Photo of the week

Hurricane Sandy, as seen from NOAA GOES 13 in geosynchronous orbit.


Space shuttle Endeavor travels to its final home

Time-lapse photography.

Supersonic skydive – view from the helmet cam

Farewell to Hawker business jets

Hawker Beechcraft has called off plans to sell itself to China, and intends to emerge from bankruptcy as a stand-alone company called Beechcraft making piston, turboprop, trainer and special-mission aircraft. The Hawker business-jet product line is to be sold off or shut down.

NTSB releases final report on Gulfstream G650 flight test mishap

On April 2, 2011, an experimental Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation GVI (G650), N652GD, crashed during takeoff. The two pilots and the two flight test engineers were fatally injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces and a postcrash fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its final report on the mishap, and it does not a paint a pretty picture. Yet again, we learn that there can be catastrophic consequences to cutting technical corners due to commercial or schedule pressures.

Here is the link to the NTSB docket DCA11MA076 for this tragedy.

RIP to:

  • Kent R. Crenshaw
  • David E. McCollum
  • Reece E. Ollenburg
  • Vivian L. Ragusa II

Addendum: Here is the link to the final report.

Supersonic skydive

Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian pilot and skydiver, jumped from an altitude of 128,097 feet Sunday, breaking the speed of sound. Minutes later, Baumgartner landed safely near Roswell, New Mexico, after a 4:19-minute free fall reaching an estimated speed of 834.37 mph.

This was a most impressive achievement, and by all accounts Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team approached this highly risk mission in a methodical, cautious and professional manner. Credit is due to the Red Bull for their sponsorship.

Book Review – The Modern Eagle Guide: The F-15 Eagle/Strike Eagle Exposed

The Modern Eagle Guide: The F-15 Eagle/Strike Eagle Exposed
Jake Melampy
Reid Air Publications

What it’s about:
A detailed “walk around” of the various F-15 variants.

What I liked about the book:

  • Excellent photography.
  • Highly detailed description of the components of the F-15, written by somebody who knows airplanes well.
  • Attractive and clean layout.

What could have been better:

  • A few mistakes and typos (examples: confusion between the GBU-10 and GBU-24 on p. 151, the correct initial designation of the F-15 combined test force was the 6515th Test Squadron on p. 173, the designation of the Eglin test squadron was the 3247th Test Squadron on p. 179).
  • Omission of one F-15 operator (NASA).
  • It would have been better to have captions for each photograph rather than have one block of text on the page with references to each photograph on the page.

This is an excellent reference about one of the great jet fighters, that should be of great interest to aircraft buffs, scale modelers and Eagle drivers/fixers/engineers. There are some minor problems with book, which do not seriously detract from its virtues. Unfortunately the book is sold out by the publisher, but we can hope for a (slightly) improved and updated second printing.

4 stars out of a possible 5.

Dragon docks with the International Space Station

The Dragon resupply vehicle has rendezvoused and docked with the International Space Station on October 8.


First commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station

SpaceX has launched the first commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, using their Falcon 9 booster and Dragon spacecraft.

Third GPS IIF satellite boosted to orbit

The 45th Space Wing and United Launch Alliance launched the GPS IIF-3 satellite on October 4, using a Delta IV Medium booster.

GPS IIF-3 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (Photo by Pat Corkery, ULA)