Straight & Level 30 April

Keeping Connie in the skies

After a “black year” in 2012, the team responsible for keeping one of the last two airworthy Lockheed Super Constellations in the skies is desperate for funds.

Switzerland’s Super Constellation Flyers Association has been transporting passengers in its Connie (HB-RSC/MSN 4175) since 2004. However, last year, two engines had to be repaired and corrosion was discovered in the tail section, taking the aircraft out of use for the whole season.

As a result, “our financial situation has deteriorated severely”, says the SCFA. The company is offering a chance for backers to become sponsors for $55,000 a year – you get your logo on the aircraft – or associate members for $11,000, which comes with part-ownership of the airliner. Supporters – for $135 a year – have a chance to fly on the aircraft.

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Ian Goold spotted this cutting from a European Aviation Safety Agency bulletin:

“…skin disbonding was reported on a composite side panel of a rudder installed on an A310 aeroplane. The investigation results revealed this disbonding started from a skin panel area previously repaired in-service in accordance with the Structural Repair Manuel (SRM).”

“That will be Airbus Spain, then,” he says.

Jack’s passion

In the pantheon of aviation pioneers, no aircraft designer wears the slightly back-handed label, “ahead of his time”, with more authority than American Jack Northrop.

Originally employed by Lockheed in 1916, Northrop earned his reputation as designer of the Lockheed Vega and an assistant on the Douglas Round-the-World-Cruiser and the wing of Ryan’s “The Spirit of St Louis” monoplane.

It was only afterwards, in the early 1930s, that Northrop began working on the flying wings that were his passion and still his most profound contribution to the aerospace industry.

In the newly-published Northrop Flying Wings, aviation historian Graham Simons skillfully tracks the succession of experimental and developmental – yet, sadly, never operational – flying wings developed by Northrop and his team over a period of more than two decades.

In Simons’ detailed account, including dozens of illuminating cutaway drawings, Northrop’s battles are shown not only against the significant aerodynamic challenges posed by such a low-drag platform, but also against the reluctant industrial partners and chronic shortages of government-furnished equipment.

The grapes of the Glens

A Budgie staffer on a trip to China thought he had mistakenly set his watch back several decades, rather than hours, when he heard this Captain Speaking about safety reminders on a certain Hong Kong flag carrier’s flight: “So, ladies stop nattering and men put down your newspapers.”

Meanwhile, does Scotland have a new national drink? Perhaps, if this menu on board a China Southern internal flight is to be believed. Maybe the vineyards of the Highlands are a secret the Scottish nationalists are trying to keep bottled up until independence.

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