Yeti Airlines

Yeti Airlines Pvt. Ltd. (Nepali: यती एअरलाइन्स) is an airline based in Kathmandu, Nepal. The airline was established in May 1998 and received its air operator’s certificate on 17 August 1998. It is the parent company of Tara Air. As of 2021, Yeti Airlines was the second largest domestic carrier in Nepal, after Buddha Air.

Yeti Airlines Operations Manager Bhavraroopa Biswabandita investigating a lost luggage complaint at Kathmandu International Airport.

Company president Indragop Rakshek holding a news conference with the local media. He is known to get quite animated and emotional when discussing his airline.

A Boeing executive making a sales pitch to Acquisition manager Gianprakash Tribikram.

The Gimli Glider

The American system of measurement and its units—feet, miles, pounds, and gallons—are quite bizarre. They are random, unintuitive and have no logical relationship to one another, which makes conversion from one type to another a nightmare. In the 1970s, the United States tried to push the country to metric and even passed a law that directed federal agencies to adopt the metric system. But the legislation was not strong enough and many industries chose not to convert. However, some industries, having realized the benefit of the metric system, decided to switch on their own volition.

Now there are two different systems at work, and anytime two different industries using two different system of measurement have to coordinate, extra care needs to be taken to ensure the units are correctly converted. Otherwise the results could be disastrous, just like Air Canada found out in 1983.

Air Canada Boeing 767 C-GAUN, “the Gimli Glider”, taxing at San Francisco International in February 1985.

On the evening of July 22, 1983, an Air Canada Boeing 767 C-GAUN arrived in Edmonton, Alberta, following a flight from Toronto and spent the night at the tarmac. During the stopover, a technician performing a routine check of the airplane and discovered that the plane’s fuel gauges were not working. The technician tracked the problem down to a defective channel in the fuel-quantity indication system (FQIS), a computer that takes reading from the fuel sensors in the tank and converts it into the various units required by other aircraft systems, including the fuel gauges. The FQIS uses two redundant channels, but a failure in only one channel causes the entire FQIS to fail. The technician managed to solve the problem by disabling the faulty channel, and the gauges blinked back to life. The technician logged the temporary fix in the aircraft’s logbook, and also left instruction that the fuel levels need to be checked manually, as the protocol required as additional safety measures since one of the processor channels was inoperative.

The next morning, Captain John Weir and co-pilot Captain Donald Johnson were told about the problem. Since the FQIS was operating on a single channel, a manual fuel drip measurement was taken to double check the amount of fuel in the tanks, and no discrepancy was found. The plane flew to Toronto and then to Montreal without incident.

At Montreal, the airplane was taken over by Captain Bob Pearson and First Officer Maurice Quintal. Before handing over the airplane, Weir described the problem to Pearson, but the latter got the impression that not only the FQIS was at fault, but the gauges themselves had been blank.

As they waited for a dripstick test, a ground engineer climbed into the cockpit to inspect the FQIS. He found the circuit breaker that the technician at Edmonton had pulled out to disable the faulty channel, and in order to check his diagnosis, pushed the breaker back into channel 2. Immediately, the fuel gauges went offline. The technician logged his observation in the logbook, but before he could pull out the circuit breaker, he was called back out of the aircraft to assist in the drip check currently in progress. The technician left the craft forgetting to return the circuit breakers to their original positions. When Captain Pearson and his First Officer Maurice Quintal arrived in the cockpit minutes later, they found the fuel gauges blank, as they had expected.

The dripstick test involves pulling out a hollow tube from the underside of the fuel tank located on the wings of an aircraft. When the top of the dripstick is withdrawn below the level of the fuel, fuel enters it and drips through a hole in the cap. Graduations on the tube indicate the depth of the fuel in the tank in centimeters. This value is converted into volume in liters and then into kilograms by multiplying this figure by the density of jet fuel. Traditionally, on all Air Canada aircrafts, the density was measured in pounds per liter, but this particular aircraft, the 767, was an entirely new model to enter service which used the metric system instead of imperial. But the technicians didn’t know that.

During calculation, the fueler consulted his documentation, which still reported all figures in the Imperial system, and found that the density of jet fuel was 1.77 pounds/liter. Using that conversion factor, the technicians calculated that the airplane needed 4,917 liters of additional fuel for the flight from Montreal to Ottawa to Edmonton. The correct conversion factor should have 0.803 kg/liter, which would have yielded a figure of 20,088 liters. The dripstick check found that 7,682 liters of fuel were already in the tanks, which meant that when the plane took off from Montreal on July 23, 1983, it had less than half the amount required to reach their destination. A working fuel gauge would have shown the discrepancy, but the fuel gauges were offline and without them there was no other way for the pilots to know the real amount of fuel the airplane was carrying.

The plane reached Ottawa without incident. Some passengers disembarked, others boarded, and again the ground technicians carried a fuel check, making the same exact error. Everything was found to be in order, and the air traffic controller gave the go ahead, and once again the plane took off destined for Edmonton.

Shortly after 8 pm, when Flight 143 was cruising over Red Lake, Ontario, at 41,000 feet the plane ran out of fuel. At first the pilots assumed an instrumentation error and turned off the alarms. But minutes later, both the engines flamed out. The 767 was one of the first jets to use an electronic instrument system powered by its engines. This meant that when the engines stopped working, all the instruments went dark. However, the jet was equipped with a ram air turbine (RAT) that dropped out of the fuselage and generated enough power to function emergency instruments and also provided some hydraulic support for the crew to be able to maneuver the plane.

Pearson and Quintal decided to divert the plane to Winnipeg, 65 miles away. But after making some calculation, Quintal announced that they would never make to Winnipeg. Instead, he suggested that they try to land at a decommissioned military airbase in the town of Gimli, some 45 miles from their position, near the shores of Lake Winnipeg. 

Gimli had two 7,200-foot runways, but the pilots did not know that the runways had been converted to a race track complex, now known as Gimli Motorsports Park. It included a road race course, a go-kart track, and a dragstrip. As fate would have it, it was race day and the track was full of cars and campers.

Without main power, the pilots used a technique called ‘gravity drop’ to lower the landing gear and lock it into place. The main gear locked into position, but the nose wheel was too light to drop by gravity alone and was only partially extended.

As the plane approached the runway, the pilots realized they were coming in too high and fast. If they didn’t loose altitude fast, they would overshoot the runway entirely. The pilots briefly considered making a 360° loop to reduce speed and altitude, but they decided that they did not have enough altitude for the maneuver. Pearson, an experienced glider pilot, decided to execute a forward slip to increase drag and reduce altitude. A forward slip is a technique commonly used in gliders and light aircraft to descend more quickly without increasing forward speed. It is almost never used in large jet airliners. Admiral Cloudberg explains how a slip can be executed:

A slip can be induced on any aircraft by steering the nose in one direction with the rudder, while banking in the opposite direction with the ailerons to compensate. This allows the plane to maintain its present course while skidding or slipping with one side facing into the oncoming air and the forward wing pointed at the ground. Pointing the side of the fuselage into the airstream in this manner generates enormous drag which will cause the plane to descend while also keeping its forward airspeed in check.

With both of its engines dead, the plane made hardly any noise as it approached the drag strip. Pearson could only hope people got out of the way. As the gliding plane closed in on the decommissioned runway, the pilots noticed two boys were riding bicycles within 1,000 feet of the projected point of impact. Captain Pearson later said that the boys were so close that he could see the looks of sheer terror on their faces as they realized that a large aircraft was bearing down on them.

As the plane touched down, the nose gear collapsed back into the wheel well, causing the aircraft’s nose to slam into the tarmac and then scrap along the ground. The friction helped slow the plane down and kept it from crashing into the crowds surrounding the runway. All 61 people on board survived.

After an investigation by Air Canada, Captain Pearson was demoted for six months, and First Officer Quintal was suspended for two weeks for their role in the fuel miscalculation and making the erroneous and reckless decision to fly with blank fuel gauges. These suspensions were overturned following an appeal. Two years later, Pearson and Quintal were awarded the first ever Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Diploma for Outstanding Airmanship.

The airplane was repaired and returned to service with Air Canada, where it continued to fly for 25 years until its decommission in 2008. The Gimli Glider was scrapped in 2014.

