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Volume 25, Number 41c
October 12, 2018
 
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Crew Rescued After Russian ISS Launch Fails (Updated)
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

A Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut were recovered unharmed early Thursday after the Soyuz booster they were aboard on a launch to the International Space Station failed. The failure put the MS-10 capsule into a ballistic trajectory and it and the crew were recovered 200 miles east of the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch point, NASA said early Thursday.

The space agency said American Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin weren’t injured and crews reached them shortly after the booster malfunctioned at an undisclosed altitude 123 seconds into the launch sequence. The capsule separated and recovered in a ballistic trajectory that the Russian space agency said exposed the crew to about 6.7 G's. The recovery parachutes deployed normally.

The Soyuz system has a long history of reliable launches. The last failure of a manned Soyuz launch was in 1983 when a booster exploded. Cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov separated the capsule and landed safely near the launchpad. More recently, in 2011,  an uncrewed Soyuz-U on a supply mission to the ISS crashed after failing to reach orbit. The Soyuz-U was retired last year and the FG model is still used to ferry astronauts to the ISS. Three crew are currently aboard the station and were due to return in December. That mission will now be postponed until early next year, space officials said.

Yes, Dorothy, I've Had a Heart Attack
 
Paul Berge
 

I’ve been wrong about so many things, so I’m announcing that I’ve seen the flashing lights at the bottleneck in the tunnel-of-irony and am changing my ways. Everything I thought I knew about leading a healthy pilot’s life is, apparently, wrong. This occurred to me while staring up at the ER’s fluorescent lights—one was flickering; where the hell’s the janitor?—and contemplating the elephant, not only in the room, but squatting on my chest. I’d suffered a heart attack. Here’s the backstory. (This might get boring so feel free to switch to the video of the kayaker getting slapped with an octopus).

I’m 64, the age a young Paul McCartney made cloyingly serene in his 1967 song about life’s sunset images. Screw that. To me, 64 was going along just fine with little time for relaxation or mindless reflection. I’d been busy flight-instructing, writing, exercising and doing the healthy stuff old guys are supposed to do while avoiding everything we’d like to do. I’m a vegetarian; have been for 25 years. I avoid sugar, refined flour, Ben Affleck movies—yeah, possibly unrelated to cardio health, but, really, Pearl Harbor? C’mon. I don’t smoke, despite writing cigarettes into my novels, because they’re set in the gauzy past when everyone—no exceptions—smoked. Donna Reed smoked! James Stewart! Everyone, including me when I was a teenager in the Army. Thought I looked cool. I didn’t.

Gradually, I took up the smug healthy lifestyle of eating well, exercising and pretending I like NPR pledge drives. I don’t. I was doing it all right to the point of passing on everything served at fly-in pancake breakfasts, which are composed of everything humans should never eat. My healthier-than-y’all card was punched, and I was looking forward to striding my ideal BMI into age 65 with ego held high, a pretentious example of living and flying right.

Then: Pow! Reality came in through the bathroom window—to fair-use glean another McCartney theme—and reminded me just how insignificant my golden-years plans could be. I thought I had a cold, albeit a really bad one, so as a good instructor I set the noble example and grounded myself for a few days. The cold abated, leaving behind an annoying cough and accompanying chest pain (DING! DING! DING!), which I attributed to the cold. Le Grand Delusion had begun. I flew, again, and felt fine. Being aloft has always been a cure-all for earthly infirmities. I was back in action, although I had to admit running a bit tired at the end of the day—from the cold, of course. (Insert DAS Boat Alarm here.)

After two days, I awoke at 2 a.m., alone. My wife was in Turkey; I can’t make this stuff up. I had a belt-tightening pain across my chest and pressing between my shoulder blades. Plus, I couldn’t breathe so well. That darn cold. (Ah, Houston, we have a problem … this guy’s an idiot ...) Next day, fine. A bit tired, but fine. Another day of flying, another night of cold-induced chest pain, and I finally decided to see the doctor, who listened patiently to my diagnosis but insisted on forming her own, based on facts, including what I thought to be a pointless EKG and overly aggressive blood work.

The EKG results were suspicious, but blood results later that day, conclusive. So, like William Holden floating face down, dead, in Norma Desmond’s swimming pool in Sunset Boulevard, we return, now, to the scene of me, as played by me, on the ER gurney staring faced-up at the cold, flickering reality of my grade B horror movie, The Cold That Masked The Heart Attack.

