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February 22 in Aviation History

On this day in aviation history we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first flight of what is now one of the most iconic airliners in aviation history.  On February 22, 1987, the Airbus A320 took to the skies for the very first time.  The A320 was developed as a direct competitor for the wildly successful Boeing 737 and McDonnel Douglas DC-9.  The plan from the very beginning was to have a multiple variant family of aircraft to challenge in this highly competitive market, which would be realized in the later development of the A321, A319, and A318.

The A320 was the first airliner to utilize fly-by-wire technology meaning the aircraft controls would be manipulated electronically rather than by cables, pulleys, or hydraulic systems.  It also utilizes a side joystick control as opposed to the traditional yoke seen on other aircraft.

In recent years, the A320 has found increased efficiency through the offering of a new engine option, or NEO, as well as blended winglets known as sharklets, which have also been retrofitted on older aircraft.

Apparently February 22 is a great day for an aircraft to take its first flight as the A320 shares the date of its maiden voyage with the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 in 1993, the Sukhoi Su-25 in 1975, the Convair R3Y Tradewind in 1954, and the de Havilland DH.60 Moth in 1925.  This was also the date of the launch of OPS 5111, a name you may not recognize but would now find it hard to live without.  OPS 5111, also known as NAVSTAR-1, was the first satellite launched as part of the Global Positioning System on February 22, 1978

 

February 21, 2018 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.

The Final Flight of a C-130H: The End of an Era

Tail #2070 served her country well for over 40 years.

Tail #2070 served her country well for over 40 years.

I had a bit of an interesting experience this week that I don’t think most people ever really get.  I had the opportunity to be a part of the crew that took a plane on its very last flight.  With the development of the C-130J it is quickly replacing the older, and better, C-130H.  Yeah, I know, I’m biased.

Many of the older planes have gone to National Guard units around the country to finish out their service lives.  However, there are a couple of planes that have finished their flying lives and need to be taken to their final resting place.

The disappointing part was that none of us knew this was the planes’ last flight, or fini flight, as we like to call them.  Had we known I would have come prepared with my good camera and not left you with these weak images from my phone, but I did what I could.

It really was an honor for me to crew this plane on its last mission.  That aircraft served for 40 years in all corners of the globe performing an incredible variety of missions.  I don’t know any specifics, but it is reasonable to assume that it carried Soldiers and Marines to critical missions that brought freedom to people in all different countries.  It likely carried young men and women that were injured in battle to a hospital that saved their lives.

In the case of those that weren’t so lucky, it likely performed that most sacred mission of returning them to their loved ones draped in the colors that they sacrificed everything for.

This tail flash will never fly through the air again, but her legacy will live on in the hearts of those who flew her.

This tail flash will never fly through the air again, but her legacy will live on in the hearts of those who flew her.

It hurts my soul a little to think about these great pieces of machinery having their careers come to an end, but they served their country well, and in the case of this plane, tail #2070, it will continue to serve on the ground for another couple of years.  You see, we passed it off to one of the Air Force’s test and evaluation squadrons where it will aid in developing various different products and processes that will make the planes still flying safer and more effective.

It really made me stop and think about how cool my job is.  I fly a historic plane that has served our country, and many others, for 60 years now.  I get paid to fly in the footsteps of real heroes.  It is truly a privilege to try in some small way to carry on the heritage that they left us with.

While most people will never have the opportunity that I did, nor will I likely ever do it again, we all have the opportunity to keep their heritage alive by visiting aviation museums, and by listening to the stories of those who flew these amazing aircraft.  Most of us have at least a little bit of aviation history in our own backyards if we only look.

I would encourage you to look around and see what you might find, and please share it with the rest of us because that is the only real way to keep aviation history alive.

October 29, 2014 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.

Local Airports are a Dying Breed, and It is a Tragedy

Small local airports are one of the fun things about aviation.  With all of the advances in technology, they are the place where aviation’s roots can still be found.  It is where stories are shared amongst people who simply love aviation.

While it can be hard to put into words the value of such an airport, Krista Ramsey of Cincinnati.com wrote a wonderful piece about the Blue Ash Airport near Cincinnati that is scheduled to close in June.

I don’t know the dynamics of that specific situation, but it is a tragedy to me that we are losing these sites.  There is really no way to quantify their value to a  community.  If you base it strictly on dollars and cents then keeping the airport really doesn’t make much sense, but if you consider overall value then there is no way small airports like this should close.

Aviation has lost its romantic luster in modern days, and it is a real pity.  We need these little airports that bring aviation into everyday life for so many people.  They provide experiences that could never be had at JFK, LAX, or O’Hare.

Please share your experiences at small airports so that we can keep these amazing sites alive, if not in reality, at least in our hearts and minds.

April 3, 2012 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.