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Old Sunday 13th October 2013, 17:40   #51
birdboybowley
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I love and paint them both - planes, esp military gear, are awesome!
Still remeber pitching up early at Minsmere one May morning in the mid-80s and having an SR-71 zoom across the sky in front of us rapidly gaining altitude. That sight couldn't be bettered all day.
Or having 3 fully-laden A-10s low over our garden as a kid in Bognor, so low that the lead plane wiggled its wings as it went over as I was jumping about madly on our lawn....ah, so cool.
Back to the Blackbird - I was sent an email ages ago that had some classic coms-talk from the cockpit of th3 Sled and others which are quite amusing, especially the 2nd one down:

Aviation ....... Note: For those that don't know, "The Sled" is the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane from the 1960's and still the fastest airplane. In his book, "Sled Driver", SR-71 Blackbird pilot Brian Shul writes:

"I'll always remember a certain radio exchange that occurred one day as Walt (my back-seater) and I were screaming across Southern California 13 miles high.
We were monitoring various radio transmissions from other aircraft as we entered Los Angeles airspace. Though they didn't really control us, they did monitor our movement across their scope. I heard a Cessna ask for a readout of its ground speed.
"90 knots" Center replied.
Moments later, a Twin Beech required the same.
"120 knots," Center answered.
We weren't the only ones proud of our ground speed that day as almost instantly an F-18 smugly transmitted, "Ah, Center, Dusty 52 requests ground speed readout." There was a slight pause, then the response, "525 knots on the ground, Dusty."
Another silent pause.
As I was thinking to myself how ripe a situation this was, I heard a familiar click of a radio transmission coming from my back-seater. It was at that precise moment I realized Walt and I had become a real crew, for we were both thinking in unison.
"Center, Aspen 20, you got a ground speed readout for us?"
There was a longer than normal pause.... "Aspen, I show 1,742 knots" (That's about 2004.658 mph for those who don't know)
No further inquiries were heard on that frequency.

In another famous SR-71 story, Los Angeles Center reported receiving a request for clearance to FL 600 (60,000ft).
The incredulous controller, with some disdain in his voice, asked, "How do you plan to get up to 60,000 feet?
The pilot (obviously a sled driver), responded, "We don't plan to go up to it; we plan to go down to it." He was cleared.

The pilot was sitting in his seat and pulled out a .38 revolver. He placed it on top of the instrument panel, and then asked the navigator, "Do you know what I use this for?"
The navigator replied timidly, "No, what's it for?"
The pilot responded, "I use this on navigators who get me lost!"
The navigator proceeded to pull out a .45 and place it on his chart table.
The pilot asked, "What's that for?"
"To be honest sir," the navigator replied, "I'll know we're lost before you will."

When Hillary Clinton visited Iraq the Army Blackhawk helicopter used to transport the Senator was given the call sign "broomstick one". And they say the Army has no sense of humor!

Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!" Delta 351:"Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"

One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short of the runway while a MD80 landed. The MD80 landed, rolled out, turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee.
Some quick-witted comedian in the MD80 crew got on the radio and said, "What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?"
Our hero the Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with: "I made it out of MD80 parts. Another landing like that and I'll have enough parts for another one."

There's a story about the military pilot calling for a priority landing because his single-engine jet fighter was running "a bit peaked."
Air Traffic Control told the fighter jock that he was number two behind a B-52 that had one engine shut down.
"Ah," the pilot remarked, "the dreaded seven-engine approach."

A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, "What was your last known position?"
Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."

Taxiing down the tarmac, the 757 abruptly stopped, turned around and returned to the gate. After an hour-long wait, it finally took off.
A concerned passenger asked the flight attendant, "What was the problem?"
"The pilot was bothered by a noise he heard in the engine," explained the flight attendant," and it took us a while to find a new pilot."

"Flight 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 degrees."
"But Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"
"Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?
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Old Sunday 13th October 2013, 18:40   #52
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I remember being at Holme in 1983 and seeing an SR71 hacking out over the North Sea, just after the Soviets had shot down the Korean Airlines plane. I also remember looking for Golden Orioles and one belted out of Mildenhall, I guess that is the closest I will ever come to Nirvana
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Old Sunday 13th October 2013, 18:48   #53
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Great stories BD344 and BirdBoyBowley!
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Old Sunday 13th October 2013, 23:18   #54
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Great stories BD344 and BirdBoyBowley!

Quite so!

