Category Archives: Aviation

Watch This Crazy Cool Video Of The An-225 “Mriya”, The World’s Largest Airplane, Taken From A Very Unique Point Of View

Video, filmed from a rare point of view, of the An-225 taking off from Chimore Airport, Bolivia.

The Antonov An-225 Mriya (“Dream” in Ukrainian language) is the world’s largest airplane. Designed at the end of Cold War, its main purpose was to carry the Soviet “Buran” space shuttle and parts of the “Energia” rocket. Currently, the sole existing example (UR-82060) is used commercially, as an international cargo transporter.

Mriya is not the largest aircraft ever built: this title belongs to the Hughes H-4 Spruce Goose hydroplane, that made only a single flight.

The An-225 is performing a series of flights to deliver boilers for thermal power plant of Bolivia from Iquique, Chile, to Chimore, Bolivia. In each flight Mriya carries the cargo weighing up to 160 tons. This video shows a take off from Chimore.

Enjoy!

That Time An Alitalia B747 (Escorted By Italian Air Force Tornado and AMX) Wowed The Crowd At An Air Show Near Rome

In 1996, an Alitalia B747-200 Jumbo Jet accompanied by two ItAF combat aircraft performed a remarkable display during Ostia Air Show.

Ostia, on the Tyrrhenian coast, few kilometers to the west of Rome, has hosted 13 editions of the Ostia then Rome International Air Show: the first one in 1988 and the last in 2014.

Located between an international airport (Rome-Fiumicino) airport and a military airfield (Pratica di Mare airbase), the air show has often attracted interesting aircraft, including large airliners and fast jets. As happened in 1996. On Jun. 2, 1996, the Ostia Air Show included a really unique display: an Alitalia B747-200 performed some flybys escorted by an Italian Air Force Tornado IDS and an AMX belonging to the 311° Gruppo of the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (ItAF’s Test Wing) from “Pratica”.

The B747 trailed by an AMX and a Tornado. (All photos: Author)

Unfortunately all I could find about that airshow (that I attended) are the three photographs (hence the poor quality) that you can find in this post. You can still get an idea of the sight (by the way if some of our readers have better photographs or a video, please let us know).

The somehow crappy photos taken from the beach by this author show the Alitalia Jumbo (a type that had already taken part, alone, to the 1991 edition of the airshow) flying alongside the Italian combat jets (noteworthy, the Tornado IDS was still wearing the Desert livery applied to the fleet that took part in Operation Locusta – the Italian contribution to Desert Storm in 1991 – from Al Dhafra, in UAE).

By the way, between 1970 and 2004, Alitalia operated a fleet of 21 B747s: 2x -100 and 19x -200 examples.

The B747 turning over the sea while performing a gear-down passage.

As already said, the airshow often featured airliners along with combat aircraft. Watch what this ATI MD-82 did in 1992 (I was there as well):

All photos: Author

 

America’s Secret Airline To Area 51 Is Now Hiring Flight Attendants

JANET airlines, flying non-stop to Area 51, Tonopah Test Range and other “sensitive locations” is hiring.

Janet (that unofficially stands for “Just Another Non Existent Terminal”), is the name of a small fleet of passenger aircraft operated by AECOM, a private defense contractor, from Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.

Actually, the name and callsign Janet com from the wife of the Area 51 base commander circa 1969-1971.

Every day, Boeing 737-600 jets, sporting the peculiar overall white with red cheatline livery, fly non-stop to several key military airbases used for R&D (Research And Development), including the famous Area 51, in the Nevada desert, the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale CA and Tonopah Test Range, Nevada.

The secretive airline, allowed to fly where most of the military and civilian aircraft are not allowed to, has recently posted a job for a Flight Attendand to be based at Las Vegas.

The job does not require any previous experience requirement and the  most interesting part of the job is the one we highlight in the following chunk of the original summary:

High School graduate or equivalent. Must pass Company operated jet aircraft Emergency Training and Initial Flight Attendant Training and maintain currency as a Flight Attendant. Must be able to effectively perform all assigned physical duties without difficulty and without assistance. Must be able to push and pull heavy hinged aircraft doors weighing up to 80 lbs. Must comply with Company specified dress code and uniform guidelines. Must possess effective oral communication skills, including good public speaking abilities. Possess basic math knowledge and basic computer skills. Must qualify for and maintain a top secret government security clearance and associated work location access. Possess a current State issued driver’s license.

So, if you are thrilled to work for America’s most secret airline on extremely rare routes and destinations, here’s your chance.

By the way, as often highlighted in the past, in spite of the “clandestine” nature of its operation JANET flights (that, use “Janet” as radio callsign) can be tracked online on Flightradar24.com. Here’s just an example:

Image credit: Wiki/Alan Wilson

Neos’ Brand New Boeing 787 Escorted By The Frecce Tricolori Display Team Over Dolomites Mountains During Inaugural Flight

Neos first Boeing B787-9 flew in formation with four MB339PAN of the Frecce Tricolori display team during  a special flight ahead of the first revenue flight.

On Dec. 19, 2017, the Italian leisure airline Neos promoted its new Boeing B787-9 (registration EI-NEO) with a special event held at Verona Villafranca Airport (LIPX), in northeastern Italy. Organized with the participation of State and airport authorities, the ceremony included a special flight to give all the guest passengers the opportunity to experience the characteristics of the brand new Dreamliner.

The flight took off at 11:35UTC and after overflying Bologna and Venice it headed north to Dolomites where the Dreamliner was joined by four MB.339PAN (AT-339A) aircraft belonging to Italian Air Force Frecce Tricolori display team.

