United Customers

Some people have issues with the airline.

On the evening of April 9, 2017, a revenue passenger was forcibly removed by law enforcement from United Airlines flight 3411 at Chicago-O’Hare, bound for Louisville. United announced that it needed four seats for airline staff on the sold-out flight. When no passengers volunteered after being offered vouchers worth $800, United staff selected four passengers to leave. Three of them did so, but the fourth, a doctor named David Dao, declined as he said that he had patients to treat the following morning. He was pulled from his seat by Chicago Department of Aviation security officers and dragged by his arms down the aisle. Dao sustained a concussion, broken teeth, a broken nose, and other injuries. The incident was captured on smartphone cameras and posted on social media, triggering an angry public backlash. Afterwards, United’s chief executive officer, Oscar Munoz, described Dao as “disruptive and belligerent”, apologized for “re-accommodating” the paying customers, and defended and praised staff for “following established procedures”. He was widely criticized as “tone-deaf”. Munoz later issued a second statement calling what happened a “truly horrific event” and accepting “full responsibility” for it. After a lawsuit, Dao reached an undisclosed settlement with United and airport police. In the aftermath, United’s board of directors decided that Munoz would not become its chairman and that executive compensation would be tied to customer satisfaction. Following this incident, passenger complaints increased by 70 percent.

Return of the Zeppelin – Travel by Airship is Making a Big Comeback

Before the zeppelin travel disaster of the Hindenburg in which 36 people were lost when the giant airship crashed and exploded in New Jersey in 1937, people looked forward to a future of travel in these graceful, lightweight zeppelins. They were more fuel efficient than airplanes which were just beginning to offer transcontinental service thanks to Charles A. Lindbergh’s successful flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.

They were also much faster than steamships, the most popular mode of travel at the time, completing the journey in only forty three hours as opposed to almost a week on the sea. Because of their efficiency and new technology airships may be making a comeback, according to Smithsonian.

The Hindenburg was inflated with hydrogen, a highly flammable gas. As the ship came in to dock, an electrostatic discharge, a spark, ignited a leak of hydrogen. Dr. Julian David Hunt, along with his colleagues at the Energy and Water Programs at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, are conducting a study with the intent of proving that airships can lower CO2 emissions from shipping commercial goods by not only using hydrogen, a cleaner, renewable source of fuel, but by using the winds of the jet steam which are reliably west to east.

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The first zeppelin ascent over Lake Constance, Switzerland in 1900

The team is conducting research on dynamics, new designs, different propulsion systems, solar power, wind turbine power, and a multitude of other methods to find a viable alternative to commercial aircraft and maritime shipping, according to ScienceDirect. Wind speeds were tracked for a year, and an ideal latitude was computed to be 36.5° with a round trip taking sixteen days in the northern hemisphere and −30.5° latitude with a round trip taking fourteen days for the southern hemisphere, considerably reducing the time it takes for maritime shipping.

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Postcard of the Zeppelin travel airship “Schwaben”, circa 1912

The most commonly seen airships are the blimps, such as the Goodyear blimp, which rely totally on internal gas, usually helium, to keep their shape. Zeppelin, however, is a brand name and applies only to ships built by the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin of Germany, founded by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a German aristocrat and an officer in the army of Wurttemberg. Airships.net explains that zeppelins are usually rigid airships like the Hindenburg.

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Navy airship flying over NYC

Goodyear blimps have flown over football stadiums and other sporting events for years with their brightly lit digital advertising and are a frequent sight among the residents of Akron, Ohio especially during homecoming season at Akron University.

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The Goodyear blimp

They are being replaced by Zeppelins, the newest being the Wingfoot Three which is housed at the Wingfoot Lake Base in Suffield Township just outside of Akron. While the ships in Akron only provide rides under limited circumstances and as prizes for contests, the German site in Friedrichshafen, Germany offers extensive scenic flights according to company website, ZepplinNT.

The disaster of 1937 did not completely curtail the use of airships. Centennial of Flight reports that when the United States entered the second world war in 1942, Congress authorized construction of two hundred airships which the Navy used for search and rescue, minesweeping, anti submarine patrols, photographic reconnaissance, and escorting convoys and civilian ships.

