Also worth a look, if you want to riffle selectively through two hours of previously live-streamed footage, is this long YouTube segment from New China TV. There are several interesting views of the C919 taxying and the maiden flight itself.
1 May 1960 is the anniversary of Francis Gary Powers being shot down somewhere over the Soviet Union in his U-2A by what I call a SAM-2 and everyone else calls an S-75. I assumed the event took place earlier in the year and have to thank my regular engagements with Bryan Swopes’ blog for reminding me. Funnily enough I mentioned the U-2 incident to my American History class last week. Every so often I get close to an anniversary like this, but mostly it’s coincidence. In March 2014 I happened to hit the 70th Anniversary of the “Great Escape” and subjected my class to a few minutes of Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough.
I had a quick riffle through the pages of Wikipedia to find a Public Domain picture of an original U-2 and read briefly that another U-2 was shot down during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I didn’t managed to teach that part and will have to look it up. I will also have refresh myself on the clandestine overflights that were carried out by Canberras and RB-45s flown by RAF aircrews (and the RB-45s had RAF markings) a few years previously.
Many years ago I saw a TR-2 (I think it was) derivative of the U-2 climbing out of RAF Alconbury and watched as best I could while I was driving down the M11 Motorway at the time. I believe I did see the NMUSAF example (basking in the sun in the picture above) at Dayton some years ago. I’m looking forward to going again sometime soon.
After a lot of noises being made offstage about my long-term history project, which I haven’t touched for some considerable time, it’s become apparent that now is the time to do something.
Well, it’s back.
Despite having burned a couple of good domain names with the deletion of the Blogspot blog and my complete ineptness with an early version of the WordPress platform, the “Joplin’s Bomber” blog is back again. This time it’s https://joplinjalopyblog.wordpress.com/
I’m hoping that what I’ve learned about blogging, WordPress and historical research may prove beneficial in the time ahead.
There isn’t much there right now (you wouldn’t believe the machinations I’ve been through in terms of styles, templates, layouts – or if you know WordPress, maybe you do – and I’m cheap so I’m using all the free stuff) but I hope I’ll be getting some more of my eleven-year old research back into some useful form in the pages of the site.
Reading the BBC news as I do for news of the Old Country I happened to see this article http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39747042 “Plane in UK’s first double-drone near-miss case” In which an A320 approaching London Heathrow last November reported having been in close proximity with not one but two drones. This is the first reported occasion that two drones have compromised the safety of an aircraft in UK airspace. The fact that the Airbus was at approximately 5,000 (five thousand) feet on its approach makes the actions of the drone operators even less explicable, since under UK law done operators are expected to restrict their flights to an altitude of 400 feet.
The article mentions the UK Airprox Board so I thought I would have a look at their website. https://www.airproxboard.org.uk/home/ As the website says” “Airprox occurrences are near accidents, and the mission of the UKAB is: “To enhance Air Safety through prevention of airborne conflict and mid-air collision”. As part of this mission, a key role is to champion, contribute and communicate an understanding of Airprox causes and mid-air collision risks amongst the wider aviation community.”
Reading the report summaries for March 2017 https://www.airproxboard.org.uk/Reports-and-analysis/Monthly-summaries/2017/Monthly-Meeting-March-2017/ I am amazed at the number of reported incidents overall, and I am very concerned that the last five or so incidents involve both commercial and military aircraft coming into conflict with drones or models. Some of the other reports are disturbingly interesting, such as the unidentified model aircraft that narrowly missed an RAF Chinook when it flew above the low-flying helicopter (both pilots missed it, only a crewman observed the 1-meter white model passing above them). Also noteworthy is the interaction between an RAF Hawk and two “Foreign Military” (less than three guesses required) F-15s over the Vale of York in November 2016.
When I feel inclined, I may look to see what similar mechanism exists in the USA.
Having mentioned Shooting Script the other day, I naturally picked up my slightly tattered paperback once I’d finished Gray Eagles.
Shooting Script is a different proposition from Gray Eagles. Gavin Lyall wrote it in 1966 following a stint flying Meteors in the RAF while doing his National Service, and following a career as a journalist which he gave up to write full-time.
Lyall always seemed to choose heroes with monosyllabic masculine names and the main protagonist in Shooting Script is no exception. Keith Carr is a former RAF pilot and veteran of the Korean War. He affects an amusingly world-weary wise-cracking style reminiscent of Raymond Chandler’s private eyes. We meet him flying from Jamaica to Puerto Rico in his slightly tatty De Havilland Dove, and watch him being “bounced” by two Vampire fighters. It transpires that the military Junta running a small Spanish-speaking island nation, the Republica Libra has just purchased twelve Vampires. “I hadn’t known the Republica owned any jet fighters, not even seventeen-year-old ones.” Carr says on the first page.After a series of adventures in which he meets a fellow Korean War veteran, an Australian fighter pilot now flying those very same Vampires for the Republica as a mercenary, Carr returns to Jamaica and is hired to fly a camera plane for a semi-legendary Hollywood actor making a South American revolution movie (provisionally titled Bolivar Smith) on location in and around Jamaica. The camera plane the company purchases turns out to be a seriously dilapidated B-25 which has served in several South American air forces since its retirement from the United States. Carr is amused to see the faint outlines of some American nose-art which suggests the B-25 saw squadron service in the USAAF somewhere as “Beautiful Dreamer”
It is of course all much more complicated. The film star has assets frozen in the Republica and wants to recover them. Carr’s flying pupil (also hired by the company) turns out to be the wastrel son of the revolutionary leader who intended to “borrow” the B-25 and use it to drop a few bombs on the Vampires to aid the revolutionary cause. You can see where this is going. Our hero ends up flying the bombing raid, has a showdown with the Australian mercenary (both in the air and on the ground) and after several tense scenes, everything turns out happily.
As I said about Gray Eagles, don’t get me wrong. It’s a nicely written thriller that is amusing and credible, and the book led to many happy hours flying my simulated B-25 around the Caribbean in the Days of Microsoft Flight Simulator 98. I also think that even now Shooting Script would make a decent film, especially given the plethora of L-29s and L-39s which could sub nicely for the Vampires. The B-25 would be fine as is.
Don’t just take my word for it. Go and have a look. If you’re in the mood, also have a look at a couple of his other novels featuring Major Harry Maxim, once of the SAS, and now attached for various reasons to 10 Downing Street in the closing days of the Cold War. These are: The Secret Servant (1980), The Conduct of Major Maxim (1982), The Crocus List (1985), and Uncle Target (1988).
Gavin Lyall died in 2003 having written fifteen novels and two non-fiction works.
My fault. Mostly just getting caught up with the daily life of an adjunct professor and occasionally doing some teaching. We’re into the 1960s next week, which means about three weeks of the semester remains and then into the long-ish summer break. I do have a little prep work for the Fall Semester, in which I assume I’m still teaching.
In the meantime. I want to pause and remember that we have just passed the 20th Anniversary of the crash of ATL-98 Carvair N83FA in Griffin, Georgia on April 4th. On that day I actually did sit back for a moment and took a moment for prayer and reflection. I never for a moment imagined that a blog article which was born from reading a John Le Carre novel and thinking “huh?” would generate so much interest. Looking at the WordPress statistics for the blog, it always seems to get a couple of hits most weeks. I was touched and honored to have received comments from Kris Whittington, son of pilot Larry Whittington who was killed in the crash of N83FA, and recently Vanessa Presley, who as a child in Griffin saw and heard the crash and who suffers from the after effects to this day. My deepest thanks to everyone who contributed to expand a little piece of aviation history here.
My research project, the history of B-24J-1-FO 42-50535 “Joplin Jalopy” got a boost this month. For some reason an article appeared in the Joplin Globe a couple of weeks ago (which I have managed not to read) but which, I am told, listed the correct number of operations the Jalopy flew. This would then indicate that someone read some of the research material I forked over to the globe in 2006. Shortly afterwards I received an email from Ray Foreman from KODE12 TV in Joplin (Hi Ray!) who had seen my January 2016 post commemorating the anniversary of the start of the now defunct “Joplin’s Bomber” blog. Apart from being a military aviation history enthusiast Ray has some connection with the Joplin Civil Air Patrol so I hope to have a chat with him, and them in the near future. This has been a timely prod not to let all that information go to waste.
I was relating all of this to one of my colleagues at Pittsburg State who then said “you ought to write this up for a journal article” (in one of the local academic journals) , so given a long enough period of rest I may actually do that.
In the meantime I will continue to be fascinated by little snippets that float into my field of vision from the world of aviation.
5th March 1936, first flight of K5054 the Supermarine Type 300 Spitfire prototype, or so the common theory says.
Jeffrey Quill in his book Spitfire: A Test Pilot’s Story is adamant that the first flight actually took place on 6th March, because he flew Vickers’ Miles Falcon G-ADTD from Brooklands to Martlesham Heath, picking up Captain Joseph “Mutt” Summers (Vickers’ Chief Test Pilot) and transporting him to Eastleigh for the flight. Quill also says he gave brief joyrides to Major H.J Payn, R.J Mitchell’s Technical Assistant, and Stuart Scott-Hall, Air Ministry technical officer in place at Supermarine. They were also at Eastleigh for the first flight. It doesn’t help that Dr. Alfred Price when preparing Spitfire: A Complete Fighting History, quoted an account sheet with a note, hand written by Mitchell updating a line from “Not yet flown” to “Flew 5 Mar 36.”
While we’re in uncertain territory, what did “Mutt” Summers say when he landed K5054 after that first flight? Quill says he said “I don’t want anything touched” which has been widely misquoted (the Wikipedia article says he said “Don’t touch anything”). Bryan Swopes in This Day in Aviation quotes him as saying “Don’t change a thing!” People wonder why I like being a history teacher. What one person said in front of a group of witnesses 81 years ago is a matter of debate and interpretation. Perhaps in the future our record keeping will be better, but somehow I doubt that important speeches and sayings will ever be clearly recorded or remembered.
I’m inclined to agree with Quill who says it’s unlikely that after a test flight of a few minutes in which he didn’t even retract the undercarriage, that Summers thought the aircraft was perfect and didn’t need any refinement. It’s much more likely he didn’t want anyone fiddling with the aircraft before he flew it again.
Wherever the truth lies, at least we know how the story developed.