Pegasus House: The former HQ of the Bristol Aeroplane Company is restored

The Gazette and have both ran stories on the restoration of Pegasus House, the Grade II listed art deco building in Filton which once housed the Bristol Aeroplane Company. That restoration is now complete with the Duke of Gloucester taking part in the official ceremony yesterday to mark the completion. - Pegasus House in Filton

Designed by Austen Hall and inaugurated in 1936 as headquarters of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, Pegasus House once housed hundreds of aircraft personnel (mostly draughtsmen), but only founder Sir George, the directors and their guests (including various royals along with Winston Churchill and Hollywood star Cary Grant) could use the imposing A38 front entrance and the ornate, specially commissioned, black and gold iron gates.

According to a local historian, the basement housed the wages and accounts offices, the ground floor contained the directors’ rooms, the first floor held the conference room (with a high ceiling and five tall window bays containing 10 plaster of Paris murals depicting the natural history of flight), the second floor had a projector and cinema room and the third floor was used as an exclusive director’s dining room.

However, the building had been left derelict for nearly two decades  when it was damaged by two fires, the damp and repeatedly vandalized by squatters, but then Airbus decided to restore it to its former glory. Renovation work began 18 months ago and now the restored building forms part of the manufacturer’s £70 million Airbus Aerospace Park.

A total of 300 employees will be based at Pegasus House and they are scheduled to move in over the weekend with another 2,500 engineers are set to work from Barnwell House on the site when it officially reopens in December. - Pegasus House Art Deco WindowMost of the property’s stunning art deco features were preserved, including the 1930s reliefs, marble flooring, columns and most special of all – the three story art deco stained glass window covering one of the large façades. The window was designed to illuminate the building with natural light and depicts the depicts the history of the company. It was specially commissioned and designed by Jan Juta who was famous for his work with stained glass.

In addition, the floor mosaic in the main lobby representing the signs of the zodiac was also restored. Apparently, the Zodiac was the company’s very first aircraft, but it was “no good and never actually went into production” according to Sir George White, whose great-grandfather had started the company.

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This weekend’s UK or European air shows (Sept 28-29)

As we head deeper into autumn and winter, the number of air shows or air displays in the northern latitudes like the UK is steadily dropping off. Nevertheless, here is a quick look at what’s scheduled for this weekend both in the UK or over in warmer areas of the continent:

Friday to Sunday

Festa Al Cel in Barcelona, Spain. What can be better than an air show in the clear skies over the Mediterranean as this video clearly illustrates?

The program starts at 5 PM on Friday and continues through to Sunday afternoon.

Tatoi Air Show at Athens, Greece. Part of Athens Flying Week, the military airport of Tatoi will open its gates to the public for three days to offer a unique air show and a series of individual events. Click here to see the program. Tickets are €5 for adults and children over 12 years old, €3 for children 3 – 12 years old and free entrance for children up to 3 years old on Friday; while for Saturday, tickets are €8 for adults and children over 12 years old, €4 for children 3 – 12 years old and free entrance for children up to 3 years old.

The Whole Weekend

imageSywell Classic Piston & Props at Sywell Aerodrome, Northamptonshire. Held at Northamptonshire’s Sywell Aerodrome, the Sywell Classic Piston & Props will combine “high octane live action, amazing aerial displays breathtaking classic vehicle displays, great family entertainment vintage and classic traders.” Click here for ticket information.

Malta International AirshowMalta International Airshow in Malta. Should you find yourself in sunny Malta this weekend, participants at this year’s Malta International Air Show will include aircraft from the armed forces of Germany, Italy, Malta, NATO, Poland, Qatar and the UK. Tickets prices at the airshow gate are €12 for adults with children under 14 being free while pre-paid ticket prices are €10.

Journée Portes Ouvertes BA709 de Cognac at Cognac, France. Closer to home and held on the 709 Air Base Cognac-Châteaubernard, this air show is organized to benefit the Fondation des Œuvres Sociales de l’Air (Foundation Social Works of Air) and will provide an opportunity to see static and aerial air displays plus learn about the work carried out by the French Air Force. Click here to learn more about the aircraft you will see.

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Some useful advice courtesy of the military and air force…

  • “Aim towards the Enemy.” – Instruction printed on US Rocket Launcher
  • “Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. The bombs are guaranteed to always hit the ground.” – USAF
  • “When the enemy is in range, so are you.” – Infantry Journal
  • “It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.” – U.S. Air Force Manual
  • “Tracers work both ways.” – U.S. Army Ordnance
  • “If you see a bomb technician running, follow him.” – USAF
  • “You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.” – Paul F. Crickmore (test pilot)
  • “The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.”
  • “Blue water Navy truism: There are more planes in the ocean than submarines in the sky.” – From an old carrier sailor
  • “There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime.” – Sign over squadron ops desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ.
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Best of the Web

The First 700 Tickets on Virgin Galactic’s Space Flights Have Been Sold. Sir Richard Branson says he has sold 700 tickets for trips on his Virgin Galactic spaceflights and he reckons it will be ready to launch within a “matter of months.” Branson told the Institute of Director’s annual convention that ticket sales, which reportedly cost £125,000($200,000) each, have helped fund the project to the late stages.

