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A geologist’s wish list aircraft for serious trips to the field—the Pilatus PC-6

13 October 2016

A geologist would do well to have two piece of gear made by the Swiss—the inveterate Swiss Army knife and the preeminent Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. PC-6. With the Porter, plenty of gear can travel a long way and land just about anywhere with its tremendous STOL performance. The main cabin has wide entry doors on each side as are cockpit doors—handy in limited areas. Camera ports and a hatch in the main cabin floor lend themselves to a variety of applications from photography to mapping. Long range, heavy loads, rough strip capable and as rugged as a geologist’s rucksack🙂



The Pilatus Porter has STOL performance which impresses—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


Hardly straining to reach the sky—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


A Pilatus PC-6 turboprop powered Porter on amphibious floats—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


A Pilatus PC-6 turboprop powered Porter on amphibious floats can go just about any remote location—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


The Porter gets longer legs with wing mounted auxiliary tanks—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


The Porter gets longer legs with wing mounted auxiliary tanks—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


The Porter gets longer legs with wing mounted auxiliary tanks—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


Porters are comfortably flown high or low—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


The Porter has excellent marks as a utility aircraft—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


Pilatus Porters often have spectacular paint liveries—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


Pilatus Porters often have spectacular paint liveries—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


The main cabin’s roominess of the Porter is especially attractive—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.

STANS/NW, 06. OKTOBER 2009 - PILATUS AIRCRAFT LDT.: NEUES COCKPIT PC-6: Fotodok Pilatus Aircraft Ldt.: Ein Revival nach fast 50 Jahren: Neues Cockpit PC-6 mit Garmin-System. Auftrag: Jerome Zbinden, Public Relations Pilatus Aurcraft Ldt. Stans. ths/Photo by: E.T.STUDHALTER / PILATUS AIRCRAFT *** Local Caption *** DigitalPhoto

The cockpit is efficient and smartly done—E.T. Studhalter image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


Another example of the Porter’s voluminous main cabin, here equipped with a down looking FLIR camera using the floor hatch and operator seat on the left—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.


A Porter wings away to what adventure or exploration?—image provided by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.

A geologist’s wish list aircraft for short field trips—Maule’s M-7/MX-7

12 October 2016

Studying geology requires not only books and mentors but travel as well. One has to see the subtlety, the differences, the similarities and out-and-out fascination from outcrop to outcrop. Some places are well within civilization and some are not. Some are well inland in arid regions, some on or near water, some low and some high. Always, there is the need for equipment, food, camping and kitchen gear. Usually, the geologist comes back weighing more than when going in, since rock samples are heavy (these are the times we wish we loved flowers or moss instead of rocks).

For short trips it would be hard to travel better than in a Maule Air M-7/MX-7. Powerful engine and light weight for STOL performance with decent range as well as speed. Able to carry two with gear or four with some gear, amphibious floats or oleo struts (for rough fields) it is a fabric over tube frame construction. When lightly loaded it can begin a climb like a rocket coming out of the hangar. Five position flaps and purpose-built wing tips enable extremely slow speed under control handling characteristics.



M-7 on the beach—image by Paul Harding/Safari Seaplanes provided by Maule Air


M-7 on the beach—image by Paul Harding/Safari Seaplanes provided by Maule Air


MX-7 on the ground (note the added clear panels in the door)—image by Brent Maule provided by Maule Air


M-7 Maule at the field in one of the many available colors—image by Brent Maule provided by Maule Air

Like the Phoenix—RIMOWA returns the Junkers F.13 aircraft to the skies

9 October 2016

Dieter Morszach (President & CEO/RIMOWA GmbH) and engineer Dominik Kaelin (kealin aero technologies GmbH) combined their passions and resources to create a faithful reproduction flying Junkers F.13 aircraft. Junkers and RIMOWA are a natural wedding since RIMOWA is the renowned luggage company specializing in corrugated aircraft aluminum luggage and Hugo Junkers produced post modern aircraft designs using corrugated duralumin (also known as grooved alumin) stressed skin construction. The Hugo Junkers F.13 is more paradigm setting than one might first observe today with its first use of all metal stressed skin structure as well as the heated, as well as enclosed, 4 to 6 passenger cabin (with seat belts no less!)—thus setting the bar for future commercial airline aircraft designs—though the cockpit was open (some say semi enclosed). It was 1919 and Hugo Junkers had shown commercial passenger aviation the way to its future with RIMOWA cases closely behind him. Both Junkers and RIMOWA used corrugated aluminum alloys since they are light in weight yet strong with the corrugations resistant to bending stresses—as we well know, both aircraft and luggage cases experience bending stresses.