Rob, that was quite a scary experience in your Arrow! I was in the ATC I did quite a bit of flying but couldn't afford PPL lessons, but I had a mate who had one so he would often let me fly his Cessna from Biggin Hill - once he'd taken it off I hasten to add!

I also did a weeks gliding course up in the Cairgorms but never solo'd as I didn't have enough hours But I did get to fly a competition glider there which was exciting, as well as Falke and not least the old ATC mainstay - a Slingsby T21

Happy days.

birds, yes....
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Old Monday 14th October 2013, 12:35   #55
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I always regret not learning to fly.....I went the other route and learned how to jump out of them instead - a much less financially-rewarding choice, as my captain friend will attest!!! But still, spiralling down under canopy at Zephyrhills in Florida and having the local Turkey Vultures coming over for a looksie and circling with me was kinda cool!
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Old Monday 14th October 2013, 12:51   #56
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Did 20 + years as an RAF CCF officer. One of the air experience pilots at Woodvale used to enjoy being led out to the plane while wearing dark glasses and carrying a white stick. The cadets faces were a picture!
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Old Monday 14th October 2013, 14:43   #57
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For your enjoyment / horror, here is another piece I wrote for Flyer in about 2008 - this event led me to give up flying.....

CARDINAL SIN
I am at 6,500’ heading approximately northwest battling a stiff headwind somewhere over mid-Wales. Above and around me is a cloudless sky, below a grey, inpenetrable carpet of cloud. To my immediate right is an acquaintance who is a fellow pilot and immediately behind me is my 8 year old son and his friend. The Ts and Ps are fine, the aeroplane is trimmed out and Brecon VOR tells me I am more or less on track and the GPS confirms this. To an outside observer it’s all going well, except I know it’s not.

I am not hungover from the night before so I know my eyes don’t deceive me. I know I am level, the clouds tell me that, but the AI says ‘no you’re not, you’re in a bank my friend’. I know I am level but decide the instrument may have a point. I cover it up with one hand, unlevel and level the wings and take my hand away – I know I am level, the AI says 30 bank. I point this out to my acquaintance who agrees that we are level. But it’s not the end of the world, we are VMC, the destination’s weather is not overcast so we’ll be fine. Soon the AI topples completely, remember to avoid cloud we agree but soon we are in the descent for our destination. By the time we are in the circuit the AI has repaired itself and all is forgotten – another thing to put down to experience.

A few hours later and we are coasting out and the gear won’t come up. I go back into the circuit and recycle it and the greens go out, I hope they come down later on. I have two cardinal sins I must not commit, landing with the gear up and running out of fuel.......

I have decided to repeat the trip up and will climb through the gaps in the cloud to a safe level and head southeast towards home – the weather there is fine. The number of gaps in the cloud reduce, the climb is slow and I miss the gap and enter the entertaining world of IMC. I have forgotten to reset to climb power from the diversion back into the circuit. Now I am in big trouble – a dodgy AI (can I rely on it) and IMC – what happened to the coastal route below the cloud? The three levers are firewalled and we climb. My acquaintance thinks the AI has toppled, I am not so sure, but momentarily I think of us strewn across the Welsh hillsides – I have forgotten the GPS has a panel. We climb on and on it gets lighter and eventually we are born into the sun filled sky. I have lost a kilogram in sweat. I level us out set the engine to cruise and away we go. The relief is palpable, my acquaintance makes a note on his kneeboard, ‘don’t fly with this guy again’, I make a note on mine ‘don’t fly again’, I am very, very angry with myself.

Our attention is drawn to radio information of 20 contacts to our right ‘probably gliders’, we see nothing but we do spot a gold object hurtling towards us. ‘Look out, what’s that?’ as a toy balloon zips past us. My acquaintance looks at me and says ‘Blimey can this get any worse?’. I really wish he hadn’t said that.

I am impressed. I set us up in a slow descent and right on the VRP we are at 2000’ to enter the zone – perfect, something has gone right. My puffed up chest is quickly replaced by an all embracing sickening feeling in my stomach, as completely without warning everything dies. The propeller is windmilling and I am trimming for best speed and picking a suitable field in which to land. This is it, this is success or failure written in a large neon sign right in front of my eyes and I am not able to ‘’phone a friend’. I remember the passengers in the back – and feel even worse – what have I done wrong?

My acquaintance writes another note on his kneepad ‘go to church more often’ and enquires, well shouts – ‘fuel?!’. I turn the fuel cock from ‘Left’ to ‘Right’ and as if by magic everything comes to life again and I pull off a greaser of a landing, but I have committed a cardinal sin and that means my flying days are over.

