Photo of the week

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B-1B Lancer at Aviation Nation 2012.
Photo by Ken Middleton

First Catapult Launch Of The X-47B

International Space Station fly-over

Early this morning, the International Space Station flew almost directly overhead. It was cool and clear, and it was visible for 3 minutes. In addition, there was a full moon with Jupiter in close angular proximity, and Venus was also visible. What a spectacular scene! You can sign up for e-mails on ISS viewing opportunities here.

In other ISS news, astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko have been selected for a year-long mission.

International Space Station fly-over

British Airways 747-400 going through a D-check

Book Review – F-15C/E Eagle Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom

F-15C/E Eagle Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom (Combat Aircraft 47)
Steve Davies
Osprey
2004

What it’s about:

The role of the mighty Eagle and Strike Eagle in the Iraq invasion of 2003, plus Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch leading up to that invasion.

What I liked about the book:

  • The typical Osprey treatment of the subject, both in terms of text and illustrations.
  • First-hand combat stories, as told by aircrew.
  • A good description of the uses and limitations of avionics and weapons.

What could have been done better:

  • This book would have been better with a map.

Summary:

Another book by the master chronicler of the USAF F-15 community.

Rating:

5 stars out of a possible 5.

Iron Dome anti-missile defense system

Clearly the star of the past few weeks has been the Iron Dome anti-missle defense system, developed by Rafael and operated by the Israel Defense Forces Air and Space Force.

The Israel photographer Nir Ben-Yosef has posted a gallery of outstanding photographs of Iron Dome in action. Here are some more.

FlightGlobal.com has some interesting commentary about Iron Dome.

US Air Force: Portraits in Courage

US Air Force: Portraits in Courage

Heroes in action, 2012 edition. Proof that heroism is not a matter of one’s assignment or specialty, but rather how one steps up when circumstances demand it.

Photo of the week

Our sun, as photographed by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft.

Book Review – Debrief: A Complete History of US Aerial Engagements 1981 to the Present

Debrief: A Complete History of US Aerial Engagements 1981 to the Present
Craig Brown
Schiffer
2007

What it’s about:

A description of each American air-to-air kill in the post-Vietnam War era, with a chapter for each kill. Most chapters are written by the pilot who made the kills, or is based on an interview with the pilot.

What I liked about the book:

  • The topic.
  • “You are there” level of detail, and plenty of it.
  • Photographs of the pilots and aircraft.
  • An introduction section that explains fighter lingo to some extent.
  • The willingness of the fighter pilots to share the credit with AWACS and tanker crews, maintenance personnel and the support troops, and the humility in most cases to say that they were lucky to be in the right place at the right time to get their kills – that any other American pilot would have done the same. It’s generous, classy and true.
  • Written by a USAF fighter pilot.

What could have been done better:

  • A bit sloppy in editing, with too many minor errors (for example, admirals have aides, not aids).

Summary:

This is a most excellent book that gives great insight into the dominance of USAF and USN fighters in air-to-air combat in the 1980s and 1990s.

Rating:

5 stars out of a possible 5.

Happy 75th birthday to Piper

J. Mac McCellan’s take on Piper‘s longevity and the current state of this long-time manufacturer of fine airplanes. Avweb visited the celebration of Piper.