Posted by: blogengeezer | January 25, 2014

Bye Bye Blackbird SR-71

A compilation of SR-71 stories.

SR-71 Blackbird

In April 1986, following an attack on American soldiers in a Berlin disco, President Reagan ordered the bombing of Muammar Qaddafi’s terrorist camps in Libya ..

My duty was to fly over Libya , and take photographs recording the damage our F-111’s had inflicted.

Qaddafi had established a ‘line of death,’ a territorial marking across the Gulf of Sidra, swearing to shoot down any intruder, that crossed the boundary.

On the morning of April 15, I rocketed past the line at 2,125 mph.

I was piloting the SR-71 spy plane, the world’s fastest jet, accompanied by a Marine Major (Walt), the aircraft’s reconnaissance systems officer (RSO).

We had crossed into Libya , and were approaching our final turn over the bleak desert landscape, when Walt informed me, that he was receiving missile launch signals.

I quickly increased our speed, calculating the time it would take for the weapons, most likely SA-2 and SA-4 surface-to-air missiles, capable of Mach 5 – to reach our altitude.
I estimated, that we could beat the rocket-powered missiles to the turn, and stayed our course, betting our lives on the plane’s performance.

After several agonizingly long seconds, we made the turn and blasted toward the Mediterranean …

‘You might want to pull it back,’ Walt suggested.
It was then that I noticed I still had the throttles full forward.

The plane was flying a mile every 1.6 seconds, well above our Mach 3.2 limit.

It was the fastest we would ever fly.

I pulled the throttles to idle, just south of Sicily , but we still overran the refueling tanker, awaiting us over Gibraltar …

Scores of significant aircraft have been produced, in the 100 years of flight, following the achievements of the Wright brothers, which we celebrate in December.Aircraft such as the Boeing 707, the F-86 Sabre Jet, and the P-51 Mustang, are among the important machines, that have flown our skies.

But the SR-71, also known as the Blackbird, stands alone as a significant contributor to Cold War victory, and as the fastest plane ever, and only 93 Air Force pilots, ever steered the ‘sled,’ as we called our aircraft.

The SR-71, was the brainchild of Kelly Johnson, the famed Lockheed designer, who created the P-38, the F-104 Starfighter, and the U-2.
After the Soviets shot down Gary Powers U-2 in 1960, Johnson began to develop an aircraft, that would fly three miles higher, and five times faster, than the spy plane, and still be capable of photographing your license plate.However, flying at 2,000 mph would create intense heat on the aircraft’s skin.
Lockheed engineers used a titanium alloy, to construct more than 90 percent of the SR-71, creating special tools, and manufacturing procedures to hand-build each of the (40 planes.. (WoW ! ! ! 40 planes???? I thought only 7.)
Special heat-resistant fuel, oil, and hydraulic fluids, that would function at 85,000 feet, and higher, also had to be developed.

In 1962, the first Blackbird successfully flew, and in 1966, the same year I graduated from high school, the Air Force began flying operational SR-71 missions.
I came to the program in 1983, with a sterling record and a recommendation from my commander, completing the weeklong interview, and meeting Walt, my partner for the next four years.He would ride four feet behind me, working all the cameras, radios, and electronic jamming equipment.

I joked, that if we were ever captured, he was the spy, and I was just the driver.

He told me to keep the pointy end forward.

We trained for a year, flying out of Beale AFB in California , Kadena Airbase in Okinawa , and RAF Mildenhall in England ..

On a typical training mission, we would take off near Sacramento , refuel over Nevada , accelerate into Montana , obtain a high Mach speed over Colorado , turn right over New Mexico, speed across the Los Angeles Basin, run up the West Coast, turn right at Seattle , then return to Beale.

Total flight time:- Two Hours and Forty Minutes.
One day, high above Arizona , we were monitoring the radio traffic, of all the mortal airplanes below us.
First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. ‘Ninety knots,’ ATC replied.
A Bonanza soon made the same request.
‘One-twenty on the ground,’ was the reply.

To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio, with a ground speed check.

I knew exactly what he was doing.

Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley, know what real speed was, ‘Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground,’ ATC responded.

The situation was too ripe.

I heard the click of Walt’s mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walt startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace.
In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ‘Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.’
We did not hear another transmission on that frequency, all the way to the coast.

The Blackbird always showed us something new, each aircraft possessing its own unique personality.
In time, we realized we were flying a national treasure.When we taxied out of our revetments for take-off, people took notice.

Traffic congregated near the airfield fences, because everyone wanted to see, and hear the mighty SR-71.

You could not be a part of this program, and not come to love the airplane.

Slowly, she revealed her secrets to us, as we earned her trust..

One moonless night, while flying a routine training mission over the Pacific, I wondered what the sky would look like from 84,000 feet, if the cockpit lighting were dark.

While heading home on a straight course, I slowly turned down all of the lighting, reducing the glare and revealing the night sky.

Within seconds, I turned the lights back up, fearful that the jet would know, and somehow punish me.

But my desire to see the sky, overruled my caution, I dimmed the lighting again.

To my amazement, I saw a bright light outside my window.

As my eyes adjusted to the view, I realized that the brilliance was the broad expanse of the Milky Way, now a gleaming stripe across the sky.

Where dark spaces in the sky, had usually existed, there were now dense clusters, of sparkling stars.

Shooting Stars, flashed across the canvas every few seconds.

It was like a fireworks display with no sound.

I knew I had to get my eyes back on the instruments, and reluctantly, I brought my attention back inside.

To my surprise, with the cockpit lighting still off, I could see every gauge, lit by starlight.

In the plane’s mirrors, I could see the eerie shine of my gold spacesuit, incandescently illuminated, in a celestial glow.

I stole one last glance out the window.
Despite our speed, we seemed still before the heavens, humbled in the radiance of a much greater power.

For those few moments, I felt a part of something far more significant, than anything we were doing in the plane.

The sharp sound of Walt’s voice on the radio, brought me back to the tasks at hand, as I prepared for our descent.

San Diego Aerospace Museum

The SR-71 was an expensive aircraft to operate.
The most significant cost was tanker support, and in 1990, confronted with budget cutbacks, the Air Force retired the SR-71.
The SR-71 served six presidents, protecting America for a quarter of a century.
Unbeknown to most of the country, the plane flew over North Vietnam , Red China , North Korea , the Middle East , South Africa , Cuba , Nicaragua , Iran , Libya , and the Falkland Islands .
On a weekly basis, the SR-71, kept watch over every Soviet Nuclear Submarine, Mobile Missile Site, and all of their troop movements.
It was a key factor in winning the Cold War.

I am proud to say, I flew about 500 hours in this aircraft.  I knew her well.
She gave way to no plane, proudly dragging her Sonic Boom through enemy backyards, with great impunity.
She defeated every missile, outran every MiG, and always brought us home.

In the first 100 years of manned flight, no aircraft was more remarkable.

The Blackbird had outrun nearly 4,000 missiles, not once taking a scratch from enemy fire.On her final flight, the Blackbird, destined for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, sped from Los Angeles to Washington in 64 Minutes, averaging 2,145 mph, and
setting four speed records.

Thank you, from an SR-71 pilot.
Ray Nesbit
Posted by: blogengeezer | December 15, 2013

SR-71 Blackbird communication to tower

This is a re-post, only because it was such a great story :>)

Thank you Hot Rod Forum, for the reminder

This was forwarded to me by LTC Robert Bent, US Army, Retired

SR-71 Blackbird Communication to Tower

Written by Brian Schul—former sled (SR-71 Blackbird) driver.

There were a lot of things we couldn’t do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane—intense, maybe, even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.

It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet.

I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us, tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions, when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn’t match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury. Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.

We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot who asked Center for a read-out of his ground speed. Center replied: “November Charlie 175, I’m showing you at ninety knots on the ground.” Now the thing to understand about Center controllers, was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the “Houston Center voice.” I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country’s space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that and that they basically did. And it didn’t matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios.

Just moments after the Cessna’s inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed in Beech. “I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed.” Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren.

Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. “Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check.” Before Center could reply, I’m thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a read-out? Then I got it, ol’ Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He’s the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: “Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground.” And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done—in mere seconds we’ll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn.

Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet. Then, I heard it—the click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: “Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?” There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request.

“Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground.” I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: “Ah, Center, much thanks, we’re showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money.”

For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice, when L.A. came back with, “Roger that Aspen. Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one.” It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day’s work. We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.

Posted by: blogengeezer | December 9, 2013

Sandia Crest Antennas

Sandia Crest Antennas

Frosty Dec 6, 2013, from our home in Albuquerque, NM,

Posted by: blogengeezer | December 4, 2013

Queenstown New Zealand approach

Any pilot will appreciate this video.

Descent into Queenstown, New Zealand.

Gotta have faith in your instruments and your proficiency to fly the approach.

But the feeling of elation from doing well, what we’re trained to do, is it’s own reward.

…as if descending into an undercast over mountainous terrain doesn’t bother you too much.

Posted by: blogengeezer | August 1, 2013

Delta Flt 15 Gander Newfundland

An older post, good enough to repost.
Take a minute and read this true story!!!

Jerry Brown Delta Flight 15… (true story)

Here is an amazing story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15,
written following 9-11:

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of
Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic.

All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the
cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I
noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The
captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in
Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United
States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest
airport. Advise your destination.”

No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious
situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain
determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander,
New Foundland.

He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic
controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked.
We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving
our request.

While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another
message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity
in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the

We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We
told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed
to land at the nearest airport in Gander, New Foundland, to have it
checked out.

We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was
much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty
minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was
12:30 PM! …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over
the world that had taken this detour on their way to the U.S.

After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following
announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these
airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The
reality is that we are here for another reason.” Then he went on to
explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the U.S. There
were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed
passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.

The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was
allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to
come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around
periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next
hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes
from all over the world, 27 of which were U.S. commercial jets.

Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and
for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World
Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People were
trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a
different cell system in Canada. Some did get through, but were only
able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines
to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade
Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted
in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically
exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly
calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded
aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the
planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our
turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not
happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much
noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the

Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and
lavatory servicing. And they were true to their word. Fortunately we
had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who
was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The
night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping

About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed
up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went
through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red

After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were
taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers
were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a
population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to
take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander! We
were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the
U.S. airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting
to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people
of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane
people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and
ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander
airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and
found out what they had been doing for the past two days. What we found
out was incredible.

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within MATCH about a 75
Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges,
and any other large gathering places. They converted all these
facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some
had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to
take care of the “guests.” Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called
Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a
high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that
was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers
were taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home
right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was
a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the
crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available
to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered
“Excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and
harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries
stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools.
People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful
meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their
clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every
single need was met for those stranded travelers.

Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when
they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to
the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or
late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts
of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on
and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything

It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise.
Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their
stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight
back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just
stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their
first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an
announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this
time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He
picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone
through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they
had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying
that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of

“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15
(our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide
college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He
asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the
paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone
numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia, promised to match the donations and
to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that
he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to
donate as well.

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million
and has assisted 134 students in college education.

“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right
now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a
faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on

It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”

“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world
this story confirms that there are still a lot of good and Godly people
in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

“God Bless America… and God Bless the Canadians.”

Posted by: blogengeezer | July 11, 2013

Pilot eyewitness account Asiana B-777

 Pilot Eyewitness account:

Asiana at SFO, from UA 885 who were RIGHT there…

ED Note: From latest accounts, Asiana pilots had turned off all Auto Functions in the flight deck and were ‘flying in’ manually, but forgot that they needed to manually control engine power on decent. By the time they realized it, and tried to get engine Thrust that takes 8-10 seconds to respond, it was too late. The tail struck the Approach apron. Aircraft then ‘hard landed’. That impact tore off the landing gear. Fuselage cartwheeled off to the left of the runway.

Subject: Eyewitness account: Asiana at SFO. Trained pilots, waiting for take off on the adjacent runway Waiting Aircraft was actually BETWEEN 28L and 28R and watched in horror.

Here is an email from a United crew holding short of the runway, as the Asiana B-777 approached:

On July 6, 2013 at approximately 1827Z, I was the 747-400 relief F/O on flt 885, ID326/06 SFO-KIX. I was a witness to the Asiana Flt 214 accident. We had taxied to hold short of runway 28L at SFO on taxiway F, and were waiting to rectify a HAZMAT cargo issue, as well as our final weights before we could run our ‘before takeoff’ checklist and depart.


As we waited on taxiway F heading East, just prior to the perpendicular holding area, all three pilots took notice of the Asiana 777 on short final. I noticed the aircraft looked low on glidepath and had a very high deck angle, compared to what would be normal.


I then noticed the apparent descent rate and closure to the runway environment, the aircraft looked as though it was going to impact the approach lights mounted on piers in the SF Bay. The aircraft made a fairly drastic looking ‘pull up’ in the last few feet and it appeared and sounded as if they had applied maximum thrust.


However the descent path they were on continued and the thrust applied didn’t appear to come soon enough to prevent impact. The tail cone and empennage of the 777, impacted the bulkhead seawall and departed the airplane.


The main landing gear sheared off instantly on impact. This created a long debris field along the arrival end of 28L, mostly along the right side of 28L. We saw the fuselage largely intact, slide down the runway and out of view of our cockpit. We heard much confusion and quick instructions from SFO Tower and a few moments later heard an aircraft ‘go around’ over the runway 28 complex. We realized within a few moments that we were apparently unharmed, so I got on the PA and instructed everyone to remain seated and that we were safe.

We all acknowledged, if we had been located between Runways 28R and 28L on taxiway F, we would have likely suffered damage to the right side aft section of our aircraft from the impacting 777.

Approximately two minutes later, I was looking out the left side cockpit windows and noticed movement on the right side of Runway 28L. Two survivors were stumbling but moving abeam of Runway 28L marking on the North side of the runway.


I saw one survivor stand up, walk a few feet, then appear to squat down. The other appeared to be a woman and was walking, then fell off to her side and remained on the ground until rescue personnel arrived.


The Captain was on the radio and I told him to tell tower what I had seen, but I ended up taking the microphone instead of relaying through him. I told SFO tower that there appeared to be survivors on the right side of the runway and they needed to send assistance immediately. It seemed to take a very long time for vehicles and assistance to arrive for these victims. The survivors I saw were approximately 1000-1500′ away from the fuselage and had apparently been ejected from the fuselage.

We made numerous PAs to the passengers telling them any information we had, which we acknowledged was going to change rapidly, and I left the cockpit to check on the flight attendants and the overall mood of the passengers, as I was the third pilot and not in a control seat.


A couple of our flight attendants were shaken up, but ALL were doing an outstanding and extremely professional job of handling the passenger’s needs and providing calm comfort to them. One of the flight attendants contacted unaccompanied minors’ parents to ensure them their children were safe and would be taken care of by our crew. Their demeanor and professionalism during this horrific event was noteworthy.


I went to each cabin and spoke to the passengers asking if everyone was OK and if they needed any assistance, and gave them information personally, to include telling them what I saw from the cockpit. I also provided encouragement that we would be OK, we’d tell them everything we learn and to please relax and be patient and expect this is going to be a long wait.


The passenger mood was concerned but generally calm. A few individuals were emotional, as nearly every passenger on the left side of the aircraft saw the fuselage and debris field, with fuselage traveling at over 100 knots past our aircraft…. only 300′ away.


By this point everyone had looked out the windows and could see the smoke plume from the 777. A number of passengers also noticed what I had seen with the survivors out near the end of 28L expressing concern that the rescue effort appeared slow for those individuals that had been separated from the airplane wreckage.

We ultimately had a tug come out and tow us back to the gate, doing a 3 point turn in the hold short area of 28L. We were towed to gate 101 where the passengers deplaned.

                    George W. “Jud” Schandel

Posted by: blogengeezer | July 10, 2013

Low down on S Korean Pilots

Received in email from career aircraft associate.

