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5 x Banner Plane Formation in Miami

15 April 2015

5 x Banner Plane Formation in Miami

25° 44′ 59″ N / 80° 08′ 50″ W

5 x Banner Plane Formation over Key Biscayne — photo by Joseph May

5 x Banner Plane Formation over Key Biscayne recently — photo by Joseph May

5 x Banner Plane Formation over Key Biscayne — photo by Joseph May

5 x Banner Plane Formation over Key Biscayne cropped view — photo by Joseph May

Recently, I looked up from my location on Virginia Key to see five banner planes flying in an echelon-trail right formation. Unusual site seeing non-military aircraft in good formation, isn’t it? I suppose the aircraft formed on the banner in the front and to the right of them.

5 x Banner Plane Formation over Key Biscayne — photo by Joseph May

5 x Banner Plane Formation turning left over Key Biscayne with a small sample of the cars parked remotely on Virginia Key for the tennis tourney on Key Biscayne — photo by Joseph May

5 x Banner Plane Formation over Key Biscayne — photo by Joseph May

5 x Banner Plane Formation turning left over Key Biscayne cropped view — photo by Joseph May

5 x Banner Plane Formation over Virginia Key recently — photo by Joseph May

5 x Banner Plane Formation over Virginia Key recently and turring left — photo by Joseph May

5 x Banner Plane Formation over Virginia Key recently — photo by Joseph May

5 x Banner Plane over Virginia Key recently (image reversed so the banner can be read) — photo by Joseph May

 

Vintage DC-3 spotting in FL

13 April 2015

Vintage DC-3 spotting in FL

DC-3 at Charlotte County Airport — photo by Joseph May

DC-3A  N12BA flown by Yesterday’s Wings at the Charlotte County Airport — photo by Joseph May

This DC-3 dates to 1943 and still works for a living. Operated currently by Yesterday’s Wings for flight training, type rating and film (as a star, no less) work — it is also a D-Day veteran.

DC-3 at Charlotte County Airport — photo by Joseph May

DC-3A N12BA at Charlotte County Airport a few minutes after landing — photo by Joseph May

DC-3 at Charlotte County Airport — photo by Joseph May

DC-3C N8WJ at the Charlotte County Airport, note the engine cowling under the left wing tip — photo by Joseph May

This DC-3C is a bit older than the one above since its manufacture date is 1942! The livery is in excellent shape and both P&W R-1830 Twin Wasp engines are being looked after.

DC-3 at Charlotte County Airport — photo by Joseph May

DC-3C N8WJ at the Charlotte County Airport — photo by Joseph May

Taylor Aerocar III — what could have been :@

8 April 2015

Taylor Aerocar III — what could have been :@

Taylor Aerocar III — photo by Joseph May

Taylor Aerocar III in the Museum of Flight — photo by Joseph May

Moulton Taylor designed cars which could fly and his final design, the Taylor Aerocar III is displayed in the Museum of Flight. As you may expect his designs incorporated clever engineering features which, though vital, are discreet:

  • Front wheel drive (common today but unusual in the 1960s) since proper landings required the rear wheels to freely spin
  • The Y-tail since a conventional tail would hinder garage storage—a design Predator drones use today
  • The flight controls and driving controls mechanically engage and disengage with the mounting or dismounting of the wings and tail

 

Taylor Aerocar III — photo by Joseph May

Taylor Aerocar III from on high — photo by Joseph May

Never meant to perform as an over-the-road cars, Taylor’s designs were meant to take advantage of the plentiful airports which abounded after the cessation of World War II but not be at the mercy of ground transportation once there. What a beautiful idea and especially for those airports not graced with a mass transit subway station! Alas, the Aerocar was certified as an airplane but could not be certified as a car, that and lack of adequate production facilities fated Moulton’s design to one of history’s eddys—leaving us to ask, “What could have been?”

Taylor Aerocar III — photo by Joseph May

Taylor Aerocar III in profile — photo by Joseph May

More about the man and the car can be read in this Seattle Times article.

Douglas Around the World Flight — first among many

6 April 2015

Douglas Around the World Flight — first among many

Douglas World Cruiser symbol for the historic flight — photo by Joseph May

Douglas World Cruiser symbol especially designed for this historic flight — photo by Joseph May

Largely forgotten today, the Flight Around the World (175 days in 1924) was a first and brought long lasting recognition as well as good will from across most of the world for the United States. Though taking a long time by today’s standards these aviators were intrepid, skillful and brave. Each aircraft required a mechanic such were the reliability and endurance issues of the day and the mission would require several engine changes. Facilities were lacking, as were airfields and maps, so much of the flying was over what would be considered remote territory. The Seattle crashed into an unmapped mountain in low visibility. Perhaps unheard of today, it was routine to fly in mountainous terrain unsure of the features back in the day.

Route of the Record Setting Douglas World Cruisers — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Route of the Record Setting Douglas World Cruisers — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Hot or cold the aircrew lived in the elements in their open cockpits and there was no autopilot available so the hours of flying were all active flying. The lack of airfields meant many of the refueling and service locations were alongside U.S. Navy vessels. Each crew must have paid special attention to the engine as a forced landing more often than not would place them amidst dangerous wildlife like tigers, bears and crocodiles.

Indeed, the accomplishment was extraordinary in many senses. It should be remembered as well as the time when populations would come together to witness and celebrate human achievement without overshadowing political or commercial messages.