Three aircraft out the 10-ship Frecce Tricolori display team forms up on the right wing of the B787. The fourth aircraft (the camera ship) can’t be seen in this frame (Image: Simone Bovi).

With the stunning scenery as a background, the unusual formation remained together in the air for about 50 minutes before descending to Verona airport, where a low fly-by over the runway was performed ahead of the final landing.

Three MB339s of the Frecce Tricolori flying alongside the B787 over the breath-taking Dolomites (Aeronautica Militare).

Two more Dreamliners will be delivered to Neos in 2018, to complement and then replace the three B-767ER (Extended Range) currently in service on leisure routes.

Top image credit: Leonardo/Aeronautica Militare

Military and Contract Air Assets (Including U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Drones) Key in Fighting Largest Ever California Wildfires.

All Available Airborne Fire Fighting Assets Pressed into Service, Fires Continue.

A massive combined military and contract air operation has been flying over the U.S. state of California this week in attempts to contain and put out wildfires raging across the entire state. Earlier in the week, U.S. President Donald Trump’s declared the California wildfires as an official Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA) National Disaster.

Military and contract fixed wing aircraft and helicopters have been launching a constant stream of fire-retardant strikes since the fires began over a week ago. A massive air armada has also been conducting rescues, inserting firefighters into remote areas and conducting fire surveillance since the fires began. This is likely the greatest combined military and contract air fire suppression operation in history, and one of the first to employ military remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs).

California Governor Jerry Brown told media in a press conference earlier this week that, “We have had big fires in the past. This is one of the biggest, most serious, and it’s not over.”

In all, Governor Brown’s office reported that 22 major fires are still burning across the state, an increase over the 17 fires earlier this week. As of late Friday, October 19, some of the fires have finally been declared as “contained”, but not extinguished. The death toll has climbed to 42 people with many more still missing. Over 3,500 homes have been destroyed by the fires, but many more people have been displaced due to preemptive evacuations.

The State of California reports that a massive military and private air force of 73 helicopters and at least 30 fixed-wing aerial tankers are fighting the fires, conducting rescues and performing reconnaissance of the affected areas. The Governor’s office also mentioned that two MQ-9 Reaper drones are performing the reconnaissance role over fire areas.

Global SuperTanker Service President and CEO Jim Wheeler told CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann during an interview in July that, “We can drop a line of retardant about three kilometers long or, if you will, about a mile-and-a-half.”

The California Air National Guard’s 163rd Attack Wing from March Joint Air Reserve Base, that operates the MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), is flying active sorties in support of the firefighting effort. The operation of the MQ-9s over this U.S. air space required special authorization from the FAA. Two MQ-9 Reapers have been rotating continuous 12-hour sorties over critical fire areas, aiding in the direction of firefighters on the ground and with aerial fire suppression strikes.

Commander of the 163rd Attack Wing, Air Force Maj. Jason Flowers, told reporters, “Firefighters want to know the perimeter of the fire so they could compare how it’s spread since the last time they checked and where it spreading.” The fire reconnaissance missions also make use of the MQ-9 Reapers’ Synthetic Aperture Radar, an aerial sensor never before used in firefighting efforts in the U.S. Major Flowers went on to suggest that fighting the fires at home with the MQ-9s will help the wing fight future wars abroad, by increasing operators’ expertise at employing these sensors effectively.


An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft assigned to the 163d Attack Wing soars over Southern California skies on a training flight to March Air Reserve Base, California, in this Sept. 15, 2016, file photo. The wing is flying MQ-9s in support of civil authorities battling deadly wildfires in Northern California. (Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. Neil Ballecer)

More than 700 members of the California National Guard have been deployed in the firefighting mission with an additional 1,800 soldiers tasked with the mission on Wednesday. These units include the state’s 49th Military Police Brigade, California’s only Army National Guard military police brigade based in Fairfield, California. Even prisoners have been pressed into firefighting service.

Staff Sgt. Richard Glover, 163d Attack Wing IT Specialist, shows burn areas to Staff Sgt. Jamel Seales (sitting) and Staff Sgt. Shawn Blue (background) on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, at the wing’s Hap Arnold Center at March Air Reserve Base, California. The center is one of several wing assets activated to support the ongoing wildland firefighting effort in Northern California. Airmen have been working at the center around the clock since Tuesday to support CAL FIRE and other agencies. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

The aerial firefighting mission is extremely dangerous due to dense smoke, powerful, rapidly shifting winds from rising heat, debris being floated into the air by the flames and the extreme low altitude that firefighting aircraft must fly over rolling terrain to accurately deliver their large payloads of fire-retardant. Additionally, the handling characteristics of the tanker aircraft change dramatically as they drop the heavy liquid fire-retardant.

Among the 30 fixed-wing aircraft fighting the fires are modified DC-10s, S-2 Trackers, P-3s and the largest-ever aerial firefighting aircraft, the Global Supertanker Services Boeing 747-446, N744ST. The enormous 747 firefighter was at McClellan AFB near Sacramento, California early in September on deployment from its home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During the aircraft’s first operational mission in the U.S. at the beginning of September it made two massive drops of 8,500 gallons each of fire-retardant on the leading edge of wildfires.

Global Supertanker Services 747-446 registration N744ST is performing fire retardant drops over California.

As firefighting efforts continue on Thursday, October 19, the fires have been contained in several locations. Weather forecasts for Northern California are for cooler, more humid conditions and will likely assist in firefighting efforts going into the weekend as the combined air operations continue. No official announcements have been made about when they may be brought under control.

Google Earth provided maps showing location and progress of California fires. (Photo: Google)

Top oimage credit: Global Supertanker