Tag Archives: Concorde

Paper planes

Last Christmas I received a funny gift: a fold-a-paper-plane-a-day calendar for 2016. That is a collection of papers with instructions and colored paper to fold a paper plane each day of the year. Doesn’t it sound great? This is just a short post to share a bit of info about it.

The creators of the collection are Kyong Lee and David Mitchell, apparently two experts in the field of origami with plenty of different models designed between the two. The collection in itself hasn’t got 366 different models. In fact, there are 40 models that after mid February repeat themselves once and again with different colors to complete the whole year. As I got some questions about it, I share here a link where the collection can be found.

After this short introduction let’s go to the best part of it, the airplanes themselves. Even if not all models are based on real airplanes (some models are not even inspired on airplanes but based on animals – birds, etc) some are, and when colored they provide a very good look of the original. Below I share some pictures with a general and some weekly overviews of the different planes and some comparison of the most beautiful and real-model-based ones.

Global

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Main models:

Rockwell B-1 Lancer  supersonic variable-sweep wing strategic bomber. Conceived to retire the B-52 (not quite yet) it entered operations in the late 80s and has played a major role in support of operations ever since.

B-1

Boeing 737. Derived from the 707, it first flew in 1967 and still today its newer versions are in production (nearly 9,000 have been delivered to date) and development.

737

Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde  supersonic passenger jet. Supersonic commercial flight was a dream come true from the late 70s to the early 2000s thanks to the Concorde. Only 20 units were built, each one now treasured in museums across the world, since difficult economics and a crash in 2000 ended it its retirement.

Concorde

Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role fighter. Built by a consortium made by  Alenia Aermacchi, Airbus Group and BAE Systems, after its first flew in 1994 it was introduced in operation in 2004, being now the fighter aircraft of the main European air forces.

Eurofighter

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. Introduced in the 1960s, with more than 5,000 units built, it played a major role in Vietnam.

F-4

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. Since its introduction in the late 1970s, with more than 1,000 units built, it plays the air superiority role for the US air force and several others.

F-15

General Dynamics F-16 Falcon. Multi-role fighter introduced in the 1970s, with more than 4,000 built, still in production, now by Lockheed Martin, for export.

F-16

Lockheed P-138 Lightning. Introduced in 1941, with more than 10,000 units built, it was the primary US fighter in WWII until the introduction of the P-51 Mustang.

P-38

Space Shuttle. Introduced in 1981 and retired in 2011. In those 30 years of services it completed 133 successful launches and landings.

Shuttle

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Long range  strategic reconnaissance aircraft that, despite its introduction in the 1960s (now retired) still today keeps several speed and high altitude records.

SR-71

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Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (Le Bourget)

The Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace, in Le Bourget (north of Paris), is yet another great aerospace museum. It reminded me very much to the Aviodrome (The Netherlands) in the chronological point of view of the visit and the local aspect to it (1), paying special attention to French aviation pioneers, flying aces, French fighter aircraft, etc. This is possible, as the role France has played in the development of aviation is, no doubt, crucial.

You may see the distribution of the museum and its galleries in the plan below:

Plan of the museum.

Plan of the museum.

I will now list some of the things that in my opinion make this museum unique (I will leave some anecdotes or details to future blog posts), accompanied by the respective pictures.

Model of Alberto Santos Dumont's Demoiselle (1908).

Model of Alberto Santos Dumont’s Demoiselle (1908).

Alberto Santos-Dumont was a Franco-Brazilian aviation pioneer (2) who with his 14-bis, “Oiseau de proie“, on the 23rd of October 1906, in Paris, performed the first officially witnessed unaided takeoff and flight by a heavier-than-air aircraft. In the picture above you can see him aboard another of his early models, a Demoiselle from 1908.

Workshop of the brothers Voisin (L’Atelier des Freres Voisin),

Workshop of the brothers Voisin (L’Atelier des Freres Voisin).

Some of the construction pioneers at the time were the Voisin brothers. The museum has model of how an aircraft construction workshop could look like at the time, “L’Atelier des FrèresVoisin” (this reminded me of the William E. Boeing Red Barn at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, see a post about it here).

 

Nacelle of a dirigible  Zeppelin LZ 113.

Nacelle of a dirigible Zeppelin LZ 113.

Not everything in aviation are heavier-than-air machines, above you can see the inside of a nacelle of a Zeppelin LZ 113 used in war operations.

Old Le Bourget airport hall ("8 columns hall").

Old Le Bourget airport hall (“8 columns hall”).

Le Bourget was the first civil airport in Paris, opened in 1919. It was in Le Bourget where Charles Lindbergh landed his Spirit of Saint Louis in on the 27th May 1927 when he first crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The museum today occupies part of the old airport. In the picture above you may see the main hall, designed by the architect Georges Labro in a tender made in 1935 the ministry of aviation. The building was inaugurated in 1937 (this hall reminded me of Berlin Tempelhof, you may see a post I wrote about it here).

Models gallery.

Models gallery.

The museum includes an aircraft models gallery. As a collector of models, I liked to spend some time wandering through these models. It also helps to test your own capabilities as a spotter without having to walk or wait a lot.

Inside a C-47 Skytrain Dakota

Inside a C-47 Skytrain Dakota.

In this museum you can get on board a C-47 Skytrain (Dakota being the British designation for the airplane). I believe this was the first time I was inside a DC-3 (an aircraft of which importance to aviation cannot be overstated (3)), as if I remember well, in the Aviodrome you could get inside a DC-2 not -3.

Cut out of a Dassault Mirage F1.

Cut out of a Dassault Mirage F1.

In other museums I had seen cut outs of engines, here in Le Bourget you may see a full size cut out of a Dassault Mirage F1, a wonderful entertainment for engineers and aviation enthusiasts.

747 and Ariane 5

747 and Ariane 5.

In Le Bourget you can see replicas of the Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 (4). That allows you to get a picture of both in the same frame or to get them with a Boeing 747, as pictured above.

Inside of a Boeing 747 cut out.

Inside of a Boeing 747 cut out.

The Boeing 747 is legendary aircraft in itself (5) and the chances of flying in it are decreasing by the year as more airplanes are being retired from service. In Le Bourget, you get the chance to see it really from the inside, as parts of it are really cut out so you can admire its structure, systems, etc.

Concorde: prototype 001 and series airliner.

Concorde: prototype 001 and series airliner.

Some museums around the world have the Concorde as a highlight. In some of them you may get into it. Here in Le Bourget you may get into 2, one of them being the prototype 001, where you can see some flight test installations used for different experiments made with it.

I definitely recommend to visit this museum if you happen to be in Paris. It is located at Le Bourget airport and the entrance is free of charge. A ticket to get into some of the aircraft (747, Concorde, C-47) is sold for 8 euros. I would suggest to take no less than 4 hours to visit the museum.

(1) In the Aviodrome the local focus is put into the figure of Anthony Fokker.

(2) See in this post a review of French aviation pioneers.

(3) See more of the DC-3 in this post that a wrote as a tribute to Douglas Aircraft Company.

(4) So far, I had only seen a replica of the Ariane 5 at the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse, see here a post I wrote about it.

(5) See here a book review I wrote about “747” by Joe Sutter, the programme chief engineer.

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The Museum of Flight (Seattle)

The Museum of Flight, in Seattle, is yet another great aerospace museum. It reminded me very much to the National Air and Space Museum in DC both because of the wealth of aircraft and artifacts in display and the variety of explanations provided (videos, sounds, readings, gadgets to play with…).

The museum is divided in the following areas:

  • Boeing Model 1.

    Boeing Model 1.

    T. A. Wilson Great Gallery (named after Boeing CEO from 1969-1986): this is the first gallery you face when you enter the museum. It hosts:

    • a replica of Boeing Model 1 (first Boeing airplane),
    • a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird plus a cockpit for visitors to enter in it,
    • a 737 converted into a theater with movies being played inside,
    • an exhibition of the bush pilots of Alaska and the development of air mail,
    • some flight simulators,
    • a DC-3, a Bell “Huey” UH-1H Iroquois, etc.
  • Bill & Moya Lear Gallery (Space Exhibit, named after the founder of Lear Jet Corporation): located at the side of the Great Gallery it has a diorama of the Apollo 17 landing site, with rover included, a replica of the International Space Station Destiny Research Laboratory, etc.
  • The Tower: with direct view over the runway.
  • William E. Boeing Red Barn (named after Boeing founder): in my point of view this is “the” highlight of the museum (allow yourself over an hour for this part alone). It explains both:
    • the birth of aviation: with models and panels explaining the contributions of many of the aviation pioneers (see this blog post in which I went through some of them), and,
    • the history of Boeing: from the moment in which the timber businessman, Bill Boeing founds the company, the first Boeing Model 1 (see replica in the picture above), the tools, materials and processes used at the time, how did the factory look, the great aircraft programmes which meant different breakthroughs for the company and the great engineers behind them…
  • Charles Simonyi Space Gallery (named after the Microsoft executive who became in 2007 the 5th space tourist and who in 2009 travelled to the International Space Station): which highlight is the Space Shuttle Trainer used to train Space Shuttle astronauts at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
  • Airpark: with the Boeing 747 “City of Everett” (first ever 747, first ever wide-body aircraft), a Boeing 707 Air Force One, a Concorde, a Lockheed Constellation…
  • J. Elroy McCaw WWI and WWII galleries (named after a broadcasting magnate): unfortunately I did not have time to properly visit these galleries before the closing of the museum… a reason to come back again.

