Thursday, June 6, 2013

Classic Aircraft 04/2012

THE AIR ACCIDENTS Investigation Branch has published its report into the collision at Duxford's Flying Legends Air Show on 10 July between P-51D Mustang D-FBBD Big Beautiful Doll and AD-4N Skyraider F-AZDR. The AAIB states that: The collision occurred due to the Skyraider continuing the turn without the pilot having sight of the lead aircraft [the Mustang]. His turn was tighter and his speed greater than that of his leader, causing the flight paths of the aircraft to converge.' One safety recommendation was made: 'that the Civil Aviation Authority considers, where a parachute is worn as safety equipment, whether the provision of an automatic means of operating the parachute would provide a safety benefit'. This relates to the fact that, as described in the report, Mustang pilot Rob Davies was 'fortunate that his injuries [minor ones sustained when he hit the tail section on exiting the stricken aircraft] did not prevent him from operating his parachute deployment mechanism. Had he been incapacitated, there was no automatic means, such as a static line, for deploying the parachute.'

Classic Aircraft 03/2012

The newest exhibit for the Yanks Air Museum, Lockheed EC-12it Warning Star 53-0548, arrived at Chino airport on 14 January. Originally delivered to the USAF in August 1955, 53-0548 was actually built as an RC-121 D airborne early warning version of the Super Constellation. However, the aircraft was converted into an electronic reconnaissance EC-121T variant in May 1970. It served with the 552nd Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing at McClellan AFB, California from 1955 until it moved on to the US Air Force Reserve at Homestead AFB, Florida in March 1976. The last EC-121T to be retired from service at Homestead, the Constellation then went into storage at Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona in October 1978. However, instead of being scrapped, it found a new home as a static exhibit at the nearby Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson in September 1981. Eventually surplus to Pima's requirements, it was then purchased by V\&yne Jones in December 1994. Subsequently, the Global Aeronautical Foundation was set up to operate the EC-121T which, registered as N548GF, was ferried from Pima to Tucson on 14 April 1995, and thence to a new home at Camarillo, California the following day.

Classic Aircraft 02/2012

THE RAF Museum Cosford and the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton have both received Harrier GR9As from storage at Cottesmore. The example allocated to the RAFM is ZG477, still wearing the special No I Squadron markings applied for the type's retirement from service in December 2010. Originally produced for the RAF as a new-build GR7 in 1990, the aircraft saw its first operational use during Operation 'Warden, the policing of the no-fly zone over northern Iraq, before going on to take part in Operation Allied Force' in the former Yugoslavia during 1999, and (by now upgraded first to GR7A and then GR9A configuration) latterly being involved in Joint Force Harrier's Operation 'Herrick' commitment at Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2008-9. On 24 November 2010 it became one of the last four Harriers to take off from a Royal Navy ship, having been embarked in HMS Ark Royal.

Classic Aircraft 01/2013

THE FLIGHT DECK of a trans-Atlantic airliner during the propeller age was no place for the faint-hearted. Only the most skilled and experienced pilots were considered good enough to be entrusted with the job of flying passengers on the most prestigious of all air routes. There was no shortage of hazards. Ice was an ever-present danger. It could form on engine intakes and wings. Leading edge de-icing boots provided only a partial answer. Mechanical failures weren't uncommon either. One British Overseas Airways Corporation pilot vividly recalls the time his Constellation suffered a runaway propeller. We managed to get it stopped and feathered', he told me. 'We were icing up at the time and we discovered that we had an 80kt tailwind so we had no option but to carry on to Gander which we did, for five-and-a-half hours on three engines, loaded up with ice. It took 9hr 55min to get from Prestwick to Gander.' He added: 'We had runaway propellers on Stratocruisers too'. And for good measure he pointed out that on the DC-7C, the ultimate piston-engined airliner, it was often a question of whether the oil would run out before the fuel.