Forty-five years of flying sank like a U-boat with a ruptured hull from a merciless depth charge that I couldn’t detect, despite the warnings. I didn’t want to detect them. I’d considered myself healthy and leading the whole-grain good life, even ate kale despite hating it. Didn’t matter. The invisible destroyer had me on its sonar.

One angioplasty and two FAA/PMA-unapproved stents later, my heart’s pumping fine, and, like Hope & Crosby, I’m on the Road To Special Issuance, along which I’ll no doubt meet and best amusing FAA bureaucratic obstacles, sing a few songs and, like Bob & Bing, I’ll take up smoking and find a happy ending with Dorothy Lamour and endless sequels to follow. Hey, I tried responsible living, but it seems that was a fantasy. Pass the pork rinds.

Pentagon Grounds F-35s
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

The Pentagon temporarily grounded the United States’ F-35 fleet on Thursday after the discovery of defective fuel tubes in an F-35 engine. The findings come from the initial investigation into the crash of an F-35B in late September. Israel and the UK have also paused F-35 flights as a result.

“The U.S. Services and international partners have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations while the enterprise conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft,” said the F-35 Joint Program Office in a statement. “If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.” According to the statement, the inspections are expected to be completed in the next 24 to 48 hours.

The accident that revealed the potential problem took place near Beaufort, South Carolina, on Sept. 28. The pilot was able to safely eject, but the aircraft was destroyed. The accident was the first operational loss of an F-35 and occurred just a day after the model’s first-ever combat mission. The crash investigation is ongoing.

Picture of the Week, October 11, 2018
 
 
Had a trip over to RAF Lakenheath to see the F-22s and all of these F/A-18s rolled out. I used a Canon EOS1D MKIII with Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens. Copyrighted photo by Shaun Brown.

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Record-Breaker Darryl Greenamyer Passes Away
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Air-racer, record-setter and test pilot Darryl Greenamyer died last week at the age of 82. He started his flying career with the Air Force Reserve. After leaving the Air Force, Greenamyer became an SR-71 test pilot for Lockheed's—now Lockheed Martin—Skunk Works.

Greenamyer competed in the Reno Air Races for nearly 40 years, winning 11 championships in multiple classes, including a five-straight-year winning streak in the Unlimited class beginning with his first victory in 1965. In 1969 after multiple attempts, he set a new 3-kilometer piston-engine speed record (FAI Class C-1 Group I) of 776.45 km/h (482.46 mph/419.25 kts) in his modified F8F Bearcat, Conquest I. The previous record of 755.14 km/h (469.22 mph/407.74 kts) was set in 1939.

In 1977, Greenamyer set a 3-kilometer jet aircraft speed record (FAI Class C-I Group III) with Red Baron, a modified F-104 Starfighter he spent 13 years rebuilding from scrapped F-104s. His record of 1,590.45 km/h (988.26 mph/ 858.77 kts) still stands. The following year while preparing for an attempt at setting a jet altitude record, a gear failure on a test flight forced Greenamyer to eject from the aircraft. The F-104 was destroyed in the crash.

Greenamyer was also known for leading the restoration team that attempted to recover Kee Bird, a B-29 that was abandoned in 1947 in northern Greenland after an emergency landing. The team was able to return the aircraft to flying condition over the summers of 1994 and 1995. However, a fire caused by the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit while Greenamyer was taxiing the restored B-29 for its first takeoff forced the crew to evacuate. Firefighting efforts were unsuccessful and Kee Bird was destroyed.

In 2002, Greenamyer brought his kit-built Lancair Legacy to Reno to compete in the Sport class. He took home gold that year and kept the top spot for the next three years as well. He is considered the third most successful competitor in Reno Air Race history.

One Aviation Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
 
Mary Grady
 
 

One Aviation has “entered into a consensual restructuring,” the company said in a news release on Wednesday, and has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company has secured financing that will enable it to maintain its normal operations and plan for the future, according to the release. “The path to this outcome has been long and difficult,” said CEO Alan Klapmeier. “The management team appreciates the generous support it has received from its employees, service providers, suppliers and customers throughout the process.”

Development of the EA700 Canada—an upgraded version of the Eclipse EA500 twinjet, with more range and faster cruise—will continue, and the company said it also will continue to provide service, maintenance and upgrades to the existing fleet of EA500 and EA550 jets. The company didn’t announce any plans for the Kestrel turboprop, and Klapmeier has not responded to AVweb’s request for more details.

