Tag Archives: airplanes

Commercial Aircraft at Moffett Field

Last week, while driving into work, I saw a rather unusual sight. An AirTran airliner was taxiing at Moffett. It looked like it had just landed. Why was it there? Did NASA buy the aircraft, and it simply wasn’t repainted yet? Was it an emergency landing, and if so, why not just land at Mineta which is just like five minutes further south? Was it some sort of bizzare mistake?

Googling around, I found the flight: AirTran 8141 from Halsey Field San Diego to Moffett. Halsey is NAS North Island, so it was flight from one government airport to another, but still seems a bit unusual for it be a commercial flight.

D.B. Cooper Lead

Besides being fascinated with Golden Gate Bridge jumpers, I’ve also been fascinated with D.B. Cooper. Hijacked a plane, demanded $200,000 and a parachute, jumped out of the plane into the night, and was never seen again. Oh sure, the FBI said that he was probably dead, but no body was ever found.

Personally, I want to believe, the man that caused a redesign of aircraft, got away.

I even love how the airplane he commandeered, became part of the Janet flights to Area 52 and Area 51. (Civilians didn’t know that 727s rear airstairs could be deployed in flight, while the CIA was using this feature to deploy operators into Vietnam, and now the plane gets used to ferry works into Area 51 and 52? Interesting. ;) )

So why am I spreading the love for old D.B.? The FBI says it has a lead. The suspect? A man who died 10 years ago. In other words, the FBI says D.B. Cooper might have gotten away with it.


Updated: Tue Aug 9 10:17:45 PDT 2011

So the “lead” turned out to be a woman named Maria Cooper contacting the FBI after she suddenly remembered her uncle, Lynn Doyle Cooper, saying at Thanksgiving, “We did it, our money problems are over, we hijacked an airplane.”

Not exactly a hot lead.

Red flag #1: Recovered memory. She was 8 years old at the time, and now suddenly remembers everything.

Red flag #2: Why would someone provide a fake first name, but a real last name?

Shockingly, the DNA samples she provided the FBI didn’t match the DNA from the necktie left onboard the plane by the hijacker, but the FBI has said they have no proof that the DNA on the J.C. Penny’s clip on tie belongs to D.B. Cooper or not.

A clip on tie? D.B. Cooper just got a bit less cool.

“Add to Wishlist” Indeed

HMS Ark Royal – former flag ship of the Royal Navy, veteran of Bosnia and both Iraqs – is available for purchase. All offers considered! Bids and plans for the boat are required to be submitted in writing.

The last aircraft carrier that made big news when sold was the Varyag. Unfinished, and rusting for a few years, the Russians sold it to a Chinese real estate mogul who said he wanted to turn it into a casino in Macau. Instead, it got towed to Dalian, a new paint job, a new name, the Shi Lang.

via Telestar Logistics

Navy Goes Vintage

The US Navy is celebrating a century of naval aviation with vintage paint schemes. The T-45C pictured above is decked out in a modified of scheme reminiscent of the 1938 Enterprise Air Group colors. (The red nose is new, due to training plane color requirements.)

The Air Force did something similar a few years ago for the 90th anniversary 111th Fighter Squadron, which is now part of the Texas Air National Guard.

While normally I despise anything retro or vintage, I do enjoy these color schemes. The Navy has tended to retain distinctive squadron insignias (the F-14 squadrons seemed to be especially distinctive), reminiscent of nose art on the tails of their airplanes, while the Air Force have defaulted to boring two letter codes. Supposably, nose art is added to a some aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it’s hard to find examples on the web beyond scorecards.
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Mothballing an Assembly Line

The last F-22 Raptor will roll off the assembly line in Marietta, Georgia next year. While there are no plans to restart the line, the existing 184 planes are expected to be in service until 2040. Over the next 30 years, the planes will be repeatedly upgraded and overhauled. In order to smooth the process, the Air Force ordered Lockheed to place the tools, dies, and other equipment needed in manufacturing into storage.

As the last plane moves through the line, workers will disassemble and crate each machine. Each crate gets labeled with an RFID tag indicating its contents, and then placed in shipping container, and shipped off to the Sierra Army Depot for storage.

However, Lockheed is going a step further. Not only are they archiving all the material and technical plans needed to make a Raptor, they’re also attempting to record all the unwritten knowledge that the assembly workers have learned in their years of building these planes. Archivists are filming, photographing, and interviewing workers performing their jobs. All this knowledge will then compiled into what Lockheed terms a “smart book.” Lockheed hopes that this record will help preserve some of the institutional memory about the Raptor, especially since Lockheed claims to have reduced the manufacturing time of a single plane by a third since production started eight years ago.

Silicon Valley, Lasers, and Airplanes

The San Francisco Bay Area, has two airports in the top five for laser-aircraft incidents according to the FAA. While the FAA didn’t release the total number of incidents, the relative ranking of the airports are are:

  1. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Phoenix Sky Harbor
  4. Mineta San Jose
  5. Oakland

Money quote from the article:

The U.S. Marshals Service Office theorizes it may be due to the number of people involved or interested in high tech. While some portion of the laser shooters are thought to be middle-aged methamphetamine users looking for thrills, other shooters are young, well-educated and interested in science, science fiction and are tech-savvy, officials believe.

SFO? Where are you?