Three million square miles were patrolled by airships including both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. They could spot enemy submarines long before the surface ships knew they were there and could stay in flight for sixty hours.

The U.S. Navy curtailed the use of airships in 1962 and considered reviving them in the 1980s, but in 1989 Congress stopped all funding. It appears now, however, that travel by zeppelin may be reemerging as a shipping solution to transport goods with less environmental impact. Time will tell.

Concept airship with a pool!

Thevintagenews.com

The Doomsday Jet

The Boeing E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post, with the project name “Nightwatch”, is a strategic command and control military aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). The E-4 series was specially modified from the Boeing 747-200B. The E-4 serves as a survivable mobile command post for the National Command Authority, namely the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and successors. The four E-4Bs are operated by the 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron of the 55th Wing located at Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska. An E-4B is denoted a “National Airborne Operations Center” when in action, it is to be a command platform in the event of nuclear war.

 

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The E-4B is designed to survive an EMP with systems intact and has state-of-the-art direct fire countermeasures. Although many older aircraft have been upgraded with glass cockpits, the E-4B still uses traditional analog flight instruments, as they are less susceptible to damage from an EMP blast.[

The E-4B is capable of operating with a crew up to 112 people including flight and mission personnel, the largest crew of any aircraft in US Air Force history. With in-flight aerial refueling it is capable of remaining airborne for a considerable period (limited only by consumption of the engines’ lubricants and food supplies). In a test flight for endurance, the aircraft remained airborne and fully operational for 35.4 hours, however it was designed to remain airborne for a full week in the event of an emergency. It takes two fully loaded KC-135 tankers to fully refuel an E-4B. The E-4B has three operational decks: upper, middle, and lower.

 

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In January 2006, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced a plan to retire the entire E-4B fleet starting in 2009. This was reduced to retiring one of the aircraft in February 2007. The next Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates reversed this decision in May 2007. This is due to the unique capabilities of the E-4B, which cannot be duplicated by any other single aircraft in Air Force service, and the cancellation in 2007 of the E-10 MC2A, which was considered as a successor to the EC-135 and E-8 aircraft, and could also perform many of the same tasks of the E-4B. As of the 2015 federal budget there were no plans for retiring the E-4B. The E-4B airframe has a usable life of 115K hours and 30K cycles, which would be reached in 2039; the maintenance limiting point would occur some time in the 2020s.

All four produced are operated by the U.S. Air Force, and are assigned to the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron (1ACCS) of the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Maintenance and crews are provided by Air Combat Command. Operations are coordinated by the United States Strategic Command.

When the President travels outside of North America using a VC-25A as Air Force One, an E-4B will deploy to a second airport in the vicinity of the President’s destination, to be readily available in the event of a world crisis or an emergency that renders the VC-25A unusable. When the President visits Honolulu, Hawaii, an E-4B has often been stationed 200 miles away at Hilo International Airport on Hawaii Island.

 

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Battle Staff Cabin

 

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A right front view of an E-4 advanced airborne command post (AABNCP) on the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) simulator for testing.

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An electromagnetic pulse (EMP), also sometimes called a transient electromagnetic disturbance, is a short burst of electromagnetic energy. Such a pulse’s origination may be a natural occurrence or man-made and can occur as a radiated, electric or magnetic field or a conducted electric current, depending on the source.

EMP interference is generally disruptive or damaging to electronic equipment, and at higher energy levels a powerful EMP event such as a lightning strike can damage physical objects such as buildings and aircraft structures. The management of EMP effects is an important branch of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) engineering.

Weapons have been developed to create the damaging effects of high-energy EMP. These are typically divided into nuclear and non-nuclear devices. Such weapons, both real and fictional, have become known to the public by means of popular culture.

John Glenn Military Flight History

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John Herschel Glenn Jr. (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016) was an American aviator, engineer, astronaut, and United States Senator from Ohio. In 1962 he became the first American to orbit the Earth, circling three times. Before joining NASA, he was a distinguished fighter pilot in both World War II and Korea, with six Distinguished Flying Crosses and eighteen clusters to the Air Medal.

