November 29th, 2014
Kieran Healy is proud to bring the world Air Gini:
I found myself wondering what a plane with seating laid out on the basis of the U.S. income distribution would look like. So, following Beth's lead, I decided to get into the aviation business and launch Air Gini, America's most American airline.
I appreciate that this isn't the point of Healy's thought experiment, but I can't help but imagine that those eight passengers he's allocated seats in First Class wouldn't dream of setting foot on a regular commercial flight when they could fly in their own private jet.
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June 1st, 2014
David Owen writes for The New Yorker about the designers behind business class – or, more specifically, the designers behind the design of the seating since airlines reintroduced seats-that-doubled-as-beds in the 1990s:
"A good seat doesn't show you everything it's got in the first ten minutes," he said. "It surprises you during the flight, and lets you discover things you weren't expecting."
My favourite part of this story isn't about the amazing attention to detail that goes into the curve of a seat or the placement of a switch, or even about how saving a few centimetres per row can mean the difference between a flight breaking even and making a loss. It's the bit about how pretty much everything anyone wants to install inside an airliner's cabin has to go through a process of "delethalization", making it both marginally safer in the event that the airliner undergoes rapid deceleration and vastly more expensive than consumer-grade kit.
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November 11th, 2013
This video of a Piper Super Cub landing on a windy mountain top is marvelous.
Even when you know what's about to happen, you're watching the film and thinking "OK, in a minute he's going to bank sharply and the runway will swing into the camera's field of vision and this'll be relatively straightforward." Then the pilot banks sharply and puts the aeroplane down on a rough piece of land clinging to the side of the mountain. One where he's going uphill!
After which he goes out, takes a few pictures, observes that it's really cold, and takes off with just as little fuss. Great stuff.
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October 27th, 2013
I wish the this slideshow of the story of the Concorde supersonic airliner didn't feature a succession of shots of partly disassembled airframes being shipped off to museums around the world towards the end. Such a graceful aircraft deserved to be remembered in flight.
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October 24th, 2013
A Royal Navy Lynx helicopter from the destroyer HMS Dragon fires infrared missile defence flares above the ship during an exercise in the eastern Mediterranean:
[Via the inside of my brain]
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October 26th, 2012
London Heathrow Approach Time-Lapse.
I love the oddly jittery motion as the airliners bob around in the crosswind, lining up their final approach. It's strangely soothing.
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September 18th, 2012
A week in the life of an airline pilot.
I get that at one level it's little different than driving a bus. Except for all the many ways in which it just isn't.
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March 4th, 2012
One obstacle the organisers of this year's London Olympic Games haven't had to face (as far as we know) is having to clear up airplane graveyards so that tourists can come and watch the games:
Getting Brazil's overcrowded airports ready to play host to soccer's 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games has run into an unexpected obstacle: airplane cemeteries on the tarmac.
At airfields from the muggy Amazon to bustling São Paulo, weather-stained aircraft missing doors, engines and even the odd nose cone rust away in plain sight. The failed fleet includes everything from weather-beaten Boeing 737s in Rio de Janeiro to a World War II-era Douglas C-47 cargo prop idled in the Amazonian outpost of Tabatinga. It has been sitting there for 16 years. […]
[Via The Morning News]
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December 5th, 2011
Lower than a Snake's Belly in a Wagon Rut, or Flying Low is Fun! Some amazing photographs of pilots indulging themselves (and unnerving those of us stuck at ground level.)
The last two get extra marks from me because in the 1970s and 1980s I saw those types at umpteen air displays; they seemed like they'd flown in from a Century 21 production. The Vulcan, in particular, looked like an aircraft from fifty years into the future. In fact, it was designed in the late 1950s and had long since abandoned the role it was designed to fulfil, i.e. carrying Britain's nuclear deterrent.
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