It was a classic accident build up, a chain of events - the duff AI, the ridiculous return route, the undercarriage problem, the climb through the clouds all distracted me (hardly surprising I must admit) from one of the basic checks – fuel. The flight up had been a lot longer than normal due to the headwind and I got caught out badly by not doing the basic stuff – had I remembered, a frightening day would have been reduced to scary (or plain stupid rather than idiotic)!

What really frightened me though was this thought – had my acquaintance not been there would I have remembered to check the fuel? I will put my hand up and say ‘No, I wouldn’t have’ and that realisation was enough for me to hang up my flying boots – running out of fuel was bad enough but not realising the problem was far worse to me.

Some fellow PPLs think I have been way too hard on myself, some think I have not been hard enough, however, should I return to the skies, (apart from flying solo everywhere!) checks, checks and more checks will be my mantra alongside aviate, navigate, communicate. One thing I have learned is that I won’t be making that mistake again!















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Old Monday 14th October 2013, 15:54   #58
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having the local Turkey Vultures coming over for a looksie and circling with me was kinda cool!
Have encountered, and been encountered by Red-Tailed hawks a few times, while soaring.
We're taught early on to keep eye out for buteos, vultures, eagles, etc., thermaling underneath a developing (flat bottomed) cumulous cloud.

One experience was in controlled airspace, a TCA (terminal control area).
At 2000 above ground level, one is commited to the ground operation, getting back down to the port.

At about 2700 foot indicated, 2200 foot above ground level, spotted a Red-Tailed about 15 seconds flight time away, maybe 20 degrees off starboard. He/she was wrapped up tight in some nice lift. Slid over to that cloud with the bird, laid over into a bank, slowed to minimum sink speed. Rising air felt like being lifted by a giant hand, skin on the wings rattling like a piece of sheet tin. There's latency in analog variometers responding, and about second after getting in that thermal, the variometer needle pegged at 1,500 foot rise per minute. Worked it for over a 1000 meters gain, got back up to 5,400 foot indicated, about 35 minutes additional air time. Hawk didn't ride along, but rather stayed below. Still owe that bird a big one, a pint isn't it?
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Old Monday 14th October 2013, 18:10   #59
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Several pints I think!
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Old Tuesday 15th October 2013, 17:38   #60
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BD344, love your stories so much I have ordered your book (I had'nt realised you were an author).

Looking forward to the read.
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Old Tuesday 15th October 2013, 22:41   #61
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Thank you!! If you are interested in the aviation book then PM me as I can email you a rough copy (I believe you can get it on ebay from time to time).

One thing I did not mention is meeting Buzzards (and a Peregrine) at about 1500' - not something you want to hit, but impressive! The smallest bird I ever saw from a 'plane (other than the Swift I killed on final, or at least gave a headache to, was a Wheatear. I was a passenger approaching France and it went right by us at about 1000'-1500' ish - very obvious white rump and I guess the next time it landed was in blighty - sweet!
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Old Wednesday 16th October 2013, 05:01   #62
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Did'nt know there was a aviation book too, yes would love to read it too, if you don't mind. Thank you.
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Old Wednesday 16th October 2013, 08:19   #63
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Thank you!! If you are interested in the aviation book then PM me as I can email you a rough copy (I believe you can get it on ebay from time to time).

One thing I did not mention is meeting Buzzards (and a Peregrine) at about 1500' - not something you want to hit, but impressive! The smallest bird I ever saw from a 'plane (other than the Swift I killed on final, or at least gave a headache to, was a Wheatear. I was a passenger approaching France and it went right by us at about 1000'-1500' ish - very obvious white rump and I guess the next time it landed was in blighty - sweet!
Last time I was up with my brother Dave (who has a PPL) we had a Hobby and a couple of Swallows (not in immediate succession!) whip past the PA-28 as we were coasting out near Thorney Island.

Below is a pic of a well-known South coast rarity location taken on the same trip.

John
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Old Wednesday 16th October 2013, 11:12   #64
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I used to like planes, back in the day when you got enough leg room. Now I just tolerate them so I can get to far away destinations so that I can look at the wildlife including birds.
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Old Wednesday 16th October 2013, 11:39   #65
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John I can see it, I think it may be a Ring Billed Gull?!!

Wolfbirder, send me an email address

Rob
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Old Wednesday 16th October 2013, 15:12   #66
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John I can see it, I think it may be a Ring Billed Gull?!!

