Category Archives: Flying

The Wright Brothers

Like Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photo of Iwo Jima, this first flight was immortalized almost by accident .

I just finished David McCullough’s wonderful book on the Wright Brothers. He did some thorough research, including many notes by them on the study of bird flight, and letters.

One theme remained with me throughout the book.


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Filed under Aeronautical Engineering, Airplanes, Flying, History

It’s not all about top speed

Or thrust-to-weight ratio.

Got an interesting link today from my Internet friend of many years, a retired Air Force test pilot.

Just as we had a top secret program for many years involving captured Soviet fighters, the Soviets had a few of ours.

And the conclusions of one of the Russians top test pilots at the time, in evaluating “The Foreigner” (an F-5 that came from Vietnam after we left) vs a MiG 21, were objective, at times, funny (didn’t know that Russian fighters did not use brakes integrated with the rudder pedals), and, most of all, surprising.

In simulated dogfights, the F-5 won every time.

Lex would have loved to have read this article. He had some flight time of his own in an F-5E, with some amusing stories.

The conclusion of the Soviet experts in confronting a Tiger after their tests?

Our “experts” suggested not to engage in a close dogfight, but to use the “hit-and-run” tactics instead.

More here.


Filed under Airplanes, Flight simulation, Flying, Uncategorized, Wargaming

Bad Day at Yuma

Posted By lex, on February 23rd, 2012

This sucks:

Seven U.S. Marines were killed when two helicopters collided Wednesday night during training in a remote area of far southeastern Imperial County, near the California-Arizona border. Six were from Camp Pendleton and another was from the Marine air station at Yuma, Ariz.

There were no survivors aboard the aircraft, the Marines said. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The mid-air crash between the AH-1W Cobra and a UH-1Y Huey was reported about 8 p.m. near sand dunes about a mile outside the military’s Yuma Training Range Complex, on federal Bureau of Land Management property.

It’s a dangerous business even in peacetime training, but you never quite grow used to this sort of thing.

Prayers for their families, if you’re the praying sort.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Flying, Marines


Posted By lex, on February 25th, 2012

Honestly, I never gave the whirly-gigs that much thought, back before my son opted to fly them.

Now I find that they’re on my mind pretty much all the time.

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Posted by lex, on December 1st, 2011

Up at 0400 this morning, for to take in the 0500 brief. The flight was cancelled in the end, the forecast crosswinds being out of limits.

Briefed another go at 1245, the winds howling around outside. Launched anyway, shot my first Super Hornet, headed home to land.

Flew a surveillance approach in blowing dust, broke out at 1.5 miles with the runway in sight, was waved off: Tower hadn’t given landing clearance.

Tried again, got a precision ground controlled approach that time, was a little high, a little lined up right at decision height, didn’t see the runway, started to get concerned. Asked tower for a weather update at Reno: Clear and unlimited. Huzzah.

Was told on downwind that the field had gone below minimums. The fuel state being low, canceled IFR and went direct to Reno, landing at around 1640, just as the sun was setting. It’s a place I’ve only landed at there once, and that was ten years ago. Landed uneventfully nonetheless, was met in time by maintenance personnel, will ferry the jet back to Fallon tomorrow, inshallah.

First ever contractor kill against an FA-18. First ever weather divert from the field I planned to land at. One first too many.

Stopped off a the O’Club for a shot of Jameson’s followed by a pint of Guinness. For strength.

More tomorrow, if I’ve got the time.

I’m whipped, just now.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Flying

Very Light Attack

Posted By lex, on September 21st, 2011

The Navy – of all the services – appears ready to commit nearly significant resources to a propeller-driven light attack aircraft ** in support of deep overland NSW missions in Afghanistan:

Lockheed Martin and Hawker-Beechcraft are considering pitching its AT-6B light-attack counterinsurgency plane for the upcoming Navy-led Combat Dragon II program, according to sources familiar with the effort.

The Navy recently shifted over $17 million into the Combat Dragon II program, designed to prove that a small, turboprop-driven aircraft can be used for “high end/special aviation” missions in Afghanistan.

The program was driven by the need coming out of from Central Command to have aircraft do close air support missions that larger fighters and bombers could not do, specifically in support of Naval Special Warfare units.

The Navy tried to fill that requirement through the Imminent Fury program, using the Brazilian-built Embraer Super Tucano. But that program fizzled out shortly before the planes headed out to Afghanistan for operational tests.

What I found really interesting was the cited quote from USAF Chief-of-Staff Norman Schwarz that the junior service has no intention of fielding a COIN-tailored light attack aircraft of its own, despite the stated requirement from the JROC and JRB.

Which they call them “requirements” for a reason, and talk about not getting it…

** 03-11-21 New link found – Ed.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Flying, GWOT, Military


Posted By lex, on September 17th, 2011


As thousands watched in horror, a World War II-era fighter plane competing in a Nevada event described as a car race in the sky suddenly pitched upward, rolled and did a nose-dive toward the crowded grandstand.

The plane, flown by a 74-year-old veteran Hollywood stunt pilot, then slammed into the tarmac in front of VIP box seats and blew to pieces in front the pilot’s family and a tight-knit group of friends who attend the annual event in Reno.

“It absolutely disintegrated,” said Tim O’Brien of Grass Valley, Calif., who attends the races every year. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

The pilot and two spectators were killed and more than 50 were injured amid a horrific scene strewn with smoking debris

Part of me hopes that I’m able to fly warbirds at Reno when I’m 74.

Part of me.

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The Appeal of Flight

I can remember exactly what I was doing when I decided I couldn’t be flying anymore.

Among the airplanes I rented was a Beechcraft Skipper.

They only made about 300 of these little Skippers for training purposes but even that plane was about $130 an hour to rent.

And that’s back in the 80s.

It weighed all of about 1300 pounds with an engine a little over 100 hp.

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Filed under Flying, Uncategorized

Pilot Fatigue

Posted by lex, on September 10, 2010

The FAA is proposing new constraints on domestic and international airline operations of US flag carriers, by re-writing the length-of-day and turnaround rules:

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The iCub

Posted by lex, on June 30, 2010

I guess you had to know this was coming:

As the name hints, the iCub brings together an updated version of the classic airplane design, with an Apple iPad front and center in the cockpit that can be used for navigation, checking the weather, or … well, the list goes on…

With the iPad on board, the pilot will be able to enjoy much of what is offered in expensive aviation GPS units for a fraction of the cost. And after arriving at your destination, you have an iPad that you can pop out of the panel (picture below) and enjoy watching movies, reading a book or whatever you think the iPad is best at doing.


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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Flying