Monthly Archives: September 2012

Video: NASA’s F/A18 Hornet extended view of Space Shuttle Endeavour’s flyover Southern California

The following video was filmed by one of the two NASA Dryden’s F/A-18 Hornet jets escorting the space shuttle Endeavour mounted atop Boeing 747 SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft), during its final flight from Edwards Air Force Base, to Los Angeles International Airport.

Along with the stunning footage, the video is particularly interesting because it includes air-to-air, air-to-ground radio communications with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) agencies interested by the flyby in SoCal, as well as intercom chats between the pilot and the backseater (a photographer) on board the Hornet chasing “Astro 95 Heavy” over Santa Monica, the most famous Los Angeles stadiums, the Universal Studios, Disneyland, Getty Center, SpaceX Center, USS Iowa, Griffith Observatory.

Noteworthy, some of the radio frequencies used during the flight were designated “Mission 1” or “Tac 1”.

Pilots of the Turkish RF-4E downed by Syria executed by Assad on Russia’s advice. But new theory raises questions.

Leaked top secret Syrian intelligence documents obtained by Al Arabiya shed light on the fate of the two Turkish Air Force pilots flying the RF-4E that was downed by Damascus on Jun. 22, 2012.

Although what really happened to the Turkish reconnaissance plane that violated the Syrian airspace is still unclear (with Ankara claiming that the aircraft was shot down by a missile exploded near the plane and Damascus saying that the aircraft was gunned down by a Syrian air defense battery), the newly disclosed documents provide a different version about one of those details that was never before questioned.

The shocking detail is that, contrary to what was publically claimed from both sides, both the pilot and the WSO (Weapon System Officer) survived the crash by ejecting from the plane and were later executed by the regime of Syrian President Assad.

Turkey’s armed forces said they had found and later recovered the bodies of both pilots on the Mediterranean seabed: in fact there were no reports of the crew ejecting from the plane thus it was quite reasonable that they were still inside the wreckage.

However, provided that the document obtained by Al Arabiya is authentic, a confidential note sent from the Assad’s presidential office states that:

“Two Turkish pilots were captured by the Syrian Air Force Intelligence after their jet was shot down in coordination with the Russian naval base in (the Syrian city of) Tartus.”

The same document orders to treat both pilots according to the protocol of war prisoners, and also suggests the possibility to move them into Lebanon and leave them in the custody of Hezbollah.

Another leaked document, also sent from the presidential office reads:

“Based on information and guidance from the Russian leadership comes a need to eliminate the two Turkish pilots detained by the Special Operations Unit in a natural way and their bodies need to be returned to the crash site in international waters.”

Therefore, the two pilots were not killed by the crash, but by President Assad.

Although the alternative narrative surfacing by way of these leaked document is reasonable, it must be noticed that Damascus took a serious risk by staging the fake death of the crew in the crash.

First, the Turkish armed forces immediately dispatched vessels in the crash area that could find evidence of the ejections.

Second, Ankara recovered and studied part of the wreckage, crew members flight gear: material that could prove that both pilots ejected before the aircraft crashed into the water.

Third, Turkey, the U.S. and (most probably) Israel have been constantly monitoring Syrian armed forces movements and communications. An RC-135 spyplane was noted in the region at the time of the shooting. It’s hard to believe no spyplane, intelligence gathering platform or military combat plane in the area has intercepted the emergency beacon/locator radioed by the ejection seats of the downed Phantom.

Image credit: U.S. Navy 

New iPhone 5 “Lightning” connector might be incompatible with your airplane

According to Flight Display Systems, iPhone 5’s new “Lightning” connector and its taller form-factor could make the new phone and adapters incompatible with existing aircraft iPhone accessories.

Even though the Air Force Special Operations Command did not eventually procure the about 2,800 made-in-China Apple iPAD2 tablets, smartphones and tablets have been approved for official widespread use across the U.S. forces whereas Apple devices have become part of a pilot’s toolkit thanks to aviation apps for managing flight planning, navigation or mapping.

Lightning is a brand new all digital, eight-signal connector used on the new iPhone 5, fifth generation iPod Touch and seventh generation iPod Nano. The Lightning port can be used for charging the iPod or iPhone, syncing data and outputting audio to another device, as with the old 30-pin connector. But it’s also thinner, thus making the new iPhone 5 less bulky, allowing larger speakers for more volume output. Moreover, being reversible it is also more durable than the older one, that could get damaged when plugged it in backwards.

However, the new connector requires new adapters and docking stations that won’t necessarily support all functions.

Hence, bring your old iPhone with you on your next flight if you want to be sure to use your device and its apps in the air.


How many A-10 combat planes can you count in this photo? All of them are deploying to the Middle East…

Although the caption of the following picture reads “more than a dozen A-10 Thunderbolt….” I can count 19 such combat planes belonging to the 354 FS, 355th Fighter Wing from Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona at Westover Air Reserve Base.

Westover airfield, in Massachusetts, has long runways, ample ramp space (to accomodate C-5 Galaxy cargo planes) that make it an ideal stop for combat units on their way overseas.

The aircraft passed through Westover on their way to the Middle East. Once again, although their final destination is (currently) unknown, they are believed to be part of the U.S. military build up in the area near Syria, Iran, Libya and Northern Mali.

The A-10 is the ideal type of aircraft to perform close air support (CAS) by attacking tanks and armored vehicles. The deployment of this kind of aircraft, along with the unusual presence of AC-130U gunships, special operations helicopters, drones and tankers could be the sign that something big is going to take place in the coming weeks…

Update: according to the latest rumors the “Hogs” are on their way to Afghanistan, where they would replace the current mix of ANG A-10s of the 104th and 184th FS deployed there since March.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


Photo: An F-35A test aircraft flies over Space Shuttle Endeavour at Edwards Air Force Base

On Sept. 21, the space shuttle Endeavour mounted atop a Boeing 747 SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft), from Edwards Air Force Base to Los Angeles International Airport overflying the most iconic places in the LA area.

On arrival at Edwards AFB from Ellington field, Texas, on Sept. 20, the Boeing 747 with the Endeavour taxied by an F-35A CTOL (Conventional Take Off and Landing) with 461st FLTS (Flight Test Squadron).

Test flight activity on that day included another F-35A, that flew over the base as the following stunning picture just released by Lockheed Martin shows.

Can you spot all the other aircraft in the other picture of the same set?

Three Global Hawk drones, three F-18s, a single F-15, and so on….

Image credit: Lockheed Martin