Best of the Web

It Takes 96 People to Fly a British Airways Passenger. The Bangalore Aviation blog has noted that British Airways has detailed calculations the number of essential people involved in a passenger’s journey and it works out to 96 different roles, across 18 different departments, using over 11 external suppliers in the process. The figures rises to 107 for premium customers.

British Airways’ Latest TV Advertisement. And speaking of British Airways, their latest advertisement showcases the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and follows a passenger’s journey using a “micro to macro” style of filming:

UAV Protest Outside Drone Testing Base in Aberporth. The BBC has recently reported that protesters from CND Cymru and other groups gathered at Parc Aberporth in Ceredigion to call for the end of military drone testing. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has stated that UAVs only fly at designated testing areas at Parc Aberporth.

Unexpected Uses of Drones. Sylvia, the blogger behind the Fear of Landing blog, has also compiled a list of unexpected uses of drones, ranging from beer, pizza and dry cleaning delivery to counting Orangutan nests in the wild.

Pakistan’s Only Female Combat Pilot. The Telegraph has profiled Fl Lt Ayesha Farooq who earlier this year, completed her training to become Pakistan’s first war-ready female fighter pilot, flying the F7-PG, a Chinese version of the MiG 21 jet. Some 19 Pakistani women have become pilots in the past decade, but most fly transporters. Of the six fighter pilots, Fl Lt Farooq is the only one to have qualified for combat and to fly regular sorties along the troubled Pakistan- India border.

Wanted: Your Photos for The General Aviation News Photo Issue. If you have taken a really cool aviation photo that you think is worthy of being shared with the 92,000 monthly print readers of General Aviation News, send it to Janice Wood with image details by October 14.

Do You Use an iPad in Your Flying? If so, contact Janice Wood of General Aviation News and your comments might be featured in the Sept. 27 print issue of General Aviation News. Or click here to leave a comment in her original request – which has already attracted a number of comments from pilots.

Guide to Becoming a Helicopter Pilot Now Online. General Aviation News has noted the launch of, which explains the step-by-step guide to becoming a helicopter pilot.

Impressive Elephant Walk. Finally, the Aviationist blog has posted a picture of an impressive “elephant walk” of Seven C-17 Globemaster IIIs, 11 KC-10 Extenders and four C-5B Galaxies from the 60th Air Mobility Wing that took place on September 11th. It took over 36 minutes for all the 22-aircraft involved in the “freedom launch” at Travis AFB, California, to take off with the first plane in the lineup (a C-17 Globemaster) launching at 8:46 am –  the same time American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center twelve years ago. - Travis AFB-Elephant-Walk

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Friday the 13th’s Flight 666 arrives safely in HEL

Today is Friday the 13th and we are happy to report that Finnair flight 666 or AY666 from Copenhagen to Helsinki (HEL) has landed safely. Not only that, the flight departed and landed ahead of schedule: - Flight 666 on Friday the 13th

For superstitious travelers, Helsinki happens to have the 3 letter designation HEL while flight AY666 from Copenhagen to Helsinki is a daily flight – meaning there are are two Friday the 13th flights to HEL this year.

The AP has noted that some airlines, like Scandinavian Airlines, take superstitions about the number 13 very serious and don’t have a row 13 on board. However, Finnair and other regional carriers like Norwegian and Estonian Air keep their row 13s because apparently the superstition has only recently arrived in northern latitudes – meaning some lucky passengers got to sit in row 13, on Flight 666 to HEL…

The AP also reported that today’s Flight 666 to HEL was almost full, but there is no word on whether or not any passengers lost their checked-in baggage in or on the way to HEL…

Finally and if you wish to replay an uneventful Flight 666 to HEL, click here to visit the flight’s page on

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Inside Wayne Newton’s private jet terminal

Casa de Shenandoah is the ranch that singer Wayne Newton (“Mr. Las Vegas”) shared with his family for 45 years until financial problems led to a development company buying the property in the hopes of turning it into a Graceland-like museum. That deal has since fallen apart in various bitter lawsuits and allegations with the Newtons being booted out of their home.

