“CONNIE”

November 21, 2015


One of the most gifted engineers in our nation’s history was Mr. Bill Lear.  Lear was born in Hannibal, Missouri on 26 June 1902 and over a forty-six (46) year time period produced one hundred and twenty (120) patents.  He founded the LearJet Corporation.  The Lear jet is without doubt one of the most beautiful aircraft ever conceived.  From one memorable life came one memorable quote, as follows:

“If an airplane looks like it will fly—it will fly”.

He was talking about profile, lines, curvature while imagining the “slip-stream” created by the leading edges and the flight surfaces.  One other airplane that fits that description is the Lockheed Constellation or “Connie” as the design came to be known.  A remarkably beautiful aircraft.

My very first flight was in 1969. My father, sister and I departed Lovell Field in Chattanooga, Tennessee heading to Atlanta.  We flew to Atlanta in a DC-3, twin engine propeller-driven aircraft.  (I’m sure after death I will have to change planes in Atlanta before arriving in heaven.  Some things never change.)  Moving from arrival gate to departure gate during the very early years of commercial aviation took a minimal amount of time.   The Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was not the city within a city that exists today.  Upon arriving at our departure gate, I saw for the very first time a marvelous aircraft meeting all of the descriptive points Mr. Lear had in mind. Let’s take a look.

LOCKHEED CONSTELLATION:

Lockheel Constellation

The Lockheed Constellation (“Connie”) was a propeller-driven, four-engine airliner built by the Lockheed Corporation between 1943 and 1958 at the Burbank, California Lockheed facilities. The Constellation’s fuselage is shaped like an airfoil to add lift.   It curves upward at the rear to raise the triple tail out of the prop wash and slightly downward at the front so the nose-gear strut did not have to be impossibly long. Lockheed decided that the airplane’s admittedly large propellers needed even more ground clearance than did Douglas or Boeing on their competing transports, which resulted in the Connie’s long, spindly gear legs.

It was known as “the world’s best tri-motor” because it had so many engine failures it often flew on three.  There were large numbers of engine fires during the Constellation’s early development, but many airline pilots flew it for years without ever feathering an engine.

The Constellation was one of the first pressurized airliners with the Boeing 307 Stratoliner being the very first.  Cabin pressurization was absolutely required to improve the service ceiling of commercial aircraft and make flying above the “weather” a very welcome reality.  During WWII it was discovered that flying about 10,000 feet required oxygen to preclude issues with dizziness.  It was no different for commercial flying.

Lockheed built 856 aircraft using numerous model configurations—all with the same triple-tail design and dolphin-shaped fuselage. Most were powered by four 18-cylinder Wright R-3350s. The Constellation was used as a civil airliner and as a military and civil air transport, seeing service in the Berlin Airlift . It was also the presidential aircraft for Dwight D. Eisenhower.   At the present time President Eisenhower’s Air Force One is resting in a field at Marana Regional Airport.   Dubbed Columbine II in honor of the state flower of first lady Mamie Eisenhower’s native Colorado, the plane was state-of-the-art in its time.  It’s a real shame this early version of Air Force One is not on display.

The Constellation’s wing design was close to that of the P-38 Lightning, differing obviously in size.  The triple tail kept the aircraft’s height low enough to fit in existing hangars, while features included hydraulically boosted controls and a de-icing system used on wing and tail leading edges.  The aircraft had a maximum speed of over 375 mph (600 km/h), faster than that of a Japanese Zero fighter, a cruise speed of 340 mph (550 km/h), and a service ceiling of 24,000 ft (7,300 m).  At the time the service ceiling was a significant breakthrough in aviation technology.

According to Anthony Sampson in Empires of the Sky, Lockheed’s Skunk Factory and Kelly Johnson may have undertaken the intricate design, but Howard Hughes’ intercession in the design process drove the concept, shape, capabilities, appearance, and ethos.   These rumors were discredited by Kelly Johnson. Howard Hughes and Jack Frye confirmed that the rumors were not true in a letter in November 1941.

