Category Archives: Bizarre

Rock Band Honors Gary Powers With New Song on U-2 Incident Anniversary

“Powers Down” is a tribute to Francis Gary Powers, the late U-2 pilot recipient of the Intelligence Star, by rock band One Man Mambo.

During the late 50s, with the approval of Pakistani Government, U.S. President D. Eisenhower established a secret intelligence facility in Badaber (Peshawar Airbase), equipped with a runway that allowed U-2 spy planes to perform secret missions over the majority of the Soviet airspace.

On May 1, 1960, fifteen days before the scheduled opening of an East-West summit conference in Paris, pilot Francis Gary Powers left the US base in Badaber on board its “Dragon Lady” Item 360 for a mission over the Soviet Union. The task was to photograph ICBM (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles) sites in and around Sverdlovsk and Plesetsk and then, landing at Bodo, Norway.

The flight was hardly a surprise, since Soviet defenses were pre-alerted by the U-2 unit “10-10” piloted by Bob Ericson: some weeks before, he had overflown some of the top secret military installations such as the Semipalatinsk Test Site, the SAM test site, the Tyuratam missile range and the Dolon airbase with its Tu-95 strategic bombers.

According to some Russian sources, just after the U-2 was detected, Lieutenant General of the Air Force Yevgeniy Savitskiy ordered all the air unit commanders on duty “to attack the violator by all alert flights located in the area of foreign plane’s course, and to ram if necessary (see for details: http://www.webslivki.com/u11.html – Russian language only).

Some fighters took off immediately but like the previous alerts, all the attempts to intercept the foreign plane failed. Eventually the U-2 was hit and shot down by the first of three S-75 Dvina surface to air missiles fired by a defense battery.

According to Russian sources, it is interesting to know how Pilot Gary Powers, after successfully bailing out from the plane, was soon captured by the Russians and was found with a modified silver coin which contained a lethal saxitoxin- tipped needle…to be used in case of torture!

After the event, the whole Soviet air defense system was obviously in red code but the lack of coordination brought to a curious incident often hidden by the ordinary tale of facts: the SAM command center was unaware that the foreign plane had been destroyed for more than half so that at least 13 further anti-aircraft missiles were fired, one of them shooting down a MiG-19 and killing his pilot, Sergei Safronov.

The episode became of an outstanding relevance among the international community and represented one of the higher peaks of the face off between the two nuclear superpowers.

On May 1, 2018, 58 years after the incident, One Man Mambo, a rock band founded in 2016, releases a tribute to Francis Gary Powers.

“Gary Powers’ U-2 mission over the mighty Soviet Union has fascinated me since I took U.S. History in high school” said band member Lazar Wall in an email to The Aviationist. “Particularly impressive were the ramming attempts by a Sukhoi fighter jet, and the unfortunate death of a Soviet pilot whose MiG got hit by friendly fire. The Iron Maiden song Aces High, about Spitfires and ME-109s in the Battle of Britain, was definitely an influence on Powers Down. Our band released its first aviation-related song at the end of last year. Flight 2933 is a tribute to the Chapecoense players and staffers from Brazil who perished in a 2016 air accident.”

The song, titled “Powers Down” will be on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services May 10.

Meanwhile, here’s the lyric video of the song, in case you are interested in a quite unusual (at least by our standards) way to honor one of the world’s most famous pilots:

Top image credit: CIA / RIA Novosti

The description of May 1, 1960 incident is taken from our previous article “Airspace Violations – Episode 5” that you are strongly suggested to read for more details.

Did you know that the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit was inspired by the WWII B-29 Superfortress bomber?

The cockpit of Star Wars iconic, futuristic  spacecraft is based on the style coined by the WWII B-29.

Did you know that the Star Wars saga most famous spacecraft featured a cockpit clearly inspired to a World War II heavy bomber?

Well, the iconic greenhouse-style window of the Millennium Falcon was designed with the style of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, a strategic bomber flying 30 years before Han Solo and Chewbacca first appeared driving the iconic spacecraft into the hyperspace, in mind.

hyperspace

As already explained here when we first published a quite unique walkaround video of the last flying Superfortress, the Boeing B-29 was a four-engine heavy bomber operational during WWII designed for high-altitude strategic bomber role that become particularly famous for carrying out the devastating atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

After the war, the advanced B-29s carried out several tasks including in-flight refueling, antisubmarine patrol, weather reconnaissance and rescue duty. The B-29 saw military service again in Korea between 1950 and 1953, battling new adversaries: jet fighters and electronic weapons. The last B-29 was retired from active service in September 1960.