After I retired from UAL as a Standards Captain on the –400, I got a job as a simulator instructor working for Alteon (a Boeing subsidiary) at Asiana. When I first got there, I was shocked and surprised by the lack of basic piloting skills shown by most of the pilots. It is not a normal situation with normal progression from new hire, right seat, left seat taking a decade or two. One big difference is that ex-Military pilots are given super-seniority and progress to the left seat much faster. Compared to the US, they also upgrade fairly rapidly because of the phenomenal growth by all Asian air carriers. By the way, after about six months at Asiana, I was moved over to KAL and found them to be identical. The only difference was the color of the uniforms and airplanes. I worked in Korea for 5 long years and although I found most of the people to be very pleasant, it’s a minefield of a work environment … for them and for us expats.
One of the first things I learned was that the pilots kept a web-site and reported on every training session. I don’t think this was officially sanctioned by the company, but after one or two simulator periods, a database was building on me (and everyone else) that told them exactly how I ran the sessions, what to expect on checks, and what to look out for. For example; I used to open an aft cargo door at 100 knots to get them to initiate an RTO and I would brief them on it during the briefing. This was on the B-737 NG and many of the captains were coming off the 777 or B744 and they were used to the Master Caution System being inhibited at 80 kts. Well, for the first few days after I started that, EVERYONE rejected the takeoff. Then, all of a sudden they all “got it” and continued the takeoff (in accordance with their manuals). The word had gotten out. I figured it was an overall PLUS for the training program.
We expat instructors were forced upon them after the amount of fatal accidents (most of the them totally avoidable) over a decade began to be noticed by the outside world. They were basically given an ultimatum by the FAA, Transport Canada, and the EU to totally rebuild and rethink their training program or face being banned from the skies all over the world. They hired Boeing and Airbus to staff the training centers. KAL has one center and Asiana has another. When I was there (2003-2008) we had about 60 expats conducting training KAL and about 40 at Asiana. Most instructors were from the USA, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand with a few stuffed in from Europe and Asia. Boeing also operated training centers in Singapore and China so they did hire some instructors from there.
This solution has only been partially successful but still faces ingrained resistance from the Koreans. I lost track of the number of highly qualified instructors I worked with who were fired because they tried to enforce “normal” standards of performance. By normal standards, I would include being able to master basic tasks like successfully shoot a visual approach with 10 kt crosswind and the weather CAVOK.  I am not kidding when I tell you that requiring them to shoot a visual approach struck fear in their hearts … with good reason.  Like this Asiana crew, it didnt’ compute that you needed to be a 1000’ AGL at 3 miles and your sink rate should be 600-800 Ft/Min. But, after 5 years, they finally nailed me. I still had to sign my name to their training and sometimes if I just couldn’t pass someone on a check, I had no choice but to fail them. I usually busted about 3-5 crews a year and the resistance against me built. I finally failed an extremely incompetent crew and it turned out he was the a high-ranking captain who was the Chief Line Check pilot on the fleet I was teaching on. I found out on my next monthly trip home that KAL was not going to renew my Visa. The crew I failed was given another check and continued a fly while talking about how unfair Captain Brown was.
Any of you Boeing glass-cockpit guys will know what I mean when I describe these events. I gave them a VOR approach with an 15 mile arc from the IAF. By the way, KAL dictated the profiles for all sessions and we just administered them. He requested two turns in holding at the IAF to get set up for the approach.  When he finally got his nerve up, he requested “Radar Vectors” to final. He could have just said he was ready for the approach and I would have cleared him to the IAF and then “Cleared for the approach” and he could have selected “Exit Hold” and been on his way. He was already in LNAV/VNAV PATH. So, I gave him vectors to final with a 30 degree intercept.  Of course, he failed to “Extend the FAF” and he couldn’t understand why it would not intercept the LNAV magenta line when he punched LNAV and VNAV. He made three approaches and missed approaches before he figured out that his active waypoint was “Hold at XYZ.”  Every time he punched LNAV, it would try to go back to the IAF … just like it was supposed to do. Since it was a check, I was not allowed (by their own rules) to offer him any help. That was just one of about half dozen major errors I documented in his UNSAT paperwork. He also failed to put in ANY aileron on takeoff with a 30-knot direct crosswind (again, the weather was dictated by KAL).
This Asiana SFO accident makes me sick and while I am surprised there are not more, I expect that there will be many more of the same type accidents in the future unless some drastic steps are taken. They are already required to hire a certain percentage of expats to try to ingrain more flying expertise in them, but more likely, they will eventually be fired too. One of the best trainees I ever had was a Korean/American (he grew up and went to school in the USA) who flew C-141’s in the USAF. When he got out, he moved back to Korea and got hired by KAL. I met him when I gave him some training and a check on the B-737 and of course, he breezed through the training. I give him annual PCs for a few years and he was always a good pilot. Then, he got involved with trying to start a pilots union and when they tired to enforce some sort of duty rigs on international flights, he was fired after being arrested and JAILED!
The Koreans are very very bright and smart so I was puzzled by their inability to fly an airplane well. They would show up on Day 1 of training (an hour before the scheduled briefing time, in a 3-piece suit, and shined shoes) with the entire contents of the FCOM and Flight Manual totally memorized. But, putting that information to actual use was many times impossible. Crosswind landings are also an unsolvable puzzle for most of them. I never did figure it out completely, but I think I did uncover a few clues. Here is my best guess. First off, their educational system emphasizes ROTE memorization from the first day of school as little kids. As you know, that is the lowest form of learning and they act like robots. They are also taught to NEVER challenge authority and in spite of the flight training heavily emphasizing CRM/CLR, it still exists either on the surface or very subtly. You just can’t change 3000 years of culture.
The other thing that I think plays an important role is the fact that there is virtually NO civil aircraft flying in Korea. It’s actually illegal to own a Cessna-152 and just go learn to fly. Ultra-lights and Powered Hang Gliders are Ok. I guess they don’t trust the people to not start WW III by flying 35 miles north of Inchon into North Korea.  But, they don’t get the kids who grew up flying (and thinking for themselves) and hanging around airports. They do recruit some kids from college and send then to the US or Australia and get them their tickets. Generally, I had better experience with them than with the ex-Military pilots. This was a surprise to me as I spent years as a Naval Aviator flying fighters after getting my private in light airplanes. I would get experienced F-4, F-5, F-15, and F-16 pilots who were actually terrible pilots if they had to hand fly the airplane. What a shock!
Finally, I’ll get off my box and talk about the total flight hours they claim. I do accept that there are a few talented and free-thinking pilots that I met and trained in Korea. Some are still in contact and I consider them friends. They were a joy! But, they were few and far between and certainly not the norm.
Actually, this is a worldwide problem involving automation and the auto-flight concept. Take one of these new first officers that got his ratings in the US or Australia and came to KAL or Asiana with 225 flight hours. After takeoff, in accordance with their SOP, he calls for the autopilot to be engaged at 250’ after takeoff. How much actual flight time is that? Hardly one minute. Then he might fly for hours on the autopilot and finally disengage it (MAYBE?) below 800’ after the gear was down, flaps extended and on airspeed (autothrottle). Then he might bring it in to land. Again, how much real “flight time” or real experience did he get. Minutes! Of course, on the 777 or 747, it’s the same only they get more inflated logbooks.
So, when I hear that a 10,000 hour Korean captain was vectored in for a 17-mile final and cleared for a visual approach in CAVOK weather, it raises the hair on the back of my neck.
Posted by: blogengeezer | January 10, 2013