The Association of Friends of Historical Aircraft (Vereinigung der Freunde von Historische Flugzeuge in German and VFL as their acronym) instigated the idea which was quickly taken up by Ju-Air and RIMOWA. Seven years of research in the Deutsches Museum archives, including a 3-D laser scan of the Junkers F.13 at the Musée de l’Air et de l’space, and the team was ready to bring the faithful reproduction F.13 to the skies. Additional companies came on board for the manufacturing and the building of the F.13: kealin aero technologies GmbH, MSW Aviation, Naef Flugmotoren AG and AeroFEM GmbH. Original parts were made, people fabricated and fitted, systems were tested—all taking two years on the calendar, 12,000 man-hours in effort, as well as 35,000 rivets.

Dieter Morszach and Dominik Kaelin, together, reached a major goal with the first test flight of the reborn Junkers just last month. What a dedicated effort with original plans studied, parts made, original and modern manufacturing techniques utilized and modern safety  improvements made (though one needs to look hard to see them)! The first test flight was made at the home airport for the aircraft within the Black Forest of Germany at Oberndorf, last month. Nicknamed “Annelise 2” she first flew on 15 September 2016 with Oliver Bachmann as pilot and RIMOWA’s Dieter Morszech as copilot. Happily, a handful of additional aircraft are to be built—and one can have a copy for ˜$2.5 million (USD).

What a stylish way to travel that would be!


The Beginning



An original Junkers F.13 on exhibit in the Deutches Museum/Munich (this model with an in-line liquid cooled reciprocating engine)—image provided by RIMOWA


Original artifacts from the Deutches Museum archives provided original details from plans and specification sheets—image provided by RIMOWA


Engineering plans from Junkers (note that F.13 is G.13 when expressed in German)—image provided by RIMOWA


Studying original plans with the Deutches Museum archives in the background—image provided by RIMOWA


The Build



The 450 hp Pratt and Whitney Wasp Jr R985 which will power the F.13—image provided by RIMOWA


The fuselage and wings in their jigs—image provided by RIMOWA


Rear aspect of the faithful Junkers F.13 reproduction—image provided by RIMOWA


Mating the engine to the fuselage—image provided by RIMOWA


Attaching the wings to the fuselage.—image provided by RIMOWA


The livery has been applied over the green primer—image provided by RIMOWA


The final assembly of “Annelise 2″—image provided by RIMOWA


Nearly complete, the reproduction Junkers F.13 funded by RIMOWA—image provided by RIMOWA


First Flight



Vintage luxury cars and the Ju-Air Junkers Ju 52 were part of the Junkers F.13 inaugural flight at Dübendorf Airfield—image provided by RIMOWA


The Wasp Jr. comes to life in prep for flight—image provided by RIMOWA


Annalise 2 on her first take off roll—image provided by RIMOWA


RIMOWA’s Junkers F.13 reproduction in flight—image provided by RIMOWA


RIMOWA’s Junkers F.13 faithful reproduction flying past—image provided by RIMOWA


RIMOWA’s Junkers F.13 faithful reproduction flying past—image provided by RIMOWA


RIMOWA’s Junkers F.13 faithful reproduction enclosed passenger cabin and open cockpit in full view—image provided by RIMOWA


Introduction at Oshkosh



Oshkosh April 2016 with the RIMOWA tent and the Junkers F.13 at the left wingtip of the B-52 Stratofortress—image provided by RIMOWA


The Oshkosh unveiling of the new Junkers F.13 known as “Annelise 2″—image provided by RIMOWA


A period re-eenactor for RIMOWA’s founder Paul Morszeck—image provided by RIMOWA


A 1920s period re-enactor—image provided by RIMOWA


The 1920s period re-enactor in flight gear of the day standing beside an F.13 structural cross-section—image provided by RIMOWA


The Paul Morszech re-enactor showing the similarities of the RIMOWA case and the Junkers ribbed duralumin stressed skin construction—image provided by RIMOWA


1920s period re-enactors and the F.13—image provided by RIMOWA


A dancing interval using RIMOWA cases added energy to the unveiling ceremony—image provided by RIMOWA


The F.13 and invited guests—image provided by RIMOWA


The RIMOWA Junkers F.13 on the flight line—image provided by RIMOWA


Pilot Oliver Bachmann ensconced in the cockpit of Annelise 2—image provided by RIMOWA


RIMOWA President and CEO Dieter Morszech (L) and F.13 pilot Oliver Bachmann (R) stand with the RIMOWA Junkers F.13—image provided by RIMOWA


Though not yet commercially available, wouldn’t this luggage case make a statement on your travels?—image provided by RIMOWA


Many thanks to RIMOWA for providing much of the material as well as the images used in this post.