The company’s financial problems over recent years have been widely reported. Earlier this year, the company was behind on its hangar rental fees in Albuquerque, and downsized from three hangars to one. Previously, its operations in Maine, in support of the Kestrel turboprop, were shut down, and jobs were cut from both Kestrel and Eclipse staff.

Bruce Whitman Dead At 85
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Bruce Whitman, chairman, president, and CEO of FlightSafety International, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 85. Whitman joined the U.S. Air Force after graduating from Connecticut’s Trinity College in 1955, earning ratings as a pilot, navigator and bombardier before being appointed Assistant to the Commander at Homestead Air Force Base in 1957. He started at FlightSafety International in 1961 and was promoted to CEO in 2003.

“All of us with FlightSafety are deeply saddened by Bruce’s passing …” read a statement from the company. “We are deeply indebted to Bruce for his many contributions to the aviation industry, his service in the United States Air Force, support of our veterans and those who currently serve, his contributions to Orbis International, and dedication to educate and foster patriotism among young people. We are thankful for his outstanding leadership of FlightSafety and especially for his friendship, guidance, and vision.”

Whitman served in many advisory and leadership positions in aviation groups including the National Business Aircraft Association, Flight Safety Foundation, National Air Transport Association’s Air Charter Safety Foundation, General Aviation Manufacturers Association and National Aeronautic Association. He was Chairman Emeritus of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and a Director Emeritus of the Civil Air Patrol and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. He was awarded the Living Legends of Aviation Lifetime Aviation Industry Leader Award in 2013.

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Podcast: EAA's Sean Elliott Explains LSA Weight Increase Proposal
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

The FAA’s just-revealed report that it would consider raising the light sport aircraft limit from 1320 pounds to 3600 pounds is just a proposed talking point and any rule is at least a year and a half away, according to EAA. And no, the 3600-pound figure isn’t a typo nor confusion over kilogram conversion, as some have speculated. In this AVweb podcast, EAA's Sean Elliott explains the details of the new proposal.

Branson: Space Launch Expected Within Weeks
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Virgin Galactic should be in space “within weeks, not months,” CEO Richard Branson told CNBC this week. He added that he expects to fly to space himself “in months and not years,” and customers will be in space “not too long after that.” Virgin Galactic pilots have been flight-testing VSS Unity, with the aim to carry passengers up to 100 km, or about 62 miles, above the Earth. So far, the craft has flown to about half that altitude.

Branson also told CNBC there is plenty of consumer demand to justify Virgin’s commercial space-launch efforts. "If I have a room full of 10 people, eight out of 10 would love to go to space if they could afford it,” he said. "So I think the market for people who would love to become astronauts and go to space is gigantic. And it is up to us to produce as many spaceships as we can to cater with that demand.” He added that he hopes Virgin can reduce the cost of spaceflight over time from $250,000 down to about $50,000 per seat.

Longest Nonstop Commercial Route Launched
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Singapore Airlines launched the first flight of its newly reopened nonstop route from Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN) to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) on Thursday. The Airbus A350-900ULR departed SIN with 150 passengers and 17 crew members onboard. The flight is expected to travel approximately 8,285 NM and be in the air for an estimated 18 hours and 25 minutes, making it the longest nonstop commercial flight currently available. The airline first flew the route in 2004 with an A340-500 but cancelled it in 2013, reportedly due to rising fuel costs.

“Singapore Airlines has always taken pride in pushing the boundaries to provide the best possible travel convenience for our customers, and we are pleased to be leading the way with these new nonstop flights using the latest-technology, ultra-long-range Airbus A350-900ULR,” said Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong. “The flights will offer our customers the fastest way to travel between the two cities—in great comfort, together with Singapore Airlines’ legendary service—and will help boost connectivity to and through the Singapore hub.”

The Singapore Airlines route is the latest in a series of opening or restarting nonstop ultra-long-range routes, including Qantas’ 17-hour Perth to London route and Qatar Airways’ 17.5-hour Auckland to Doha flight. Qantas has already announced plans for even longer routes in the future and has asked both Boeing and Airbus to come up with proposals for aircraft capable of regular nonstop 20-plus-hour flights. Qantas is hoping to open a Sydney to London route by 2022.

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