The ejection seat

Flying a jet fighter can be sometimes tricky, and in some cases, you may need to eject in order to save your life. The ejection seat technique dates back from 1945, and has since been improved to fit all modern jet fighters. But did you know that at some point, they thought about a flying ejection seat ? During the Vietnam War, the US Navy lost over 500 aircraft in combat, as a result of which nearly 200 aircrew became prisoners of war. Alongside them, the US Air Force suffered three times as many aircraft fosses. In every case there were aircrew who had either been killed, captured or were in need of rescue. And while rescuing aircrew from behind enemy lines was given top priority, the challenge was considerable. Dedicated USAF squadrons flying Sikorsky HH-3 ‘Jolly Green Giant’ helicopters, supported by heavily armed, piston-engined Douglas A-1 Skyraider attack aircraft, flew dangerous extraction missions, which, of course, put even greater numbers of aircrew at risk. This prompted the navy and air force to ask, ‘What if downed aircrew had the means to fly themselves back into friendly territory?’ Three different aircraft companies accepted the challenge of coming up with an answer. The results were worthy of a Transformers movie: ejection seats that, on firing their occupant out of a stricken aircraft, unfolded, extended and locked themselves into mini-flying machines. Bell Aerosystems suggested a jet-powered hang-glider that suspended the pilot, face down and still strapped to his seat, beneath it. Fairchild-Hiller also suggested a glider, but theirs was a sort of pop-up machine made of cloth stretched over a spring-loaded metal frame. My favourite is the gyrocopter designed by Kaman Corps. On ejecting, a two-bladed rotor unfurled above the pilot’s head, while a tail and a micro turbofan jet flicked up behind him. And the name given to this invention? Stowable Aircrew Vehicle Escape Roto-seat – or SAVER for short. How practical any of these ideas really were for aircrew disorientated and sometimes injured by the violent act of ejection itself remains a matter for conjecture as none, sadly, made it into service. But that they were dreamt up at all merits a hat tip to the creativity and ingenuity of aircraft designers – and to the importance that the USA attaches to bringing its soldiers home.

Summer is here and we have more time to fly. And when the weather is crappy or not as good as we wished for, we can always watch some cool movies where aviation plays a central part. We’ve decided to give you a list of the movies we like where aviation is fully part of the story, and some movies have great shots too. Here it goes, in no particular order:

Battle of Britain (1969)
A great cast features in this epic account of the RAF’s fight for Britain’s survival. Some terrific aerial footage (although quite a lot of models were used too).

The Dam Busters (1955)
One of the very best. Great story, great flying scenes. Incomparable theme tune. There’s talk of a remake. I hope it happens. I hope it’s good. And, people, if they do change the name of the dog, it really doesn’t matter.

Airplane! (1980)
Played deadpan, this comedy classic spawned a glut of imitators. The original and best feels exactly like the disaster movies it so brilliantly spoofed.

Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
“It’s not a party, there is no booze,’said the trailer for no particularly good reason. James Stewart, Richard Attenborough and Ernest Borgnine lead an all-star cast, stranded in the desert, trying to build a new aircraft out of the wreckage of their old one.

The Right Stuff(1983)
An epic film of Tom Wolfe’s classic account of the birth of the space race in America. Real care was taken to make sure the flying looked right. And Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager? Perfect.

The Sound Barrier (1952)
David Lean, director of Lawrence of Arabia, turns his attention to the dawn of the jet age – a mouth-watering prospect. Beautifully made, it features great footage of early 1950s British jets.

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)
Great fun. The brilliant Terry-Thomas leads a who’s-who of British character actors in this fabulous comedy about a pre-First World War air race involving an amazing collection of machines, some of them built specially for the movie.

