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The People’s Mosquito’s presence at RIAT 2019

17 June 2019

The People’s Mosquito at RIAT 2019 poster


Wedgetail—Ozzie AWACS

10 June 2019

Wedgetail AWACS (based on the Boeing Next Generation 737-700) flying along coast of New South Wales off Williamtown Air Force Base in Australia—Crown copyright/Leading Aircraftman Euan Grant

D-Day: The Air and Sea Invasion of Normandy in Photos

9 June 2019

D-Day: The Air and Sea Invasion of Normandy in Photos, Nicholas A. Veronico, 2019, ISBN 978-0-8117-3809-5, 232 pp.

D-Day: The Air and Sea Invasion of Normandy in Photos by Nicholas A. Veronico

Just in time for the 75th anniversary year of the invasion which liberated Europe from Nazi occupation during WW II! D-Day: The Air and Sea Invasion of Normandy in Photos is another spectacular work by Veronico with his approach of using many more photos than most (and with detailed super informative captioning) in concert with a flowing writing style that speaks to the regular guy. Veronico emphasizes the boots-on-the-ground perspective. This is how the people you’d of known experienced one of the world’s most significant occurrences. The people you’d loan or borrow a fiver until payday, share your last cigar or beer with—not the view from Mount Olympus of commanders playing chess but with lives.

The book shows the magnitude and spectrum of the Normandy Invasion in the everyday events as well as the unsung details. Unsung details such as:

  • The British Royal Navy’s mini subs which acted as lighthouses guiding the initial invasion ships
  • The Butler Manufacturing Co.’s prefab hangars
  • Service of the Northrop P-61 Black Widows
  • The German remotely controlled tracked mines—Leichter Ladungsträger to the Axis and “beetles” to the Allies

Everyday events like:

  • The P-51 wing damaged by a tree when Lt. Spaulding was strafing a train
  • Flak damaged aircraft…so many that got back and so many that did not including the incredible demise of 1st Lt. Walsh’s A-20 Havoc
  • How landing ships used the lee of grounded vessels to better offload
  • The challenge of getting the wounded off the beach to the ships offshore

Nick Veronico also has the numbers in various tables which afford an understanding of both the magnitude of the Allies efforts as well as the magnitude of the cost to the Allies. Five appendices address these aspects as well as today’s aircraft and ship survivors in addition to a variety of museums or memorials which can be visited. Most poignantly are the citations of those awarded the Medal of Honor.

Veronico has written a book which must be obtained and read for an understanding of D-Day from the human perspective. It is of handy size and a handsome book done well—as well as easily affordable.


National Flight Academy—has to be seen to be believed!

9 June 2019

X-12B Triads designed in concert by Lockheed Martin and DARPA—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

There is a gem on Florida’s Emerald Coast and it is the National Flight Academy where Grade 5 through 12 students (>14,000 to date) get a hands on superb experience/education in the many aspects of aviation aboard the USS Ambition.  It is co-located with the National Naval Aircraft Museum near Pensacola FL.

CVT-11 USS Ambition is a building that has the interior of an aircraft carrier (though no bulkhead frames to step over with aisles set wide for wheelchair travel) complete with overhead piping and conduits. Heads and cabins with the passages are all painted all in US Navy motif. Students come “aboard” for either a day or several and experience training aboard ship at sea, there is no leaving as the students are fed, sleep and work entirely in the training simulation. Security monitors 24 hours each day and the infirmary administers any prescribed medications brought by the students. Impressively, the infirmary has several beds and a full time medical staff as well. The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation runs the National Flight Academy and run it exceptionally well.

Retired Navy Cape. Ed Ellis (a director in the foundation), toured me through the facility, is an expert on the program and his enthusiasm for it was constantly bubbling just beneath the surface as we moved through the ship. His first observation was that being aboard ship is in actuality living inside a vast machine—and with that we were off! Pilot ready rooms, joint information centers, drone flight control rooms and flight simulators—even functional tilt meters.

Students are placed into groups which rotate through the variety of training assignments as up to six missions are run per day. Rotation includes ATC, planning, flying drones and simulated flying of the X-12B Triad, The technology is spectacular! The Joint Intelligence Centers each have an iPad the size of ice hockey table (some of the largest in the world) which are used to visualize the information for the mission’s current environment. Computer systems receive real time information of weather as well as air traffic pertinent to the current mission (many missions are run concurrently as there can be several classes at a given time but the USS Ambition is a big ship, after all, so things aren’t too cozy). It is the X-12B Triads which are the icing on the cake with their purpose built, somewhat sinister stance, numbering about 30. Each Triad is crewed by two which are in real time communication with their peers in an operation center. Kudos for naming the Lockheed Martin/DARPA designed static simulators Triad—the name of the US Navy’s first aircraft which was named for the three environments it would operate in of land, sea and air.

Students get their mission objectives and learn to work as teams to accomplish objectives and complete missions. For example one scenario can be providing water to an isolated population due to a natural catastrophe. Load outs, fuel loads, routes, alternate routes, weather, comms, flying, air traffic, arrival scheduling…all initially handled chaotically at first but Ed Ellis notes the students learn quickly and are performing like pros within a day or so—and eager for increasingly complicated tasking.

Ed also notes, with earned satisfaction, that their STEM success rate is twice that of the  norm and the school has also been highly effective regarding attention challenged students. The National Flight Academy has the mission of teaching and doesn’t shy away from student challenges which is evidenced by its through preparation. Funding is through private donations as well as business entities (major as well as minor).

Bravo Zulu!

“Hangar Deck” aboard the USS Ambition where 30 X-12B Triad simulators reside—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

One of the ready rooms at the National Flight Academy where mission briefings take place, up to six taskings per day—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Capt. Ed Ellis (USN, ret.) (who kindly took me on a tour of the National Flight Academy) in the Joint Intelligence Center and he is resting agaisnt one of the largest iPads available. The JIC can interface with real time civil traffic (in a one-way direction) to enhance the training and realism of the current mission using the National Flight Academy’s IT system—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography



This Admiral Welds!

7 June 2019

Admiral Cox putting the torch to the steel—©2019 Taras Lyssenko/A and T Recovery

Following up on yesterday’s post, all involved in the trip to the Kalamzoo Air Zoo were able to see Admiral Cox (Naval Heritage and History Command) welding in the shop. Now…did you ever think you’d see such a thing?

Admiral Cox (nearest to the camera) goes over a weld with a restoration expert in the Kalamzoo Air Zoo restoration works—©2019 Taras Lyssenko/A and T Recovery

Icelandic wreck

7 June 2019

©2019 Anamaria Sarmiento
U.S. Navy Douglas C-117D Skytrooper 1973 wreck near Sólheimasandur Iceland. Luckily, no fatalities due to the emergency landing on glacial outwash with most of the aircraft subsequently salvaged. The C-117D is a stronger, and otherwise improved, model of the R4D/C-47 Skytrain/Dakota/DC-3 having more powerful engines, larger tail surfaces and slightly increased sweep of the wings.

Air Zoo—right now!

6 June 2019

Known by some, but not be enough, is the good work done in concert by the Kalamzoo Air Zoo, the Naval Heritage and History Command as well as A and T Recovery. The Kalamzoo Air Zoo is a fantastic museum which restores aircraft, many for the National Naval Aviation Museum (which has loaned 1000+ aircraft across the country)—which also educates high school students in the work of restoration, and its plethora of skills required, by giving them the work as apprentices. The Naval Heritage and History Command monitors the Navy’s assets and coordinates acquisition as well as its duties of historical records curation. A and T Recovery has been the major player recovering submerged aircraft and bringing them to restoration facilities such as this one. Together they provide a synergy envied by many and all for the public good as these three entities are not in it for pure profit. Essentially, this work is accomplished from generous donations by individuals and corporations (e.g., McDonalds).

Kingsington Woods HS students are at the Kalamzoo Air Zoo today on a visit today and soon many may be working at the restoration facility. What an opportunity it is for the future of the country.

Troy Thrash (L)+Taras Lyssenko (C) And T Recovery+Admiral Cox (R) Naval History and History Command with the Kinsgington Woods HS class at the Kalamazzo Air Zoo restoration works—courtesy of Tara Lysseko (A and T Recovery)

Admiral Cox and students observe riveting work at the Air Zoo—courtesy of Taras Lysseko (A and T Recovery)

More expert advising at the restoration works—courtesy of Taras Lysseko (A and T Recovery)

Engine assembly in process—courtesy of Taras Lysseko (A and T Recovery)

Closer view of engine reassembly over the propeller shaft—courtesy of Taras Lysseko (A and T Recovery)

Admiral Cox and HS students observe the inner workings of this radial engine—courtesy of Taras Lysseko (A and T Recovery)

Tray Thrash of the Air Zoo and Admiral Cox of the Naval Heritage and History Command talk about the restoration process of aircraft and its importance to preserving history button a hands on fashion (the best way)—courtesy of Taras Lysseko (A and T Recovery)