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Do Pilots Have The Best Office Views In The World ?

747 Pilot Takes Stunning Photos From His Cockpit proves they Do.

The flying Dutchman, aka JPC Van Heijst, has probably the most awesome office on the planet. And although we’ve already seen some of the amazing photos he’s taken, we still haven’t seen the actual spectacle these pilots witness, with all the lights and switches in the way. Until now.

Being the first officer with Cargolux, Van Heijst flies Boeing 747s around the world: “Seeing the entire world in my job, I feel privileged to be in a position to capture many different parts of the planet through my camera and immortalize the beauty of the places I visit,” he told Daily Mail.

And while sure, not many of us can relate to this kind of ‘office’ experience, we’d love to see what sort of working environment you find yourself in daily. So feel free to share your office pics in the comments!

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Could The SCRAMJET Engine Take Humanity Beyond MACH 10

The thought of traveling at speeds of 6,000+ MPH may seem farfetched to many, but keep in mind that at during points in our fairly history, self-powered carriages and humans taking to the skies also seemed farfetched to everybody except those working to bring those ideas to life.

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The most obvious uses for these scramjet engines are of military origin, such as having missiles and bombers capable of speeds far exceeding those currently in production. The technology could also be sued to deliver astronauts to the space station like we used to do with the Space Shuttle.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 10.33.23 AM

However, as is the case with nearly all military technology, the benefits would certainly trickle down to the consumer market, with the obvious use being hyper-fast commercial aircraft. At nearly 5,000 MPH, a commercial jet could fly from New York to LA in about a half hour, which is admittedly almost impossible to even comprehend.

 

The Fastest Plane In The World? Check Out This List To See

Want to know the fastest plane in the world? First, let’s take a look at the other contenders:

20. F-117 Nighthawk

The F-1117 Nighthawk is a single-seat, twin-engine stealth attack aircraft that was developed by Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works division. The plane made its maiden flight in 1981 and achieved initial operating status in 1983, but was operated in secrecy until 1988.

F-117 Nighthawk

Top Speed: 617 MPH
Price: $111,200,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 40.36 hours

Wikipedia

The F-1117 was strictly a ground-attack aircraft during the Gulf War of 1991. It also took part in the conflict in Yugoslavia in 1999, where one of the planes was shot down by a surface-to-air missile and became the only Nighthawk to be lost in combat. The U.S. Air Force officially retired the F-117 in April 2008.

19. B-2 Spirit

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is an American heavy strategic bomber. The B-2 Spirit was developed through the “Advanced Technology Bomber” (ATB) project during the Carter administration and was designed with low observable stealth technology.

gizmodo

Top Speed: 630 MPH
Price: $737,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 39.53 hours

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The cost of each aircraft in 1997 was $737 but the procurement costs averaged $929 million per aircraft for the spare parts, equipment and software support. Because of its considerable capital and operating costs, the project was controversial in the U.S. Congress and among the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The B-2 is capable of all-altitude attack missions up to 50,000 feet and was used during the Kosovo War in 1999. The B-2 Spirit also saw further service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

18. F-35 Lightning II

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters undergoing final development and testing by the United States. It is descended from the X-35, which was the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

Foundry Mag

Top Speed: 1,200 MPH
Price: $106,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 20.75 hours

Wikipedia

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The F-35 has three main models that are designed to perform ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions.The first prototype was launched in December 2006 and as of November 2014, 115 models have been built.

The F-35 program is the most expensive military weapons system in history, and it has been the object of much criticism from those inside and outside government. While development is principally funded by the United States, additional funding have been provided by partner nations that are either NATO members or close U.S. allies. The first prototype was launched in December 2006 and as of November 2014, 115 models have been built.

17. Convair F- 106

The Convair F-106 Delta Dart was the primary all-weather interceptor aircraft of the United States Air Force from the 1960s through the 1980s. Designed as the so-called “Ultimate Interceptor”, it proved to be the last dedicated interceptor in U.S. Air Force service to date.

Aircraft Information

Top Speed: 1,526 MPH
Price: $25,100,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 16.4 Hours

Delta Dart

As the ultimate interceptor program of the 50s, the F-106 was used as a specialized all-weather missile-armed interceptor to shoot down bombers.  The first prototype took flight on December 26, 1956 at the Edwards Air Force Base. Three years later, Major Joseph W. Rogers set a world speed record of 1,525.96 mph.

Although contemplated for use in the Vietnam War the F-106 never saw combat, nor was it exported to foreign users. The F-106 served in the continental US, Alaska, and Iceland, as well as for brief periods in Germany and South Korea. It was gradually retired in the 80s. It was replaced by QF-106 drone conversions until 1998 under the Pacer Six Program.

