Archive for Aviation

Circular Contrails

Circular Contrails

We frequently see condensation trails over the desert, but they almost always appear in straight lines or showing a minor dog leg over an airways facility or when vectored. Today, Damsel called me out to the courtyard to witness these circular contrails being painted as we watched.

All I can figure is that these were military aircraft making high-altitude maneuvers. The aircraft involved were due south of our location, possibly directly over Luke AFB or one of the outlying training facilities near the Northwest Valley of the Sun.

Shortly after our morning observation of these unusual sky circles, they all sublimated away and have not been seen again. Click on Damsel’s image to enlarge.

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LGBT Air Force

LGBT AF

While walking the dogs on Saturday, we heard a peculiar-sounding aircraft noise. When we looked, we saw this flying lawn chair attached to a giant fan pendulously hanging beneath an ultralight rainbow parafoil. My only thought at the time was that I did not know that the LGBT community had their own Air Force Flagship. And what are they doing here in the high desert?

Weird.

Go back to Hollywood!

I apologize for the low-res photo. I only had my little pocket camera. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Powered Flight - 111th Anniversary

A hundred and eleven years ago today, Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first flights from Kill Devil Hill, close to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Their history-making effort sparked the greatest period of technology in the United States and abroad.

I took my first flying lesson on December 16th, 1961, just a day short of their 58th anniversary. By then, the sound barrier had been broken, satellites were in orbit, the Russian, Yuri Gagarin had already orbited the Earth, and John Glenn would be in orbit within a couple of months. It was a great time to get into a career in aviation or aerospace.

First Flight

What makes Wilbur and Orville Wright’s achievement so significant is not only that it was the first time in history that a manned, powered aircraft completed a fully-controlled, sustained flight, but it proved to naysayers around the world that heavier-than-air flight was practical. After the Wrights proved their critics wrong, the field of aeronautical engineering was born. Governments, universities, and inventors soon began dedicating vast resources to understanding the science of flight and methods of building improved flying machines. In essence, every event and discovery in aviation either led up to or followed from the flight of the Wright Flyer, and it changed the way we live forever.

Image and text courtesy of AeroSpaceWeb.org.

Note: This article originally appeared here on December 17, 2007, and has been modified for the 111th anniversary of powered flight.

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Flyover Country

Flyover Country

This is the time of year when there are generally clear skies over central Arizona and the atmospheric conditions are conducive to forming contrails behind high-flying jet aircraft. Damsel and I see a lot more contrails than we did on the West Coast. In the image above, two jets pass in the distance behind our saguaro, one eastbound and one westbound. I snapped this picture as we were taking the dogs down the driveway for a little walk. Click on the image to enlarge.

We hope that everyone is off to a great New Year!

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Air Force Facing Pilot Shortage

F-22 RaptorThe United States Air Force will be facing a shortage of fighter pilots in about eight years according to a story on Fox News website. The Air Force has started a program of offering a retention bonus of up to $225,000 to encourage pilots to stay on the job.

The Air Force is currently short some two hundred pilots with the shortage expected to grow to seven hundred at the eight year mark. Pilots are retiring citing reasons from war fatigue to having a menial jobs like flying remote drones rather than cockpit experience.

Another reason pilots quit is to take advantage of a boom in commercial airline pilot hiring. Here is an excerpt from Fox News:

Boeing estimates there will be a global need for 460,000 new commercial pilots over the next two decades, which will add to the need to woo the U.S. military’s ace pilots.

The FAA has also raised the qualification requirements for commercial co-pilots from 250 flying hours to 1500, making U.S. military-trained pilots with years of experience even more attractive.

I think a lot of military pilots are frustrated with Obama’s phony sequestration tantrums in which a third of active squadrons are grounded. God knows what a cesspool the military is turning into with this weak-tit of a Commander in Chief running the show.

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Wickenburg Municipal Airport

Wickenburg Municipal Airport

Damsel and I took the dogs to the dog park today. The dog park is adjacent to Wickenburg Municipal Airport. Damsel took this shot of a Cessna 172(?) on approach for landing today. Click on the image to enlarge.

The airport is a nice little field with no control tower, but a fair amount of traffic. The runway is a bit over 6100 feet and we regularly see small jet traffic. There is flight instruction available as well as 24/7 fuel availability (self serve) with a credit card.

One of these days, Dave, my friend and former student pilot will come down from Sedona to visit and fly into this airport. Maybe I can persuade him to give me a ride in his Beechcraft Bonanza. It’s been a while, but I bet I could still grease that baby onto the runway.

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Sheriff’s Helicopter Flyover

sherrif-heli.jpg

This is one of Sheriff Joe’s Helicopters flying just above our little corner of town. It’s unusual to see any kind of law enforcement helicopters out of the metro area, but this morning this one circled overhead twice. I don’t know the purpose of their surveillance, but it was weird to see them circling.

At the old place, we had helicopters coming and going from the Robinson factory all day long. The occasional night time orbiting helicopter with their spotlights would give us concern since their presence usually meant that a crime had been committed nearby.

However, the helicopter overhead today didn’t concern me much, since the crime rate is so low here. Nevertheless, I will still be carrying my personal self defense device with “limited penetration” JHP projectiles, just in case of zombie attacks.

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