The brand new 5th-generation fighterjet Shenyang J-31 – or F60, which would be nicknamed Gyrfalcon – took off on October 31, 2012. She thus performed a test flight – probably her maiden flight – on Wednesday.
This futuristic PLAAF (People’s Liberation Army Air Force) stealth multirole jetfighter looks like an F-35 Lightning II though the Gyrfalcon (or Falcon Eagle?) turns out to be a twin-engine a/c. She would be more maneuverable but smaller than the latest Chengdu J-20 Black Eagle stealth fighter. Her radar cross section (RCS) might be very small, and stealthier than recent 5th-generation fighter aircraft as the radome mounting looks as if it were – like the rest of the airframe – designed with reentrant shapes.
This fighter aircraft would not exceed Mach 2, and she features a DSI (Diverterless Supersonic Inlet) so that the airspeed can be reduced while entering the air intake, thus preventing the engine from breaking up.
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 This special fuel could drip and leak abundantly as the airframe made up of titanium was retracted while taxiing, and became airtight only when it got its operating shape while flying very fast and very high because of the air density, and surrounding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!
Felix Baumgartner, the famous Austrian skydiver, is still waiting for better meteorological conditions to make a new attempt in the Red Bull Stratos project to break the sound barrier while freefalling. This new feat might happen within the next few days as it has already been scheduled on October 14.
According to the video below, Felix BAUMGARTNER’s top 5 jumps are:
Wingsuit Channel Crossing
Taipei 101 BASE Jump
Petronas Towers BASE Jump
Seating of the Spirits Cave Jump
Man vs. Plane
Felix BAUMGARTNER was to jump on the 9th of October 2012. However, this jump which could have become the highest skydive in the aerospace history has been put off due to gusty winds.
In this new record attempt Felix BAUMGARTNER will be so high up – 120,000 ft, or 36.6 km – that if his suit leaks, his blood will boil. When he jumps, he will fall so fast that he will break the sound barrier as explained in this video:
A 3-hour ascent is expected to reach such an altitude, and it could take him more than a quarter of an hour to fall down back to the earth, and land… And now the animation on how it could unfold from the stratosphere right over Roswell, New Mexico, USA: (Click on the link below – MUST SEE!)
Thanks to Rising Wings Aviation Channel, here is a very interesting video on airplane navigation aids (NAVAIDs) such as VOR (Very high frequency Omnidirectional radio Range), and how to use the OBS (Omni Bearing Selector) knob both on CDI (Course Deviation Indicator), and VOR; DME (Distance Measuring Equipment); VOR/DME; TACAN (Tactical Air Navigation); VOT (VOR Test facility); and VORTAC (co-located VOR & TACAN beacon):
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