Feb 26, 2008

Halifax Bomber

I've been doing a little research this week regarding a particular flight in a Halifax Bomber in May of 1944. Here's the official accident report:

On the night of 12th May 1944, Halifax III, N.A. 492 took off at 22.19 hours to make an attack on Hasselt. The aircraft arrived over the target at correct height, heading and time. During the run-up to the target and while bomb doors were open the aircraft was hit by a burst of light flak. Two engines were put out of action, a large hole was made in the starboard wing and the mid-upper gun turret put out of action.

The crew were ordered to put on parachutes, the bombs were jettisoned and a course set for England. Aircraft proceeded at 140 m.p.h. and slowly lost height. Whilst crossing the enemy coast over the southern end of Frisian Islands the aircraft was picked up by the searchlights but not held. By this time a quantity of petrol had been lost due to tanks being holed and supplies were low. Distress signals were transmitted while over the sea.

On approaching the English coast the wireless operator obtained two fixes and simultaneously searchlights were seen and the aircraft swung in to land. The rear gunner, in position in the rear turret, felt a violent shock and observed foliage brushing past before the aircraft crashed and burnt in some trees at the edge of the runway at 01.58 hours on 13th May 1944, at R.A.F. Station,

The Pilot, Air Bomber and Flight Engineer were killed in the crash. The Wireless Operator, Navigator and Mid-Upper Gunner received injuries and were detained in hospital. The Rear Gunner was uninjured. Crash Category K2B.

Halifax Bomber Cockpit on display at the Yorkshire Air Museum:

Feb 23, 2008

Now, that's embarrasing!

While doing some research I came across this little gem of a story from WWII regarding a German aircrew accidentally landing on an English airbase:

On 13 July 1944, a Luftwaffe Ju-88 night fighter on North Sea night patrol landed at Woodbridge. This aircraft carried the FuG 220 Lichtenstein radar and FuG 227 Fensburg and FuG 350 Naxos homers which were being successfully used to intercept RAF bombers. The German crew had only just completed 100 hours of flight training and had flown by compass heading, but had proceeded in exactly the wrong direction and thought they were over their own airfield. Within days, the RAE had analysed the radar equipment and devised countermeasures.

I wonder if these flyers were really that bad at navigation? It was late in the war when I think, many young and inexperienced pilots were being pressed into front line service.

Mind you, pilots landing on wrong airports is nothing new!

Feb 18, 2008

Will the Wings Fall Off?

The airline industry in North America is still undergoing changes. Do these changes reflect a new reality for our culture and society as a whole? Take one key statistic from this PBS excerpt. In 1980 a CEO's salary was 40 times that of an average worker. Today it is 400!

This kind of disconnect between employees and CEOs can't produce a healthy company in the long run. More seriously, if this kind of disconnect between people and leaders exists in our society as a whole, as one spokeswoman suggests, then an airline failure is the least of our concerns.

History tells the tale of countless societies that failed calamitously because those in power became "arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy..."

I'll be interested to see if any readers recognize where I took that quote from. The winner gets an all expense paid (by them) trip to their own refrigerator for a glass of their favorite beverage, or whatever else they may find there.

Feb 17, 2008

12 Volt heating...?

Aviatrix recently blogged about a "cigarette lighter" in her aircraft. It made me smile because though I'm a non-smoker, I installed one in my Amateur Built "Zodie" (click on the photo for a close up - I'm sure you'll spot it...)

With the variety of useful gadgets available I was pretty sure it would come in handy. For example I may one day decide to install a ventilation fan for hot weather or for clearing mist off the canopy in winter.

Or I might want to carry a pump in case I need air for a soft tire at an outlying station - or need a flash light. I could even install a solar panel to keep the batteries charged - perhaps during long periods of inactivity - like winter?

Which got me to thinking about winter flying. I don't do a lot of that right now because I don't have a cabin heater. I've been planning to install a hot water auto-type heater as my engine is a converted Honda Civic 1.5 liter CAM100. But my friend with the same aircraft didn't have very much success (i.e. heat) from his installation.

So now I'm wondering about electric heat. This could be simpler and lighter. And more effective as the heat would be applied directly to the body instead of lost in a drafty cabin where it is rapidly sucked away by the 120 miles-per-hour wind chill factor.

Motor-cycle gear apparently requires a different connector, but that's the beauty of a home-built aircraft. I can find the components at a local shop and install them myself.

While I was googling I even found what looks like a 12v fan-driven heater core if I finally decide to go back to the hot-water heat method.

Given the beautiful sunny "flying" day we had on the west coast today, it's definitely something I need to investigate.

Thanks for the ideas, Aviatrix!