Glenn was one of the “Mercury Seven” group of military test pilots selected in 1959 by NASA to become America’s first astronauts. On February 20, 1962, he flew the Friendship 7 mission and became the first American to orbit the Earth and the fifth person in space. Glenn received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990, and was the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven.

After he resigned from NASA in 1964, Glenn planned to run for a U.S. Senate seat from Ohio. A member of the Democratic Party, he first won election to the Senate in 1974 where he served through January 3, 1999.

He retired from the Marine Corps in 1965, after twenty-three years in the military, with over fifteen medals and awards, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. In 1998, while still a sitting senator, he became the oldest person to fly in space, and the only one to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs as crew member of the Discovery space shuttle. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

 

Photograph of John Glenn in the cockpit his F8U-1P Crusader during the "Project Bullet" record breaking transcontinental flight, 1957

Photograph of John Glenn in the cockpit his F8U-1P Crusader during the “Project Bullet” record breaking transcontinental flight, 1957

 

John Glenn was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio, the son of John Herschel Glenn, Sr. (1895–1966) and Clara Teresa (née Sproat) Glenn (1897–1971). He was raised in nearby New Concord.

After graduating from New Concord High School in 1939, he studied Engineering at Muskingum College. He earned a private pilot license for credit in a physics course in 1941. Glenn did not complete his senior year in residence or take a proficiency exam, both requirements of the school for the Bachelor of Science degree. However, the school granted Glenn his degree in 1962, after his Mercury space flight.

When the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II, Glenn quit college to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps. However, he was never called to duty, and in March 1942 enlisted as a United States Navy aviation cadet. He went to the University of Iowa for preflight training, then continued on to NAS Olathe, Kansas, for primary training. He made his first solo flight in a military aircraft there. During his advanced training at the NAS Corpus Christi, he was offered the chance to transfer to the U.S. Marine Corps and took it.

Upon completing his training in 1943, Glenn was assigned to Marine Squadron VMJ-353, flying R4D transport planes. He transferred to VMF-155 as an F4U Corsair fighter pilot, and flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific. He saw combat over the Marshall Islands, where he attacked anti-aircraft batteries on Maloelap Atoll. In 1945, he was assigned to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, and was promoted to captain shortly before the war’s end.

Glenn flew patrol missions in North China with the VMF-218 Marine Fighter Squadron, until it was transferred to Guam. In 1948 he became a flight instructor at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, followed by attending the Amphibious Warfare School.

 

F4U Corsair

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During the Korean War, Glenn was assigned to VMF-311, flying the new F9F Panther jet interceptor. He flew his Panther in 63 combat missions, gaining the nickname “magnet ass” from his alleged ability to attract enemy flak. On two occasions, he returned to his base with over 250 holes in his aircraft. For a time, he flew with Marine reservist Ted Williams, a future Hall of Fame baseball player for the Boston Red Sox, as his wingman. He also flew with future Major General Ralph H. Spanjer.

Glenn flew a second Korean combat tour in an interservice exchange program with the United States Air Force, 51st Fighter Wing. He logged 27 missions in the faster F-86F Sabre and shot down three MiG-15s near the Yalu River in the final days before the ceasefire.

For his service in 149 combat missions in two wars, he received numerous honors, including the Distinguished Flying Cross (six occasions) and the Air Medal with eighteen award stars.

 

F9F Panther

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Glenn’s USAF F-86F that he dubbed “MiG Mad Marine” during the Korean War, 1953

 

Glenn returned to NAS Patuxent River, appointed to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (class 12), graduating in 1954. He served as an armament officer, flying planes to high altitude and testing their cannons and machine guns. He was assigned to the Fighter Design Branch of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics (now Bureau of Naval Weapons) as a test pilot on Navy and Marine Corps jet fighters in Washington, D.C., from November 1956 to April 1959, during which time he also attended the University of Maryland.

Glenn had nearly 9,000 hours of flying time, with approximately 3,000 hours in jet aircraft.