World War II Aviation statistics

 For World War II and aviation buffs, this is terrific history…

If you enjoy literally thousands of pictures from WWII and of aircraft, try this website


If you desire to see the US including it’s military during the late 1800’s, this one is fascinating.


Now for the History of WWII Statistics.

276,000 aircraft were manufactured in the U.S.
43,000 planes lost overseas, including 23,000 in combat.
14,000 lost in the continental U.S. 

The U.S. civilian population maintained a dedicated effort for four years, many working long hours seven days per week and often also volunteering for other work.  WWII was the largest human effort in history.
Statistics are from Flight Journal magazine.

THE PRICE OF VICTORY (cost of an aircraft in WWII dollars)
B-17 $204,370.        P-40 $44,892.
B-24 $215,516.        P-47 $85,578.
B-25 $142,194.        P-51 $51,572.
B-26 $192,426.        C-47 $88,574.
B-29 $605,360.        PT-17 $15,052.
P-38 $97,147.          AT-6 $22,952.

From Germany’s invasion of Poland 1 Sept, 1939 and ending with Japan’s surrender 2 Sept, 1945 — 2,433 days
From 1942 onward, America averaged 170 planes lost a day.

How many is a 1,000 planes?  B-17 production (12,731) wingtip to wingtip would extend 250 miles.  1,000 B-17s carried 2.5 million gallons of high octane fuel and required 10,000 airmen to fly and fight them.

9.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed, 1942-1945.
107.8 million hours flown, 1943-1945.
459.7 billion rounds of aircraft ammo fired overseas, 1942-1945.
7.9 million bombs dropped overseas, 1943-1945.
2.3 million combat sorties, 1941-1945 (one sortie = one takeoff).
299,230 aircraft accepted, 1940-1945.
808,471 aircraft engines accepted, 1940-1945.
799,972 propellers accepted, 1940-1945.

Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik     36,183

Yakolev Yak-1,-3,-7,-9     31,000+

Messerschmitt Bf-109     30,480

Focke-Wulf Fw-190     29,001

Supermarine Spitfire/Seafire     20,351

Convair B-24/PB4Y Liberator/Privateer     18,482

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt     15,686

North American P-51 Mustang     15,875

Junkers Ju-88     15,000

Hawker Hurricane     14,533

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk     13,738

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress     12,731

Vought F4U Corsair     12,571

Grumman F6F Hellcat     12,275

Petlyakov Pe-2     11,400

Lockheed P-38 Lightning     10,037

Mitsubishi A6M Zero     10,449

North American B-25 Mitchell     9,984

Lavochkin LaGG-5     9,920

Note: The LaGG-5 was produced with both water-cooled (top) and air-cooled (bottom) engines.

Grumman TBM Avenger     9,837

Bell P-39 Airacobra     9,584

Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar     5,919

DeHavilland Mosquito     7,780

Avro Lancaster     7,377

Heinkel He-111     6,508

Handley-Page Halifax     6,176

Messerschmitt Bf-110     6,150

Lavochkin LaGG-7     5,753

Boeing B-29 Superfortress     3,970

Short Stirling     2,383

Sources: Rene Francillon, Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific war; Cajus Bekker, The Luftwaffe Diaries; Ray Wagner, American Combat Planes; Wikipedia.

According to the AAF Statistical Digest, in less than four years (December 1941- August 1945), the US Army Air Forces lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and assorted personnel plus 13,873 airplanes — inside the continental United StatesThey were the result of 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.

Think about those numbers.  They average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month — nearly 40 a day. (Less than one accident in four resulted in totaled aircraft, however.)

It gets worse…..
Almost 1,000 Army planes disappeared enroute from the US to foreign climes.  But an eye-watering 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 against the Western Axis) and 20,633 attributed to non-combat causes overseas.

In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down.  That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England.  In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe.