Getting some rays up on a wind turbine 

Drones go where no one has gone before, and in this video one caught someone sunbathing high atop a colossal wind turbine in Rhode Island. The pilot planned to only film the turbine, but his camera noticed something odd. There was a man napping, catching some rays high atop the turbine, 200 feet up! Roused by the rotary blades of the drone, the sunbathing gentleman woke from his nap and then sat, sat up and cheerily waved. 

American aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford leads strike group into Halifax for port visit

HALIFAX, N.S. — Halifax is welcomed a big American visitor on Friday, when the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford and its strike group arrived in the Nova Scotia capital.

The carrier is the flagship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which includes air, maritime, and ground assets from NATO allies and partner nations, according to a news release. 

The group set sail from Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 4, and has been exercising in the Atlantic Ocean.  

This port visit is the first outside the U.S., alongside ships from NATO nations to include Demark, the Netherlands, Spain, and Germany.  

The nuclear-powered flagship is named in honour of the 38th president of the United States, who served in the navy during the Second World War.

Futuristic concept aircraft carriers 

Aircraft carriers have always evoked awe and amazement with their size and capabilities of launching airplanes from their giant decks.  Today the giant carriers that patrol the oceans belong to the United States Navy.  These ships displace 100,000 tons and are over a thousand feet long.  The U.S. currently has 11 of these super carriers with another under construction.  Other countries have aircraft carriers but nothing approaching the size of the American ships.

France has carriers less than half the size of the U.S. carriers.  The U.K. has carriers with a displacement of 65,000 tons.  Other than the U.K and France there a few other countries with smaller carriers.  But there are two countries with very big carriers.  Not as big as the U.S. but bigger than the U.K and French ships.  Russia has one and China has another one. 

Admiral Kuznetsov is the Russian carrier.  It displaces 65,000 tons and does limited patrolling in the Mediterranean. 

There was a second carrier of the same design that apparently has landed up in the hands of the People’s Liberation Army Navy of China,  the Varyag.

Varyag being towed in Istanbul.

Varyag was to be an Admiral Kuznetsov class multirole aircraft carrier of the Soviet Union. She was known as Riga when her keel was laid down at Shipyard 444 (now Nikolayev South) in Nikolayev December 6, 1985.  Design of the carrier was undertaken by the Nevskoye Planning and Design Bureau.  She was launched December 4, 1988, but she was renamed Varyag (Varangian) in late 1990, after the famous Russian cruiser.

Construction stopped by 1992, with the ship structurally complete but without electronics. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, ownership was transferred to Ukraine; the ship was laid up, unmaintained, then stripped. In early 1998, she lacked engines, a rudder, and much of her operating systems, and was put up for auction.

It was purchased at auction for US$20 million by Chong Lot Travel Agency, a company widely believed to be a front for Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Chong Lot stated that the ship would become a floating entertainment center and casino in the Chinese SAR of Macau. However, this has been proven incorrect as the ship is docked in Dalian and painted PLAN grey. The Chinese Navy has reportedly named the carrier Shi Lang and received delivery of the ship in October 2010.  Defense News and Intelligence sources claim that the ship has been refitted and will be put through Sea Trials in the summer of 2011.

Now that China is about to have an aircraft carrier in its inventory, there are some futuristic concept carrier designs showing up on-line with Chinese colours and aircraft. 

This catamaran design would be very fast in the water and allows for basically 2 carrier megastructures to be fused together.

These giant ships would be giant targets also.  The enemy would throw everything they had at the beast.  These ships would be very susceptible to U.S. cruise missiles and torpedoes.

Taking the futuristic carrier concept to a whole new level is the idea of an aircraft carrier that could fly itself.  A big nuclear powered platform that could fly at high altitude and launch fighter jets and helicopters while airborne.

These renderings show the power plants as giant fans along the sides of these leviathans.  It would be a lot of tonnage to keep in the sky for extended periods.

These giant flying ships would also be very detectable to radar and other sensors.  But maybe they would have a cloaking capability, which would allow them to pass into enemy airspace undetected and unleash the wrath of the fighter bombers zooming off the decks. 

The one below has the power fans running down the centre of the ship.  It looks like a Chinese design.