The entire ranch is now listed for a mere $70 million with a lengthy slideshow being posted on Yahoo (even more pictures can be found here) as it features eight separate homes, a car museum, acres of stables and corrals, a zoo area, several pools and what interests us the most (since this is an aviation webzine…), a jet terminal complete with a jet! - Wayne Newton's Jet Terminal (1) - Wayne Newton's Jet Terminal (2) - Wayne Newton's Jet Terminal (3) - Wayne Newton's Jet Terminal (4) - Wayne Newton's Jet Terminal (5) - Wayne Newton's Jet Terminal (6)

In response to a comment we decided to add these two pictures for some clarification as the property is near the airport BUT it lacks an actual runway (the aircraft is visible in the closeup): - Wayne Newton's House - Wayne Newton's House (Aerial View)

Over the top and rather tacky? Perhaps. But hey, what do you expect in Las Vegas? Moreover, it could be much worst (click here to see a slideshow of Liberace’s now rather rundown home that was recently bought by a British real estate developer…)

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This weekend’s UK air shows or air displays

Two air shows or air displays are happening right now in the Channel Islands while there is still time to plan on attending two more aviation events this weekend:


2013 Souvenir Programme - On Sale Now!Jersey International Air Display at St Aubin’s Bay, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands. Past highlights of the air display which takes places in St Aubins Bay adjacent to the island’s capital have been the Patrouille de France and J29 Tunnan from Sweden One. Click here for the display timetable.


Guernsey RAFA Battle of Britain Air Display at St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands. Also happening right now is the RAFA show off the coast of Guernsey. Its been held for more than four decades and counting.


Friday to Sunday

Goodwood RevivalGoodwood Revival at the Goodwood Aerodrome and Circuit in West Sussex. Although vintage cars and motor racing will take center stage at the Goodwood Revival, there will be daily air displays from the very best warbirds along with a stunning fly-in for the Freddie March Trophy. Click here to see the daily event schedule.


The Whole Weekend

Southport Air Show at the Southport Seafront in Lancashire. Fast jets, historical and military aircraft and much more have been the highlights of the Southport Air Show for 22 years. However and even though the flying starts at 10:30 (click here for the daily schedule), its advised that you arrive as close to 9:00 AM as possible. Advanced tickets for  £7 (children under five are free) can be purchased until midnight on Friday by clicking here.

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The Martin jetpack comes closer to reality

We have mentioned the Martin Jetpack in the past (see The Martin jetpack is coming to a garage near you), but Yahoo! News recently ran an update and it sounds like the jetpack is coming closer to reality. - Martin JetpackApparently, the Martin Jetpack’s latest prototype, which can fly for 30 minutes, reach heights of 5,000 feet/1,500 meters and speeds of 60 mph/96.6 kph, has been cleared for manned testing by New Zealand’s aviation authority.

When asked how safe it was, inventor Glen Martin said:

“In comparison with a light helicopter or something like that we believe this is going to be significantly safer.”

Moreover, there are redundant operational systems, an impact-absorbing undercarriage and a ballistic parachute that opens in .2 seconds (if needed).

It also took twenty years of tinkering for Martin and his team to come up with an engine that is 90% efficient in converting horse power to thrust and uses a giant ducted fan fired by a piston internal combustion engine – similar to what a personal watercraft or snowmobile uses.

Once airborne, an onboard computer controls the Martin Jetpack while the “pilot” uses the computer’s two joysticks with the left one controlling height and the right one controlling direction. If the pilot removes his or her hands, the jetpack simply hovers in place.

According to Martin, various governments and military units are already interested in using the Martin Jetpack for border patrols and search and rescue missions. He is also planning to deliver a recreational model for approximately $150,000 and there are already more than 2,000 buyers on a waiting list.

A quick look on YouTube reveals a Martin Jetpack channel with the following video uploaded in early August showing the latest prototype (it already has over 100,000 views):

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Britain’s oldest stunt pilot calls it quits at aged 90

The Daily Mail has reported that Britain’s oldest stunt pilot Doug Gregory has reluctantly given up aerobatics at aged 90, but insists he will continue to take to the skies. The 90-year-old former RAF and commercial pilot also plans to sell his homemade 1917 replica stunt plane because it has become too difficult to operate. The aircraft costs just £5,000 pounds to build between 1983 and 1987.

Mr. Gregory joined the Air Force when he was 18 years old right after his birthday and he survived 67 mission over Germany during the war along with a brain hemorrhage in 1947 that had people telling him he had to give up flying. Mr. Gregory commented that:

“The inspiration to make my own plane was being told I would never fly again. I never believed it and of course they were wrong. It was obvious I could never do commercial flying after my record of being hospital but it wasn’t very long before I started flying again and I never stopped.”

