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F-15E Lands With Only One Wing

After what has been a long week, I decided that an amazing video would be the best way to celebrate Friday.

I know this video is not exactly new, and many people may have already seen it, but no matter how many times I watch it, it just leaves me in awe.  I won’t spoil it anymore than the title already did, but I will share my two conclusions.

1.  That pilot is a freaking stud to do what he did.

2.  American manufacturers sure knew how to make some amazing stuff back in the day.  With all of the issues with the F-35 I often wonder why we have tried to stray so far away from what works so well.

Enjoy the video.


March 15, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Utah Valley University Bidding to Become UAS Test Facility

Unmanned aerial systems(UAS), unmanned aerial vehicles(UAV), remotely piloted aircraft(RPA), drones…whatever you want to call them, I’ll go with RPAs, are one of the biggest topics of discussion in aviation these days.  Whether you like them or not, they are rapidly becoming more common all over the country, and in ways that we may not have previously considered.

I’ve recently posted about the Boeing Phantom Eye that is designed to provide long periods of surveillance, likely for military and civilian use.  There are the well documented Predators and Reapers that can provide surveillance as well as weapons employment, which was the topic of Rand Paul’s filibuster last week, wasting half a day of work for Congress.  These three are only an incredibly small sampling of all the RPA’s out there, and the list just continues to grow.

With the rapid growth of RPAs it is becoming increasingly important for the FAA to create rules and regulations to govern their use, and how they will fit into the National Airspace System (NAS).  Some would say it is as simple as making them all fly under instrument flight rules, but with a system that relies heavily on a “see and avoid” mindset, it really can’t be that simple.  Though it doesn’t need to be super difficult either.

Whatever the FAA decides to do with regulation, they are asking institutions to put in bids to become one of six sites across the nation that will conduct tests to aid in the development of future regulations as RPAs get integrated into the NAS.  From what I have read recently, many of the groups applying are based around universities, which makes a whole lot of sense.  Today I read about one such university that I think would be a perfect fit.

Utah Valley University(UVU) is leading an alliance of universities, and private companies that are involved in research and development of RPAs.  The name of their alliance is the Mountain West Unmanned Systems Alliance or MWUSA.  UVU supports a well-respected aviation program, that is rapidly growing along with the university.

With their campus in Provo, Utah, they are in a great position to conduct all kinds of different research into RPA’s and how they will interact with other aircraft in the NAS.  Provo itself has only a small airport which will be good when it comes to basic testing of atc and other radio communications.

However, Provo is only a short distance from Salt Lake International Airport which is a relatively busy airport, being one of Delta’s larger hubs.  This would allow researchers to interact with relatively busy airspace, while not interfering with the major operations that would be going on at LAX, O’Hare, or Atlanta.  Ultimately, the major hubs will have to be included, but initially I would think researchers would rather have busy, but not overwhelming airports to conduct their research.

The other great feature that UVU has at their fingertips is the geography of the State of Utah.  There are not many places that have mountains climbing up to over 10,000 feet(Wasatch Mountains) within 20-30 miles of some of the flattest ground in the world(Bonneville Salt Flats).  As an Air Force aviator, terrain is something that we talk about on every single flight, so I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be a major factor in understanding how RPAs will interact with the current system.

The FAA isn’t planning on naming the sites until later this summer, but whoever gets the nod will certainly have their work cut out for them.  The FAA is under a mandate from Congress to integrate RPAs into the NAS by 2018.  5 years may seem like a long time, but with as fast as technology is changing, and as slow as government agencies generally work, I think they will need all of the time they can get.

March 14, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Alamo Area Aerospace Academy Providing Education and Critical Training/Experience

A month ago I wrote about an education program that Airbus sponsors to help provide education as well as hands on training at the Airbus Lycée.  That article led to a couple of pretty in-depth discussions on LinkedIn that are actually still going.

The general consensus of those discussions was that the aviation industry as a whole needs to do a better job promoting themselves, and all of the various options that exist for jobs in aviation.  I for one think we also need to create more programs that provide better opportunities for young people to get training, and the all important “work experience”.

I came across another great program that is not only fostering aviation, but in some cases is leading to actual jobs.

The Alamo Area Aerospace Academy is one of four vocational training schools in the San Antonio area that puts students on the fast track to careers in various industries.  The Aerospace Academy was developed out of a need for workers at Lockheed Martin.  As their workforce was retiring they needed a pipeline for training young, new employees.  So they worked with the local government, community college, aerospace companies, and school districts to develop a program to get kids excited about aviation, and get them the necessary training.

The program lasts two years and includes a paid internship between the students’ junior and senior years.  During the school year the classes provide hands on training and experience while still earning students credit towards high school graduation, and even a good chunk of an associate degree.

This is exactly the type of program that we need more of in every industry, and especially in aviation.  It is far easier to get excited about education when you see the practical application of it.  The reality is that college is not for everyone, and that training like this can be far more valuable for many people than a four-year degree would ever be.