After World War II the Constellation came into its own as a very fast civil airliner. Aircraft already in production for the USAAF as C-69 transports were finished as civil airliners, with TWA receiving the first on 1 October 1945. TWA’s first transatlantic proving flight departed Washington, DC, on December 3, 1945, arriving in Paris on December 4 via Gander, Nova Scotia and Shannon, Ireland.

Trans World Airlines transatlantic service started on February 6, 1946 with a New York-Paris flight in a Constellation. On June 17, 1947 Pan American World Airways opened the first ever scheduled round-the-world service with their L-749 Clipper America. The famous flight “Pan Am 1” operated until 1982.

As the first pressurized airliner in widespread use, the Constellation helped to usher in affordable and comfortable air travel. Operators of Constellations included the following airlines:

CABIN:

For its time, the cabin represented the ultimate in luxury with comfort and room to spare.

Cabin

Cabin (2)

Maybe someone can comment on a statement I have heard more than once.  In the early days of commercial aviation, all of the cabin crew had to be registered nurses.  Do you know if that is a fact?

COCKPIT:

Notice from the digital below, all of the flight systems were analogue. No digital in those days.  Also notice, the aircraft was meant to be managed by a three-man flight crew; i.e. pilot-in-command, co-pilot and flight engineer or navigator.  The right side of the cockpit was designed for a navigator.

Cockpit

Two fairly large fans, one left and one right, kept the flight crew reasonably comfortable.

Times have certainly changed from my first flight in 1969.  No more analogue or two-man flight crew and now air travel is the “new” Greyhound.  It’s affordable, at least to some degree.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Advertisements

WINGS OVER NORTH GEORGIA

November 14, 2015


I don’t really know when my love for aviation began but I am sure it was very early in life.  As a kid, I built tens of plastic airplane models.  My biggest challenge was the “Spruce Goose”; eight engines, four per wing.  I discovered that painting and decal “fixing” was my biggest and most time-consuming chore.   I’ve sniffed enough Testors glue to classify as a junkie.   I would then carefully display the models in my room either hanging from the ceiling, always in attack mode for the fighters, or positioned squarely on a shelf available for all to see.

Later on, I graduated to “U” controlled balsa wood models.   I realize this takes most of you way back so I’ve included a JPEG of a “U” controlled plane.  As you can see, the planes are tethered by two wires, each controlling the vertical climb/dive motion of the aircraft.  The control is a hand-held plastic or wooden “U” device shown by the second JPEG.

U-Controlled Airplane

U- Flight

As you can see, the wires are attached to the upper and lower “U”.  The “pilot” will rock the controller to facilitate climb and descent motion.

We loved to dog fight these balsa wood planes.  You do that by tying streamers to both wings, then have at it.  Both pilots stand back to back, crank the engines and have at it.  The first one to cut the streamer of the other is obviously the winner.

Then came remote-controlled model airplanes.  This was the third phase in the development of flying models.  By that time, I was attending my university so I missed out on this fun-filled activity.  Too little time and too little money.  After graduation, I was commissioned into the United States Air Force.  You get the picture.  I’m a real fan.

Several weeks ago, I attended the “Wings Over North Georgia” air show in Rome, Georgia.  It was a miserable, rainy, cold, muddy day but we enjoyed every minute of it.  The next slides will illustrate the day and the airplanes we saw.  The “feature” event was an F-22 Raptor.  This is one beautiful machine.  Let’s take a look at several “heavier-than-air-aircraft” on display that day.

OSPREY

Ospery

I told you it was wet.  I had never seen an Osprey before and after seeing the cockpit, it’s the real deal. Let’s take a look.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is an American multi-mission, tilt-rotor military aircraft with both a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.

The V-22 originated from the United States Department of Defense Joint-service Vertical take-off/landing Experimental (JVX) aircraft program started in 1981. The team of Bell Helicopter and Boeing Helicopters was awarded a development contract in 1983 for the tilt-rotor aircraft. The Bell Boeing team jointly produced the aircraft.  The V-22 first flew in 1989, and began flight testing and design alterations; the complexity and difficulties of being the first tilt-rotor intended for military service in the world led to many years of development.

