The Anonymous Widower

The Return Of The Triplane Would Make The Red Baron Proud

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Popular Mechanics.

Triplane and Red Baron are words that go together strawberries and cream. Or in my case strawberries and yoghurt!

The magazine seems to like the aircraft.

March 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Delivery Drone Flies Medical Supplies To Britain’s Isle of Wight

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Reuters.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new drone service will reduce delivery times for urgent medical supplies to a hospital on the Isle of Wight, which lies about 8 kilometres off the south coast of England.

In some ways the most remarkable thing about this project, was that the drone was developed by Southampton University to deliver medical supplies in remote parts of Africa.

  • It is twin-engined.
  • It has a range of 100 km.
  • It can carry a 100 kg payload.
  • It can take off and land on short grass runways.

More details can be found on this page of the Southampton University web site.

This is a video of the first delivery.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zero Carbon? Not Here! Carbon-Fibre Bogie Frame

When I was at University in the 1960s, the big UK engineering project was the Rolls-Royce RB-211 turbofan engine.

One of the features of the engine was a carbon-fibre fan blade, which saved weight and thus made the engine lighter and more efficient.

However the blades were found to shatter with bird strikes and titanium had to be used instead.

At Liverpool University, we knew something was wrong, as a fellow student on our course was the son of the Manager of Tesco in Derby. What used to happen to Tesco’s out-of-date chickens? They ended up at Rolls-Royce, where they were used to test jet engines for bird-strikes. He told us the story of the failed testing one liquid lunch-time.

That was over fifty years ago and the RB-211 has morphed into the successful Rolls-Royce Trent engine, which first ran in 1990 and is still going strong.

Carbon-fibre has gone its own way and is used in many applications from cars to tennis rackets and golf clubs.

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Engineer.

The article describes work at Birmingham University to create a carbon-fibre bogie frame.

This paragraph from the article describes the outcome.

A major achievement is that the mass of the frame as built is 350kg, compared to the steel equivalent of 936kg. By the time the metal fittings were installed and paint applied, the mass had increased to 940kg compared with the steel equivalent of 1468kg, a reduction of over half a tonne per bogie.

Lighter bogies mean lower track-access charges.

I will be interesting to see how this project ends, when a prototype has been running in a real train.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

The Longevity Of Light Aircraft

I am just watching the travel section of BBC Breakfast, where Cat Moh is taking a flight in a light aircraft to Le Touquet from Blackbushe.

The aircraft they are using is G-BJDW, which I have flown many times, when it was based at Ipswich Airport. It was the plane that many, like me, used for instrument-flying training in the 1980s.

I remember flying three Metier employees to Denham from Ipswich one day.

Delta-Whisky looked to be in good condition, as it was thirty or more years ago.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

The Great Electric Air Race Has Begun

The title of this post is the first sentence of this article in The Independent, which is entitled Electric Planes: Could You Be Flying On A Battery-Powered Aircraft By 2027?.

This is the full first paragraph in an article by respected travel writer; Simon Calder.

The great electric air race has begun. Three European industry heavyweights have teamed up against a US startup and Britain’s biggest budget airline to develop the first commercial electric aircraft.

So is such an aircraft feasible?

When you consider that the three European heavyweights are Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens, I suspect that the proposed project is serious.

It should also be said that the companies are not aiming for an all-electric aircraft, but a hybrid plane with a very efficient on-board generator and a two-tonne battery.

The key to success will probably include.

  • Batteries with a very high energy density.
  • A highly-efficient and quiet gas turbine, that generates a lot of energy.
  • Radical air-frame design to take advantage of the technology.

In my view, the batteries will be the key, but making more efficient batteries with high charge densities will also do the following.

  • Improve the range and performance of battery and hybrid road vehicles like buses, cars and trucks.
  • Improve the range and performance of trains and trams.
  • Transform energy storage, so wind and solar power can be stored and used in times of high demand.
  • Allow every house, apartment or office to have its own affordable energy storage.

In all of these applications, the weight of the battery will be less of a problem.

This leads me to the conclusion, that we may see smaller electric plasnes in a few years, but the technology that will make it possible, may well improve other modes of transport so much, that electric planes are never an economic proposition.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens!

I think most travellers and members of the oublic will benefit in some ways.


December 3, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If Microsoft Built Cars…

There are loads of jokes that start like this and you can find pages on the Internet  like this.

But what if Microsoft built planes?

This article on the BBC shows the result.

The plan is to use the Stratolaunch plsne to launch satellites. More is here on Wikipedia.

The idea is not new, The North American X-15 of the 1950s, was a space plane that was launched from under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress.

Wikipedia says this about the flights of the X-15

During the X-15 program, 13 flights by eight pilots met the Air Force spaceflight criterion by exceeding the altitude of 50 miles (80 km), thus qualifying these pilots as being astronauts.

Not bad for an conventional rocket-powered aeroplane built over half a century ago!

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

My New All-Purpose Shopping Bag

I bought this stringbag for £2.95 and when I go out, it fits neatly in my shoulder bag or pocket.

My New All-Purpose Shopping Bag

My New All-Purpose Shopping Bag

Isn’t a stringbag the most useful of bags? After all it did lend its name to that most mighty of the Royal Navy’s attack aircraft; the Fairey Swordfish, which was called the stringbag on account of its ability to carry virtually anything to its target. Wikipedia has a full explanation.

The Swordfish is almost unique amongst military aircraft for two reasons.

Several aircraft types were built to replace it in service and it out-served them all.

In some attacks, it pressed the attack home successfully, because it flew slower than the low limit of the gun-aiming computer of the ship being attacked. The Germans hadn’t believed that an attacking aircraft would be as slow as a Swordfish.

But this unusual biplane did carry out one of the most unlikely battle successes of the Royal Navy, by attacking the Italian fleet at anchor in the Battle of Taranto. The lesson was not lost on the Japanese, who inspected the port after the attack. But the Americans, who must have known what happened at Taranto, did nothing to change their thinking.

December 27, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Pilot With More Lives Than A Cat’s Home

I watched the documentary entitled Britain’s Greatest Pilot: The Extraordinary Story of Captain Winkle Brown on BBC2 last night.

The title says his story has been extraordinary and never a truer use has been made of the word. His Wikipedia  entry reads like something penned by W E Johns.

He flew a total of 487 different aircraft types and made a record of no less than 2047 landings on aircraft carriers.

If his flying exploits weren’t enough, as he was a fluent German speaker, he interrogated some of the worst Nazi war criminals.

In the documentary last night he was still bright as a button at ninety-five.

If ever there was a program that everybody should see, then this is the one. This link is to the copy on iPlayer.

June 2, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Vapour Trails Over Hackney

I took this picture this morning.

Vapour Trails Over Hackney

They’re not normally this clear, but the sky was very blue at the time.

November 7, 2012 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Lightning Strikes On Aircraft

They had a piece on BBC Breakfast this morning, about lightning strikes on aircraft, showing how that if there was a layer of metal fibres woven into the carbon fibre, the aircraft skin didn’t collapse.  They did show what happened if a lightning bolt hit the lab teapot.

But there was no mention in the piece of Michael Faraday, who would have course realised the solution, as he did all of the original work and invented the Faraday cage in 1836.

All metal aircraft are in effect, appropriately-sized Faraday cages and this work in Cardiff, is just repeating the process for carbon fibre aircraft.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment