Tag Archives: aviation

More Fun With Counter-Insurgency Aircraft

From the Flickr stream of the President of Ecuador. SRSLY!!!!!

Note — See corrections at the end.

In their ongoing quest to secure a US government relationship for their Super Tucano turboprop aircraft, Brazillian firm Embraer is partnering with American firm Sierra Nevada to compete for a contract to build 20 trainers and counter-insurgency planes for Afghan pilots at the behest of the American military, as well as 15 craft for the US Air Force to use in the same capacity.

First, El Salvador: The Brazilian Super Tucano is a turboprop plane designed for low-level, low-speed anti-insurgency and ground support missions. The El Salvadoran government was due to buy 8-10 of the planes, which were intended to assist El Salvador’s mounting commitments to fight drug trafficking on the borders, target illegal drug crops, and maintain security around prisons, as well as (to translate roughly), “help with security on the streets.” Creepy, much? (READ MORE)


Russian Space Plane Prompts Talk of a New Space Race

U.S. Air Force image of the U.S. X-37B before launch.

Flight Global reported yesterday on Russia’s announcement of a new space plane to rival the United States X-37B, an unmanned orbital craft designed to deliver payloads but not ferry people.

The Russian program was announced by Oleg Ostapenko, “the head of the armed forces unit dedicated to military space operations.”

David Axe of Wired’s Danger Room…(READ MORE)

Virginia Women Pwn Record for All-Female Head-down Formation Skydive

Image from the Fredricksburg Free-Lance Star (uncredited on that site, so...photographer unknown).

Lindley Estes at the Fredricksburg (Virginia) Free Lance Star reports that a team from tandem skydiving outfit Skydive Orange set a new world record for an all-female head-down formation skydive, with 41 women jumping and joining hands in midair. This is quite a feat, given that only 15% of the members of the US Parachute Association are women.

The largest all-female formation skydive, period, was accomplished in 2009 and featured 181 women — but they didn’t have their heads down.


Around the World in an Autogyro for Social Networking and Bowel Cancer

Photo from Norman's JustGiving page.

Northern Irish pilot and cancer survivor Norman Surplus is back home in Larne, Northern Ireland, after surviving a crash in Thailand and making it to the Philippines.

He’s flying his amazing yellow autogyro, the G-YROX, around the world. You can help by following his progress on his Facebook page and donating to his effort. News about the voyage:

During take-off from a small airstrip at Nong Prue in Thailand, Norman and his gyro fell out of the sky. Thankfully Norman wasn’t hurt but his trusty GYROX ended up in a bad way. It took a while but repairs to the aircraft were eventually completed and a very relieved Norman set off once again on his journey. He reached the Philippines before red tape and bad weather called a halt on his progress for this year. He’s now back in Larne but come Spring 2011, he’ll be back in the Far East to restart his flight from where he left off.


The autogiro, autogyro or gyroplane, in case you don’t know, is that funky thing that’s neither a plane nor a helicopter; the rotors only provide lift after the vehicle is up to speed. READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON TECHYUM.

Mexican Surveillance Drone Crashes in El Paso

Orbiter Mini-UAV on launch. Photo (c) 2005 Tal Tikotzki, from the Aeronautics Systems Ltd website.

Despite the hard border between the US and Mexico, El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico, are so intimately intertwined as to almost be one city. They’re across the Rio Grande from one another, but they still feel bizarrely contiguous. Driving along the highway skirting El Paso, the delineation is shocking; at numerous points you can see the ramshackle turquoise houses of Juarez on one side and the strip-malls of El Paso on the other. In fact, the original name of Juarez was El Paso del Norte (which means “The North Pass,” to El Paso’s “The Pass”).

So it’s not that surprising that a Mexican surveillance drone has crashed in El Paso, Texas. It’s strangely telling that the model was an Orbiter UAV manufactured by the Israeli Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd.

It’s as if the thing rolled off its assembly line wanting to be a poster-child of border-patrol militarization and globalization. Plus, the Mexican government originally denied the drone’s Mexican origin (READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON TECHYUM)

The International Space Station’s Desperate Careen Toward Privatization

Soyuz TMA-18 launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in April, 2010. Public domain NASA image.

As you probably know, the US Space Shuttle program will call it quits next summer with STS-135, planned for June, 2011. However, the US space program isn’t calling it quits at that time; NASA plans to continue sending astronauts and materiel to the International Space Station using commercial carriers. The ISS is expected to remain in operation until at least 2015 and probably 2020; NASA plans to save US taxpayers about a gajillion dollars using private contractors, which is roughly the amount Dick Cheney planned to save by using Blackwater to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wait, did I say that out loud? Sorry, sorry, let me take off my snarky left wing fart-sniffer acey-deucey off and don my credulous space-nerd propeller beanie that celebrates all things post-terrestrial.

There; that’s so much better. What I meant to say, of course, is that NASA is privatizing its journeys to the ISS because that’s the best way to encourage scientific and engineering innovation.

The problem? Those commercial carriers don’t exist yet. Until they do, NASA’s going to have to keep sending Americans skyward on Russian Soyuz rockets. That costs tens of millions of dollars per person.


Indonesia Buys Planes With Teeth

Creative Commons photo of the Embraer Super Tucano by Piñeros Pulido Juan Mauricio.

On this fine Armistice Day, what could honor peace more thoroughly than the news that Indonesia is buying a flock of Super Tucano turboprop counter-insurgency aircraft, the same model that the U.S. Navy considered for “irregular warfare,” Blackwater bought in 2007 and Kansas lawmaker Sam Brownback flipped out about exactly one year today.

Why do you care?

I mean…other than because it looks like some bad-ass World War II fighter?

You probably don’t, or at least you won’t until the zombie war begins. If you think you might, stick with me, or skip past the jump and get the brain-eating payoff.