Apparently the program is creating the desired results as Lockheed Martin estimates that 20% of their direct hire workforce comes from the Aerospace Academy.  And, as I already mentioned, three other industries have developed similar academies to train their own workforce.

While this is not necessarily the right approach for everyone, or every industry, we need to develop more programs just like this.  Youth are ready to get excited about a career well before they reach college, and aviation needs to be there when they are developing that excitement.  If we want to attract the best and the brightest, we need to get them hooked earlier than we are right now.

What other programs could we create to help get young people excited about aviation, and prepare them for potential careers in the industry?

March 10, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Boeing and KLM Teaming Up to Improve Aircraft Efficiency

Boeing and KLM announced yesterday that they will be working together to implement some of Boeing’s latest technologies aimed at improving the efficiency, and lowering the environmental impact, of an aircraft’s flight.  One of the aspects that is becoming increasingly more common is the use of bio-fuels to augment the normal fuel load.  In this case they will be using refined cooking oil as fuel in their ongoing effort to create alternative fuel sources that don’t compete with food, water, or land resources.

Bio-fuels are awesome, and something that we should continue to pursue.  If we continue to look we will ultimately find a breakthrough that could make a real dent in the fuel issues that are present throughout the world.

What I find to be even cooler is the new technology that Boeing is testing.  They call it their Optimal Flight Program.

Planes have been essentially flying themselves through auto-pilot systems for a very long time.  Now Boeing is working to make the planes even smarter by integrating performance data with the flight plan to allow for real-time adjustments reducing the workload on the crew, and improving the efficiency of the aircraft.

As part of that integration, the software will analyze aircraft performance, weather, and other factors to recommend ideal speed variances, and provide more accurate timing predictions.  More accuracy in the data will provide or more efficiency not only in the aircraft, but in the air traffic system as a whole.

After the 26 planned flights take place, Boeing will be working with their partners, TU Delft (Delft University of Technology), John F. Kennedy International Airport, Gander, Shanwick, NATS Domestic and Schiphol Group, to develop new recommended practices and procedures to spread these successes to other users.

It is amazing to me how interwoven the industry is becoming.  Aircraft manufacturers are not just focused on building planes.  They are actively pursuing research that will improve the system as a whole.  Airports, and other partners are teaming up with airlines and aircraft manufacturers to do their part as well.

While the aviation industry is pretty well established in much of the western world, this new technology, and joint effort will become increasingly important in nations where aviation is just starting to takeoff like, Asia and the Pacific Rim, where they simply don’t have the existing infrastructure.

In will be interesting to see the results of this joint venture, and what other technologies and procedures will be developed because of it.

What other joint ventures would you like to see take place?  In what areas do we need to see these companies team up to create meaningful improvements?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

March 9, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Young Girl Taking Her First Ride in an Airplane a Reminder of Where Women of Aviation Week Should be Focusing

Today is International Women’s Day which is closing out Women of Aviation Week.  Two very important events that bring attention to those most wonderful of creatures: women; and an even more special group: female aviators.

There have been all kinds of different events all week that are geared towards getting girls excited about aviation, and recognizing the women that do some much to make aviation an industry where women can grow to their full potential.  The industry would truly be lacking were it not for all of the women involved.

While the video below may not have been specifically designed as an event for Women of Aviation Week, it no doubt had a special impact on that sweet little girl.  This is the kind of stuff that needs to take place if we are to get girls excited about aviation.

It is so awesome to watch her apprehension as they are getting ready to take off, and then how it instantly turns to pure joy at lift-off.  I must say I know exactly how she feels.  I felt the same way on my first flight, and have felt that same feeling over and over again practically every time I fly.

I won’t bore you with anymore commentary, but please take 5 minutes and watch this video.  It nearly brought tears to my eyes thinking about when I will be able to do the same with my daughter some day.

March 8, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Are Airshows Worth the Cost for the Military?

So the sequester is here, and it is already starting to have an impact on the world of aviation.  In fact, some of that impact took place before the sequestration actually hit.  Last week, the Indianapolis Air Show cancelled their show “due to the wide-ranging impact of sequestration.”

Shortly thereafter, the Air Force cancelled not just air shows, but all aviation support at public events.  That includes “tradeshows, flyovers (including funerals and military graduations), orientation flights, heritage flights, F-22 demonstration flights and open houses, unless the event includes only local static assets.”  So unless it is already based at the air show, don’t plan on seeing any Air Force assets at those wonderful airshows we all love.

I love airshows as much or more than the next guy.  I love just being at the airport watching planes land and take-off, so watching aerial demonstrations is that much better.  That being said, I think the Air Force is making a very wise choice, and one that I expect the Navy will follow, though as of right now the Blue Angels’ official website doesn’t mention any cancellations.

