May 302012

He was buzzing around again this evening, but not terribly close, so I jumped in the car and followed him around. Sadly, due to sun angle and property lines I didn’t get much of anything you’d call “good,” but I did get two I found interesting:

1) The Photobomber:

2) Pulled over at the side of the road and caught the cropduster coming and a passing car going. Gives a hint as to the operating altitude.

And while I was out I noticed a pronounced sun dog:

 Posted by at 11:59 pm
May 302012

[youtube cHhZwvdRR5c]

This 747 is sitting in a boneyard in Mojave, CA waiting to be dismantled and recycled at the end of its useful life. On May 23rd, 2012 the area experienced extreme winds of 70+ miles per hour and reports of gusts up to 100 near the pass due to a low pressure zone. Without the weight of its engines and with its landing flaps deployed, the slightly tail heavy 747 tries to take to the skies one last time. The next day the plane was found to have also rotated about 45 degrees from its original position.

 Posted by at 12:44 pm
May 282012

An interesting article from USA Today about Andy Rooney hearing rumors and reports that a German U-Boat fired a V-1 “Buzz Bomb” at New York City. Nothing here is remotely definable as hard evidence of such a launch, but rumors of such efforts on the Germans part have been floating about since late 1944. The concept is reasonable enough… basically an early version of the “Regulus” system. But so far as I’m aware, no verifiable hardware, drawings or even artists concepts from the war years have come to light to support the idea that the Germans were seriously developing a sub-launched V-1.

Did Andy Rooney miss big WWII scoop?

The reported reactions of the military officials Rooney talked to certainly seem like the reactions of military types trying to stamp out a story. There are two obvious reasons for this:

1) The Germans really did launch a V-1 (that either crashed or was shot down), and the military wanted to keep it secret to prevent a panic

2) The Germans didn’t launch a V-1, and the military wanted to prevent false rumors from leading to a panic.

 Posted by at 11:14 am
May 272012

Flying back from D.C. at the end of March, I took a number of photos using the cheapo point-and-click. Several of them show the Wasatch mountains just south of Salt Lake City. You can see some curious terraces in the mountains near the top above the snow line. I don’t know what they are, but they look artificial… part of an avalanche abatement effort, perhaps?

On the other hand… that’d be a hell of a place to be messing around with heavy earth-moving equipment.

 Posted by at 10:07 pm
May 272012

Several conceptual layouts for cockpits for a supersonic nuclear powered seaplane from Convair, drawing in 1956. To protect the crew from radiation, the cockpit was surrounded by a massive lead-lined shield, and only a relatively small leaded-glass transparency was provided for the pilot to see through. To minimize what was necessarily an enormous mass, the shield and transparency were flat and un-aerodynamic; the aircraft needed aerodynamic fairings around them. Easy enough except that the pilot needed to be able to see through those as well. So very large secondary windscreens were needed. Several possible layouts were examined and are shown below.

 Posted by at 5:37 pm
May 262012

A 1962 Boeing diagram of the Model 844-2050 Dyna Soar configuration (almost the final configuration) as a 0.0666 scale wind tunnel model. Nothing too spectacular, but it does illustrate one detail rarely seen: the heat shield actuator mast.

The forward-facing windows were covered with an ejectable heat shield on the Dyna Soar until well after re-entry in order to protect them from excessive heating. The actuator mast would be a piston that would raise the front of the heat shield after the spaceplane had re-entered and slowed to subsonic; the “wind” would then get under the shield and lift it away from the spaceplane. I’ve seen very little on this mast… I don’t know if it would then retract, or if it would simply stay  in place through landing. None of the artwork I’ve seen has ever depicted it in any fashion… the heat shield is always there until it’s simply gone. Associated photos of the wind tunnel model do not show the mast.

 Posted by at 7:18 am
May 242012

Some years ago, Pegasus Hobbies released a great big 1/18 scale model kit of the Bell X-1. Always wanted one, but never bought until a few days back when I came across one for cheap. On the box, the “Glamorous Glennis” markings in the photos of the model were blotted out with a black marker. In the box, the GG references and the references to _huck _eager were blotted out of the instruction sheet. The GG decal was actually cut off the decal sheet.

Why? Well, it seems Pegasus Hobbies got a Cease and Desist order from Yeager’s people. Somehow he’s got his name and the GG name copyrighted. Even though the GG is a world-famous taxpayer-funded historically important and widely publicized vehicle – exactly the sort of thing that you’d imagine was “public domain,” it’s apparently not… or at least it’s not worth the bother of fighting.


Good thing I never planned to build it in the GG configuration. Maybe an X-1D or E. Or even a swept-wing, V-tail proposed configuration… or even the S-1 “tactical” plane.

 Posted by at 12:03 pm
May 242012

Some time back I came into possession of a control yoke from an F-102 Delta Dagger. It’s an interesting thing… I’ve never seen another control stick quite like it. It’s two handed; the left-hand stick can be unlocked, and used to slew the radar dish around. It looks like something that should have been used on a Colonial Viper or similar sci-fi spacecraft.

It seemed to me that there might be a market for replicas at several levels of detail. The simplest would be a basic “kit” of cast urethane resin, featuring the main stick including the right-hand control, the left-hand stick, the connecting “joint,” a few separate toggles and decals; next would be a finished & painted & decaled display piece based on the kit; next would be a kit with all the bells and whistles; and last would be a finished version of that kit. The basic kit I would guesstimate at $75 or so; the finished detailed piece at something like $350 or so.

Any interest?

Anybody know any Hollywood prop houses working sci-fi flicks who’d be interested is getting a bulk purchase???

 Posted by at 8:42 am