Archive for the ‘aircraft’ Category

Air America, United Air – How This Tourist Plane Over Frisco Used to Work for the CIA as a Spy Plane a Half Century Ago

Friday, June 16th, 2017

As seen over western SF:

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The yellow floatplane, before it became a floatplane, used to operate out of Thailand as a part of the CIA-owned Air America, Inc a half-century ago.

See? It’s one of these:

“Six Beavers lined up at Udorn, probably in 1962 (UTD/Fink/ photo no. 1-JF25-16-PB1)”

Get all the deets right here:

AIR AMERICA: DE HAVILLAND CANADA DHC-2 (L-20) BEAVER by Dr. Joe F. Leeker Last updated on 4 March 2013

To wit:

“DHC-2 (L-20) L-202 833 1 March 62 leased from US Army 54-1693

Service history: arrived at Bangkok in crates on 15 February 62, to be operated under the Madriver Contract AF62(531)-1674, based at Vientiane, but maintained at Udorn (Minutes ExCom-AACL of 23 January 62, in: UTD/CIA/B7F1); assembled by Thai Airways according to contract no. BKK 62-001 (Memorandum dated 9 February 62, in: UTD/Fink/B2F16); officially received at Bangkok on 1 March 62 (Aircraft list of June 62, corrected to Sept.1963, in: UTD/Kirkpatrick/B1F1).

Fate: was to be returned to the US Army in October 62 (Minutes ExCom-AACL of 30 October 62, in: UTD/CIA/B7F1); returned on 21 April 63 (Aircraft list of June 62, corrected to Sept.1963, in: UTD/Kirkpatrick/B1F1); sold to R. N. Nelson Earth Movers as N5220G in March 92; sold to Kenmore Air Harbor Inc, Kenmore, WA, in 92; sold to San Francisco Seaplane Tours, Mill Valley, CA, on 13 July 94; current in March 2004 (request submitted to the FAA on 13 March 2004 at http://162.58.35.241/acdatabase/); current in November 2008 (request submitted to the FAA on 23 Nov. 2008 at http://162.58.35.241/acdatabase/).”

So there you have it. Head on up to the Sausalito / Marin City / Mill Valley area and take a ride on a piece of flying history, if you want.

How to Spend $3200 an Hour Above Frisco: Ride Along in this WWII-Era TF-51D Mustang Called “Toulouse Nuts”

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Get it – Two Loose Nuts?

As seen over our Presidio / Richmond District just yesterday:

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This was a WINGS OF FREEDOM FLIGHT EXPERIENCE from the Collings Foundation.

This was the flight path:

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Check the promotional video of a similar Mustang from the Collings Foundation – this could be you:

And here’s the other Mustang I’ve seen over town lately:

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As seen from Ocean Beach. (I don’t know anything about this airplane.)

All right, that’s your 415 Mustang Update for 2017…

Say Good-Bye to Boeing 747 Passenger Jet Service Over Frisco – Only 18 Left at SFO – All Gone by Oct 29, 2017

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

The Queen of the Skies above Coyote Point last month:

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United’s old birds flying out of SFO, only 18 left now, are skedded to leave us by the end of October 2017.

Now that’s just the plan, and it depends on United getting enough replacement aircraft. And the cargo version, well those will keep flying until after you’re dead, Gentle Reader, sry. And it’s possible there could be a 747-8 (the unloved replacement for the aging 747-400 seen above) flight in SFO’s future, who knows.

And IDK, Donald Trump’s Air Force One, that’s sort of a 747 – I can’t think of a reason for him to visit, but anything’s possible. And I guess some foreign carriers might still do something with passenger 747’s who knows.

