Tag Archives: Boeing 747

Watch St. Elmo’s Fire appear on an E-4B doomsday plane’s nose during aerial refueling

Static discharges on an E-4B refueling from a KC-135.

The following video shows an interesting phenomenon. An E-4B Nightwatch National Airborne Command Post  (NAOC) approaches a KC-135 in cloudy weather and the differential static equalization between the two aircraft creates static discharges that are clearly visible.

Once the boom touches the receptacle of the E-4 the charges are equalized and the static stops. “What you really cannot see in this video is the semi-transparent shaft of purplish/pink electrons moving between the two aircraft, this is commonly known as St Elmo’s Fire,” says the uploader of the video on YT.

St. Elmo’s fire is a weather-induced phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a corona discharge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field in the atmosphere: it appears every now and then on the cockpits of aircraft flying through the clouds or not far from thunderstorms.

This phenomenon is not dangerous to the aircraft: the plane is shielded by Faraday Cage, that blocks out external static electrical fields and charges redistribute on the conducting material without affecting the cage’s interior.

The E-4B, designed to carry the U.S. SecDef as well as other U.S. top officials, is specifically designed to keep American decision makers alive in case of nuclear wars, zombie invasions or alien attacks.  Therefore, it has to be able to fly through any EMP (electromagnetic pulse) with unharmed systems. That’s why this highly modified Boeing 747 does not feature modern glass cockpit: old-fashioned, analogue-style avionics are more resistant to EMPs.

Boeing 747-8 selected as next Air Force One platform. And here’s how it will probably look like.

U.S. Air Force has identified the Boeing 747-8 platform for next Air Force One

A “fully missionized” platform based on the 747-8, the latest and largest version of the iconic Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, will serve as the presidential aircraft, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, announced on Jan. 28.

The Boeing 747-8 was selected following a market research and the assessment of the capabilities of the two four-engine aircraft that could meet the requirements: the Boeing 747-8 and the Airbus A380.

“This decision is not a contract award to procure 747-8 aircraft,” said Col. Amy McCain, the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization (PAR) program manager in a release on the U.S. Air Force website. “We still need to finalize the overall acquisition strategy and conduct risk-reduction activities with Boeing to inform the engineering and manufacturing development contract negotiations that will define the capabilities and cost.”

A fleet of three Boeing 747-8 will replace the current, obsolete VC-25 aircraft. Once ready, in 2018, the new aircraft will be more capable and efficient than their predecessors, heavily modified Boeing 747-200 jets.

As already explained on The Aviationist, along with the internal design, meeting rooms and wide array of communication systems, what makes the Air Force One different is the self-protection suite. Much information on this topic is classified, still, the VC-25 aircraft is known to be fitted with active electronic counter measures, that are able to jam enemy radar frequencies as well as IRCM (Infrared Counter Measure) systems needed to divert heat seeking Infra Red missiles by disturbing their guidance systems.

The one in use on the AF1 is the AN/ALQ-204 Matador produced by the BAe Systems. Such system protect the plane from both IR air-to-air and ground-to-air (MANPADS – Man Portable Air Defense Systems) missiles.

The plane is also equipped with chaff and flares dispensers: the first type is used to divert radar-guided missiles, while the flares are high-temperature heat sources ejected from the aircraft’s dispensers to mislead the missile’s heat-seeking targeting system: since the burn temperature is hotter than that at the engine’s exhaust the burning flares attract and deceive heat-seeking missiles fired at the aircraft.

Similar and surely more advanced countermeasures will equip the new ones.

When, about three years ago, the selection of the Boeing 747-8 became obvious, we asked our contributor Al Clark to prepare a digital mock-up of the new plane sporting the Air Force One’s traditional light-blue and sky-blue color scheme that you can find on top of this article.

Digital mock-up by Al Clark


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Air Force One for sale!

Unfortunately, the title does not refer to the famous highly modified Boeing 747s (designated VC-25 by the U.S. Air Force) that is used by President Obama as these planes have undergone many upgrades, and will probably serve the U.S. Administration for a long time before being retired and replaced.

Nevertheless, if you have 50,000 USD in your pocket you may buy a plane, that used Air Force One and Air Force Two callsigns.

The auction is to start on May 15.

Image Credit: aviationlive.org

What plane are we talking about?

The VC-9C with N681AL registration, flying in the 89th Airlift Wing from February 1975 until September 2005.

Why use DC-9 when you have the 747? Well it was the short runways that 747 could not land on that were the reason for using the former.

When it comes to the Air Force One callsign, in fact any airplane the president is aboard takes over this name.

The media professionals did not like the DC-9 at all, due to the uncomfortable seats. They were nowhere near as comfortable, and the journalist cabin was not as spacious as in the original 747.

If you plan to buy a plane and inspect it before bidding you can leave 50,000 USD deposit and go to the Phoenix/Mesa Gateway.

If you do not have sufficient funds, you may buy something cheaper, e.g. 1983 Cessna 182 Skylane, with an entry price of $100. All auctions are available at the General Services Administration website.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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This animation shows what may have happened aboard the Boeing 747 that crashed after take off from Bagram

The following video shows what may have caused the crash of a National Air Cargo Boeing 747-400 shortly after take off from Bagram Airfield, in Afghanistan, on Apr. 29.

As we reported on our first article on the accident, there are rumours that radio frequency monitors listened a crew report according to which the load had shifted just prior to the crash.

Bagram crash animation

A sudden and violent shift of the CG (Center of Gravity) during initial climb, might have induced the impressive nose high attitude that is clearly visible in the shocking video recorded by a car dash camera.

At that speed and altitude, the aircrew could do nothing to recover the situation.

The animation below points towards the engine stall as the root cause of the crash; however, the wings stalled (they would stall even if the engines were working properly) and the aircraft almost fell from the sky like a stone.

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One of the most shocking videos ever shows huge Boeing 747 crashing after take off from Bagram

This is one of those video that deserve very few words as it speaks by itself.

It was recorded by a dash camera and shows the B747-400 cargo plane operated by National Air Cargo crashing after take off from Bagram Airfield, in Afghanistan.

The B747, contracted out by the U.S. military can be seen almost still, few hundred feet above the ground, unable to climb, before stalling and crashing into the ground.

According to some reports, internal load shifted just prior to the crash, causing the heavy cargo plane to pitch up past the point at which the crew could not recover the proper airspeed and attitude.

Bagram crash video

H/T to Sam Wiltzius for the heads up

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