Mach-3 SR-71 Blackbird’s HOT COCKPIT

Blackbird onboard USS Intrepid – Photo © Xavier Cotton http://passiondesavions.blogspot.fr

As you may have heard, the mythical Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was a strategic reconnaissance aircraft able to fly at more than Mach 3 – Mach 3.3 ie around 3,500 km/h; or 1,900 kts; and at a maximum flight level of… FL 850 or 26 kilometers high!

The Blackbird indeed had a unique flight envelope with a particular doghouse plot (since she could not exceed 3.5 G), and an exceptionnal coffin corner limited by her CIT – Compressor Inlet Temperature of 427°C maximum.

This aircraft was also unique for her engines were two J58 ramjets fuelled by JP-7 especially refined for extreme flying purpose. This special fuel could drip and leak abundantly as the airframe made up of titanium was retracted while taxiing, and became airtight only when it got its operating shape while flying very fast and very high because of the air density, and surrounding pressure plus the heating caused by the air friction at such speeds. In short, the whole structure considerably expanded when airborne.

The irony – I heard it on the grapevine, or read it somewhere on the web – that titanium which turned into dark blue while flying (SR-71s probably deserved those unofficial other nicknames “Bluebird”, or “Habu” viper) was “imported” from… USSR!

Pilots must have taken significant risks inherent in flying such an aircraft as mentioned in this previous post. These pilots used to fly over the USSR to take strategic reconnaissance photographs during the Cold war. They wore pressurized spacesuits so that their blood could not boil in case of decompression or ejection at such altitudes.

The Blackbird travelled faster than a rifle bullet, and the air friction could have melt aluminum-skinned aircraft. At Mach 3.2, fuel cycled behind the chine surface in order to cool the aircraft! The inner windshield temperature could reach 120°C even though a heavy-duty cooling system was on a full function. On landing, the outside temperature of the canopy could reach 300°C, and it must have been far beyond on the fuselage, and wing surfaces while flying at high speeds. The pilot could feel the heat behind his protective gloves!

Special thanks to Xavier Cotton for the Blackbird photos. Please, visit his website on http://passiondesavions.blogspot.fr

PANIC ONBOARD THESE DAYS – not only due to AIR RAGE

 

Panic onboard – That is what happened on a JetBlue aircraft last week. The captain dashed to the bathroom’s door which was locked, got jittery, then running along the aisle, he hollered out insane things such as “They’re going to take us down!”. The passengers wrestled the pilot down, tied him up with seat belts, and he was handed over to the police after landing.

An incident of this kind had already been reported two weeks before. An American Airlines flight attendant had been giving the safety instructions just before takeoff. She suddenly ranted about mechanical issues which were immediately refuted by the other cabin crew members. She kept speaking incoherently about Al-Qaeda, and the 9/11 attacks, about her fears of crashing, etc. A few people managed to wrestle her down, and the passengers were startled and scared as they could hear her blood-curdling screams when she was being handcuffed by the police.

According to these reports, these insane behaviors are believed to be air-rage cases but the flight attendant who got temporarily mad would be deemed bipolar by doctors, and her condition could explain her behavior. As far as the JetBlue pilot is concerned, his neighbors cannot understand as they would see him as a kind person.

Another scary situations occurred in flight this week on Monday April 2, 2012. 80-year-old Helen Collins landed the Cessna 414 twin-engine aircraft in which the pilot – her husband – died a few minutes before at the controls!

Thanks to the video/audio tape hereafter, we can imagine now what was going through her mind as it was the first time she had flown an aeroplane: (video with transcripts – click on the link below)

http://youtu.be/QxZKKDTRgyk

Outstanding Helen Collins hurt her back, and cracked a rib but she managed to bring the plane to a safe stop at Door County Cherryland Airport, near Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Last but not least, HATS OFF to Braden Blennerhassett, an Australian pilot who never panicked last Tuesday as a SNAKE popped out from the dashboard; slithered down his leg while he was landing! Read the SCRIPT and listen to the video link about this story below:

 

Here is how this brave pilot kept his cool on his aircraft (interview):

 

Another interesting video with the air traffic controller about the emergency message she received:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2125423/Snakes-Plane-Reptile-cockpit-forces-Darwin-pilot-make-emergency-landing.html

These recent stories – not to mention the latest crash of an F/A-18D Hornet from Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, on Friday in which the pilots managed to bail out safely before the fighter aircraft crashed into an apartment building fortunately left with no death toll – remind us of this well-worn saying: Flying is simply hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror.

Special thanks to Xavier Cotton – Passion pour l’aviation‘s webmaster – for his help and support, and for passing these video links on to me. Thank you very much indeed. 😉

 

When mice take the Mickey out of airline…

Mouse in commercial aircraft
Mouse - Photo © George Shuklin, Wikimedia.org

It first happened on Monday September 5, 2011. A Nepal Airlines flight was cancelled at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.

Do you guess why? The flight attendants spotted a stowaway mouse onboard their B-757 bound to Bangkok! The small rodent fled from the galley’s pantry, and rushed from a box of drinks to the back of the cabin although the 113 passengers did not notice the tiny stowaway.

The mouse was finally caught thanks to a glue trap. The jetliner was grounded for more than eleven hours.

 

Then, the same Boeing 757 – this time bound to Kathmandu – was grounded at Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday September 6, in the evening.

The reason: the pilots spotted a mouse in the cockpit just before the airplane departure. The aircraft has not been cleared to take off because this mouse was trapped but then escaped, and would still be on the loose. The 84 passengers were rerouted on a Dragonair aircraft.

 

As far as flight safety is concerned, an aircraft cannot take off with a mouse moving freely onboard as it can gnaw the wiring, and therefore represents a potentiel danger.

It can only be caught or trapped. However, NAC (Nepal Airlines Corporation) could not poison any mouse for a small animal can damage an airplane even if it is dead somewhere, and particularly if in contact with a vital part of the plane.

 

Special thanks to Mr Hermas, and LadyEleanorA who buzzed this piece of news.

Rio-Paris AF 447 crash – Incomplete investigation report

Regarding the 2009 Air France Rio-Paris crash, and according to the BEA investigation, it seemed to show a lack of training. But it now seems to be more complicated- it turns up that the elements of the report on the investigation were actually incomplete. This scoop – according to this France24 video – comes from the French paper La Tribune. Several elements would have been taken out of this report, and more importantly an element about a malfunctioning stall alarm: