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Tag Archives: Aviation

Buy Your Own Boeing F-4 Phantom Ejection Seat

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What on earth are you going to do with a non-functional McDonnell F-4 Phantom II two-seat twinjet fighter ejection seat? Who cares?! It’s an honest-to-goodness ejection seat that was once in an actual airplane. It’s been ripped out and refurbished for your owning pleasure.

This genuine Mk.7 rocket-assisted ejection seat from an F-4 Phantom II was made by British manufacturer Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd., the world leader in ejection seats for more than 60 years. The seat has been professionally cleaned and refurbished and riveted to a durable, hand-finished sturdy steel base with a natural-looking weathered finish. It includes a seatbelt, grip handle on right side of seat, empty oxygen tank and release button on left side of seat, Boeing Custom Hangar plaque permanently attached to the seat back, and Certificate of Authenticity. Each piece is unique and may vary slightly from photograph.

Owning a piece of aviation history is rarely a cheap endeavour, and this seat is no exception. You’ll have to pay $15,000 for it, with shipping charges apparently not being included in that pricetag.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Uncrate ]

Video: That Belly Landing In Newark? Yeah, There’s A Grainy Video

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You guys might have heard about the US Airways Express Flight 4560 that landed on its belly last week. It was carrying 31 passengers plus crew, and through the skillful piloting of Captain Edward Powers, was able to land safely despite not having been able to deploy its landing gear. Well, there’s a video of the feat, albeit one apparently shot from the Newark terminal on a Nokia flip phone from 2001. Or a potato. Or something. Point is, you see very little, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

A few more details about the flight. On approach to Newark, Captain Powers noticed the landing gear wasn’t lowering properly. Even after repeated attempts, nothing was to be done. So the decision was made to retract fully and attempt a belly landing, but not before circling the airport for an hour to empty the fuel reserves and minimize the risk of a fire.

So while things don’t quite always work out, it’s reassuring to know that belly landings can be done and aren’t an automatic death sentence.

[ TheDailyMail ] VIA [ Gizmodo ]

Mad Catz Launches Cessna Brand Flight Sim Controls

Saitek Cessna Brand Flight Sim Controls (Images courtesy Mad Catz)
By Andrew Liszewski

While I don’t necessarily ‘get’ the appeal of video game simulators, I understand that it can give enthusiasts an experience they would otherwise not be able to afford in real life. Case in point, flying. The Cessna Skyhawk is arguably one of the cheapest and simplest airplanes you can buy. And even though it’s the best-selling aircraft of all time, a new one will still set you back close to $300,000. Not to mention the cost of fuel, insurance, hangar rental etc. The list goes on and on. But you can recreate a slightly similar experience at home with a decent gaming PC, a well-respected flight simulator title, and about $450 worth of Mad Catz new officially branded Saitek Cessna flight sim controls.

The trio includes a yoke, rudder pedals and a trim wheel/throttle control panel, all modeled off the real things found in the cockpit of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The yoke also comes with the addition of extra buttons on the ends of the controls, including a hat switch for easily changing your point-of-view mid-flight. And if you order them now from Mad Catz’s GameShark online store they’ll even throw in a $100 switch panel for free. All you need to provide is a desk to clamp everything to. (And the smell of aircraft fuel and the deafening roar of the engine to complete the Cessna experience.)

[ Saitek Cessna Flight Sim Controls ]

SportairUSA iCub Light Sport Aircraft Simplifies The Cockpit With An iPad

SportairUSA iCub (Images courtesy SportairUSA)
By Andrew Liszewski

I haven’t quite found my killer app for the iPad just yet, but it looks a few pilots might just have. The new iCub light sport aircraft from SportairUSA features an iPad smack dab in the middle of the cockpit’s instrument panel that not only simplifies the layout of dials and displays, but also provides an almost infinite amount of functionality. The iPad in the iCub comes pre-installed with a host of useful flight-oriented applications including WingX Pro7 navigation software, ForeFlight Mobile HD which provides extensive maps of airports and approaches, iHUD which is a virtual heads-up display and even various apps for emergencies including first-aid and survival guides. Those latter apps of course only being useful if your iPad survives said emergency.

And since the iPad and all of the installed apps will be included in the price of the iCub aircraft, there’s no info on what the whole package would have cost. But suffice to say it’s probably a lot cheaper than your standard aircraft GPS unit which can run in the thousands of dollars, which in turn makes the aircraft itself cheaper.

[ SportairUSA iCub ] VIA [ Wired ]

F-35 Lightning II Can Land In Your Driveway

Air power is critical to military operations nowadays, but it’s hampered by the fact that you need a bunch of infrastructure. With a few exceptions, you need things like runways or aircraft carriers relatively nearby to allow aircraft to, you know, land.

Unless you’ve got one that can hover and land vertically, that is.

The F-35B, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is the first practical airplane with the capability (in one variant) of making vertical landings since the Harrier Jump Jet, which first flew over 40 years ago and is still in active service today because it’s so useful. The F-35 performs the tricks that it does by rotating its engine nozzle downward, and then engaging a gigantic lift fan situated just behind the cockpit to produce enough balanced thrust to keep it from dropping like a brick. Like the Harrier, the F-35, while technically a VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft is for all practical purposes a V/STOL (vertical/short takeoff and landing) aircraft. While capable of lifting itself vertically into the air, the F-35 can only do this if it’s not carrying much in the way of extra fuel or ordinance. So operationally, it won’t be using its vertical takeoff capability. In this context, “short takeoff” means that the F-35 can clear a 50 foot obstacle 1500 feet down the runway.

After the jump, we’ve got a NOVA special about the initial competition to build the X-35 that includes a whole bunch of detail about the lift system. It’s quite interesting, and a great way to waste a bunch of time on a Friday.Continue Reading

Rocket Powered Helicopter Is Crazier Than It Sounds

By Evan Ackerman

Rather than being powered by a conventional engine, someone decided that it would be a good idea to install itty bitty rocket engines on the tips of the blades of this helicopter to power it. And the really scary part is that it works. Very well, in fact. The hydrogen peroxide rockets (the same things that power most jetpacks) produce no pollution and are supposed to be significantly more stable than their conventional counterparts due to the lack of, um, an engine. In fact, there’s really nothing to the helicopter at all apart from a seat and some big fuel tanks. Called the Dragonfly, it can stay aloft for 50 minutes and has a maximum speed of 40 mph. The Dragonfly has completed a successful series of flight tests and obtained its airworthiness certificate last November, so it’s currently on track to be for sale sometime this year.

This is actually not the craziest thing you can do with a rocket propelled airfoil. The craziest thing is to use model rocket engines, one blade, and then just forget the rest of the helicopter. Check that out along with an article on monocopter UAVs over on BotJunkie.

[ Dragonfly DF1 ] VIA [ DVICE ]

Personal Jetpack Going Into Production, May Actually Be Affordable

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By Evan Ackerman

When we posted our last update on the Martin Jetpack Ductedfanpack about a year ago, they were looking at producing around 10 units at $100,000 each. In that quantity and price, it didn’t seem like something that was particularly realistic. At the end of last month the Telegraph reported that Martin Aircraft Company had teamed up with an unnamed international aircraft company, and that the new partnership had secured enough capital to begin producing 500 jetpacks a year at a cost of around $75,000 each. Yes, it’s a lot, but come on, it’s a personal jetpack, and it may actually be a practical one too:

-No pilot’s license required
-Runs on premium gas from a gas station
-30 mile range at 60 mph, 8000 ft ceiling
-Includes low altitude ballistic parachute for safety

It’s certainly not the sexy sci-fi jetpack of the future yet, but I mean, it works, and you can actually buy one (quite soon, anyway) for a not entirely crazy amount of money.

[ Martin Jetpack ] VIA [ Telegraph ]

kululua Airline’s Rebranding Is Like Aviation 101

kulula (Images courtesy PSFK)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’re ever flying on South Africa’s kulula airline you’ll never have to worry about hearing an intercom announcement asking if there’s a pilot on board, because their recent rebranding will leave every passenger with a basic knowledge of aviation and aircraft. It’s rather clever and educational (I had no idea where the black box was stashed) though something tells me it would never fly in certain countries (no pun intended) because who knows how this knowledge could be used.

kulula (Images courtesy PSFK)

[ kulula ] VIA [ PSFK ]

For Sale: Lovingly Restored Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker – The Best $4.5 Million You’ll Ever Spend

Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker (Image courtesy Pride Aircraft)
By Andrew Liszewski

A Cessna might be the affordable choice when it comes to personal aircraft, but if fun ranks high on your feature list you’re probably not going to do much better than this pair of Sukhoi Su-27 Flankers which can be yours for just $4.5 million a piece. They were brought to the U.S. by Pride Aircraft, who acquired them from a company doing high-altitude research that went bust, and each have been completely restored and now feature zero-time airframes and engines. (Minus test flights.)

Both aircraft are de-militarized, with all weapons and military hardware having been previously removed, and Pride Aircraft has gone to the trouble of relabeling all the dials and gauges in the cockpit in english, and adding updated IFR U.S. instrumentation and avionics. Now even though modern aircraft like the F-22 Raptor eclipse the Su-27 when it comes to capabilities, there’s still a lot of fun to be had here thanks its top-speed of over 1,300 mph and its 1:1+ thrust-to-weight ratio. And I particularly like that serious buyers can contact the seller, John Morgan, via his @aol.com email address.

[ Pride Aircraft – Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker – For Sale to Discriminating Owners – $4.95 million each ] VIA [ Wired ]