Pacific theatre losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed.  The worst B-29 mission, against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortresses, 5.6 percent of the 464 dispatched from the Marianas.
On an average, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day.  By the end of the war, over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat theatres and another 18,000 wounded.  Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including a number “liberated” by the Soviets but never returned.  More than 41,000 were captured, half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared with one-tenth in German hands.  Total combat casualties were pegged at 121,867.

U.S. manpower made up the deficit.  The AAF’s peak strength was reached in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year’s figure.

The losses were huge—but so were production totals.  From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft.  That number was enough not only for U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but for allies as diverse as Britain, Australia, China and Russia.  In fact, from 1943 onward, America produced more planes than Britain and Russia combined.  And more than Germany and Japan together 1941-45.

However, our enemies took massive losses.  Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained uncontrolled hemorrhaging, reaching 25 percent of aircrews and 40 planes a month.  In late 1944 into 1945, nearly half the pilots in Japanese squadrons had flown fewer than 200 hours.  The disparity of two years before had been completely reversed. 

Experience Level:
Uncle Sam sent many of his sons to war with absolute minimums of training.  Some fighter pilots entered combat in 1942 with less than one hour in their assigned aircraft.

The 357th Fighter Group (often known as The Yoxford Boys) went to England in late 1943 having trained on P-39s.  The group never saw a Mustang until shortly before its first combat mission.

A high-time P-51 pilot had 30 hours in type.  Many had fewer than five hours.Some had one hour.

With arrival of new aircraft, many combat units transitioned in combat.  The attitude was,”They all have a stick and a throttle.  Go fly `em.” When the famed 4th Fighter Group converted from P-47s to P-51s in February 1944, there was no time to stand down for an orderly transition.  The Group commander, Col. Donald Blakeslee, said, “You can learn to fly `51s on the way to the target. 

A future P-47 ace said, “I was sent to England to die.”  He was not alone.  Some fighter pilots tucked their wheels in the well on their first combat mission with one previous flight in the aircraft.  Meanwhile, many bomber crews were still learning their trade: of Jimmy Doolittle’s 15 pilots on the April 1942 Tokyo raid, only five had won their wings before 1941.  All but one of the 16 copilots were less than a year out of flight school.

In WWII flying safety took a back seat to combat.  The AAF’s worst accident rate was recorded by the A-36 Invader version of the P-51: a staggering 274 accidents per 100,000 flying hours.  Next worst were the P-39 at 245, the P-40 at 188, and the P-38 at 139.  All were Allison powered.

Bomber wrecks were fewer but more expensive.  The B-17 and B-24 averaged 30 and 35 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, respectively– a horrific figure considering that from 1980 to 2000 the Air Force’s major mishap rate was less than 2.

The B-29 was even worse at 40; the world’s most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to stand down for mere safety reasons.  The AAF set a reasonably high standard for B-29 pilots, but the desired figures were seldom attained.  The original cadre of the 58th Bomb Wing was to have 400 hours of multi-engine time, but there were not enough experienced pilots to meet the criterion.  Only ten percent had overseas experience. Conversely, when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force initiated a two-month “safety pause” rather than declare a “stand down,” let alone grounding.

The B-29 was no better for maintenance.  Though the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, no more than half the mechanics had previous experience with the Duplex Cyclone.  But they made it work.

Perhaps the greatest unsung success story of AAF training was Navigators.  The Army graduated some 50,000 during the War.  Many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving “Uncle Sugar” for a war zone.  Yet the huge majority found their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running out of fuel — a stirring tribute to the AAF’s educational establishments.

Cadet To Colonel:
It was possible for a flying cadet at the time of Pearl Harbor to finish the war with eagles on his shoulders.  That was the record of John D. Landers, a 21-year-old Texan, who was commissioned a second lieutenant on December 12, 1941.  He joined his combat squadron with 209 hours total flight time, including 20 in P-40s.  He finished the war as a full colonel, commanding an 8th Air Force Group — at age 24.

As the training pipeline filled up, however those low figures became exceptions.  By early 1944, the average AAF fighter pilot entering combat had logged at least 450 hours, usually including 250 hours in training.  At the same time, many captains and first lieutenants claimed over 600 hours.

At its height in mid-1944, the Army Air Forces had 2.6 million people and nearly 80,000 aircraft of all types.  Today the US Air Force employs 327,000 active personnel (plus 170,000 civilians) with 5,500+ manned and perhaps 200 unmanned aircraft.  The 2009 figures represent about 12 percent of the manpower and 7 percent of the airplanes of the WWII peak.

Whether there will ever be another war like that experienced in 1940-45 is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones over Afghanistan and Iraq.  But within living memory, men left the earth in 1,000-plane formations and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a legacy that remains timeless.

This is an excellent summary of the effort required in WWII.  It focuses on the American side of things, but the British, Germans and Japanese expended comparable energy and experienced similar costs.  Just one example for the Luftwaffe; about 1/3 of the Bf109s built were lost in non-combat crashes.  After Midway, the Japanese experience level declined markedly, with the loss of so many higher-time naval pilots. 

WW II Trivia:

You might enjoy this from Col D. G. Swinford, USMC, Ret and history buff. You would really have to dig deep to get this kind of ringside seat to history:1. The first German serviceman killed in WW II was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940); highest ranking American killed was Lt Gen Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. So much for allies.

2. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. His benefits were later restored by act of Congress.

3. At the time of Pearl Harbor, the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced ‘sink us’), the shoulder patch of the US Army’s 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler’s private train was named ‘Amerika.’ All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

4. More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions, your chance of being killed was 71%.

5. Generally speaking, there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target.  For instance, Japanese Ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes.  He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.

