Only a mother could love them
What was the ugliest aircraft of them all? It's a question almost as old as aviation, but more contenders are being added every year.
Correspondents on the airspace forum on flightglobal.com have plenty of ideas, ranging from the Russian and obscure - the Alekseyev A-90 Orlyonok and Tupolev Tu-4 - to the Transavia PL12 Airtruk, an agricultural aircraft developed in Australia. The Westland Lysander makes it in there too, but so too does Boeing's new and very functional Dreamlifter - its 747-derived rival to the Airbus Beluga and used to shuttle 787 fuselages across the USA. Airspace regular "Chipmunker" describes is as a "pregnant hippo".
To have your say on the designs that only a mother could truly love, visit airspace.aero.
Sir Richard Teflon
You have to hand it to the one-man charm offensive that is Richard Branson. In the USA last week, on a day that the news was full of tirades against domestic airlines - finally making money because they are regularly filling aircraft - for crowded cabins and air traffic delays, Sir Beardie was given a free ride on one nationwide breakfast show to plug his new US airline and his environmental fuel initiative.
With no mention of the BA-Virgin price-fixing "conspiracy" (which Virgin escaped serious punishment for after whistleblowing), and only the lightest challenge on the global warming potential of adding more aircraft to the North American skies (which gave him a chance to talk up his green fuel gimmick anyway), Branson had five minutes to showcase Virgin America as the solution to US air passengers' woes - in-flight entertainment and (implied if not said) easier-on-the-eye cabin crew to pass the time in a holding pattern or waiting in the taxi line apparently.
Given the tattered cabins in some 1980s-era US airliners and the equally shabby cabin service, Branson could certainly be onto something. But as last winter's debacle with JetBlue proved, having modern aircraft with in-flight entertainment is little consolation when you're stuck on the tarmac for six hours.
Talking about Teflon, Mike Sears - remember him? the disgraced former Boeing chief finance officer jailed over the offer of a job to a senior Pentagon official while she was still working for the government - has returned to the public eyeas an expert on ethics no less. His subject at a talk on the University of Nebraska's programme of business ethics: how do you recover from an ethical mistake? Presumably by talking about it on the lucrative lecture circuit.
Any idea what a storage igloo might be? Us neither. According to a tender notice put out by the UK MoD for a new installation at RAF Lakenheath, it is an "earth-covered, blast-resistant reinforced concrete facility for the storage of the Small Diameter Bomb". What used to be known as a bunker, in other words.
Reader Steve Hurely asks us to trace a BAC One-Eleven his late father-in-law Capt Rod Clarke used to fly in the 1970s. His wife, he says, would love to see the aircraft that was a huge part of her father's life. Well, Steve, we've traced the aircraft, G-BBME, but unfortunately we reckon it may be no more. It was sold to South Africa's Nationwide in January 1997 and re-registered ZS-OAG, before being retired in April 1998 and stored at Lanseria. Last seen in 2004.