Straight & Level 13 May

Adolf Rohrbach
Heard of Adolf Rohrbach? This July marks the 75th anniversary of the “renowned by now forgotten airplane builder”, says Rit Staalman, who has researched a study into the German engineer’s life and “unexpected and puzzling death” in 1939.
A check into Flight’s archives comes up with a few references, including a project by the UK’s Beardmore to build two of his large all-metal aircraft under licence in the 1920s. “Flight also devoted space to his ill-fated Romar Atlantic flying boats (1929) and his curious rotary wing design, the Cyclogiro of 1933,” says Staalman.
You can read more of Staalman’s paper on his blog

Rest in pieces
Czech aviation investigators have notched up a notable first for the country, after a microcopter on a photography exercise crashed into a graveyard in Brno.
Accident inquiry authority UZPLN has detailed the 12 March event, involving a six-armed MK Hexa XL, in its latest quarterly bulletin.
The aircraft had been airborne for about 5min and was flying at a height of 60m when the pilot noticed that one of its motors had stopped, and attempted an emergency landing.
This didn’t go entirely smoothly and the whirring contraption, and its camera, ended up resting in pieces in Brno’s central cemetery.
“This is the first event reported by a civil drone operator in the country,” says UZPLN, adding that there was some “slight damage” to the site, but no casualties. At least, none who weren’t there to begin with.

Plane talking
David Nixon writes again with examples of seemingly random opening gambits from passengers sitting next to him on “tired businessman” flights.
From a young woman travelling with a child: “I prefer a Colt .45 to a Smith & Wesson .38, don’t you?” She was a female US marine.
This one from a Vietnam vet, now working as a crop dusting pilot: “Do you want to see photos of my latest crash?”

Black mark
What image did Scientific American’s website choose to illustrate its story about BA’s plans to develop biofuel from rubbish? A 1970s-era Trident.
Suggests our engines editor: “I know the Trident’s smoky Rolls-Royce Spey was notorious for leaving a trail of black ****, but this is ridiculous.”

Moon memories
Fancy getting your hands on the hand controller used to land the Apollo 15 lunar module in 1971? Or the glove worn by Buzz Aldrin at Tranquillity Base during the Apollo 11 mission?
These are among 600 items from the Apollo programme, from maps and photos to full space suits, featured in an online auction later this month.
Details at


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