6. It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing.  Worse yet tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.


7. When allied armies reached the Rhine, the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).

8. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City, but they decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

9. German submarine U-1206 was sunk in 1945 by a malfunctioning toilet.

10. Among the first ‘Germans’ captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army.


11. Following a massive naval bombardment, 35,000 United States and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops were killed in the assault on the island. It would have been far worse if there had actually been any Japanese on the island!
Posted by: blogengeezer | April 23, 2012

787 Features and Differences

 787 Features & Differences

The formatting is somewhat messed up, but it’s an interesting read, it shows how
aviation technology is progressing.
Post courtesy of 787 certified  Pilot… ‘John Doe’
Thanks John..
I just hope that in emergencies, the
pilots will be able to recognize what’s going on and take proper measures
to save the plane and its precious cargo, unlike the Air France pilots
whose training and situational awareness were so tragically flawed.
Over-reliance on technology can lead to complacency, confusion, and
Catastrophe.I just completed the first pilot training class on the 787 at United
Airlines, an airplane which is destined to replace the 767 and live
for many years after I retire. Here’s what I’ve learned in 787 training so
far. By the way, last night we passed our MV (maneuvers validation) check
ride, with emergency after emergency, and the FAA observing.

Tonight was our LOE
(line-oriented evaluation) [LOFT], again with FAA – this time 2 FAA
observers. It’s 0200 and I just got back to the hotel and poured a
well-earned glass of wine to celebrate. I now have a type rating in
the 787.
Phew. I’m pretty confident this will be the last one for me.
I’ve summarized some of the major differences and unique features
of the 787 versus more traditional “old school” airplanes like the 777 (not
kidding) – from the pilot’s viewpoint. Our “Differences” course
takes 11 days to gain an FAA type rating, which is a “common” type
rating with the 777.
The course has been like ‘drinking from a fire hose’,
but has finally come together. Some of our pilots attended Boeing’s 5-day
differences course, and deemed it unacceptable. The FAA approved the
Boeing 5-day course, but our guys decided it lacked too much information.
FAA is observing our check rides now, and taking our course as well, to
certify the training. We’re just the guinea pigs.
Computer nerds would describe the
787, as 17 computer servers packaged in a Kevlar frame. The central brains are
the Common Core System (CCS). Two Common Computing Resources (CCRs)
coordinate the communications of all the computer systems, isolating faults
and covering failed systems with working systems.
When battery power is first applied to the airplane in the morning,
it takes about 50 seconds for the LCCR to boot up. After this, a few displays
light up, and you can start the APU. If there is a major loss of cockpit
displays, this may require a CCR reboot, which would take about a minute.
Here are a few of the major features and differences from the 777.
Electrics – Though a smaller plane, the 787 has 4 times the electric
generating power of the 777 – 1.4 ‘Gigawatts’. Generators produce 235
VAC for the big power users.
Other systems use the traditional 115 VAC and 28 VDC.
There are 17 scattered Remote Power Distribution
Units which power about 900 loads throughout the plane. The big power
distribution system, is in the aft belly, along with a Power Electronics Cooling
System (PECS).
This is a liquid cooling system for the large motor, power
distribution system. There’s also an Integrated Cooling System (ICS),
which provides refrigerated air, for the galley carts and cabin air, and a
Miscellaneous Equipment Cooling System for Inflight Entertainment
IF 3 of the 4 engine generators fail, the APU starts itself. The APU
drives two generators, and can be operated up to the airplane’s max
altitude of 43 000 feet.
IFyou lose all 4 engine generators, the
RAT (ram air turbine) drops out (like a windmill), powering essential
buses. (It also provides hydraulic power to flight controls if needed).
IF you lose all 4 engine generators and the two APU generators (a
really bad day), you are down to Standby Power. The RAT will drop out and
provide power but even if it fails, you still have the autopilot and captain’s
flight director and instruments, FMC, 2 IRSs, VHF radios, etc.
IF you’re
down to batteries only, with no RAT, you’d better get it on the ground, as
battery time is limited. Brakes and anti-skid are electric – 28V – so you
don’t lose brakes or anti-skid, even when you’re down to just standby power.
Normal flight controls are hydraulic with a couple exceptions.
Engine driven and electric hydraulic pumps, operate at 5000 psi (versus normal
3000 psi), to allow for smaller tubing sizes and actuators, thus saving weight.
IF you lose all 3 hydraulic systems (another bad day), you still have two
spoiler panels on each wing which are electrically powered all the time, as
is the stabilizer trim. You can still fly the airplane (no flaps, though).
IF you’re having an even worse day and you lose all hydraulics and all generators, flight
control power is still coming from separate Permanent Magnet Generators
(PMGs) which produce power, even if both engines quit and are windmilling.
IF the PMGs fail, too, your flight controls will be powered by the 28 V standby bus.
IF you lose all 3 pitot/static systems or air data computers, the airplane
reverts to angle of attack speed (converts AOA to IAS), and this is
displayed on the normal PFDs (primary flight displays) airspeed indicator
tapes. GPS altitude is substituted for air data altitude and displayed on
the PFD altimeter tapes. Very convenient.
IF you lose both Attitude and Heading Reference Units (AHRUs), it
reverts to the standby instrument built-in attitude & heading gyro, but
displays this on both pilot’s PFDs for convenience.
IF you lose both Inertial Reference Units, it will substitute GPS
position, and nothing is lost.
IF someone turns one or both IRSs off in flight (I hate it when they do that),
you can realign them… as long as one of the GPSs is working!
There is No pneumatic system. The only engine bleed, is used for that
engine’s anti-ice. Wing anti-ice is electric. Each of two air conditioning
packs control two CACs, which are electric cabin air compressors. The
four CACs share two air inlets on the belly. Each pack controller controls
