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CoolPix: Precious Metal Shines In A Perfect Blue Sky - Reno 2013 Gold Race

(click pic for hi-res)  Thom Richard and Precious Metal in the Gold race at Reno 2013

 I'm a big fan of Thom Richard and his Griffon powered mixmaster P-51 Precious Metal because he's got a team moving forward making great progress on getter faster every year... and because he's a really nice guy. Follow Thom on facebook and also the Precious Metal Air Racing Fan page on facebook.

 I had the chance to prep up some hi-res pix for him to possibly use and in the process found this one from the Gold race at last year's Reno Air Races and realized I'd never done anything with it. So I prepped it up this morning for him, and I'm sharing it with you as a CoolPix. Enjoy!

Reno Air Races

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Poll: Is The Northrop T-38 Talon One Of The Most Beautiful Airplanes Ever Built?

Can't get much better... T-38 in Thunderbirds paint! (photo: unknown)

 There are some creations of mankind that are so far ahead of their time, and so perfect in their design that it's hard to believe they are the work of mere mortals. The Northrop T-38, first flown in 1959, is one of them. 1959? Really? It still looks so awesome that you could totally believe is was something fresh for 2015 from the sharpest designers in the world.

The T-38 has been a valuable asset to NASA... and a fun toy too!   (photo: NASA) 

 So you can tell where I stand on the T-38, it's about as close to avgeek perfect as we get. But I wondered if you agree with me, so I put this poll together to see what your thoughts are. Often I find that about 70% of you agree with my line of thinking, but I'm pretty sure the numbers will be much higher this time around : )

Lean, mean, supersonic machine... the Northrop T-38 Talon  (photo: Air Force)

 So, what do YOU think? Is the Northrop T-38 Talon one of the most beautiful airplanes ever built?

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Videos: Boeing Goes Public With 7 Pax 'Space Station Taxi'... The CST-100

 I admit that I don't follow modern manned-spacecraft development very closely, and you can tell because I didn't even realize Boeing was developing a 7 seat spacecraft to serve as a low Earth orbit taxi!

 This video released yesterday gives a nice overview of the CST-100 project... and the one I found below shows a capsule drop-test from an Air-Crane where systems like the very critical parachute system and the air bag cushioning system used for terra firma landings were put to the test.

Video screenshot: Boeing CST-100 manned spacecraft capsule recovery drop test

 If I understand the information correctly, these drop tests actually took place in 2012, and they appear to have been very successful. The CST-100 is part of the NASA Commercial Crew Development program which is investing money in various projects from several manufacturers, and it shows that at the very least America is headed the right direction in having some form of successor to the Space Shuttle for getting our people up into space and back. Looks like I need to be paying more attention to what's going on!

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Video: Hey, The Harrier Jump Jet Don't Need No Stinkin' Nose Gear!

 This recently released video shows the details behind a unique vertical landing conducted earlier in the month by U.S. Marine Corps Capt. William Mahoney in an AV-8B Harrier II aboard the USS Bataan. Turns out when your Harrier nose gear won't extend - there's and app for that! They've got a stool designed to catch the aircraft nose, and as is seen in the video it works great. Capt. Mahoney explains that he never saw the stool at any time during the approach which certainly makes it an exciting event not knowing if it's really there and if you've got the aircraft, for certain, in the correct position.

USMC Capt. William Mahoney landing an AV-8B Harrier II without a nose gear

 I'm not sure how much damage would have been incurred even without the cradle since it appears that it would have made contact in pretty much the same spot on the fuselage without it, and with no additional damage to the area behind the engine intake. Regardless tho, the stool seems to have insured no damage, and put the aircraft in a position where work to get the nose gear down could be fairly easily accomplished. Job well done all the way around!

The USS Bataan in 2003 with a full compliment of AV-8B Harrier II jump jets

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Video: Fascinating Historical Account Of The 1965 Reno Air Races (Progress In The Air)

 This recently uploaded gem of a video is an old-school professionally produced film that chronicled the wide variety of aviation related activities taking place during the 1965 Reno Air Races. It's 21 minutes long but very well worth your time if you have any interest in the era that defined so much of what modern aviation is all about today.

A young Bob Hoover talks about how the 23 year old P-51 design still flies beautifully

 National air racing had just returned the year before in 1964 when the first Reno Air Races took place at the Sky Ranch airport just north of Sparks Nevada. Bill Stead was the driving force behind the rebirth of national air racing and it's great to see him in this video.

 Lots of dirt and a short runway were pretty much all they had, but the event included aerobatics, parachuting, hot air ballooning, the US Air Force Thunderbirds in the F-100D Super Sabre, and of course various classes of air racing. Those first two years of the Reno Air Races were an amazing celebration of a love for flight no matter the machine used to accomplish it.

