nation, the film focuses on the adventurous teen years of the late aviatrix Eula “Pearl” Carter Scott.

Pearl, portrayed by California actress Elijah DeJesus, develops a love of flying after meeting the famous aviator Wiley Post (Tom Huston Orr) in the 1920s. Impressed by her enthusiasm and determination to learn flying, Pearl’s father George Carter (Andrew Sensenig), a very successful business man in Marlow, Okla., buys her a plane and hires a flight instructor.

She receives her pilot’s license in 1928 at the tender age of 13. By 14, she is flying her father to business appointments and wowing air show audiences with her aerobatic maneuvers all over Oklahoma. She also becomes one of the only two people Post trusts to fly his Lockheed Vega aircraft “Winnie Mae.”

More than 3,000 people crowded onto the grounds of the Fly-in Theater at AirVenture 2010 in Oshkosh to see the movie. Thousands more flocked to the "Pearl" booth and Ford's autograph headquarters to have posters or other memorabilia signed by the cast.

Several audience members said the film took them back to the days when they were learning to fly.

Mike Souders said it was an “inspiring movie” which will encourage family members to chase their dreams and “encourage each other in the pursuit.”

“Not only did I enjoy this movie - and as a Dad I had to hold back a sniffle or two - but my youngest daughter enjoyed the movie as well,” said Mr. Souders. “That would be the daughter that doesn't care for ‘aviation things.’ The whole family enjoyed this movie. The characters were well developed, the acting was great, and the filming was great.”

Filmed entirely in Oklahoma, the movie portrays the early days of aviation in the state and includes several beautifully filmed scenes of Pearl learning to fly and performing barnstorming tricks.

According to Producer David Rennke, all the flying scenes in the movie were completed in mere four and one-half hours.

The film also features a rare vintage Curtiss Robin airplane owned by Mississippi pilot David Mars, whom the crew met at a barnstorming tour in Kansas.

Mars said the plane and "Pearl" hold some things in common. Both exhibit the spirit of “never give up.” Pearl, the youngest licensed pilot, refused to live a static life and the plane, which is now 80 years old, is still flying high.

Built in 1929 in St. Louis, the plane was destined to be hung in a lobby in New York City, but Mars changed its fate by rescuing it. He flies the vintage aircraft around the country and appears at a number of air shows.

He also flew the plane to Moore, Okla., for the official premiere of “Pearl” May 4 at Warren Theatre.

The movie has been successfully screened and warmly received at several air shows and expos nationwide, including the largest air show in the nation AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., AAA/APM Invitational Fly-In in Blakesburg, Iowa, and many more

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said the story of the Chickasaw aviatrix was a natural for the tribe's first feature-length film project.

"Pearl is a legendary figure in the history of Oklahoma, the world of aviation and in the Chickasaw Nation," said Gov. Anoatubby. "She was a dynamic, determined and caring individual who exemplifies many of the finest qualities of Chickasaw people.”

Gov. Anoatubby also said Pearl’s story is an inspiration to everyone.

"She was a unique individual who had a profoundly positive impact on everyone she met,” he said. “Bringing her life story to the screen will help preserve that impact for generations to come."

The film has garnered many accolades from audiences and film industry insiders. . The film was named the best overall film and the best Native American film at the 2010 Trail Dance Film Festival. The film was also named a "Heartland Film Festival" official selection. The film is one of only 13 feature films chosen for the distinction out of more than 600 submissions to Heartland, which is well known as one of the largest family oriented film festivals in the world.

"Pearl" also won a prestigious "Best of Show" award from "The Indie Fest," and swept the feature docudrama category at the "International Cherokee Film Festival."

“Pearl” was an official selection of the AFI Dallas Film Festival, the Boston International Film Festival, the Lake Arrowhead Film Festival and the Sedona International Film Festival.

The Dove Foundation recently awarded "Pearl" four "Doves," giving the film its "Family-Approved" Seal for all ages.

To order a copy of “Pearl” on DVD or Blu Ray, visit

Sunday, January 16, 2011

30 Dec, 2010, Oshawa airport celebrates 100th anniversary of female pilots

The Star: Oshawa airport celebrates 100th anniversary of female pilots
Carola Vyhnak
Urban Affairs Reporter

Oshawa, Canada -- There’s a little cheat sheet in the co-pilot’s seat of Lesley Page’s Cessna 172. It tells what to do in case of engine failure.

“Oops,” she says, taking it off the clip in front of her passenger. “You don’t need to see that.”

Then she explains why she’s constantly checking the ground from 2,500 feet up. “I’m looking for the best fields to land in if the engine fails.”