two CACs, but if a pack controller fails, the remaining pack controller takes
over control of all 4 CACs.
There are No circuit breakers in the cockpit. To check on them, or
if you get a message that one has opened (more likely), you select the CBIC
(circuit breaker indication and control) display on one of the MFDs
(multi function displays). There you can reset the virtual C/B if
it is an “electronic” circuit breaker. You can’t reset a popped
“thermal” circuit breaker.
IF you have an APU fire on the ground or inflight, the fire
extinguishing bottle is automatically discharged.
IF there is a cargo fire, the
first two, of seven bottles will automatically discharge also.
There’s a Nitrogen Generation System which provides Automatic full-
time flammability protection, by displacing fuel vapors in the fuel
tanks with Nitrogen.
Like the 767 and 777, the 787 also has full CPDLC capability
(controller-to-pilot datalink communications). In addition, its
full FANS capability includes ADS-B in & out. The controller can uplink speed,
heading and altitude changes to the airplane. These show up on a second line
right under the speed, heading and altitude displays on the mode control
IF your pilot wants to use them, he can press a XFR button next to each
window. The controller can even uplink a conditional clearance, like. After
passing point XYZ, climb to FL390. If you accept this, it will do it automatically.
Fuel system – like the 777, the 787 has a fuel dump system, which
automatically dumps down to your maximum landing weight, if that is
what you want. In addition, it has a Fuel Balance switch, which
automatically balances your L & R main tanks for you. No more opening
crossfeed valves and turning off fuel pumps in flight. No more
forgetting to turn them back on, either.
Flight Controls – An “Autodrag” function operates when the airplane
is high on approach and landing flaps have been selected. It extends the
ailerons and two most outboard spoilers, while maintaining airspeed, to
assist in glidepath capture from above, if you are high on the glideslope. The
feature removes itself, below 500 feet.
Cruiseflaps is an automated function, when level at cruise. It symmetrically
moves the flaps, ailerons, flaperons, and spoilers based on weight,
airspeed and altitude, to optimize cruise performance, by varying the wing
camber, thus reducing drag.
Gust suppression – Vertical gust suppression enhances ride quality
when in vertical gusts and turbulence. It uses symmetric deflection of
flaperons and elevators to smooth the bumps. This should result in fewer
whitecaps in passengers’ coffee and cocktails. Lateral gust suppression improves
the ride, when on approach, by making yaw commands in response to lateral gusts and turbulence.
Instrument Approaches –
The airplane is actually approved for
Autoland, based not only on ILS, but on GLS approaches – GPS with Ground based
augmentation system, which corrects the GPS signals. GLS minimums are the same
as CAT I ILS – 200′ and 1/2 mile visibility.
Our airline is not yet approved
for GLS Autolandings, though we will be doing GLS approaches.
Special Cat I & II HUD approaches – These allow lower than normal
minimums when the Heads Up Devices are used at certain approved airports
The HUDs includes runway centerline guidance, which helps you stay on the
centerline on takeoff, when visibility is greatly reduced. It uses either ILS or GLS for this.
Cabin – Pressurization. Differential pressure maximum is 9.4 psid,
so the cabin altitude is only 6000 feet, when at the max cruising altitude of
43,000 feet. There is a cockpit humidifier switch, and cabin air humidification
is fully automatic.
Cabin windows are larger than other airplanes, and
window shading is electronic. The passenger can select 5 levels of
shading, from clear to black. The flight attendants can control the cabin
lighting temperature, mood lighting, to aid in dealing with changing time zones
evening light after dinner, morning light to wake up, etc.
Much of the cockpit seems like it was designed by Apple. The Control
Display Units (CDUs) are virtual, so you can move them from one MFD to
another. In fact, you can configure the displays in 48 different
ways, I think though, we have found a few favorites we will use to
keep it simple.
To move the cursor from one MFD to another, you can either
use a button, or you can “flick” your finger across the
trackpad (Cursor Control Device) to fling the cursor from one
screen to the next – much like an iPad.
I’m going home this morning, and will return for a 777 simulator ride,
Before I go back to work. They want to make sure we’ve still got the
old-fashioned legacy airplane in our brain before we fly the 777 again, even
though it shares a “common type rating”.
We won’t get the first 787 until October, and begin operations in November or December.
At that time I’ll return for at least 4 days refresher training, before beginning IOE initial
operating experience in the airplane…. with passengers.
What a ride. It may be “fuel efficient”, but I’m glad someone else is
paying for the gas.
John Doe

P.S. If you wish to share this with someone else, be my guest. I think the
787 will be a great plane, but there could be some surprises with
this level of innovation. Time will tell. Thanks!

Posted by: blogengeezer | February 19, 2012


B-17 in 1943
An amazing story of survival. Pictures on
This story, as posted here, was also posted on several other accounts, including magazines. Received repeatedly in emails from wing nuts over the years, I re-posted it as received. It is in dispute, possibly even a fabrication, as noted in comments.
A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of World War II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named All American, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17.
The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through, connected only at two small parts of the frame. The radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunners turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew – miraculously! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane.
The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.
When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.

Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the empennage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been “used” so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane and land it.

Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear.
When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed onto the ground. The rugged old bird had done its job.

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