Straight & Level 4 March

Don’t invade us: we’re still asleep
The hours of darkness would be the ideal time for anyone contemplating an invasion of Switzerland, judging by an admission by a spokesman for the country’s air force.
Asked why the nation’s fighters had not scrambled to intercept the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 hijacked by its co-pilot and flown to Geneva, Laurent Savary told AFP: “Switzerland cannot intervene because its air bases are closed at night and on the weekend. It’s a question of budget and staffing.” To be fair, the fact that Geneva sits on the frontier with France might explain why that country’s L’Armee de l’Air took the lead in accompanying the rogue airliner. But we wonder if Swiss taxpayers – who shortly will vote in a referendum on the country’s proposed purchase of 22 Saab Gripens – will sleep any easier in their beds.
Mind you, as nobody uninvited has darkened their door in over 500 years, the Swiss are probably doing something right.

Fallen Spartan
Is it a dead bird? No it’s a plane: an MC-27J fallen from its perch during the set-up day for the Singapore air show (below).
A metaphor perhaps for the transport’s recent performance against its Airbus C295 rival? That would be unkind.
The man from Alenia Aermacchi assured us the AoG team were quickly on the scene to restore the model to pride of place on the Italian company’s stand.


Fictional fighter
Thanks to the dozens of readers who replied to Timothy Oates’ plea to identify the “mystery fighter” whose photo we published in Straight & Level two weeks ago.
 According to the vast majority of you, the aircraft is not a Fairey Delta 2, as we speculated, or – as one or two of you suggested – a Dassault Balzac, but a Scott Furlong Predator.
A what? Denis Calvert (one of many) writes to say that the Predator was constructed for the 1960s ITV drama series The Plane Makers.
“Carrying the (unused) serial XS341, it appeared at the RAF Biggin Hill ‘At Home’ day on 19 September 1964,” he writes. “Although bearing a superficial resemblance to the Fairey Delta 2, the Predator was an all-new VTOL design with four lift engines. In fact, it was constructed mainly of wood, and a motorcycle engine provided its only source of power, allowing it to taxi. As such, it is somewhat unlikely that it ever flew even if it was seen hovering amidst a cloud of dust in the series.”
Richard Waller, meanwhile, is incredulous that we could have misidentified the aircraft as a Fairey Delta unless “in the spirit of humour”.
He says: “It would be too painful to imagine that in the office of Britain’s premier aviation magazine there was nobody who could feel pain at suggesting, even in fun, that this monstrosity was the brilliant and beautiful Fairey.”

Unknown jet under wing of Neptune maritime recce perhaps.

Fools Russian in
Not quite a Yuckspeak, but United Aircraft boss Mikhail Pogosyan wins this week’s let-bygones-be-bygones neighbourly diplomacy award.
“We have a good opportunity to work with China [on the Su-35], despite the success Chinese industry demonstrated [in the past],” he said at the Singapore air show about a possible collaboration on a new fighter.
Interesting spin on history. For “success” read Beijing developing supposedly indigenous aircraft by ripping off Russian designs – the J-11 (Su-27) and J-15 (Su-33).


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