$21 a Gallon for Avgas in the Congo. If you think the price you pay for avgas is expensive, General Aviation News has an article about the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a Christian ministry organization operating a fleet of 136 airplanes in some of the most isolated places in the world, and how they often pay more than two or three times the price of avgas in the USA (around $6). In fact, avgas is currently $21 a gallon when its available in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

What Happened to the Fuel Tanks Jettisoned by US Aircraft During the Vietnam War. The Aviationist has posted some pictures to show you what has happened to some of the several thousand external fuel tanks jettisoned during the Vietnam War during combat, to evade SAMs or to simply lighten the load a bit: - Aircraft Fuel Tanks in Vietnam

The RAF Bids Farewell to the VC10 Air Refueling Tanker. AIN Online has reported that the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has bid farewell to the VC10 air refueling tanker, a type that has been in British military service for 47 years. They numbered 28 at their peak and also performed in passenger, cargo and aeromedical airlift transport roles. AIN Online has also posted a slideshow showing the aircraft in action here.

London City Unveils Expansion Plans. London City has submitted £200 million expansion plans to allow the airport to double annual passenger numbers from the current three million to six million by 2023. Plans include a terminal building and bigger parking stands for the larger aircraft which are expected to start using the airport from 2016.

Proposal to Re-establish Controlled Airspace at the London Southend Airport. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced that due to the recent growth of Commercial Air Transport (CAT) passenger flights at LSA, they have concluded that the re-establishment of controlled airspace is appropriate to enhance the safe operation of CAT flights arriving to and departing from London Southend Airport. You can read more about the proposal here.

Drone Package Delivery in China. Finally, Gizmodo has reported that Shenzhen, China-based SF Express is testing drones to help the company deliver packages to remote locations where trucks can’t. The SF Express experiment is one of the more prominent examples of drone delivery and its navigation system is apparently smart enough to allow courier services to simply type in an address with the drone carrying the package right to it. - Chinese Drones

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Britain’s 93 year old wing walker

Near the end of August, a 93-year-old widower named Tom Lackey broke his own record to become the world’s oldest wing walker. The former builder from the West Midlands broke his old record by being tied to the top of a 1943 Boeing Stearman biplane which flew at an altitude of about 1,000ft from Castle Kennedy, near Stranraer, Scotland to Derry, Northern Ireland. - World's Oldest Wing Walker - World's Oldest Wing Walker (2)

(Picture: Charles McQuillan/PA)

Tom had completed his first wing walk 13 years ago at the age of 85 after the death of his wife, Isobel, who had served in the Royal Air Force. He was recognized by Guinness World Records in 2005 as the oldest person on top of an aircraft that looped the loop.

Since taking up wing walking, Tom has raked in over £1 million for charity and was even named Fundraiser of the Year at the Mirror’s 2011 Pride of Britain Awards.

However, Tom’s last one-hour-21-minute stunt was his hardest due to the wind pressure on top of the biplane e.g. just try keeping your head above the sunroof of your car while going 75 to 80 mph!

In these first two video, Tom talks about how he got into wing walking at the age of 85:

Finally, this next video tells a little bit more about Tom’s latest record breaking wing walking exploit:

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Cool Arctic flying videos to get you in the mood for winter

Winter tends to ground most recreational pilots in lower latitudes, but not in places like Alaska where cool weather still means cool flying and even cooler videos.

In this first video posted on the website of the Alaska Dispatch, Alaskan pilot Mike Collins takes you over the skies of Cordova in both a Super Cub and Cessna 185:

In this next video, also from the Alaska Dispatch, you will learn how to safely land your aircraft in a gorge during a blizzard:

Meanwhile, a quick look around on YouTube found this cool video (the person who uploaded it has a few other great videos as well) showing what to expect in good winter conditions for flying, skiing and sightseeing around the spectacular Glacier Bay National Park:

Finally, the Aviationist blog has found a really cool video shot from a cockpit of a NASA P-3B aircraft as part of an operation under a name of Ice Bridge which is intended to examine ice conditions at both the North and South poles. Its one of the largest surveillance missions covering both the Arctic and Antarctic regions with the main goals being to create a 3D map of the ice cover:

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This weekend’s UK air shows (Sept 21-22)

There are a couple of UK air shows or air displays worth mentioning this weekend:

Sunday - Shuttleworth CollectionShuttleworth Uncovered Air Display at Old Warden, Bedfordshire. The Shuttleworth Collection will be having another air display on Sunday with eighteen aircraft scheduled to fly plus visitors can have a look at the static aircraft displays as well. Book online in advance and save £5 per person (Please note online bookings close at 3pm on Saturday). Otherwise, its £25 per person on the day at the gate while children are free.


National Museums ScotlandEast Fortune Wheels and Wings at the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, Scotland. Get ready for a day of amazing stunts, over 200 classic cars and vehicles, a fashion show and different forms of transport with wheels and wings at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune. Ticket prices are the following: Adult £10:50 / £8.50; Child £5 (under 5 free); Family (2 adults, 2 children) £27.50; and National Museums Scotland Members free. Note that parking is £4.00 per vehicle.

The Whole Weekend

Newbury Show 2011 17 - 18 September signRoyal County of Berkshire Show: Air Display at the Newbury Showground, Priors Court, Hermitage, Thatcham, Berks. The Royal County of Berkshire show will have something for everyone – including a RAF Falcon Parachute display on Saturday and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with the Land Girls Salute on Sunday. Click here for the full schedule of activities along with ticket information.

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Cool videos from FlightFest 2013 in Dublin

Last Sunday, 130,000 visitors came to the centre of Dublin to watch FlightFest – an event modeled on the flypast that took place during the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. Some thirty aircraft participated with the event being brought to a close by the British Airways A380 Airbus.

This first short video explains the complicated behind the scenes flight planning that was required to safely pull of FlightFest:

This next video was actually taken a few weeks before FlightFest and gives you a good birds eye view of what the pilots flying the aircraft saw on Sunday (with 130,000 added in):

If you really want to know what it was like to see FlightFest live, there is a couple of hours of footage posted in three videos on here. Otherwise, this following video shows all the important action in just three minutes:

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Sandpoint Airpark: Live in luxury with your airplane

We recently profiled the Mallards Landing Airpark in Henry County just south of Atlanta, but General Aviation News has brought our attention to the SilverWing at Sandpoint Airpark located in Sandpoint, Idaho.

The project was conceived by pilot owner John McKeown who wanted to build a residential airpark, but finding the right spot wasn’t easy because the right location had to be:

  1. Adjacent to a public airport with a runway long enough for larger aircraft.
  2. Close to a vibrant town where people could walk or take a short drive to restaurants, shopping and other activities.
  3. Be in a beautiful location that offers year-round recreational activities and of course, flying.

A flight over Long Bridge, Lake Pend Oreille and downtown Sandpoint that culminated with a landing at the Sandpoint Airport (SZT) on its 5,501 foot or 1,677 meter runway convinced him he’d found the right spot. - SilverWing at Sandpoint - SilverWing at Sandpoint Airpark (2)

John was quoted by General Aviation News as saying that:

“The Sandpoint Airport is one of a few mountain resort airports located in the center of town, just minutes from skiing, boating, shopping and restaurants. USA Today named Sandpoint one of the best five small towns in America and we couldn’t agree more. In the winter, Schweitzer Ski Mountain is the place to be. Just a 15-minute drive from the SilverWing, Schweitzer was named the ‘best kept secret’ by Ski Magazine. From the top of mountain, at 6,400 feet, the stunning views include Canada’s Selkirks, Montana’s Cabinet and Bitterroot Mountain Ranges, as well as Lake Pend Oreille. Downtown Sandpoint is picturesque with holiday lights, earning Travel + Leisure’s accolade as one of ‘America’s Prettiest Winter Towns.’ When the weather heats up, activities on Lake Pend Oreille are boundless. At 65 miles long and 1,150 feet deep, Lake Pend Oreille is Idaho’s largest and the fifth deepest lake in the United States, making it great for boating, kayaking, fishing and more.”

SilverWing purchased 18 acres adjacent to the airport in late 2006 with the first model home being completed in 2011. Today, there are 44 residential lots ranging in size from 6,000 to 27,000 square feet (557 to 2,508 sqms) and these lots can be individually built on or combined for larger hangar-home units.

Mike Mileski, one of the developers, noted:

“There are five designs to choose from, ranging from a 50 x 42 foot hangar with an equal size residence above to a 60 x 70 foot hangar with over 4,200 square feet of residence above. The average cost of building a hangar and a residential shell starts at $75 per square foot and can increase depending on finishes and other items an owner wants to do. All of our lots are on fee simple land and ready for immediate build out.”

In addition, there are plans to build a common area with an exercise center, swimming pool, spa and a BBQ area while a full service SilverWing FBO is already at the airport.

Click here to see the latest information about pricing and availability and do note that each owner must pays an annual fee of $150 to Bonner County for airport access rights plus additional fees of $75 per year will be required for any additional aircraft that is hangared for longer than 30 days a year. - SilverWing at Sandpoint Airpark (3)

Interested? You can find out more information and see plenty of pictures (including floor plans) of SilverWing at Sandpoint Airpark on the development’s website here while a quick search on YouTube revealed this really cool flying video over the area which gives you a good idea of just how beautiful the location and region around the Airpark is:

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