16. Sukhoi PAK FA T-50

The Sukhio PAK FAT-50 is a stealthy, single-seat, twin-engine jet fighter, and will be the first operational aircraft in Russian service to use stealth technology. The multirole fighter is designed for air superiority and attack roles and intended to be the successor to the MiG-29 and Su-27.

PicHost

Top Speed: 1,520 MPH
Price: $50,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 16.38 hours

Warfare

The T-50’s maiden flight was repeatedly postponed from early 2007 after encountering unspecified technical problems. In August 2009, Alexander Zelin acknowledged that problems with the engine and in technical research remained unsolved.

The T-50 prototype first flew on January 29, 2010 and the first production aircraft is slated for delivery to the Russian Air Force starting in late 2016 or early 2017. The T-50 is expected to have a service life of up to 35 years.

15. Sukhoi Su-27

The Sukhol Su-27 is a twin-engine fighter plane built by the former U.S.S.R., in an attempt to outdo similarly advanced American aircraft. The plane made its first flight in May 1977, and officially entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1985.

Helmo

Top Speed: 1,550 MPH
Price: $27,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 16.03 hours

Pride Aircraft

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The aircraft can reach a maximum supersonic speed of Mach 2.35 (1,550 mph, or 2,500 km/h), which is 2.35 times the speed of sound. In addition, there were several variants of the Su-27 including the Su-30 which is a two-seat, dual-role fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions and the Flanker-D, a naval fleet defense interceptor for use on aircraft carriers, and the Flanker-E improved air superiority and multi-role fighter

The Su-27 earned a reputation of being one of the most capable fighters of its time. To this day they remain in military use in Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine.

14. F-4 Phantom

The F-4 Phantom was the superior fighter jet during the Vietnam War. The tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor aircraft/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft.

For Wallpaper

Top Speed: 1,607 MPH
Price: $17,883,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 15.6 Hours

Moddb

 

The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2 and can carry more than 18,000 pounds of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. Like other interceptors of its time, the F-4 was designed without an internal cannon.

During the Vietnam War, the F-4 became important in the ground-attack andaerial reconnaissance roles. The F-4 Phantom II remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams: the USAF Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the US Navy Blue Angels (F-4J).

13. F-111 Aardvark

The F-111 Aardvark was a tactical strike aircraft developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics. The two-person plane first entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1967, and was used for strategic bombing campaigns, gathering reconnaissance and performing electronic warfare.

Wikipedia

Top Speed: 1,650 MPH
Price: $25,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 15.06 Hours

To Do Wallpapers

The F-111 was able to fly at speeds of Mach 2.5 (1,650 mph, or 2,655 km/h), or 2.5 times the speed of sound. Unfortunately, it also suffered a variety of problems during initial development. Several of its intended roles, such as an aircraft carrier-based naval interceptor with the F-111B, failed to materialize.

The F-111 Aardvark was widely used during the Vietnam War, but was phased out of use by the U.S. Air Force in 1998. It was replaced in USAF service by the F-15E Strike Eagle for medium-range precision strike missions, while the supersonic bomber role has been assumed by the B-1B Lancer.

12. F-15 Eagle

The F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas in 1967. The all-weather plane is designed to gain and maintain air superiority over enemy forces during aerial combat, which involves holding dominant positions in the sky.

Yazete

Top Speed: 1,650 MPH
Price: $27,900,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 15.06 Hours

Fiddler's Green

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The F-15 Eagle first flew in July 1972, and officially entered service in the U.S. Air Force in 1976. The F-15 is  capable of flying at speeds greater than Mach 2.5 (1,650 mph, or 2,655 km/h), and considered one of the most successful planes ever created.

Among the most successful modern fighter, the F-15 Eagle has seen over 100 victories and no losses in aerial combat. Because of this, the F-15 Eagle is expected to continue flying in the U.S. Air Force beyond 2025. It has also been exported to a number of foreign nations, including Japan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

11. Mikoyan Ye-152

The Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-150 family was a series of prototype single-seat fighter/interceptor aircraft designed and built by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union from 1955. It is the fastest single jet engine made by the Russians.

Fighter Planes

Top Speed: 1,666 MPH
Price: Unknown
Hours To Get Around The World: 15 Hours

Airbase

To fulfill the needs for a heavy interceptor to carry out automatic interceptions, the MiG bureau developed a range of large fighter aircraft starting with the swept wing I-3 series. The two single engined Ye-152’s were completed with improved R-15-300 engines. Nevertheless, the jet  faced reliability remained an issue, with only limited development flying, weapons system testing and world record flights carried out.