Top Gun (1986)
With pretty much every line being quotable, this is a pop-culture classic. You know the story: Tom Cruise aims to be best of the best. Made with full US Navy cooperation, the aerial footage of duelling F-14 Tomcats won’t be bettered

X-15 (1961)
“Actually filmed in space” was a line they couldn’t even use for Apollo 13. Narrated by James Stewart, this semi-documentary features real footage of the X-15 and stars Charles Bronson. Amazingly, it was directed by Richard
Donner, who later made Lethal Weapon

The Final Countdown (1980)
A nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier slips back in time to the build-up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. You’ve got to love any movie that has Kirk Douglas ordering a pair of F-14 Tomcats to “Splash the Zeros’.

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)
It’s clear why this Robert Redford movie is a favourite with pilots. It’s about veteran First World War fighter pilots barnstorming their way across America and includes incredible stunt-flying.

Restoring historic or decommissioned military aircraft is more common than most people may believe. “It’s not unusual at all. There’s quite a culture involved in aviation history and preserving historic aircraft,” said historic renovation consultant Steve Thompson of Mattoon. “They often get the aircraft in flying condition and tour parts of the country with them” like the recent appearance of the 1920s “Tin Goose” in Jacksonville, he said. “We take the manuals that were issued the year the aircraft was built and try and spec out the materials and the components that they would have had during their period of significance,” Thompson said. Read More

Tematis, the leading jet fighter operator in France is relaunching jet rides on the L-39 Albatros in Paris. This unique experience is taking place in Paris Pontoise, just 40mn north of Paris. The airport is a perfect location as traffic is minimal during the week allowing to fly repeatedly and traffic is not too important at weekends. The jet fighter ride will be the icing on top of a full day of instruction. A full briefing will be done in the morning, including technical specifications of the aircraft, flight dynamics and safety on board. A specific training will be done with regards to the ejection seat. After lunch, the lucky one will be fitted in a flying suit and will be able to enjoy a unique jet fighter ride in the L-39 Albatros. The aircraft is a jet trainer manufactured by Aero Vodochody and is capable of high speeds and sustaining high level of G force. The flight plan will be according to weather conditions but usually consist of three phases: passenger testing – whereby the pilot checks that the passenger feels ok by doing smooth maneuvers. Follows a low level flight to feel the speed, and then aerobatics to truly feel the Gs. Price of the full day is 2400 euros and including a 30mn ride in the L-39 Albatros.

We are positioning a jet fighter in the south of France in May 2015. This is the perfect location to enjoy the sun and charm of southern France and experimenting the thrills of a jet fighter rides.

Save the date:
May 1-2-3
May 8-9-10
May 14-15-16

Jet fighter rides will start from Aix en Provence. The aircraft is the Fouga Magister, a jet fighter selected by the French National displays team – the Patrouille de France, for it’s incredible agility. This is one of the best aircrafts for aerobatics!
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ou can book directly your jet fighter ride in France

UAE joins Jordan to strike ISIS

f-16 jet fighter

 

 

The United Arab Emirates is sending a squadron of F16 fighter jets to Jordan to conduct air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) alongside Jordanian planes, an army source in Amman said. Jordan launched bombing raids against the jihadi group’s positions in Syria and Iraq on Thursday in response to its brutal killing of a captured Jordanian pilot, military action that it continued on Saturday. The UAE, meanwhile, has suspended flights as part of the US-led coalition conducting air strikes against Isis in view of concerns about search and rescue capabilities after the pilot was downed. UAE fighters would now join raids from inside Jordan, the source said. Both countries are members of a U.S.-led military coalition against the militants, but the UAE suspended its airstrikes late last year, U.S. officials have said. The suspension came after a Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, crashed over Islamic State group-held territory in northern Syria in late December and was taken captive. The militants recently released a video showing them burning the airman to death while he was trapped in a cage. The images angered Jordan and the region. Jordan has pledged harsh retaliation and said it would intensify air strikes against Islamic State targets. Starting Thursday, Jordanian fighter jets have carried out daily attacks, according to the military and state media. Jordan’s interior minister, Hussein al-Majali, said al-Kaseasbeh’s killing was a turning point for Jordan. He told the state-run al-Rai newspaper in comments published Saturday that Jordan will go after the militants “wherever they are.” “This is a big boost and will be helping our brothers shorten their flying distances and intensify strikes against the militants from Jordan,” an army source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

