Aviation Archive

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Boeing 767It's funny. Once things become routine, we lose our sense of awe at how amazing they actually are. Consider that a hundred years ago, when Wilbur Wright took his first trip to Kittyhawk, it took him 4 days of actually traveling, along with another 3 days of looking for a boat, to make for a full week to get halfway across the country from Ohio to an island off the coast of North Carolina. And that was using rail travel. A little less than a hundred years before that, it took 4 to 6 months to travel halfway across the country going the other way, to get from Missouri to Oregon along the Oregon Trail. Even the Pony Express, which relied on swapping out horses every 10 miles, and running both day and night, took 10 days to deliver a letter from Missouri to California.

Yesterday morning, I woke up and had breakfast with my brother in Pennsylvania. By that evening, I was at home watching TV with my wife and daughter in Texas. And people told me I had a long travel day because I had a layover for a few hours in Charlotte! Air travel is amazing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Website Update - Revised Tutorial for X-Plane, UDP, and Visual Basic, for X-Plane version 9

Just a real quick entry - I've updated my tutorial for X-Plane, UDP, and Visual Basic, for X-Plane version 9. There are a few changes between versions 8 and 9 of X-Plane that affect network communications such that methods in the old tutorial wouldn't work anymore. Hopefully this new tutorial will help at least a few people.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Crazy Su-37 E-mail

What is it with crazy e-mails? Do people always have to add inane commentary to something? I got the following e-mail the other day (presumably for the video itself, and not the text that went along with it, but most people usually just hit forward and don't edit the text). The video that was attached is the same as the YouTube video I have embedded below (which I first saw before I even moved down here to Texas).



Wonder how many Boeing/Lockheed/Northrop-Grumman engineers bailed out on our country to accept handsome cash rewards for their technology they gave the Russians.

Russia now has the #1 fighter plane in the world ... SU-30 - Vectored Thrust with Canards.

As you watch this airplane, look at the canards moving along side of, and just below the canopy rail.

The "canards" are the small wings forward of the main wings.

The smoke and contrails provide a sense of the actual flight path, sometimes in reverse direction.

This video is of an in-flight demonstration flown by the Russian's-30MK fighter aircraft.

You will not believe what you are about to see.

The fighter can stall from high speed, stopping forward motion in seconds (full stall).

Then it demonstrates an ability to descend tail first without causing a compressor stall.

It can also recover from a flat spin in less than a minute.

These maneuver capabilities don't exist in any other aircraft in the world today.

Take a look at the video with the sound up.

This aircraft is of concern to U.S. and NATO planners.

We don't know which nations will soon be flying the SU-30MK, hopefully China isn't one of them.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Note:

Friends worked with advanced aircraft flight control systems and concepts for many years as an extension of stability control and means of control.

Canards and vectored thrust were among many concepts examined to extend our fighter aircraft performance.

Neither our current or next generation aircraft now poised for funding & production can in any way match the performance of this Russian aircraft NOW FLYING in any near combat situation.

Somehow the bankrupt Russian aircraft industry has out-produced our complex politically tainted aerospace industry with this technology marvel.

Scratch any ideas of close in air-to-air combat with this aircraft in the future.

Okay, let's just get a couple facts straight, first. The aircraft in the video is the Su-37, not the Su-30. Though those are both derivatives of the Su-27, and I'm not sure how much of a difference there is in their performance, anyway.

Next, and it's something you should always be suspicious of with e-mail forwards, is the time frame. The Su-30 and Su-37 are both products of the '90s. They were designed at the tail end of the Soviet hey day. And at that time, the Soviets did have a very good aerospace industry.

So, the very first line about U.S. engineers being lured to work for the Russians is just plain bogus. The Soviets could have designed (and did) a world class vectored thrust fighter on their own. Similarly, the second to last line, about a bankrupt Russian industry beating out the U.S. industry is also bogus.

Now, about the claims of this being the most agile modern fighter - well, it probably is, and it probably would have an advantage in dogfights. However, the F-22's no slouch. I've seen it an airshow, and it can do some pretty impressive maneuvers with its thrust vectoring, too. Besides, the main advantage of the F-22 is its stealth. The whole point is to shoot down your enemy without being seen, which is exactly what it's done in all the war games it's been in. And if two pilots do get stuck in a dog fight, much of it comes down to training and tactics, not the aircraft.

So yes, the Su-37 is a pretty cool plane. But no, that is not an indictment of the U.S. aviation industry.

Anyway, I'm still glad I got the forward because this is a cool video to watch.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Terrafugia - Are Flying Cars Finally Here?

A little less than two years ago, I wrote an entry, Where's My Flying Car? After discussing all the tradeoffs of a roadable aircraft, my conclusion was:

Yes, it's possible to make a roadable aircraft, but the compromises necessary add a fair amount of weight, reducing the useful load you can carry. For some people, this reduced useful load would be offset by the greater mobility, but for many applications, it's not worth it.

I posted a follow up to that, When Will There Be an Aircraft in Every Garage?, listing some of the practical limitations to aircraft becoming an everyman's vehicle.

Well, one of the latest entries into the roadable aircraft niche is a company named Terrafugia. They've been developing their concept for the past few years, and just recently achieved their maiden flight. According to their FAQ, their approach isn't an attempt to make a jack of all trades, but rather "to design a vehicle for pilots that brings additional ground capability to an airplane instead of attempting to make a car fly." They think that modern lightweight composite materials will make their concept more successful than previous roadable aircraft.

I would love to see this concept become successful, but I still have the same reservations as before. Using the same modern lightweight composite materials, a conventional aircraft will still be lighter than the Terrafugia. But, as I wrote before, maybe the added mobility at the cost of payload/range will be worthwhile to some.

Anyway, here's a video of their maiden flight. Another video and pictures are available on the Terrafugia website.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Belated Wright Brothers Day

Wright Brothers' First Flight, December 17, 1903

I can't believe I forgot to post this a day ago. 105 years ago yesterday, the Wright brothers became the first humans to truly fulfill the dream of flight. I'd wax poetic on the subject, but I'd probably just end up repeating what I wrote last year.


Selling Out