The Ye-152M was retired to the Central Air Force Museum at Monino bearing the erroneous identity Ye-166 and three red stars to signify the world records set by its sister ship, the Ye-152-1.

10. Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound

The Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound is a large, twin-engine supersonic aircraft designed to intercept foreign planes at high speeds. The two-person plane made its first flight in September 1975, and was introduced into service in the Soviet Air Defense Forces in 1982.

Airliners

Top Speed: 1,860 MPH
Price: $57,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 13.36 Hours

My Kartinka

 

The MiG-31 has the distinction of being one of the fastest combat jets in the world with published speeds of Mach 2.83 (1,860 mph, or 3,000 km/h), and was capable of flying supersonic even at low altitudes. It was also the world’s first aircraft with a phased array radar, and is one of only two aircraft in the world capable of independently firing long-range air-to-air missiles as of 2013.

It continues to be operated by the Russian Air Force and the Kazakhstan Air Force following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991. The Russian Defence Ministry expects the MiG-31 to remain in service until at least 2030.

9. XB-70 Valkyrie

The mammoth six-engine XB-70 Valkyrie was designed by North American Aviation in the late 1950s. The aircraft was built as a prototype for a proposed nuclear-armed strategic bomber.

Area 51 Special Projects

Top Speed: 2,000 MPH
Price: $750,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 12.43 Hours

Area 51 Special Projects

The XB-70 Valkyrie achieved its design speed on Oct. 14, 1965, when it accelerated to Mach 3.02 (2,000 mph, or 3,219 km/h), at an altitude of 70,000 feet (21,300 m) over Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Two XB-70s were built and used in supersonic test flights from 1964 to 1969. Whereas one of the prototypes was lost in 1966 after a midair collision, the other XB-70 is on display for the public to view at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

8. Bell X-2 “Starbuster”

The Bell X-2 was a rocket-powered research plane jointly developed by Bell Aircraft Corporation, the U.S. Air Force and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the precursor to NASA) in 1945. The aircraft was built to investigate aerodynamic issues with supersonic flight within the Mach 2 to Mach 3 range.

Wikipedia

Top Speed: 2,094 MPH
Price: $64,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 11.87 Hours

Plane A Day

The X-2, nicknamed “Starbuster,” completed its first powered flight in November 1955. The following year, in September 1956, Captain Milburn Apt was at the controls when the X-2 reached Mach 3.2 (2,094 mph, or 3,370 km/h), at an altitude of 65,000 feet (19,800 m).

Shortly after attaining this top speed, however, Apt tried to turn the aircraft while it was still above Mach 3. The plane tumbled out of control, and Apt’s attempts to recover from the spin failed. This tragic accident ended the X-2 program, after a total of 20 test flights.

7. Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat was designed to intercept enemy aircraft at supersonic speeds and to collect reconnaissance data. The plane is one of the fastest military aircraft to have entered operational service. The MiG-25 made its first flight in 1964, and was first used by the Soviet Air Defense Forces in 1970.

WallPoper

Top Speed: 2,190 MPH
Price: $18,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 11.35 Hours

Deviant Art

The appearance of the MiG-25 sparked serious concern in the West and prompted dramatic increases in performance for the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle then under development in the late 1960s. The plane has an incredible top speed of Mach 3.2 (2,190 mph, or 3,524 km/h). It is one of the highest-flying military aircraft, and the second fastest after the SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft.

Production of the MiG-25 series ended in 1984 after completion of 1,190 aircraft. The MiG-25 Foxbat is still in limited service in the Russian Air Force. It is also used by several other nations, including the Algerian Air Force and Syrian Air Force.

6. SR-71 Blackbird

The SR-71 Blackbird was an advanced Cold War-era reconnaissance aircraft developed by Lockheed in the 1960s. The program was known as a “black project,” which meant it was highly classified.

blue

Top Speed: 2,500 MPH
Price: $43,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 9.9 Hours

group

The twin-engine, two-seater aircraft was capable of outracing potential threats during reconnaissance missions, including being able to accelerate and out-fly surface-to-air missiles if it was detected.The SR-71 Blackbird can also accelerate to Mach 3.3 (more than 2,500 mph, or 3,540 km/h) at an altitude of 80,000 feet (24,400 m).

The SR-71 made its first flight in December 1964, and was flown by the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. The Blackbird’s performance and achievements cemented the plane as one of the greatest triumphs in aviation technology during the Cold War.

5. X-15

The rocket-powered X-15 was part of a fleet of X-plane experimental aircraft operated jointly by NASA and the U.S. Air Force. In the early 1960s, the X-15 set a number of speed and altitude records, reaching the edge of space (an altitude of more than 62 miles or 100 kilometers) on two separate occasions in 1963.

Windstream

Top Speed: 4,520 MPH
Price: $1,500,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 5.5 Hours

Global Security

During the X-15 program, 13 flights by eight pilots met the Air Force spaceflight criterion by exceeding the altitude of 50 miles (80 km), thus qualifying these pilots as being astronauts. The Air Force pilots qualified for astronaut wings immediately, while the civilian pilots were eventually awarded NASA astronaut wings in 2005, 35 years after the last X-15 flight.

Of the 199 X-15 missions, two flights (by the same pilot) qualified as true space flights per the international definition of a spaceflight by exceeding 100 kilometers (62.1 mi) in altitude. Currently, the X-15 still holds the official world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a manned aircraft: Mach 6.72, which is 6.72 times the speed of sound, or 4,520 mph (7,274 km/h).

4. Boeing X-51

The Boeing X-51 is a pilot-less plane designed to be used as High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) in 2020.

Military

Top Speed: 3,400 MPH
Price: $7,700,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 7.4 Hours

Drive The Web

Ground tests of the X-51A began in late 2006. The aircraft completed its first powered hypersonic flight on 26 May 2010. After two unsuccessful test flights, the X-51 completed a flight of over six minutes and reached speeds of over Mach 5 for 210 seconds on May 1, 2013 for the longest duration hypersonic flight.

The Air Force Research Laboratory believes the successful flight will serve as research for practical applications of hypersonic flight, such as a missile, reconnaissance, transport, and air-breathing first stage for a space system.

3. X43A Scramjet

The X-43 was an unmanned experimental hypersonic aircraft with multiple planned scale variations meant to test various aspects of hypersonic flight. It was part of the X-plane series and specifically of NASA’s Hyper-X program.

Wikipedia

Top Speed: 7,500 MPH
Price: Unknown
Hours To Get Around The World: 3.34 Hours

NASA

The first plane in the series, the X-43A, was a single-use vehicle. Three of them were built. The first was destroyed after malfunctioning in flight; the other two have successfully flown, with the scramjet operating for approximately 10 seconds, followed by a 10-minute glide and intentional crash into the ocean.

The X-43 has set several airspeed records for jet-propelled aircraft, with its fastest record at approximately Mach 9.6 (7,310 mph) (11,000 km/h). In March 2006, it was announced that the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) supersonic combustion ramjet “WaveRider” flight test vehicle had been designated as X-51A. The USAF Boeing X-51 was first flown on May 26, 2010, dropped from a B-52. So far, this signals the replacement and end of the X-43 series.

2. X-41

Initiated in 2003, X-41 is the designation for a still-classified U.S. military space plane.

Global Security

Top Speed: 13,000 MPH
Price: Unknown
Hours To Get Around The World: 1.9 Hours

Space Ref

Specifications or prototype photos of the program have not been released to the public yet; as a result not much is known about its goals. It has been described as an experimental maneuvering re-entry vehicle capable of transporting a 1,000 lb payload on a sub-orbital trajectory at hypersonicspeeds and releasing that payload into the atmosphere.

Even the technology required for the X-41 is not yet known and is still undecided by the government. It is believed a new type of hypersonic travel is also being studied for the X-41 that will apparently be able to travel past Mach 7 and perhaps onto Mach 9. Right now the X-41 is a part of the FALCON (Force Application and Launch from Continental United States) program sponsored by DARPA and NASA.

1. NASA Space Shuttle

The NASA Space Shuttle is a low earth orbital spacecraft designed to explore the outer reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Wallpapers 111

Top Speed: 17,500 MPH
Price: $450,000,000.00
Hours To Get Around The World: 1.4 Hours

Fine Art America

Its official program name was Space Transportation System (STS), taken from a 1969 plan for a system of reusable spacecraft of which it was the only item funded for development. The first of four orbital test flights occurred in 1981, leading to operational flights beginning in 1982. They were used on a total of 135 missions from 1981 to 2011, launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The first orbiter, Enterprise, was built for Approach and Landing Tests and had no orbital capability. Four fully operational orbiters were initially built: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, and Atlantis. Both the Challenger and the Columbia were lost in mission accidents with a total of fourteen astronauts killed. A fifth operational orbiter, Endeavour, was built in 1991 to replace Challenger. The Space Shuttle was retired from service upon the conclusion of Atlantiss final flight on July 21, 2011.