Vesna Vulovic’s 33,000 Feet Fall

On January 26, 1972, the JAT Yugoslav Airlines Flight 367 flying from Stockholm to Belgrade became the target of a terrorist attack. A suitcase bomb tucked inside the baggage compartment of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 aircraft exploded when the airplane was cruising at an altitude of 33,000 feet over East Germany. The explosion tore through the fuselage of the narrow-body jetliner, breaking it apart into three pieces. The wreckage then crashed near the village of Srbská Kamenice in Czechoslovakia. Typically, there should have been no survivors, but this time around there was one—a flight attendant named Vesna Vulovic.

Vesna Vulovic.

The 22-year old Serbian flight attendant Vesna Vulovic was part of the secondary cabin crew who boarded the airplane in Copenhagen, where the flight made a brief stopover en route to Belgrade. But Vulovic was not supposed to be on the doomed flight. Vulovic’s schedule got mixed up with that of another stewardess named Vesna, and she was subsequently placed on the wrong flight. Nevertheless, Vulović was happy for the mistake because it allowed her to travel to Denmark, a country she had never been to before.

At 4:01 pm, forty-six minutes after take off from Copenhagen Airport, the bomb placed in the baggage compartment went off, and the airplane broke apart. As the cabin depressurized, the passengers and other flight crew were sucked out of the plane into freezing temperatures and fell to their deaths. Vulovic miraculously got trapped inside one of the broken sections of the fuselage by a food cart, protecting her from frigid temperatures, as it plummeted towards the ground. The fuselage section with Vulovic trapped inside crash landed in thick snow in a heavily wooded area, which cushioned the impact.

The route of flight JAT367

The route of flight JAT367. Image: Karel x/Wikimedia

A villager named Bruno Honke discovered Vulovic when he heard her screaming amid the wreckage. Honke had been a medic during World War II and was able to keep Vulović alive until rescuers arrived. She suffered a fractured skull, two broken legs, and three broken vertebrae, one of which was crushed completely. Her pelvis was fractured and several ribs were also broken. Her injuries resulted in her being temporarily paralyzed below the waist, and she spent several days in coma. Doctors later told her that her history of low blood pressure caused her to pass out quickly after the cabin depressurized and kept her heart from bursting on impact.

Vulovic couldn’t remember anything about her flight and the ordeal. The last thing she remembered was greeting passengers as they boarded. The next thing she remembered was seeing her parents in her hospital room about one month later. She had to be told that she survived a plane crash, and when shown a newspaper headline by her doctor, she reportedly fainted.

Photo: CTK / Alamy Stock Photo

After several surgeries, and ten months later, Vulovic was able to walk again although the accident left her with a permanent limp. By September 1972, and less than nine months after the incident, Vulovic was eager to go back to work, but JAT gave her a desk job instead, because they didn’t want Vulovic drawing too much publicity.

Back home, Vulovic became a national celebrity and received a decoration from Yugoslav President Josip Tito. The Serbian folk singer Miroslav Ilić even wrote a song in her honor. In 1985, Vulovic ended up in the Guinness Book of World Records for surviving the highest fall without a parachute, at 10,160 meters (33,330 feet).

For decades after the crash, Vulovic struggled with survivor’s guilt. “Whenever I think of the accident, I have a prevailing, grave feeling of guilt for surviving it and I cry … Then I think maybe I should not have survived at all,” she told The Independent in 2012. Vulovic declined therapy to help cope with her experiences and instead turned to religion, becoming a devout Orthodox Christian. She stated that her ordeal had turned her into an optimist. “If you can survive what I survived, you can survive anything,” she said.

Monument to victims of the Yugoslav aircraft tragedy of 1972, in Srbská Kamenice. Photo: palickap/Wikimedia

When she was asked whether she considered herself lucky, she replied: “No, I’m not. I’m not lucky. Everybody thinks I am lucky, but they a mistaken. If I were lucky I would never had this accident and my mother and father would be alive. The accident ruined their lives too.”

Vulovic became a political activist in later life, that cost her her job—she was fired from JAT for speaking out against Serbian statesman Slobodan Milošević and taking part in anti-government protests. She avoided arrest because the government was concerned about the negative publicity that her imprisonment would bring. She later campaigned on behalf of the Democratic Party and advocated for Serbia’s entry into the European Union, which she believed would bring economic prosperity.

Vesna Vulovic died in 2016 at the age of 66.