Oops indeed. But nice to know she’s got it covered if anything goes wrong. Especially since Oshawa Municipal Airport, from which Page is flying, seems poised to be named “most female pilot-friendly airport” in the world.

The title will go to the one that puts the most non-pilot girls and women in the sky in 2010. The worldwide competition is part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first woman to get her pilot’s licence, French balloonist Raymonde de Laroche.

Oshawa, the only Canadian city in the challenge that wraps up Friday, has been in a neck-and-neck race for first spot with Renton, Wash. As of Wednesday, Oshawa had flown 275 female newbies, while Renton had sent 228 airborne. Final numbers aren’t all in and the winner won’t be announced for two more weeks.

But, win or lose, the local attempt has introduced hundreds of people to the joys of flying, says Page, noting that only 6 or 7 per cent of the world’s pilots are women.

“Women just don’t look to aviation as something that’s possible,” says the Scarborough resident.

Page took her first lesson five years ago, after getting hooked during a “thrilling” trip with her husband, Jeff, who flies for recreation.

“That flight changed my life,” she recalls. “I’m looking out at the world from above and I feel free. It was exciting and uplifting.”

Deciding that “life is too short to be a passenger,” Page, 55, quit her high-stress senior management position with a retail chain to study aviation. Now she works part-time and flies “for the fun of it,” she says, quoting Amelia Earhart.

She and Jeff fly their four-seat Cessna to Florida and the Bahamas for vacations and to Collingwood for a “hundred-dollar hamburger,” which is what flying to lunch is called.

Since the competition began in March, Page, the event organizer for Oshawa, has logged 52 female passengers, including 12-year-old Jade Edgerton from Cavan, near Peterborough.

“It was really fun. I could see the CN Tower and I got to steer the plane and do flips and stuff,” she said, adding she had considered a career in aviation.

For single mom Meredith Jackson, soaring through the skies with her 16-year-old daughter was the “chance of a lifetime.”

“To me it was like a piece of heaven. My worries just disappeared and I melted up there.”

Councillor Bruce Wood, one of the two dozen Oshawa pilots who participated in the flying challenge, says the 10-month event across four continents put the city’s name “out there.”

“It’s put Oshawa’s reputation head and shoulders above the rest of the world.”

Taking the city to new heights, you might say.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mary, the Woman Who Fell To Earth

There's a 4 page PDF that gives the history of Lady Mary Heath, Ireland's "Amelia Earhart." Mary Heath broke endurance records, founded Ireland's first commercial airline and became the first woman to pilot a passenger aeroplane but then she died, broke, bitter and forgotten.

Click on the link below to download the PDF for yourselves. It makes for interesting reading.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Curtis P-40 Kittyhawk

January 5 on my Golden Age of Flight desktop calendar is the Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk.

"The unusual Curtis P-40 landing gear retracted to the rear, with the wheel revolving to lay flat in the wing. Six .50-caliber machine guns provided the firepower. Curiously enough, the "fiddy-cal" is still the preferred weapon today in Iraq."

I looked up the "fiddy-cal" to see more about this, and found something at a site called From the Inside.

'Fiddy-Cal' Becomes Weapon Of Choice In Iraq
WASHINGTON -- U.S. troops in Iraq are firing .50-caliber machine guns at such a high rate, the Army is scrambling to resupply them with ammunition -- in some cases dusting off crates of World War II machine gun rounds and shipping them off to combat units.

In the dangerous and unanticipated conflict that has intensified in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003, the gun that grunts call the "fiddy-cal" or "Ma Deuce," after its official designation, M-2, has become a ubiquitous sight mounted on armored Humvees and other heavy vehicles.

Above the staccato crackle and squeak of small arms fire, the fiddy-cal's distinctive "THUMP THUMP THUMP" indicates that its 1.6-ounce bullets, exactly the weight of eight quarters, are going downrange at 2,000 mph. The bullets are said to be able to stop an onrushing car packed with deadly explosives dead in its tracks from a mile away. A .50-cal round can travel four miles, generally not with great accuracy.

At closer ranges, it is so powerful that a round will obliterate a person, penetrate a concrete wall behind him and several houses beyond that, gunners in Iraq have said.

"You can stop a car, definitely penetrate the vehicle to take out the engine -- and the driver," said Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., who recently retired after commanding the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq.

Merely "the noise of it is huge. Intimidating," Swannack said. But it's so powerful, he added, "I would not use it in an area where there's lots of noncombatants."

In the 1990s, fiddy-cals and crates of .50-cal ammunition gathered dust as the Army struggled to shed its heavy image and become lighter, quicker and more high-tech. Fiddy-cals are early Industrial Age artifacts, invented by John Moses Browning during World War I. Browning's 1919 drawings specified machined steel plates and rivets; today's manufacturers haven't monkeyed with his basic design. The gun alone weighs a bone-crushing 84 pounds, not including its 40-pound tripod and heavy brass-jacketed ammunition.

Outmoded or not, when Iraq erupted, the Army and Marines reached back for the .50-cal and its heavy killing power.

Swivel-mounted in the turret of a Humvee, the gun can lay down a heavy steel blizzard, 40 rounds a minute, on grouped insurgents or vehicles, and is often used in convoys or at checkpoints as a last resort to stop suicide car bombers.

Small wonder, then, that the steady increase in .50-cal use began to rapidly drain ammo stockpiles. At the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Ky., ammunition left over from Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea and even World War II had been stored in massive concrete bunkers, including some 12 million rounds of .50-cal. They began shipping it off to Iraq.

By the time the war stretched into its second year, the Blue Grass stockpile of .50 cal had shrunk to 4 million rounds.

The Army surged production of new .50-cal ammunition, taking on more than a thousand new workers at its Lake City ammunition plant in Independence, Mo.

"Fifty-cal is crazy," said Bryce Hallowell, spokesman for Alliant Techsystems Inc., the contractor that runs the plant. Four years ago, Lake City was manufacturing about 10 million rounds a year; currently it is producing at an annual rate of 50 million rounds and rising.

Even that five-fold increase hasn't been enough.

At Blue Grass, Darryl Brewer, a combat medic in Vietnam, is chief of logistics for the ammunition depot. Recently, he started pulling out .50 cal. crates marked 1945. He opened some up and peered inside.

"Pristine," Brewer reported. "It's in lead-sealed cans, like sardines. Just like it was made yesterday."

The 1945 ammunition was opened and test rounds fired to check for reliability and accuracy, standard testing done for all aging ammunition. "They find anything wrong, they'll do a suspension," Brewer said, adding with some pride, "Very seldom you see that in a fiddy-cal."

Fifty-cal rounds are linked into belts that are fed from steel ammo boxes into the side of the weapon. At Blue Grass, technicians have to replace the World War II links, using a "delinker-linker" machine so old they had to make parts for it before it would work. The relinked rounds are sealed back in ammo boxes, like sardines, and shipped.

Once grunts open up the boxes in Iraq, "then you start to have deterioration," Brewer said. "Stuff goes pretty fast."

Like other workers at Blue Grass, Brewer, 58, has a personal stake in the war, and the ammo. His son, 1st Lt. William Bryan Brewer, deploys to Iraq in December as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. Conceivably, suppressive ground fire from .50-cals will force insurgents to keep their heads down as his aircraft passes.

"We got a couple guys with sons over there," Brewer said. "That's why we're kinda particular to make sure this stuff is right when it goes out.

"It could save their lives one day, you never know."

Monday, January 3, 2011

PR: World Air Show News subscription available

Just got this news release:

Dear Airshow Enthusiast,

If you are familiar with us you know we've made huge changes to World Airshow News. The magazine is in full color, features a centerfold, stunning photography and has received rave reviews from the industry.

Each issue includes an Airshow Calendar, Performer Interviews and Profiles, Editorials, Airshow Reports and a Stick-Time feature where we take you behind the
scenes and get into the cockpit, ride with a performer, become crew-for-a-day, hold the poles for a ribbon cut or ride in a multitude of other airshow vehicles.

Please check us out at:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Floyd Odlum Talks About Vultee's Nuclear-Powered Airplane

Just uploaded at YouTube are several episodes of the Longines Chronoscope, a thrice weekly, 15 minute news program that ran from 1951 to 1955.

In this 15 minute installment, Floyd Odlum, one of the richest men in the world at the time, and married to Jacqueline Cochran, most famous woman aviator of the time - with several world records to her credit - talks about the fact that his company, Vultee, has just been given a contract to develop an atomic powered plane.

(For those of this reading this on the Kindle, you of course can't see the video. Just use your computer, go to YouTube, and do a search on Floyd Odlum.

In addition to this Longines episode, you'll also see a video, created by school kids, about Jackie Cochran. It's fun to watch.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January aviation events

I get a newsletter called Penelope's Page, from Girls with Wings, an organization whose goal is to get girls interested in aviation.

Part of their newsletter was a list of aviation events taking place in January

January 8th- Cosmic Kids Club "Planes, Planes, and More Planes" learn about planes via hands on experience and a 3D movie, "Legends of Flight." Virginia Air and Space Museum Pre-registration required.

February 3rd-Shuttle Discovery's Last Launch! Follow the countdown.

February 5th, 12th, Family Days: African American Pioneers in Aviation Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C. 10-3 P.M.

February 24-26 Women in Aviation Conference Grand Sierra Resort Reno, NV. This is a great way to meet women in various aviation roles and learn firsthand about opportunities for you!

de Havillland D.H. 82 Tiger Moth

The Tuesday, Jan 4 plane on my Golden Age of Flight Calendar...and a particularly favorite plane of mine, also.

"The evocative sight of a de Havilland Tiger Moth turning in for a landing can bring forth images of brave young pilots training for the Battle of Britain."

de Havilland (from Wikipedia)
The de Havilland Aircraft Company was a British aviation manufacturer founded in 1920 when Airco, of which Geoffrey de Havilland had been chief designer, was sold to BSA by the owner George Holt Thomas. De Havilland then set up a company under his name in September of that year at Stag Lane Aerodrome in Edgware, England. The company later moved to Hatfield in Hertfordshire, England. De Havilland Aircraft Company was responsible for producing the first passenger jet and other innovative aircraft.

Initially, de Havilland concentrated on single and two-seat biplanes, essentially continuing the DH line of aircraft built by Airco, but powered by de Havilland's own Gipsy engines. These included the Gipsy and Tiger Moths. These aircraft set many aviation records, many piloted by de Havilland himself. Amy Johnson flew solo from England to Australia in a Gipsy Moth in 1930.

The Moth line of aircraft continued with the more refined (and enclosed) Hornet Moth and Moth Minor, the latter being a low-wing monoplane constructed of wood. One of de Havilland's trademarks was that the name of the aircraft type was painted on using a particularly elegant Roman typeface, all in capital letters. When there was a strike at the plant, the artisans who painted the name on the planes used the same typeface to make the workers' protest signs.

The DH 84 Dragon was the first aircraft purchased by Aer Lingus, who later operated the DH 86B Dragon Express and the DH 89 Dragon Rapide. De Havilland continued to produce high-performance aircraft including the high-speed twin-piston-engine DH 88 Comet mail plane, one of which became famous in its red livery as the winner of the MacRobertson Air Race from England to Australia in 1934.

The high-performance designs and wooden construction methods culminated in perhaps the most famous de Havilland aircraft—the Mosquito, constructed primarily of wood because of the shortage of aluminium during the Second World War. The company followed this with the even higher-performing Hornet, which was one of the pioneers of the use of metal-wood and metal-metal bonding techniques.

After the Second World War, de Havilland continued with leading-edge designs in both the military and civil field, but several public disasters doomed the company as an independent entity. The experimental, tailless, jet-powered de Havilland DH 108 Swallow crashed in the Thames Estuary, killing Geoffrey de Havilland Jr, son of the company's founder. The de Havilland Comet was put into service in 1952 as the eagerly-anticipated first commercial jet airliner, twice as fast as previous alternatives and a source of British national pride. The Comet suffered three tragic and high-profile crashes in two years. Less well remembered, but equally disastrous, was the explosion of the DH 110 prototype during the 1952 Farnborough Airshow, which also killed members of the public.

Hawker Siddeley bought de Havilland in 1960 but kept it as a separate company until 1963. In that year it became the de Havilland Division of Hawker Siddeley Aviation and all types in production or development changed their designations from "DH' to "HS". The famous "DH" and the de Havilland name live on, with several hundred Moths of various types and substantial numbers of many of the company's other designs still flying all over the world.

Following the structural problems of the aircraft in 1954, all remaining Comets were withdrawn from service, with De Havilland launching a major effort to build a new version that would be both larger and stronger. This one, the Comet 4, enabled the De Havilland airliner to return to the skies in 1958. By then, the United States had its Boeing 707 jetliner along with the Douglas DC-8, both of which were faster and more economical to operate. Orders for the Comet dried up.

De Havilland also pushed into the new field of long-range missiles, developing the liquid-fuelled Blue Streak. It did not enter military service but became the first stage of Europa, a launch vehicle for use in space flight. In flight tests, the Blue Streak performed well—but the upper stages, built in France and Germany, repeatedly failed. In 1973, the Europa program was canceled, with Blue Streak dying as well. The last of them wound up in the hands of a farmer who used its commodious fuel tanks to house his chickens.

De Havilland returned to the airline world in 1962 with a three-engine jetliner, the Trident. However, he designed it to fit the needs of one airline and one man: MRAF Sholto Douglas later Lord Sholto Douglas, chairman of British European Airways. Other airlines found it unattractive and turned to a rival tri-jet: the Boeing 727. De Havilland built only 117 Tridents, while Boeing went on to sell over 1,800 727s.

My Tiny Paper Airplane #4: Cloudskipper

I'm getting better at folding things along the lines. Yay!

Here's a "Cloudskipper".

Sorry abot the focus...I've definitely got to get another camera, as th is one just won't focus anymore.