The United States Marine Corps began crew training for the Osprey in 2000, and fielded it in 2007; it supplemented and then replaced their Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knights. The Osprey’s other operator, the U.S. Air Force, fielded their version of the tilt-rotor in 2009. Since entering service with the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force, the Osprey has been deployed in transportation and medivac operations over Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Kuwait.  A better look with the aircraft going from VTOL to level flight is given as follows:

OSPREY IN FLIGHT

C-17

One other aircraft on display was the C-17 Globemaster transport.  The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft. It was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas. The C-17 carries forward the name of two previous piston-engine military cargo aircraft, the Douglas C-74 Globemaster and the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. The C-17 commonly performs strategic airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo throughout the world; additional roles include tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop duties.

Boeing, which merged with McDonnell Douglas in the 1990s, continued to manufacture C-17s for export customers following the end of deliveries to the U.S. Air Force. Aside from the United States, the C-17 is in service with the United KingdomAustraliaCanadaQatarUnited Arab EmiratesNATO Heavy Airlift WingIndia, and Kuwait. The final C-17 was completed in May 2015. Let’s take a look.

C-17. Todd and Bob(3)

OK, so I’m not the HULK, but this thing is huge.  I’m the one in the yellow rain jacket and you can see how “petite” my buddy Todd and I are in comparison to this monster.   The following JPEG is courtesy of the USAF and will show the internal size of the C-17.

C-17 Internal

I told you it was big.

F-22 Raptor

I don’t have any JPEGs of the Raptor I took personally.  There was a four-hour delay due to weather and the Raptor made a low-level run to demonstrate maneuvering capabilities.  The JPEGs below were obtained (again) from the USAF.  I can tell you from witnessing the flight, it has impressive sharp-turn capabilities and deserves to be called state-of-the-art.

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force (USAF). The result of the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities including ground attackelectronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles.  Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor and was responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems, and final assembly of the F-22, while program partner Boeing provided the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems.

The aircraft was variously designated F-22 and F/A-22 prior to formally entering service in December 2005 as the F-22A. Despite a protracted development as well as operational issues, the USAF considers the F-22 a critical component of its tactical air power, and states that the aircraft is unmatched by any known or projected fighter.  The Raptor’s combination of stealth, aerodynamic performance, and situational awareness gives the aircraft unprecedented air combat capabilities

The high cost of the aircraft, a lack of clear air-to-air missions due to delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs, a ban on exports, and development of the more versatile and lower cost F-35 led to the end of F-22 production.   A final procurement tally of 187 operational production aircraft was established in 2009 and the last F-22 was delivered to the USAF in 2012.

F-22 Raptor

The Raptor cockpit is a digital marvel.  Please note the “heads-up” display.

F-22 Raptor Cockpit

There were other aircraft on display including several that would qualify as “oldies-but-goodies”.  The most impressive was the B-25 bomber.  It was in pristine condition and flew to the air show from its “home” in Arizona.  Unfortunately, it left the show before I had time to make a picture.  We frequently had to duck for cover during several periods of driving rain.  Good day—but wet day.

Hope you enjoy this one.  As always, I welcome your comments.

MOBILE SECURITY

November 2, 2015


The holiday season is fast approaching and that means shopping for gifts and holiday buying.  It’s difficult to imagine another year is just about in the bag.

For the first time in history, the majority of holiday shopping will be accomplished on-line; shoppers turning to their mobile devices to browse and purchase items for family and friends.   According to the National Retail Federation, forty percent (40%) of consumers used their Smartphones to make purchasing decisions in 2014 during the holiday season.  This trend is now known as mobile commerce or m-commerce.  Smartphones will, for the most part, be their device of choice for this activity.  According to Adobe, one-third of the holiday sales will be consummated online.  This blows my mind but certainly follows trends solidly established in our country and over the world. People LOVE their Smartphones.   Let’s take a quick look:

  • Total online sales are up eleven percent (11%) from last year and e-commerce using mobile devices is projected to be eighty-three billion dollars ($83 billion) by the end of this year.
  • Cyber Monday is projected to produce three billion dollars ($3 billion) in sales alone.
  • The average Internet shopper will spend $305.00 in November and December alone. This is an all-time record for online mobile shopping.
  • Shopping by mobile device is estimated to be one trillion dollars ($1 trillion) by the year 2019. This represents a thirty-eight percent (38%) growth rate.
  • According to Master Card, more than one-quarter of the global community will use Smartphone in 2015 for browsing and on-line purchases.