See some of the pictures I took at the museum:

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I definitely recommend to visit this museum if you happen to be in Seattle. It is located in the South of Seattle at Boeing Field / King County airport. I would suggest to take no less than 5 hours to visit the museum and to arrive before noon, otherwise there will be some parts that you will not be able to visit properly (as it happened to me with the WWI and WWII galleries).

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National Air & Space Museum at Dulles

Let me quote from the Wikipedia:

“The Smithsonian Institution was founded for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge” from a bequest to the United States by the British scientist James Smithson (1765–1829), who never visited the new nation. In Smithson’s will, he stated that should his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, die without heirs, the Smithson estate would go to the government of the United States to create an “Establishment for the increase & diffusion of Knowledge among men”.

“The Smithsonian Institution is the largest museum complex in the world, and many of its buildings are historical and architectural landmarks.”

During our last trip to USA, Luca and I visited both locations of the National Air & Space Museum of the Smithsonian institution. I had already been at the one in the Mall and I already talked about it briefly in a previous post. I wanted to write about the museum at Dulles, close to DC international airport.

That museum is named after Steven F. Udvar Hazy, who is the CEO of Air Lease Corp, an airplanes leasing company. Previously he was chairman and CEO of ILFC, another leasing company, together with GECAS, one of the 2 biggest. The guy is a living legend or commercial markets: when he blessed or criticizes an aircraft it is seriously noticed by the manufacturers. He donated 65M$ to the Smithsonian to set up this museum and that’s why it carries his name. Thanks Steve! What a museum! The NASM is awesome!

The museum has dozens if not over a hundred of airplanes, satellites, rockets, helicopters, etc., in display, all tagged with small explanation of the aircraft.

On our visit we joined a free guided tour, another fabulous feature of the museum. Our guide was Bill Laux, a veteran pilot from the Navy. He was originally from Omaha where we would be going in a couple of days while he would be heading also in a couple of days to Belgium… crossing roads.

We stayed with Bill for about 2 hours, following one explanation after the other, one curiosity here, another detail there, etc. I remember visiting Ellis Island in NYC 2 years ago with a ranger who also filled the tour with stories. This is something I really like: instead of paying for a quick tour or audio-guide, they make use of the willingness of these volunteers to pass on their knowledge.

I have to admit that the session was for core aviation geeks, and I want to commend Luca for standing it. At the beginning we were a group of 10-12 people, wives and children included. The guide asked: “Who has got an aerospace background?” 4 or so of us raised hands… after 30 minutes of tour only Luca and those with aviation background continued with the tour (no sight of wives and children). After 1 hour 30 minutes, only Luca and me. After 2 hours the guide went “well, we’ve seen pretty much everything” :-). Thanks Bill!

I scanned one of the sides of the map of the museum to post it here. The map covers the Boeing hangar, but bear in mind that there is another hangar missing (James S McDonnell, which hosts a Space Shuttle), an IMAX cinema, the restoration hangar and the control tower.

I wanted to post it here so you can get a grasp of what we’re talking about. Airplanes packed side by side, one of top of the other… and not any airplane, some are unique pieces. Let me just comment on a few of them (of which below you can find the pictures):

  • The Space shuttle Enterprise: which never went to outer space as it was used only for training purposes, to let astronauts command the powerless flight after re-entry. Believe it or not, it was going to be named “Constitution”, trekkies had not stepped in.
  • A Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird: the reconnaissance aircraft which set the record as fastest aircraft back in 1976.
  • The Boeing 367-80 “Dash-80”, which as I already mentioned in a previous post, was the prototype Boeing built to test and market a new configuration for commercial jet aircraft, a configuration which all commercial aircraft have followed more or less ever since.
  • A Concorde.
  • The infamous B-29 Enola Gay.
  • The Langley Aerodrome A: a model that Samuel Pierpont Langley (a manned flight pioneer and secretary of the Smithsonian institution at the time) used to try to set the first heavier-than-air flight… he didn’t, as the model crashed in the Potomac river.
  • A Junkers 52 built by the Spanish CASA.
  • A Boeing 307 Stratoliner: the first pressurized commercial aircraft.

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I would only give one point of improvement for the museum: now you cannot get into the aircraft except for simulators, if they would just change that policy it would be just perfect (in the Mall you can actually enter in some models, e.g. Spacelab).

I forgot to mention some extras: the museum is free (free as in zero dollars), it has a transport leaving every hour to and from Dulles airport which costs just 50 cents, has lockers for big luggage free of charge, has a nice souvenir shop with plenty of aviation books and even a McDonald’s to recover some strength at half way of the visit…

In future posts I will comment some of the details of some aircraft… give credit to Bill, our guide.

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