Everything you didn’t know about the magnificent Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

During the 1950s—the era of the Cold War—the United States of America was actively planning the construction of a top-secret aircraft that was meant to replace the U-2. The initial request for a new strategic reconnaissance aircraft was made by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A company called Lockheed Skunk Works was the first to respond to the call. The design they submitted was superbly radical. The plane would become known as the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

A Lockheed M-21 with D-21 drone on top Source
A Lockheed M-21 with D-21 drone on top Source

The company proposed an airframe that could reach an extreme velocity of Mach 3.5 at near-space altitudes. At the same time, it could maintain an exceptionally low cross-radar signature that would make it difficult for enemies to track. Before the Blackbird, titanium was used sparingly—usually on high-temperature exhaust fairings, and other small parts directly related to supporting, cooling, or shaping high-temperature areas on aircraft. The Blackbird was completely different. This plane was made mostly out of titanium, about eighty-five percent, to be more precise. The other fifteen percent was high-end composite materials.

 

An SR-71 refueling from a KC-135Q Stratotanker during a flight in 1983 Source
An SR-71 refueling from a KC-135Q Stratotanker during a flight in 1983 Source

At the time, in the 1960s, computerized equipment was non-existent, so not only was the cockpit unsurprisingly analog, but the Blackbird’s size also had to be adjusted. All of the required gear, which was analog and therefore larger than their modern counterparts, had to fit into the craft. This meant that the plane was relatively large.

In their typical undercover fashion, the CIA created several cover-up companies that were used to purchase the required titanium for the Blackbird’s construction. The source of the titanium was, interestingly, the Soviet Union. This is especially ironic because the Blackbird would be used to gather and rely on information about the Soviet Union to the USA.

 

Dryden's SR-71B Blackbird, NASA 831, slices across the snow-covered southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California after being refueled by an Air Force tanker during a 1994 flight. Source
Dryden’s SR-71B Blackbird, NASA 831, slices across the snow-covered southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California after being refueled by an Air Force tanker during a 1994 flight. Source

The Blackbird’s design was ahead of its time; so much so that many new technologies had to be invented specifically to create the plane. Some of these technologies are still used today. According to Kelly Johnson, one of the biggest problems that engineers faced at the time was working with titanium. “We produced 6,000 parts, and of them, fewer than ten percent were any good. The material [titanium] was so brittle that if you dropped a piece on the floor it would shatter”, he explained.

SR-71 at Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona Source
SR-71 at Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona Source

There were a couple of other difficulties that they encountered. For example, ordinary drills were useless with titanium, because after about seventeen rivet holes, the drill would be destroyed. Yet another obstruction occurred during the welding process. They eventually figured out that if an extremely rare and expensive argon shielding gas was used, they could ensure the highest quality of welds.

The problems did not end with the construction. Since the velocity and height of the Blackbird were so extreme, crews had to adjust and train accordingly. The two major survival problems that crews faced whilst flying altitudes of 80,000 feet were maintaining consciousness at high altitude and surviving a possible emergency ejection. Major Brian Shul is the author of Sled Driver, a book about his experience as a pilot of the SR-71. He explained that whilst flying at Mach 3.5, the pilot could cover several countries in the Middle East in mere minutes. To cope with the low atmospheric pressure and lack of oxygen at high altitudes, pilots were required to wear pressurized flight suits.

SR-71 Blackbird assembly line at Skunk Works Source
SR-71 Blackbird assembly line at Skunk Works Source

Flying at Mach 3.5 had other side effects too. When flying at full velocity, the surface of the Blackbird heats up to 260°C+ (500 °F). If the airplane did not have proper air conditioning system, the cockpit could also heat up to about 120°C. After landing, there was a required cool-off period—ground crew and pilots had to wait for the plane’s temperature to drop before beginning any maintenance work.

SR-71 pilot in full flight suit Source
SR-71 pilot in full flight suit Source

In total, 3,551 mission sorties were flown by the Blackbird to spy on military installations, troop movements, and nuclear silos during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Due to the spy equipment installed, Blackbirds were able to survey 100,000 square miles per hour of Earth’s surface from an altitude of 80,000 feet. Many of these missions were over conflict countries, such as the Middle East, Asia, and a large part of Europe. Of the thirty-two aircraft that were built, twelve of those were lost. None of those, however, were lost due to enemy military retaliation, which is an impressive feat.

There is no doubt that the Blackbird was an airplane ahead of its time. The lack of technology in the early 60s meant that there are several design flaws, so to speak, that were left unsolved.

The flight instrumentation of an SR-71's cockpit Source
The flight instrumentation of an SR-71’s cockpit Source

For example, one of the complications that designers faced was the creation of fuel tanks (fuel cells). At the time, there were no materials that would make it possible to withstand the extreme temperature differences that a normal flight would experience. In the end, Lockheed designed the fuel cells in such a way that once the airplane was hot enough, the cells would expand and seal the leaking fuel.