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruisers aloft in 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

The aviators Harding, Nelson, Wade, Martin, Arnold, Smith as well as the alternate Schultze, of the First Flight Around the World (black arm bands are for respecting President Woodrow Wilson’s death) — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Signed Douglas World Cruiser photo — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser Boston being taken under tow — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser on the water in 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser in flight — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruisers at the start in 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruise diorama at the North Pacific Trading Co. at the NASM on the Mall — photo by Joseph May

Douglas World Cruise diorama at the North Pacific Trading Co. at the NASM on the Mall — photo by Joseph May

Douglas World Cruiser of 1924 — the airplane

1 April 2015

Douglas World Cruiser of 1924 — the airplane

Douglas World Cruiser Chicago at the NASM on the Mall — photo by Joseph May

Douglas World Cruiser Chicago at the NASM on the Mall as seen in 2009 — photo by Joseph May

Douglas World Cruiser Chicago at the NASM on the Mall — photo by Joseph May

Douglas World Cruiser Chicago at the NASM on the Mall as seen in 2009 — photo by Joseph May

The airplane selected by the U.S. Army Air Service was precedent setting for the aviation industry of the United States in the eyes of the world. The four aircraft, later three with the crash of the Seattle, made their way around the world stopping in several countries. Crowds and military experts gathered at nearly every stop (stops often lasted days or weeks) to see the remarkable aircraft — the Douglas World Cruiser — to see the aircraft doing what had not been done, flying around the world. Less than a decade since the end of World War I, where U.S. aviation entered woefully behind in aviation design, the U.S. Army Air Service were flying a robust and reliable aircraft for the day pushing limits of endurance for both human and vehicle.

Based upon the Douglas built torpedo bomber, known as DT for the U.S. Navy, the World Cruiser had the same liquid cooled Liberty 12 engine of 420 hp though there were significant modifications, a few of which were:

  • The cockpits for the pilot and mechanic were moved closer together for better crew communication which was by voice tube and hand signals
  • A 460% increase in fuel as well as extra water and oil reservoirs
  • Two radiator sizes with the larger one installed for hot weather operations
  • Easier mechanism to switch between wheeled landing gear and floats

 

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser in 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo at nearly every stop

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser fitted with floats — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser on floats — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser float detail — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 Liberty 12 Engine — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser Liberty 12 Engine — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruisers had hardly a vacant space which could be made useful, here a handy cargo compartment — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser 1924 — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

Douglas World Cruiser of 1924 on its grass field element — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

One of the aircraft exists, the one christened Chicago, and is on display in the National Aviation and Space Museum on the Mall. Excitingly a flying replica has been built, named the Seattle II, and in known under The Seattle World Cruiser Project.

First Flight Around the World — a great book about a fantastic achievement

30 March 2015

First Flight Around the World — a great book about a fantastic achievement

First Flight Around the World: the adventures of the American fliers who won the race, Tim Grove in association with the National Air and Space Museum, ISBN 1-4197-1482-1, 96 pp.

First Flight Around the World: the adventures of the American fliers who won the race, Tim Grove in association with the National Air and Space Museum photo provided by Abrams Books for Young Readers

First Flight Around the World: the adventures of the American fliers who won the race, Tim Grove in association with the National Air and Space Museum — photo provided by Abrams Books for Young Readers

1924.

Aircraft engines which overheat, eat oil and throw connecting rods.

Inadequate maps, poor weather forecasting and few airfields.

Open cockpits, unreliable radios in an unglobalized world.

A chance to set the first record of a flight around the world.

The perfect formula of adventure, history and a great story!

Tim Grove, a significant person in the National Air & Space Museum, has written this story the way Disney makes animated movies since his writing appeals to children as well as adults. Never getting mired in detail, Grove’s approach is perfect for learning of this remarkable adventure and for insight into worlds which no longer exist. The reader learns of the planning and hardships which had to be planned for (exposure to elements, high likelihood of forced landings in remote territories filled with hostile wildlife, route finding with poor maps and poorer weather predication capabilities) but also learns of India, Japan and Vietnam before globalization which erased much of their culture and ways. Pictures abound as do special inserts regarding particular insights.

Grove’s book keeps the adult interested with its description of the persons and machines and his book kindles the mind of child with his vivid depiction of the times, the people and the life — as well as the significance of flight in the world of communication, business and exploration. First Flight Around the World is well written, well crafted, and well worth purchasing.

 

First Flight Around the World: the adventures of the American fliers who won the race, Tim Grove in association with the National Air and Space Museum (back cover) — Abrams Books for Young Readers

First Flight Around the World: the adventures of the American fliers who won the race, Tim Grove in association with the National Air and Space Museum (back cover) — Abrams Books for Young Readers

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Abrams Books for Young Readers provided a copy of First Flight Around the World: the adventures of the American fliers who won the race for an objective review.

AirCam Taking Flight

25 March 2015

AirCam Taking Flight

AirCam — photo by Joseph May

Lockwood AirCam taking off for adventure? — photo by Joseph May

Lockwood Aircraft’s AirCam was designed to explore in undeveloped regions. Designed by Phil Lockwood for a National Geographic exploration into the Congo Basin it has the security of two engines, a tandem arrangement so the pilot can fly the aircraft’s photographer (sitting up front) with a nearly unobstructed 270° view, and detachable wings making the AirCam easy to trailer down single track trails. Later, floats were fitted. The cost is in the neighborhood of US$100,000 and performs as well as it looks — as seen in these recent photos.

AirCam — photo by Joseph May

Lockwood AirCam flying provides outstanding views above, below and to each side — photo by Joseph May

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