Before the Red Devils, before the Eagles Aerobatic Team... a young Charlie Hillard

 I was fortunate as a young kid to experience Reno from 1967 thru 1970, and much of what is seen at the Sky Ranch in this video reminds me of the early years at Stead Airfield. It's interesting to note several things about the Stead name as it relates to these early Reno years. Bill Stead, a late 1950's world speed boat champion, pulled the first two events together after retiring from boats and moving on to racing airplanes. The location for these first two years was the Sky Ranch, but the airport was barely up to the task of handling the larger aircraft. Tragically, Bill Stead was killed a short time later in 1966 in a Florida crash of his midget racer in preparation for the St Petersburg races. The airplane was the newly acquired Deer Fly racer that had been the winner in the 1965 races at Sky ranch, as seen in the video.

A fascinating look at the early days of the modern hot air balloon movement

 For 1966, the National Air Races moved from Sky Ranch to what had been Stead Air Force base, named in honor of Bill Stead's brother Croston Stead who had been killed in a P-51 training accident at the base in 1951. When the base was deactivated in 1966 and turned over to the city of Reno, it was renamed Stead Airfield. Today it's known as Reno Stead Airport. The excellent facilities of Reno Stead have served the races well for nearly all of the 50 year history of the modern National Championship Air Races, known simply as the Reno Air Races... and the memory of two Reno brothers lives on.

Mira Slovak trying to win again, but Darryl Greenamyer started his win streak instead

This is definitely a must see video if you're interested in sport aviation history!

The Thunderbirds after replacing the short run F-105's with the F-100D Super Sabre

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Hot Air Balloons... Are Hot! (4 CoolPix Of Fire)

(click pic for hi-res) My son-in-law's balloon during the Saturday evening 'glow'

 This last Friday thru Sunday I went with my son-in-law Mitch as part of his High Life Ballooning crew to Huntington Indiana for the balloon festival that's part of their Heritage Days. The plan was to fly Friday evening, Saturday morning and evening, and then finish with another flight Sunday morning. There was also a planned 'glow' for after dark on Saturday night. Unfortunately the weather wound up being just barely unacceptable and the only thing we accomplished was taking part in the glow with 12 other balloons on Saturday night.

(click pic for hi-res)  It's hard to beat beautiful colors and a big blast of fire!

 A balloon glow is a beautiful thing to see, and it's just as beautiful to participate in, but since you never really leave the ground it still takes second place to actually going flying. Regardless, for the sake of the festival and the local community, I'm really glad the weather was more than acceptable for the glow to take place. An added bonus of a being right there in the thick of the glow is taking pictures of the fire coming out of the burners... and since there's a pyromaniac living inside me, I get a lot pleasure out of the experience : )

(click pic for hi-res) Yep, it gets kinda hot when you're helping a balloon fill with hot air!

 As it turned out, two local pilots did fly on Saturday evening with their commercially sponsored balloons, but all the other pilots elected to stay on the ground since the weather was a tad uncertain and they weren't familiar with the local surroundings and landing sites. I was able to get some pix as these two balloons inflated and it's no surprise that my focus was on catching the fire.

(click pic for hi-res) Millions of BTU's get the envelope off the ground pretty quickly!

 All things considered it was a great weekend even tho we didn't get Mitch's balloon off the ground. With two official training flights in the last 5 weeks in my logbook now, I'm on the way to attempting to get my balloon rating this summer... and the truth is, even if we don't get off the ground, I'm happy anytime I get to be around a couple hundred pounds of beautiful fabric, some wicker, and lots and lots of fire!

check out over 160 posts in the AirPigz CoolPix category

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CoolPix: What A View Looking Up At The 434th ARW KC-135 From The 445th AW C-17!

(click pic for hi-res) My view from the cockpit of the C-17 as we took on 20,000 pounds

 I had a perfect day riding along in a C-17 Globemaster III from the 445th AW out of Wright-Patterson AFB as it was refueled by my Indiana friends in a KC-135 from the 434th ARW based at Grissom ARB. Both aircraft departed WPAFB before noon today and then we met up over Kentucky to pump some petrol. YeeHaw! It was aswesome!

 The KC-135 would normally have been operating out of Grissom in north central Indiana but runway work there has the 434th temporarily flying out of Wright-Patterson in Dayton Ohio. This presented the unique opportunity to have both aircraft carrying about 8 media representatives each. Typically only aircraft at a time would have guests like this onboard. It was an incredible opportunity to see Air Force reserve personnel at work... and just like back in 2010 when I rode in a 434th KC-135, everyone today represented the United States and the Air Force at the highest level of professionalism and performance. I am very impressed! 

 I captured lots of images and quite a bit of video on the 3-hour flight but I only have the energy tonight to share this one great CoolPix image. Each of us on the flight had several opportunities to view the refueling action from inside the C-17 cockpit, which is quite roomy actually, and this pic is from the eyebrow window above the left seat. The boom extends back over the cockpit to the refueling receptacle which puts us very close to the KC-135! That sight looking up is, as you should imagine, totally stunning.