When you consider how much these demonstration teams cost, it just makes sense to cancel their shows with the current financial mess that Congress has put us in.  According to the Department of the Navy Budget Estimates for 2013 from the Finance Department the Blue Angels’ budget was approximately $40 million.

Now as a percentage of the Navy’s total budget $40 million is less than 0.1%, which is clearly not very much.  That being said how can you justify sending these crews all over the country putting them up in four and five-star hotels, while at the same time telling other sailors and airmen that they can’t get the training they need to protect our country because it just isn’t in the budget.

As someone who is being directly impacted by the sequester, I am happy to see that the Air Force is capable of making some common sense decisions.  Put me in the group of people who hopes this whole thing is short-lived and we can quickly go back to enjoying the “sights and sounds of freedom” at air shows all over the country, but until we can come up with ways to take care of the airmen, sailors, soldiers, and Marines that are directly supporting the fight, there is no reason for us to be blowing money on extra things.

One could argue that things like air shows and flyovers are important to maintain public support, and aid in recruiting, and I would agree with you.  However, it does no good to garner that support and recruit those people if you have no way of accomplishing the far more important mission that you have been tasked with.

What’s your take?  Do you think we should continue to fund this extra public support while we are having such major budget problems, or is military leadership making a wise choice to cancel these events for the time being?

March 3, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

United Expands BagsVIP Baggage Delivery Service

About a month and a half ago I wrote about a new baggage delivery service that was going to be offered by United Airlines at selected locations.  Well apparently it has been pretty successful because United is expanding this offering to 30 new cities.

According to the press release below, the airline intends to expand the service to all of their destinations, but for now it covers about 80% of their domestic airports.

It is great to see airlines come up with simple, effective, and worthwhile offerings that can turn a profit, and provide a good service for the customer.  Options like this will become increasingly important for airlines that want to turn a profit.

What kind of other simple options would you like to see airlines offer?

United Airlines Expands Baggage Delivery Service


CHICAGO, Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — United Airlines has expanded its new baggage delivery option, enabling customers to skip baggage claim upon arrival and have their checked bags delivered directly to their final destinations – within 100 miles of their arrival airports.

Baggage Delivery by BagsVIP is now available to customers departing from any domestic airport and arriving in 36 cities:








Dallas-Fort Worth


Ft. Lauderdale

Fort Myers




Jackson Hole

Los Angeles



New Orleans

New York/Newark

Orange County


Palm Beach

Palm Springs





Salt Lake City

San Antonio

San Diego

San Francisco



Tampa International

Vail-Eagle County



The airline plans to expand the service to more than 190 domestic airports.

“Following positive customer response after our first month, we’re pleased to expand our baggage delivery service to 30 additional cities,” said Scott Wilson, United’s vice president of merchandising and eCommerce. “Just in time for Spring Break, the service is now available for customers flying on 80 percent of United’s domestic flights.”

Standard rates for bag delivery within a 40-mile radius of the arrival airport are as follows:

1 bag $29.95
2 bags $39.95
3-8 bags $49.95

Delivery is available up to a 100-mile radius for an additional charge that varies by distance. Delivery pricing is in addition to any standard checked-bag charges that might otherwise apply.

Customers can order the service online, or by calling 1-877-847-0045.

Premier Access
Separately, United has begun offering Premier Access benefits for customers interested in speeding their way through the airports.

Customers may now purchase, where available, access to expedited check-in and security checkpoint lanes along with priority boarding, for prices beginning at $9 per segment.

United limits the number of customers who may purchase Premier Access benefits to ensure the benefits are available to the airline’s premier-level frequent flyers and eligible United MileagePlus credit cardmembers including MileagePlus Explorer and Club Visa cardmembers.

About United

United Airlines and United Express operate an average of 5,472 flights a day to 381 airports across six continents. In 2012, United and United Express carried more passenger traffic than any other airline in the world and operated nearly two million flights carrying 140 million customers. United is investing in upgrading its onboard products and now offers more flat-bed seats in its premium cabins and more extra-legroom economy-class seating than any airline in North America. In 2013, United became the first U.S.-based international carrier to offer satellite-based Wi-Fi on long-haul overseas routes. The airline also features DIRECTV® on nearly 200 aircraft, offering customers more live television access than any other airline in the world. United operates nearly 700 mainline aircraft and has made large-scale investments in its fleet. In 2013, United will continue to modernize its fleet by taking delivery of more than two dozen new Boeing aircraft. The company expanded its industry-leading global route network in 2012, launching nine new international and 18 new domestic routes. Business Traveler magazine awarded United Best Airline for North American Travel for 2012, and readers of Global Traveler magazine have voted United’s MileagePlus program the best frequent flyer program for nine consecutive years. United is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 194 countries via 27 member airlines. More than 85,000 United employees reside in every U.S. state and in countries around the world. For more information, visit or follow United on Twitter and Facebook. The common stock of United’s parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the NYSE under the symbol UAL.

I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.