The SR-71A on display at the Boeing Aviation Hangar (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center)..Source
The SR-71A on display at the Boeing Aviation Hangar (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center)..Source

In order to decrease take-off load, and therefore relieve stress on the titanium airframe, the fuel cells were only partially filled. Furthermore, crews had to use two different mixtures of fuel. One was used to start the craft, and the other to actually fly it. Once airborne, the Blackbird had to be immediately refuelled from a KC-135Q Stratotanker.

Unfortunately, the Blackbird fleet was expensive to maintain. The USAF tried to retire the planes black in 1987, but they didn’t retire officially until 1989. The option of reactivating the fleet was considered during the 1993 conflict in the Middle East. An expedited reconnaissance would have been extremely helpful. Finally, in 1998, the Blackbird project was permanently retired in 1998. The last two flyable planes were given to NASA and were used 1999. Now, all the Blackbirds people see are in museums.

Home Vehicles Jet Streams: Four Ways To Fly Privately

 

Jet Streams
Today there are more jets, companies and options than ever for sale and it is a buyer’s market.

Ultimately there are four key ways to fly privately. The best solution for you will depend on how often you fly and how far ahead you can commit.

In Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders in 1989, he compared his new private jet with the prayer apocryphally attributed to Saint Augustine. As Augustine contemplated leaving a life of secular pleasures, he is said to have looked to the heavens and pleaded: “Help me, Oh Lord, to become chaste. But not yet.” With his famously frugal business partner Charles Munger (who prefers to ride a coach for long-distance travel, according to Buffett), he settled on naming the jet The Indefensible. That year, the jet helped Buffett to deliver US$1.5 billion growth in his company’s net worth.

Whether you admire the Sage of Omaha or are more inclined to side with his thriftier partner, no one can dispute that flying privately gets you where you want to, more quickly and more comfortably than commercial airlines. Whether you choose to use that extra time watching your kid’s school play, sailing your yacht or maximising business meetings is up to you.

In 1989, Warren Buffett had two choices: buy his own aircraft, or charter. Today, there are many different ways to fly privately. You can book your aircraft with a couple of clicks via an app or through any number of brokers. You could opt for a programme where you tie in with a provider for a set number of hours. You can buy outright, too. Today there are more jets, companies and options than ever for sale and it is a buyer’s market.

Ultimately there are four key ways to fly privately. The best solution for you will depend on how often you fly, how far ahead you can commit, and whether at heart you’re a Buffett or a Munger.

Scenario 1: Charter
You’ve always fancied going to Art Basel and after making your first major investment in a Cy Twombly earlier this year, you’ve been invited to the preview day. The only problem is it is your wife’s birthday and you need to be home for a family dinner. Your solution? Charter a jet for the day. You leave home in the morning, fly to the fair (and pick up a present there), and you are back home in time for dinner.
Best for: Ad hoc, infrequent flyers
Aircraft: You’re happy to try different aircraft and operators
Schedule: Flexible
Price: The best-possible deal

Scenario 2: Private jet card
Work is really ramping up this year as you head for an IPO. Those long, lazy holidays at the summerhouse are going to be tough to make this year. So you decide to invest in a private jet card. Now you’re out the office on a Friday afternoon, in the sky and by 8pm you’re overlooking the sea having dinner with your family. You get a full 48 hours with them over the weekend before heading back on Sunday night… and the odd time you even change your mind and stay over until Monday.
Best for: Travelling privately five to 10 times per year
Aircraft: You want to use the same type of aircraft
Schedule: Guaranteed availability with reasonable notice
Price: Fixed costs over 12 months

Scenario 3: Fractional ownership
You’ve started to notice what a difference flying privately makes. You see your family and friends more, you’re in the office more and you’re not nearly as tired as you used to be. In fact you’re starting to forget what an airline lounge looks like. You’ve decided flying privately is for you. You’re prepared to invest in an aircraft where you can simplify the way you book and fly. It’s time to consider a fraction of an aircraft as you know you’re going to be flying once a month.
Best for: Regular monthly private flyers, looking to fly for a few years
Aircraft: One type of aircraft and you enjoy the familiarity of flying with the same operator
Schedule: Short notice
Price: Fixed costs of flying for several years and your company might be able to get a depreciation benefit for your business flying

Scenario 4: Buy your own
Your family is now firmly ensconced in its new home in Monaco, and you are all going back and forth to London and various schools across Europe. You are trying to fit in board meetings across the globe in the remaining days and it’s starting to feel like you spend your life in a private jet. Your schedule changes constantly and even the guaranteed availability offered by your current operator is not enough. Every time you get on an aircraft, you start dreaming about how you would do things differently if it was yours.
Best for: Flying at least once a week
Aircraft: Same aircraft, bespoke interiors, your hand-picked crew
Schedule: Very short-notice travel or constant changes to your itinerary are the norm. Or you may need aircraft and crew on standby for long periods
Price: Money is no object

Nicolas and Emily have been in the private aviation industry for more than 20 years and are co-founders of I&W Aviation (www.iwaviation.com). They advise individuals and corporations globally with independent market advice and day-to-day oversight of their private flying.