But the fundamental point is that 2017 will mark the End Of An Era, an entire hubsworth of United 747 will disappear, so if you see a four-engined jet near SFO, it’ll be the even larger Airbus A380, (which is, already. becoming a kind of flying dinosaur itself oh well. You see, they made the wings too big, to facilitate the inevitable stretched cabin that was supposed to come in the future, but whoops, no stretch is coming after all. So all these A380 airplanes you see have too much wing for no good reason. Plus the wings are too short, owing to the sort of arbitrary limit of an 80 meter wingspan, which was necessary to limit the amount of re engineering required to get them to fit into airports. And Airbus could have opted for Boeing-style folding wingtips, but no, they didn’t, oh well.)

No fatalities in the long history of 747 jumbos at SFO but there was United 863, which almost plowed into Mount San Bruno in 1998 and also Pan Am 845 – check the YouTube –  video footage starts about halfway through:

I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t have jumped from the front part of a jumbo jet with its tail on the ground, but you have flight crew yelling at you to go go go, so off you go.

Anyway, adieu, 747.

Frisco Zeppelin Nostalgia: Remembering When the Bay Area had Its Own Rigid Airship

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Here’s the news:

Google’s Sergey Brin said to be working on a zeppelin-like airship

And here’s what we had flying about a decade ago – ah memories:

Read all about itZeppelin service has been firmly established in the San Francisco Bay Area.

As seen over the weekend:

Passing by Coit Tower:

A close up view, click to enlarge. Can you see pilot Fritz Guenther and his Peltor brand headphones? Sure you can.

And an adorable piggly tail in the back:

There we go, back to normal:

Ah, memories.

2008 ZLT ZEPPELIN LUFTSCHIFFTECHNIK LZ N07-100 Blimp/Dirigible (17 seats / 3 engines)

Aging Warbird Over Ocean Beach: North American Mustang P-51D – Take a Ride Yourself for $1000-Something

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Heading north back to Sonoma, one assumes:

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Seen Above Frisco: A Special Emirates A-380 with Wildlife Livery – Living with the Large Electronic Devices Ban

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Seen heading north, which is how you get to Dubai, more or less. And speaking of special, I think this is one of the higher weight versions, the better to make a 16-hour flight:

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1. So this explains the elephants and whatnot on the side.

2. And I don’t know what explains the electronics ban. Maybe it’s mostly protectionism.

And man, just look at that stubby jet. Compare with the twice-stretched Boeing 747:

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Since the A380 was built to be stretched, its wings are too big. If Airbus never ends up doing a cabin stretch, then the extra big wings will just be a waste. And that’s just part of the reason why the big A380 was more of an evolution rather than a revolution.

Anyway, it’s Euro tourist season now, so we have a lot of extra A380’s overhead. Happy Spring.

Elite French Air Force Team to Fly Over Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday, April 15th at 6:00 PM – “Patrouille Acrobatique de France”

Friday, April 14th, 2017

[UPDATE: Things went well with this fly-by, except for some cloudiness. And here’s a well-wisher from France.]

Here’s the news:

  Replying to and UPDATE: The French Air Force’s elite will fly over the on Saturday 15th at 6.00PM!

They were going to come on the 14th (Friday), but things changed. It’ll look something like this:

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Vive La France!

Cow-Town Car Dealers Cheer for Military Program: “VACAVILLE AUTO MALL – CONGRATULATIONS TRAVIS AFB ON THE KC-46A”

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

It’s a different world out there, east of the east bay:

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Here’s your cowtown reference.

Here’s your procurement backgrounder, which shows how the better aerial tanker lost.

And here’s the latest at the Bay Area’s giant Air Force Base, which  our area pols sometimes use when they can’t use SFO / OAK…

Unlikely Seaplane Base, Marin County

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

All the deets at Seaplane.com

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And a half century ago, one of these planes was a part of the CIA’s Air America in southeast Asia

Recalling (Again) the Close Call United Flight 863 had with Mount San Bruno Back in 1998

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Here’s an excellent report from the WSJ back in 1999.

And here’s a more better photo than I had in back in aught-nine:

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Same mountain, same antennas, same general direction for the plane (except the 1998 incident occurred at night and with fog/clouds).

Anyway, United Airlines took things seriously and aviation is the better for it…