The Superfortress featured pressurized cabin with the peculiar windows layout, tricycle dual wheeled landing gears, and a quite-advanced-for-the-time, remote, electronic fire-control system that controlled four machine gun turrets that complemented a manned, semi-automatic, rear gun turret.

Indeed, you most probably remember that gun turrets also equip George Lucas’s spacecraft and are used by both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker to fight Imperial TIE fighters as the Millennium Falcon escapes Death Star in Episode IV.

Anyway, the connections between WWII aircraft and Star Wars go well beyond the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit or manned gun turrets: it’s not a secret George Lucas draw inspiration from WWII newsreel and movies. Among them, 633 Squadron (1964) and The Dam Busters (1955) film about one of the Royal Air Force’s most famous raid in WWII against the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams, pivotal to Hitler’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr Valley, inspired the famous Death Star attack featured in “A New Hope.”

Image credit: Wiki (top), Lucas Films

Danish F-16 fighter pilot grows a mustache to honor a legendary U.S. Air Force ace pilot and becomes his look-alike

An F-16 fighter pilot grew a bulletproof mustache to honor a great fighter pilot and became Robin Olds’s look-alike.

Thomas “MET” Kristensen is a combat pilot of the Royal Danish Air Force.

Even though his name may be new to you, he’s actually quite famous, as “MET” is the man behind the world-famous Fox-2 selfie shot while he was firing an AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile from an RDAF F-16.

In an email to The Aviationist, Kristensen explains:

“I’ve just been deployed in Estonia with the Royal Danish Air Force F-16 detachment, to carry out air policing over the Baltic States. In this context, I acquired myself a bulletproof mustache in honor of a great fighter pilot who introduced it during the Vietnam War.”

The great pilot mentioned by “MET” is Robin Olds, a U.S. Air Force ace, with a combined total of 16 victories in World War II and the Vietnam War.

Olds, who retired as Brig. Gen. in 1973 and died in 2007 at the age of 84 (you can find many websites, books about him and his career), was also famous for the mustache he grew in Vietnam. The Wiki page has an entire section about Olds’s handlebar mustache.

Kristensen grew his own mustache to honor the legendary pilot and, as you can see in the pictures taken during the Baltic Air Policing deployment by photographer Casper Tybjerg, a Nikon Ambassador, the similarity with the original shots of Robin Olds is astounding.

Left is Col. Robin Olds (image from Wiki), right is “MET”.

Robin Olds

Image credit: Casper Tybjerg and Wikipedia (via Thomas Kristensen)

 

Polish Olympic Champion’s use of Air Force roundel causes controversy

A Polish athlete won the gold medal using a helmet decorated with the Polish Air Force emblem

Kamil Stoch, the best Polish ski jumper, was allowed by the Polish Ministry of National Defense to use the Polish Air Force roundel on his helmet during the Sochi Olympics and the badge on his helmet caused controversy well before the Putin’s Winter Games started: some media outlets argued that if the world champion had failed, then the comparison to the Smolensk crash, would have been inevitable.

A bit far fetched considered that the 2010 Polish Air Force Ty-154 crashe caused 96 fatalities!

Fortunately, Kamil Stoch won the gold in the men’s normal hill ski jumping on Feb. 9.

The Polish Ministry of Defense considers the use of emblem as an act of patriotism.

The Air Force checkerboard is the national marking of the Polish aircraft. Initially it was used as personal insignia of Stefan Stec, a Polish fighter pilot, and then in December 1918 it became a national roundel.

Photo Credit: Grzegorz Momot / Polish Press Agency

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

 

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New 4.5 Million Lamborghini Veneno Roadster supercar unveiled on Aircraft Carrier in Abu Dhabi

The first of nine examples of the new Lamborghini Veneno Roadster supercar was unveiled in Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed port on Dec. 2.

Powered by a 750-HP engine V-12, the new Italian extreme supercar can hit a top speed of 355 kmh and accelerate from 0 to 100 kmh in 2.9 seconds: a performance worth of a fighter jet!

For this reason, the public debut of the new 4.5 million USD Lamborghini took place on a quite unusual place: the deck of the Italian aicraft carrier Cavour that left Taranto on Nov. 12 on a scheduled cruise, whose main purpose is to promote the “made-in-Italy” technologies in the Gulf region and in Africa.

Some cool images of the Veneno Roadster next to the Italian Navy‘s AV-8B+ Harrier were released by Lamborghini.

lamborghini 2


Image credit: Lamborghini

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