Triangular mystery jets, Pilot Selfies, flying F-117s, Russian activities: 2014 through our top stories

The five top stories of The Aviationist provide the readers the opportunity to virtually review the year that is coming to an end.

Ordered chronologically, the following 5 posts got the most pageviews and comments among the +2,900 articles published on the site, and can be used to review year 2014, as they are those that got more interactions.

Obviously, we covered many more topics during this year, that saw us discussing China, war on ISIS, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Ukraine, the downing of MH17 and much more.

Please use the search feature or select the proper category/tag to read all what was written throughout the year.

1) “Selfie” of an F-16 pilot while firing a live Air-to-Air Missile

Mar. 3, 2014

Self-portrait photographs (nowadays known as “selfies“) have always been a must among fighter jocks and you can find thousands taken by military pilots in the most unusal flight conditions.

However, selfies taken while launching missiles are much more rare just because firing activities involving the launch of an air-to-air missile don’t take place too often.

Kudos to the Royal Danish Air Force for taking this really cool image.

By the way, the pilot depicted in the image wears a JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) a multi-role system that enhances pilot situational awareness and provides head-out control of aircraft targeting systems and sensors.

[Read here]

2) What if MH370 was (mistakenly or purposely) shot down?

Mar. 19, 2014

Since Mar. 7, when Boeing 777 9M-MRO flying from Kuala Lumpur has vanished enroute to Beijing, we have analysed all the possible scenarios that could explain the end of Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight.

With contradictory information released and denied on a daily basis, we can only update the list of theories and their likeliness.

None of the theories emerged so far seem to address all the mystery surrounding the plane and its 239 people on board: the theory that the aircraft suffered a smoke in the cockpit, does not explain why the pilots shut down the transponder while turning towards the nearest landing strip; the one about the suicide does not explain why the aircraft reportedly flew for 7 hours before eventually crashing somewhere. And so on.

These are just a few of the oddities you can find in any scenario drawn so far.

Regardless of the specific theories, there are some more things that are really hard to explain: for instance, it’s unclear how the MH370 managed to remain invisible to several air defense radars for so much time; the reason why Malaysian authorities did not declare until a couple of days ago that the last known position of the plane (known since the beginning) was over the Strait of Malacca, while some 100 aircraft and ships belonging to more than a dozen nations were involved in a massive search and rescue mission in the Gulf of Thailand.

Nor is it clear why Thai authorities waited 10 days before confirming that they had spotted a plane (most probably the Malaysia Airlines B777) flying westwards moments after MH370 had its transponder switched off.

In a previous post which listed all the “active scenarios”, we mentioned the (unlikely but not impossible) theory that MH370 could have been shot down.

Since then, we’ve received several emails and comments, and talked with a few other journalists who believe that, there are still some chances that the Malaysian Boeing 777 was shot down some time during its 7 hour flight.

[Read the rest here]

3) What’s this Mystery Plane spotted over Texas?

Mar. 28, 2014

The images you can see in this post were taken in the afternoon of Mar. 10, 2014. Steve Douglass and Dean Muskett, along with other fellow photographers were at Amarillo International Airport when they saw the contrails of three high flying aircraft.

Even though the aircraft were barely visible at distance, the photographers pointed their lenses at the unidentified planes, and took several shots.

As Douglass recalls in his blog, it was only when they reviewed the images that they noticed that the aircraft were not B-2s as they initially thought: “At one point the aircraft had banked and the trailing edge was quite clear. It wasn’t straight but had a slight curve, the aircraft was almost boomerang shaped.”

Indeed, an inquiry to Whiteman Air Force Base has ruled out the possibility that a flight of three B-2s was flying over Texas on Mar. 10.

Stealth expert Bill Sweetman and the rest of the AW&ST team have investigated the mystery aircraft sighting, coming to the conclusion that the photos show something real.

[Read the rest here]

4) These Photos Prove F-117 Stealth Jets Still Fly at Tonopah 6 years After Retirement

Oct. 3, 2014

The images in this post were shot on Sept. 30, at around 11.00AM, from Brainwash Butte. Although much distorted by the high temperature and distance, they clearly show an F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Jet operating at the Tonopah Test Range, in Nevada.

The aircraft reportedly flew on both Sept. 29 and 30.

Even though flights of the Black Jets have been documented a few times on video past its official retirement in 2008, these are the first images that prove the stealth plane, most probably two of them, since, according to the contributor who sent us the blurry images he shot from the hills east of TTR, the plane that flew on the 29th was in a different barn than the one flew on the 30th.

[Read the rest here]

5) German Typhoons have intercepted 7 Russian Air Force combat planes over the Baltic Sea today

Oct. 28, 2014

According to the Latvian military, on Oct. 28, the German Air Force Eurofighter jets on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at Amari, Estonia, to provide NATO Baltic Air Policing were scrambled to intercept seven Russian Air Force planes flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

The German interceptors identified the Russian planes as a large package, made of attack planes and escort, which included 2x MiG-31 Foxhound, 2x Su-34 Fullback, 1x Su-27 Flanker and 2x Su-24 Fencer jets.

Regardless to whether the Russian aircraft were involved in one of the frequent training missions in the Baltics or were commuting to/from the Russian airfield in Kaliningrad oblast, the package on Oct 28 represents one of the largest “formations” intercepted by NATO fighter planes during the last couple of years.

[Read the rest here]

 

About David Cenciotti 3753 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.