A new flying car ?

aerocar

You may remember the car that flew in a James Bond movie – there might have been a few flying cars in other movies too. These were based on the Taylor Aerocar. A car with wings, that actually flies. The Aerocar Was the most successful attempt yet to produce a “flying car” – a vehicle that could be both driven on the road and flown. The brainchild of US designer, Moulton B. Taylor, the Aerocar first appeared in October 1949. It comprised a small car and a one-piece structure incorporating Wings, tail section, and propeller. With Wings folded, this structure could be towed behind the car. The owner would simply drive to an airfield and there swiftly attach the Wings and tail to the car, which then became the aircraft’s nose and cockpit.

The car’s engine was connected by a drive shaft to the propeller, mounted at the end of the tail, and the steering wheel doubled as the aeroplane’s control Wheel. Perhaps surprisingly, the Aerocar proved both air- and roadworthy. It could drive at around 60mph and fly at 110mph. But like all other attempts at a “car plane”, it embodied too many compromises, ending up as neither a fully satisfactory aircraft nor a desirable automobile.

In 1956 Taylor tried and failed to drum up enough orders to justify serial production of the vehicle. Only six Aerocars were built, one of which Taylor vainly converted into the improved Aerocar III in 1968. Taylor died in 1995, but at least one of his Aerocars was still flying in the early 21st century. And now, it seems so may want to take the challenge again as Cessna, known for its manufacturing talent, has announced they might have a go at designing a new Aerocar, more practical and convenient, for the 21st century. Well, we are looking forward to that!

This is it, we are going for a 3rd war in Irak. Jet fighter rides from France have been dispatched to the Gulf and have started to work on recognaissance to allow other allied countries to strike directly at the jihadists. The US and regional allies launched multiple strikes against Islamic militants in Syria for the first time on Monday night, in a substantial escalation of Washington’s military role in the Middle East long resisted by Barack Obama. The US Central Command said that the US and “partner nation forces”, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates used “a mix of fighter, bomber, remotely-piloted aircraft and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles” to conduct 14 strikes against forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or Isis. The targets included buildings used as supply depots and logistics hubs near the Syria-Iraq border. But the U.S. also struck deeper into Syria, at Raqqa, the de facto capital of Islamic State, according to U.S. officials. The expanded war against Islamic State forces propelled the U.S. military into an uncharted involvement in Syria, where it has little intelligence and virtually no ground support. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring organisation, said the US and its partners conducted at least 56 attacks in the provinces of Raqqa, Deir al-Zor, Hassaka and Aleppo. Activists say the coalition also hit the al-Qaeda-linked group Jabhat al – Nusra, which is not affiliated with Isis, suggesting a more expansive range of targets in Syria than previously announced. Some activists groups claimed the strikes on Nusra forces went as far as Idlib, a northwestern region far from Isis influence. This is just the beginning of the war, and no one knows how long it will take. It has taken considerable time to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and it is not clear in the minds of the allied forces how long they are to stay.

Head for Aix en Provence – south of France- in October for your chance to experience a jet fighter ride. For a month, a specialist travel agent will station a jet fighter to organise leisure rides on the Fouga Magister, an aircraft that has been designed for aerobatics. So much so that the national display team – The Patrouille de France – has used the aircraft for over 24 years. This is truly a unique experience. Flights vary in length from 30mn to 60mn, and price starts at 1950 euros. The reason for this experience is to allow more people to truly experience the thrills of a jet ride, in the magnificent surroundings of the south of France, between sea and mountains. The Fouga Magister is one of the best designed fighter planes ever. Easy to fly, it brings security with its twin engines, and offers a great view thanks to its wide cockpit glass. Built in the 1950s, the Fouga Magister was conceived as a jet trainer. The plane was worked so well that it was quickly adopted by various air forces around the world, such as the Israeli air Force who used the plane extensively during the six days war in 1967. The Fouga Magister is one of the most agile fighter planes ever built. So much that it has been the favourite plane of the French national display team, The Patrouille de France, from 1964 to 1980, when it was replaced by Alphajets. You can get more information by following this link about this jet fighter ride in France.

jet fighter ride

A short history of gliding

The aircraft has been derived from birds, and then the engineering bits changed everything. Before that, the principle was trying to use the elements to fly as long as possible, to cover the greatest distance. This is gliding. Here is a short story of gliding. We learned how to glide long before we learned to fly. By launching themselves from high ground, nineteenth-century pioneers such as George Cayley, Otto Lilienthal and the Wright brothers offered a tantalizing glimpse of what lay ahead. Yet although the ability to glide predates powered flight, ultimately it took much longer to develop. After demonstrating powered flight, Orville and Wilbur Wright continued to improve their gliding skills, but it took until 1921, two years after powered aircraft had first crossed the Atlantic, for their 1911 endurance record of 9 minutes and 45 seconds to be broken in Germany. There was good reason for it happening where and when it did. That gliding was once more enjoying the attention of some of aviation’s best minds and most talented flyers was a happy unforeseen consequence of the Treaty of Versailles (a less happy one being the Second World War). Banned by the treaty from developing fighter aircraft, German designers turned their considerable skill and invention to the development of gliders. It led to a boom. Over the next two decades, increasingly sophisticated glider design advanced with a greater understanding of the ways in which gliders could find lift. To ascend, a glider, always losing height, must do so through a body of rising air. Early glider pilots had realized that wind scooped up the side of a hill produced ridge lift at the top, and this was used for most early endurance flights. By the mid-1930s, thermal lift – found in columns of rising warmer air, and wave lift – created in the lee of the steady flow of wind over a mountain, were also contributing to record-breaking flights.

glider

In 1931 new records for distance (169 miles) and endurance (23 hours and 34 minutes) were set, the latter in Hawaii by a US Army fighter pilot. By 1937 there were 50,000 trained glider pilots in Germany. And as a result of German lobbying following the inclusion of gliding as a demonstration sport in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, it was to be included in the 1940 Tokyo Olympics. Of course, owing to the outbreak of the Second World War, Germany’s hopes of Winning gold in the specially produced “Olympia” glider were never realized. War, however, brought its own momentum to glider development. Before the War the Soviet Union had embraced gliding as enthusiastically as Germany, and by 1939 had a greater number of glider pilots and most of the sport’s world records. Since the early 193Os, it had also developed larger military gliders as troop transports, an idea quickly adopted by the Luftwaffe, which in 1940 launched a completely successful surprise attack against a Belgian fortress using over forty ten-man gliders.

glider

The Allies soon developed their own gliders, and during Operation Market Garden at Arnhem in 1944 used over 2500 in a massive airborne operation. As Well as being built by aircraft manufacturers, US Waco CG-4 gliders used in the assault had also been produced by cabinet-makers, coffin-builders and piano manufacturers. After the War, only the Soviet Union persisted with military gliders with any great enthusiasm, keeping them in service until the mid-196Os and even, in April 1954, landing four Yakovlev Yak-14s on the Arctic ice to deliver men and supplies – including a bulldozer! – to their North Pole drift station. But With the arrival of bigger and better military helicopters, gliding returned to its civilian roots. Stimulated to a degree by large numbers of trained pilots leaving the military who wanted to continue to fly, membership of gliding clubs swelled throughout the 1950s, While technological innovation saw new records set. The altitude record, set by Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson in 2006, now stands at over 50,000 feet. The two pilots, looking like astronauts, wore full USAF pressure suits for the attempt. The distance record of over 1400 miles is held by a German pilot, Klaus Ohlmann, and today Germany remains at the heart of gliding, leading the way in both manufacturing and pilot numbers, accounting for nearly a quarter of the world’s flyers. It’s an intriguing legacy of decisions made nearly a century earlier, and evidence that gliding, that most pure and unbelligerent form of manned flight, is in its own way as inextricably linked to the history of conflict as any other.

glider

Photo: http://500px.com/frankkristensen

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