The former school teacher has now been flying for over seven decades and still holds all the relevant licenses making him one of Britain’s oldest pilots. He plans to continue flying every week – including over to France to attend World War I memorials. - Britain's Oldest Stunt Pilot - Britain's Oldest Stunt Pilot (2)

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You’ll know it’s a no-frills airline if…

You’ll know it’s a no-frills airline if:

  • They don’t sell tickets, they sell chances.
  • All the insurance machines in the terminal are sold out.
  • Before the cheapest flights, the passengers get together and elect a pilot.
  • If you kiss the wing for luck before boarding, it kisses you back.
  • You cannot board the plane unless you have the exact change.
  • Before you took off, the stewardess tells you to fasten your Velcro.
  • The Captain asks all the passengers to chip in a little for gas.
  • When they pull the steps away, the plane starts rocking.
  • The Captain yells at the ground crew to get the cows off the runway.
  • You ask the Captain how often their planes crash and he sez, “Just once.”
  • No movie. Don’t need one.
  • Your life keeps flashing before your eyes.
  • You see a man with a gun, but he’s demanding to be let off the plane.
  • All the planes have both a bathroom and a chapel. - Ryanair Cartoon

‘Ryanair’ by Frank Boyle

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Best of the Web

A Drone Rather Than a Bull Causes Injuries at America’s First Running of the Bulls Event. In an odd story, it wasn’t the bulls that poised the most risk to participants in America’s first running of the bulls event at the Virginia Motorsports Park as an ESPN video drone fell from the sky and crashed into spectators – causing minor injuries to five who were treated on the spot. But according to the local Sheriff: “They were a little bit more upset that [the drone] knocked the beer out of their hand than about the injury…..”

Drones: The good, the Bad and the Ugly. With the above drone behaving badly or drones gone wild incident in mind, there is a recent and comprehensive article in Air Facts which covers the good, the bad and the ugly issues surrounding drone usage in general.

Follow an Around the World Flight. We mentioned last week that Mike Laver and Mike Collins have begun an around the world flight (that started in New York) to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Mitsubishi MU-2. According to their latest Ay 13 blog post, the pair are in Australia’s Latrobe Valley. You can also track their adventure online here or directly on a DeLorme tracking map which updates their position every 10 minutes while flying.

Why You Should Consider a Homebuilt Aircraft. Buying or building an experimental aircraft (also called homebuilt or experimental/amateur built) is a good way to save money on an aircraft. The Fixed Wing Buddha blog has a great post which goes into some detail discussing the differences between a used certificated aircraft and an experimental/amateur built aircraft.

James Bond Stuntman From London Olympics killed in a Wing-Diving Accident. On a tragic note, Mark Sutton, the 42 year old former Ghurkha Rifles officer turned stuntman who parachuted into the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics dressed as James Bond alongside a double of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, was killed last August in a wing-diving accident in the Swiss Alps. He died after jumping from a helicopter and crashing into a mountain ridge in the Trient area near the border with France.  Wing-diving is an extreme sport which involves using a special jumpsuit with wings that allow the wearer to glide and it usually ends with a parachute being deployed.

Avionics: Are Good Pilots still Required? AVweb has a podcast interview with former Northwest captain and Embry-Riddle educator Jack Panosian to explore the question of what’s more important in keeping passengers alive: stick and rudder skills or systems management.

Fighting California’s Rim Fire. Finally and although this amazing video was recorded on August 22nd from the cockpit of a 146th Airlift Wing’s C-130J belonging to firefighters with the California Air National Guard, the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park is still burning and has since become one of the largest fires in California’s history. Even a few weeks ago, the wildfire was already pretty impressive:

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A De Havilland Hornet Moth returns home to St Athan

The St Athan military base in the Vale of Glamorgan celebrated its 75th anniversary earlier in the week when it welcomed back a De Havilland Hornet Moth – one of the first planes which took off from there when the old air base opened in 1938.

The history of St Athan and the Hornet Moth are somewhat intertwined because originally the base was intended to be a maintenance base because it was thought to be beyond the reach of the Luftwaffe. However, the fall of France put an end to that belief while the development of rapid monoplane fighters meant that the Hornet Moth was far too slow and vulnerable for combat duties.

Nevertheless, the Hornet Moth found new roles at St Athan as submarine spotters, air taxis and for helping to calibrate early radar installations. All told, around 160 Hornet Moths were built and between 25 and 30 are thought to still be in airworthy condition 75 years later.

One of those airworthy Horner Moths returned to St Athan as part of its 75th anniversay celebration with current owner David Weston telling the BBC:

“People say the design was outdated even then but it was always intended to be an easy-to-fly, easy-to-maintain workhorse, and it does it brilliantly. I bought her from the Shuttleworth Collection in Bedfordshire in 1996 and, apart from a slight crash in 1971, she’s been flying continuously all her life and could easily go for another 75 years if she’s looked after properly.”

The BBC also has the following video showing Weston coming in for a landing and then he talks a bit about the history of the aircraft:

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