On July 16, 1957, Glenn completed the first supersonic transcontinental flight in a Vought F8U-3P Crusader. The flight from NAS Los Alamitos, California, to Floyd Bennett Field, New York, took 3 hours, 23 minutes and 8.3 seconds. As he passed over his hometown, a child in the neighborhood reportedly ran to the Glenn house shouting “Johnny dropped a bomb! Johnny dropped a bomb! Johnny dropped a bomb!” as the sonic boom shook the town. Project Bullet, the name of the mission, included both the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed (despite three in-flight refuelings during which speeds dropped below 300 mph), and the first continuous transcontinental panoramic photograph of the United States. For this mission Glenn received his fifth Distinguished Flying Cross.

 

F8U-3P Crusader

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Glenn wasn’t finished. He went on to flying much higher.

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John Glenn in his Mercury spacesuit

Super Secret Janet Airlines

Janet, sometimes called Janet Airlines, is the unofficial name given to a highly classified fleet of passenger aircraft operated for the United States Department of the Air Force as an employee shuttle to transport military and contractor employees. The purpose is to pick up the employees at their home airport, and take them to their place of work. Then, in the afternoon, they take the employees back to their home airports. The airline mainly serves the Nevada National Security Site (most notably Area 51 and the Tonopah Test Range), from a private terminal at Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport.

The Janet fleet consists of six Boeing 737-600s painted white with a prominent red cheatline. There are also five smaller executive turboprops (two Beechcraft 1900s and three Beechcraft 200Cs) painted white with less prominent blue trim stripes. The fleet is registered to the Department of the Air Force, while some earlier members were registered to several civil aircraft leasing corporations.

The whole Janet fleet, minus one, parked in front of the Luxor hotel.  The fleet has its own private terminal at McCarran International.

 

Due to the airline’s secretive nature, little is known about its organization. It is operated for the USAF by infrastructure and defense contractor AECOM through AECOM’s acquisition in 2014 of URS Corporation, which acquired EG&G Technical Services in 2002, as derived from URS’s history of providing this service to the Air Force and job openings published by URS. For example, in 2010, URS announced it would be hiring Boeing 737 flight attendants to be based in Las Vegas, requiring applicants to undergo a Single Scope Background Investigation in order to be able to obtain a Top Secret security clearance. More recently, AECOM has posted similar openings.

Due to its secrecy, Janet airlines boards at a special part of McCarran International Airport. They board planes at the west side of the airport, next to the Janet Airlines passenger parking lot. There is even a small terminal building for passengers.

Janet flights operate with a three-digit flight number and a WWW-prefix. In the official publication of ICAO airline codes, this specific three-letter designator is listed as being blocked. The official airline callsign is simply Janet. However, the airlines also uses different callsigns, called Groom Callsigns once transferred over to Groom Lake from Nellis control. The callsign name would change, and the callsign number will be the last 2 digits of the flight number +15. For example, if the callsign was Janet 412, and was transferred to Groom Lake control, the callsign would be something like ¨Bunny 27¨.

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A Very Strange Airport

Madeira International Airport, located near Funchal, Madeira in Portugal was first opened on July 1964 with two 1,600-meter (5,249 ft) runways. The short runway made landing a tricky business for even the most experienced of pilots. The high mountains surrounding the airport and the nearby ocean only complicated matters. First the pilots has to aim their aircraft at the mountains, and then break a hard right to meet the runway. Aside to the shift of direction, the warm winds coming off the ocean meet the cooler mountain dry air, which in-turn produces massive turbulence.

 

 

On November 19, 1977, a Boeing 727 aircraft flying from Brussels tried desperately to stop after touching down 2000 feet past the threshold in heavy rain, strong winds and poor visibility, but slid off the end and plunged 200 feet into the land below killing 131 people aboard. The crash prompted officials to explore ways of extending the short runway.

Eight years after the incident a 200 meters extension was built over the ocean and again extended in 2000. But instead of using landfill, the extension was built on a series of 180 concrete columns, each being about 70 meters. The total length of the runway was almost doubled, which means that half of the runway is held up by pillars.

For the unique runway expansion project the Funchal Airport has won the Outstanding Structures Award in 2004 given by International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE).