On The Fly...

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A cheap ($100,000) surveillance drone will start service in Iraq this summer. The U.S. Marines have ordered several ScanEagledrones that can linger over a battlefield at up to 16,000 feet while beaming real-time images of the world below. The drones have a 10-foot wingspan and weigh just 33 pounds...

A Virgin Atlantic Airways pilot suspected of being drunk has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Richard G. Harwell pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of interfering with the operation of an aircraft. He was taken off his flight five minutes before departure after security screeners smelled alcohol on his breath. A subsequent breathalyzer showed a reading of 0.11, more than twice the legal limit, but prosecutors couldn't prove he'd actually taken action to control the aircraft...

A whisper-quiet ducted fan replaces the tail rotor on a system developed by Bell Helicopter's XworkX. In a flight at Arlington, Texas, on July 15, observers said the fan was practically inaudible and the pilot reported it worked well for controlling the Bell 407 test bed...

A Canadian water bomber pilot was forced to land on a gravel road in a remote area of Alberta last week after an engine failure on the CL-215 amphibious plane. Highway 88, between Red Earth Creek and Fort Vermilion, about 400 km. north of Edmonton, was closed for two days while the plane was fixed so it could take off.