Rob
Spot on! I've had Laughing Gull, Iceland Gull and regular Mediterranean Gulls there as well, an easy morning's birding in winter.

John
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Old Wednesday 16th October 2013, 16:13   #67
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Not quite in line with the existing train of thought, but I can tell you that when it gets slow on our hawkwatch I start trying to identify passenger jets by their livery. We're on one of the flight paths from Pennsylvania into New York so on some days there are quite a few.
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Old Wednesday 16th October 2013, 21:38   #68
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Jeff you and I would get on well. I have a competition in my back garden birds versus airlines and do exactly the same, normally the birds win though.
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Old Wednesday 16th October 2013, 22:04   #69
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With a little practice, the difference in sound of Rolls Royce, General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, and other jet engines can be heard, especially the Doppler shift as they pass by. Of course, radial engines will require the eye. But otherwise, one can stay glued to the hawks, and listen to the "other birds". (or, vice-versa) Either compliments the opposite well.
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Old Wednesday 16th October 2013, 22:26   #70
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Shooting fast jets at airshows (mainly Biggin Hill) in the 60's with a manual everything slr and a long lens on colour film rated at 64 ISO really teaches you technique! Just one shot on every flyby - I couldn't do it now. Perhaps in your teens you have better reflexes and steadier hands.

Still use my monopod at 20-30 degrees to the body with a free running ball though for the occasional fast bird flyby or fast car - the Battle of Britain celebration flying at Goodwood 3 years ago was fantastic (I even forgave Lord March for his speech).

I spent many a happy night during the first Gulf War staring up through the gaps in the clouds at the interesting shapes with wide aperture glasses. Far more reliable sightings than the bats & owls I went out to see. You always had warning as the night before there were lots of communications planes & helicopters wizzing around. Saw absolutely nothing during the second - far more organised.

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Old Wednesday 16th October 2013, 23:34   #71
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I spent many a happy night during the first Gulf War staring up through the gaps in the clouds at the interesting shapes with wide aperture glasses. Far more reliable sightings than the bats & owls I went out to see. You always had warning as the night before there were lots of communications planes & helicopters wizzing around. Saw absolutely nothing during the second - far more organised.
I spent a few days and evenings at Fairford during Bosnia and the initial Afghanistan raids - all wet film unfortunately - it was an education to see the bombers loaded for bear instead of leaping off the runway with no weapons and just enough fuel for a display. Even a B1 in full burner would trundle along the runway on, on, on, till all the spotters were going "get her up!": and as for the B52s with monstrous underslung loads and eight engines belching 19th century industrial waste as the aircraft lumbered off, well...!

Meanwhile the local Buzzards floated on the thermals in the remains of the day.

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Old Thursday 17th October 2013, 22:31   #72
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I grew up near Biggin Hill and used to enjoy the aircraft coming over during the show every year. I eventually went myself in 2008 and I've been to Farnborough for the past two shows. I tend to prefer the fast modern jets because of the incredible advanced technology and skills that they display, plus the exhilarating noise, but some of the old classic planes are great too - especially the Vulcan and Spitfires. I now live under the flight path for Heathrow and enjoy watching the planes coming in, but it's not quite the same as being at a show.

I often try to do a bit of birding when I'm waiting for my flight too, if I've got my binoculars with me. Heathrow seems to be pretty good for hunting Kestrels.
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Old Friday 18th October 2013, 12:06   #73
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I can tell you the strangest day I ever spent on our hawkwatch was immediately following the Twin Towers attack. All the commercial and private planes were grounded. It was really quiet. The only planes we saw were a couple of A10 Warthogs from the National Guard base at Willow Grove.
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Old Friday 18th October 2013, 15:55   #74
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I can tell you the strangest day I ever spent on our hawkwatch was immediately following the Twin Towers attack. All the commercial and private planes were grounded. It was really quiet. The only planes we saw were a couple of A10 Warthogs from the National Guard base at Willow Grove.
I saw enough of these during the first gulf war, in fact they were responsible for the death of several British soldiers just a short distance from my location, talk about poor recognition skills despite the antifratricide markings displayed by all British armoured vehicles.
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Old Friday 18th October 2013, 17:21   #75
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Close enough to Whiteman to see B2's fairly often. Then there's an older, slower, wingless kind of flight. Controllers at regional ports deciding to have them drone on for an hour until traffic slows and they can bring them down, spoiled what was a good day for Upland Sandpiper.
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