Contact team@iwaviation.com

Top 10 Fastest Aircraft Of All Time

Jet airliners like an Airbus A320 or a Boeing 777, can fly at speeds that reach over 900 km/h. And that is really REALLY fast, so much that these aircraft cross countries and even continents in just a few hours. But there are certain aircraft that can fly at a much faster speeds. However, these flights are reserved only to the military and special government operations, and they can fly at over 7,000 km/h!

Extremely high speeds, usually Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound) are essential in certain operations in military aviation. Interceptors need to be quick to address an enemy aircraft before they reach their destiny. And on the other hand, spy planes need to fly fast enough to do what they need do before being detected and intercepted. In the commercial sector, however, the only attempt to carry passengers at supersonic speeds was with the Concorde, which flew from 1976 to 2003, but might return to the skies soon. Capable of flying at 2200 km/h, the plane could fly from Paris to Rio de Janeiro in only 6 hours, which now takes over 12 hours on board a Boeing 777, for example.

The industries of the United States and Russia were the ones that created the fastest aircraft ever flown, and naturally they are all for military use. See the list below of the 10 fastest aircraft of all time:

10 – F-111 Aardvark

AD-Fastest-Aircrafts-Of-All-Time-10[Image source: USAF]

General Dynamic F-111 “Aardvark” was one of the most widely used jet bombers in history and is known for the accuracy of it’s attacks at high speed. It was launched in 1964 and reached 2655 km/h. The US Air Force used that plane in nearly every conflict in which they were involved from the 1970’s until 1990.

09 – F-15 Eagle

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The McDonnell Douglas F-15 “Eagle” first flew in 1972 and can reach 2665 km/h. Once considered the world’s best fighter until the arrival of Russian-made Su-27. The F-15 is the main fighter used by the air forces of the US, Japan, Israel, South Korea, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

08 – Tupolev Tu-144

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In addition to the Concorde, another supersonic airliner was the Tupolev Tu-144, developed in the former Soviet Union. The aircraft flew for a short time between 1975 and 1979, and was soon removed from service for safety reasons. The aircraft never presented full operating conditions and many problems arose while it was active. The aircraft could carry 167 passengers and reach a top speed of 2878 km/h.

07 – MIG-31

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Evolution of the MIG-25, the MIG-31 can honor the family name. It can reach up to 3030 km/h and has one of the most powerful radar systems ever used in a fighter plane, able to track other aircraft from more than 400 km away. It launched in 1975 and nowadays serves the Air Forces of Russia and Kazakhstan.

06 – XB-70 Valkyrie

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The monumental North American XB-70 Valkyrie was a bomber prototype that flew in 1964 and reached a top speed of 3300 km/h. After problems in the program, that included a budget much larger than anticipated  and a serious accident, the project was canceled. To date, the US military is still trying to develop an aircraft of this size and speed.

05 – Bell X2

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Evolution of X1, the first plane to exceed the speed of sound in 1947, the Bell X2 was a prototype to test the reaction of the fuselage above mach 3 speeds. In 1955 the experimental aircraft reached 3370 km/h. The lessons learned in this project were applied in many airplanes manufactured in the USA afterwards.

04 – MIG-25

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One of the most feared aircraft of the former USSR, the Mig-25 first flew in 1964 and stunned the world by reaching 3400 km/h and to this day is the fastest aircraft in operation in the world. Still active in the air forces of Algeria, Azerbaijan and Syria.

03 – YF-12

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The Lockheed YF-12 was a prototype interceptor aircraft of the US Air Force that could fly at 3,661 km/h. The project was canceled after complications and forecasts of extremely high operating costs, but its development was used to create the spy plane SR-71.

02 – SR-71

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The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was a strategic reconnaissance aircraft that flew at 3540 km/h. Launched by the US Air Force in 1964, it was then was passed over to NASA, who used it until 1999 on high-speed tests at high altitude.

01 – X-15

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The fastest plane ever, the North American X-15 prototype, reached an incredible 7273 km/h in 1967. The plane was a joint project of the US Air Force and NASA, who researched new ways to reach speeds hitherto unthinkable. To fly, the X-15 had to be launched from a B-52 bomber and only then start its engines. After the flight, the pilot landed the prototype like a conventional aircraft.

Concorde

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“The only picture ever taken of Concorde flying at Mach 2 (1,350 mph). Taken from an RAF Tornado fighter jet, which only rendezvoused with Concorde for 4 minutes over the Irish Sea: The Tornado was rapidly running out of fuel, struggling to keep up with Concorde at Mach 2”

The revival of Concorde

Plans are in place to resume Concorde flights in the near future, and fans of the aircraft could soon board one in central London

A photo by Captain Mike Bannister showing the curvature of the earth as seen from a Concorde flight

A photo by Captain Mike Bannister showing the curvature of the earth as seen from a Concorde flight

When Concorde flew for the last time just over 12 years ago it was assumed that it would never enter service again. Now, as the world celebrates the 40th anniversary of the aircraft’s first commercial flight, a group of Concorde experts claims to have received adequate financial backing to recommence flights by the end of this decade. Aviation enthusiasts who may not have the means to fly on board could also have the opportunity to admire an aircraft placed on permanent display in central London.

Operated by British Airways and Air France, Concorde’s last flight took place on October 24 2003, and its demise has been heavily, enduringly, lamented by members of Club Concorde. The organisation comprises former Concorde pilots, charterers and frequent fliers, among others. Though BA and Air France have no plans to recommence Concorde flights, the group has now secured what it believes to be sufficient financial backing to independently return the supersonic aircraft to service.

They have two aims: firstly, to place one of the aircraft on a purpose-built platform positioned by the London Eye and above the Thames; secondly, to return another to use as part of a Return to Flight project.

Drawing from a £40 million investment, the club is aiming to purchase a Concorde currently stationed near Orly Airport in Paris and to place it as the main draw in a £16-a-head London tourist attraction that would include a restaurant offering dishes that were originally served on Concorde flights. Club president Paul James hopes the plane could be on display by 2017.

Getting Concorde back in the air would be rather more complex. The club has access to an additional reserve fund worth £120 million and plans to use this revenue to purchase a Concorde currently on display at Le Bourget airport in Paris. When restored (and dressed in an entirely new, neutral livery) and deemed safe to again take to the skies, the plane would be deployed for use in fly-pasts at air shows and made available for corporate and special events, as well as for private charter.

James will be well placed to cater to that demographic. During the aircraft’s heyday, he worked as a tour operator and chartered Concorde 19 times for luxury trips. A particularly extravagant excursion was a one-day visit to the pyramids in Cairo in 1982; priced at £780, it was marketed as the most expensive day trip in the world. He suggests that this future incarnation of the plane could be used, for example, to take groups from London to Monaco for the Grand Prix.

Club Concorde is aiming to recommence flights by 2019, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Concorde flight, and should the initiative prove a success the organisation may subsequently aim to make flightworthy another Concorde at a later stage.

Jonathan Glancey, author of Concorde: the Rise and Fall of the Supersonic Airliner (published by Atlantic Books), believes the group could well succeed in their efforts. “So many people miss Concorde [and it] could certainly fly again given both financial and technical wings, while from a technical point of view there is nothing a team of expert and motivated engineers can’t tackle. For the moment, we should support it. ”

A Concorde aircraft currently on display in France

A Concorde aircraft currently on display in France

He points to a successful precedent. Used by the RAF from 1960-92, the Avro Vulcan V-bomber XH558 “The Spirit of Great Britain” was later returned to service and has flown for eight further years thanks to the Sky Trust and Lottery funding. It is set to make its final flight next month.

While efforts to revitalise Concorde continue, a number of other companies are also seeking to launch commercial supersonic flights. Airbus has filed plans for “Concorde Mark 2”, a supersonic jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour. Independent Defence and Aerospace Analyst Howard Wheeldon has backed those plans. NASA, meanwhile, recently provided funding to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California and other bodies to support their research into how to improve existing supersonic flight technologies.

Boston-based Spike Aerospace claims its proposed Spike S-512 supersonic jet will reach speeds of Mach 1.6 (1,100mph) and could be airborne in the early 2020s. Its passengers could expect to fly from New York to London within three hours but would need to adjust to one peculiar new feature: in order to reduce weight, minimise drag and maintain speed, the jet is expected to be built without windows in the main cabin. Instead, the jet’s interior walls would be covered in curved electronic screens that could display films or transmit footage of outside.

It seems the prospect of a return to commercial supersonic flights has had another burst of momentum.

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