 I hope you enjoy this pic (remember to click it to open it up, and then click the image again to make it even bigger) and then watch in a week or so as I put together a lengthy and detailed post about being right there for the inflight refueling exercise.

 A huge Thank You to everyone involved for allowing us to come along and see such excellent work in progress!

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Wednesday, This Pig's Gonna Ride A Thirsty Globemaster !!! (Check Out This C-17 Video)

 Wednesday morning June 18, 2014 I'm scheduled to be onboard a C-17 departing from Wright-Patterson AFB on a training mission that will include inflight refueling with a KC-135 from the 434th Air Refueling Wing based at Grissom ARB in northern Indiana. This trip is operating out of WPAFB because the 434th has temporarily relocated there while the runway at Grissom is getting some repairs.

Video screenshot: this USAF video shows a C-17 flying over northern California

 I was fortunate to ride in a KC-135 from the 434th on a B-52 refueling mission back in 2010, and once again I've been blessed with the opportunity to watch the Air Force at work from inside one of their fabulous flying machines. I must admit I'm very excited to see what a ride in a C-17 is like! You might wanna check out the 56 pix and info from the 2010 KC-135 ride and then expect to see a similar post on the C-17 ride in a week or so.

Video screenshot: front view of a C-17 over the California coast

 The video above and these screenshots are a USAF video of a Globemaster III operating out of Travis AFB in California. There's no audio but it's full of really great views of this impressive aircraft. The sweeping view from behind that starts at 2:17 is awesome! It's fascinating in that view to see how much spoiler there is on the wing that's used for roll control... and I'm gonna have to ask someone tomorrow if that's really one small spoiler on the right wing deploying when the hard roll left is in progress. Interesting.

Video screenshot: sweeping view from behind is a must see part of the video above!

  I doubt I'll have the chance to get any pix that are as impressive as the nearly directly overhead view of the B-52 from that KC-135 flight, but I do expect to be able to capture the general awesomeness of what it looks like when the crew tucks our C-17 right up under the hiney of the KC-135.

 A big Thank You goes out to the Public Affairs Department at Grissom Air Reserve Base for the invite to watch the 434th ARW in action. YeeHaw!

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Start Your Week With A Perfect Avgeek Video: Kyle Franklin & Skip Stewart (Must See!) 

 Once in a while a perfect mix of airplanes, pilots and filmaking all come together to achieve as close to perfection as we'll ever get. This video from the MikeL vimeo page is a pixelworkers production that pushes avgeek videos to the highest level. I'm not usually a fan of music mixed with airplanes in videos, but here it's done to great benefit. And the communication value of the details in this video are off the scale. #perfection

Video screenshot: Kyle Franklin being chased by Skip Stewart!

 You might have noticed that MikeL is also where the recent video of Skip flying UNDER a jumping motorcycle came from. This video work is simply as good as it gets. And high-fives to Skip Stewart and Kyle Franklin for being world-class airshow entertainers!

Video screenshot: perfect view of Skip Stewart and Kyle Franklin in formation


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Can The C-17 Get A Boost From The Goose? (Boeing SAVE Video)

 Ok, trying to tap into the energy from the wake created by a lead airplane to reduce overall fuel burn (like geese do in the 'V' formation) isn't just for the C-17... but apparently Boeing has been doing some research and software development using the C-17 as a testbed for the idea of reducing fuel burn when you have multiple aircraft headed the same direction. Boeing calls the program SAVE: Surfing Aircraft Vortices for Energy.

Video screenshot: Boeing C-17's are a perfect fit for the SAVE test program

Let's stop for a moment: I like talking about the C-17 here because if all goes well I'll be inside one next week as it drinks some kerosene from a KC-135! I've got another fabulous opportunity to ride along on with the 434th Air Refueling Wing. If you haven't seen the 56 pix and story from my KC-135 ride in 2010 then you should go check it out now, it was an awesome experience and I got some great pix of a B-52 from down in the boom pod. And then there's this amazing B-52 CoolPix that I captured. 

 My opportunity this time will be in the receiving aircraft, a C-17, and I must say that I am really looking forward to it. A big thank you in advance goes out to the 434th ARW for the opportunity. (check out the 434th ARW facebook page)

 So, as the video above says, there are some potentially rather large reductions in fuel burn available if we can position a following aircraft in the right spot to take advantage of the lead aircraft wake. And while it's easy to imagine the military taking advantage of this when more than one aircraft is headed the same direction, I don't see why we couldn't make this work with commercial airliners too.

 I guess we'll know about those possibilities when we see additional details about how far away the aircraft can be and what the realistic reduction in fuel burn is. In the end it might simply be an Air Traffic Control and autopilot software project that could lead to reduced fuel burn for the airlines, which of course would lead the airlines to immediately convert that windfall into extra legroom for coach passengers, right?   

Video screenshot: saving fuel by Surfing Aircraft Vortices for Energy

 Regardless of what the airlines might do with increased profit from saving some fuel, it's cool to see that as technology advances, we continue to figure ways to do what the Creator has been doing all along!

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