Oh so close

7 October 2016

Avro Vulcan in a close fly by at RIAT 2015—U.S. Air Force photo

Jason Newburg flies his modified Pitts S25 known as the Viper during the Arctic Thunder Special Needs and Family Day at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska on July 29, 2016. The biennial event is historically the largest multi-day event in the state and one of the premier aerial demonstrations in the world. Arctic Thunder will open its doors to the public, featuring more than 40 key performers and ground acts, July 30 and 31. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alejandro Pena)

Jason Newburg flies his modified Pitts S25 “Viper” impossibly close to the ground—U.S. Air Force photo/Alejandro Pena

A World War II-era P-51D Mustang fighter aircraft makes a low pass in front of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 26, 2014, during Arctic Thunder 2014. Arctic Thunder is a biennial event that features more than 40 Air Force, Army and civilian aerial acts and draws crowds of more than 200,000 people. (DoD photo by Justin Connaher, U.S. Air Force/Released)

A North American P-51D Mustang “Double Trouble” in a low pass—DoD photo by Justin Connaher/U.S. Air Force

Shenandoah ZR-1

5 October 2016


Shenandoah ZR 1 tethered to a triangular_shaped mooring mast NAS Lakehurst NJ circa 1924-25 — U.S. Navy photo

Shenandoah ZR 1 tethered to a triangular shaped mooring mast NAS Lakehurst NJ circa 1924-25—U.S. Navy photo

Colorized photograph showing the rigid airship Shenandoah ZR 1moored to the oiler Patoka AO 9 circa 1924 — U.S. Navy photo

Colorized photograph showing the rigid airship Shenandoah ZR-1 moored to the oiler Patoka AO 9 circa 1924—U.S. Navy photo

Lithograph from Leach Corp. Heritage of the Air Collection "The First Rigid Airship the ZR-1 Shenandoah Crash" — U.S. Navy photo

Lithograph from Leach Corp. Heritage of the Air Collection of the first rigid airship, the ZR-1 Shenandoah, crash—U.S. Navy photo

Dragon Lady backlit on orange

4 October 2016
U-2 pilots prepare to land a TU-2S at sunset Jan. 22, 2014, at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. TU-2S are trainer aircraft used to gain proficiency before pilots deploy for operational missions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings)

Dragon Lady pilots landing their TU-2S—U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings

SR-71 Flight Manual: the Official Pilot’s Handbook Declassified and Expanded with Commentary

3 October 2016

SR-71 Flight Manual: the Official Pilot’s Handbook Declassified and Expanded with Commentary, new commentary by Col. Richard H. Graham USAF (ret), 2016, ISBN 9780760351741, 1040 pp.


SR-71 Flight Manual by

SR-71 Flight Manual:the Official Pilot’s Handbook Declassified and Expanded with Commentary [new commentary by Col. Richard H. Graham, USAF (ret)]

Over a decade after retirement the SR-71 Blackbird inspires like no other aircraft. SR-71 authority Col. Richard Graham (who flew and instructed Blackbirds for 15 years as well as commanded the SR-71 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron) is uniquely qualified to write about this more than remarkable aircraft.

Graham’s writing is as gifted as his depth of knowledge as he can so easily explain the complicated physics, procedures and nuances of the aircraft optimized to fly Mach 3+ over hostile territories on recce missions to gather information to prevent or more successfully prosecute war.

The flight manual itself can be downloaded elsewhere (100Mb+ file size) on the internet but this is the book to get and only for the price of taking a spouse to dinner. SR-71 Flight Manual has two things an internet download cannot give: a flight manual printed on good stock and double sided (as opposed to 2000 pages out of a desktop printer, likely injuring it); and Col. Graham’s insightful 30 pages of commentary. The freedom to leaf through the book is immeasurably better and more efficient than paging through a PDF.

The commentary segues back and forth with the flight manual as Graham references specific pages at the appropriate moments. The illustrations are full-sized, unlike the postage stamp sized versions commonly found in other books and the internet. The book describes the duties of the pilot and how to fly the SR-71 but also, uncommonly, describes the duties of the RSO and how the navigation as well as sensor systems are worked.

Tidbits are also scattered throughout the commentary, like good use of spices, such as:

  • The time and place when a SAM-2 flashed by an SR-71 in flight nearly causing a precedent setting shoot down
  • What is was like to refuel an SR-71 in flight
  • The visceral experience of an upstart (when an engine ceased functioning as a ramjet)
  • How flying at a specified Mach differs from flying at a specific altitude as most aircraft are navigated
  • Why the SR-71 crew were never lulled into sleepiness though missions could last half a day
  • Which of the nearly three dozen emergency procedures had to be memorized
  • Why it was important to know which engine was out should a flame out occur
  • How to successfully eject for each scenario—important since ejection through canopy would be lethal as well as the high altitude procedures
  • Why at least four ground crew were required per canopy to get the crew out if they were incapacitated on the ground

The commentary and manual also make use of many graphs in the flight manual to illustrate performance envelopes and more. This is an extraordinary resource to utilize for the teaching of physics as well as math since it is real world excitement to the eager mind.

SR-71 Flight Manual absolutely belongs in aviation libraries for its presentation, wealth of information, insight and historical presence


Per the publishing custom, Quarto Publishing Group USA provided a copy of SR-71 Flight Manual: the Official Pilot’s Handbook Declassified and Expanded with Commentary for an objective review.