This trend is producing significant identify theft and outright fraud.  Thieves hacking into mobile devices and scams being perpetrated against on-line users, but there are processes that can be accomplished to minimize and even eliminate mobile fraud.  The list may be somewhat commonsense but bears producing.

  • Look for indicators that a retailer’s website is secure, such as a lock icon on the status bar or a web address beginning with http://
  • Use caution when shopping on a Wi-Fe hot spot. If you are on an unsecured network, other users can see what you see and what you send.
  • Remember that if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Know the seller before you commit to purchase.
  • Do not click on pop-up ads or links in unsolicited e-mails.
  • Do not provide personal information via e-mail. Instead, call the business at the number given on their web site to confirm the request.
  • Consider checking your accounts on-line periodically to make sure you can spot any fraudulent activity. (Do this frequently.)
  • Make sure your phone is password protected. Use strong passwords, and change them frequently.
  • Make sure the virus scan detection software on your Smartphone is current.
  • Use a find-your-phone app to recover a lost Smartphone. There are several instances of Smartphones being recovered even due to theft.
  • Disable automatic connections from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
  • Be very careful of vendors you do not know or recognize. Before purchase, check them out.
  • Beware of the “package tracking scam.” The e-mail looks like it’s from the U.S. Postal Service — but it’s not. The email says you missed a delivery but, if you print the attached form and take it to your local post office; you can pick up your package and avoid penalties. The message might also include a link for more details. OK, here’s the truth: the email is bogus and there is no package. And if you download the attachment or click on a link, you’re likely to end up with a virus or malware on your device. Con artists often use the names and logos of familiar organizations to get under your guard. So how do you tell what’s legit and what’s a scam? Here are some ways to spot a bogus email:
    • It tells you to click on a link or download an attachment
    • It urges you to take immediate action
    • It asks you to “re-confirm” personal or financial information
    • Another sure sign an email is a scam? If you hover over the link in the email, it won’t show the official website of the supposed sender — in this case, the U.S. Postal Service website.
  • Only install trusted apps on your Smartphone and mobile device. Check them out prior to installation.
  • Stop advertisers from tracking you. Both Apple and Android have recently introduced new ways for advertisers to deliver targeted ads to us. This sounds like bad news, but the good part is that, given widespread consumer outrage on the issues, both companies have shown backbone and designed the new protocols to keep the data anonymous and to make it easier for individuals to opt out from tracking. If you’re an iPhone user, you need to go into Settings, then click Privacy, and then scroll all the way down to Advertising. You’ll see a button labeled says, “Limit ad tracking.” If it’s not showing a green color, click the button so that it shows green. This will stop ad companies from tracking what you do with your phone and serving up targeted ads.  Right underneath that, incidentally, you’ll see the “Reset Advertising Identifier.” Clicking on that will zero out the anonymous identifier as relates to your personal data. To trackers, you will then appear to be a new user. Now let’s go to Android. The new Google “AdID” system has similar intents – and is similarly difficult to find. Here, you don’t go to your Android phone settings, but your Google Settings app. Look for the Ads link. There, as with the iPhone, you’ll be able both to reset your advertising ID and click on a box to “opt out of interest based ads.”
  • Wipe your old phone before donating or selling. (This is big—don’t forget.)
  • None of the on-line vendors require your social security number or your birthdate to consummate a purchase. Don’t give it to them.

I certainly hope all of your shopping, holiday and otherwise, is less than challenging and you have no issues with identify theft and fraud.  Take care and as always, I welcome your comments.

%d bloggers like this: