Supermarine Spitfire Mk.V: “My eager craft….”

The incredible hand of Jean-Luc Beghin – former Tintin & Spirou collaborator- and one of his labor of love, cockpits. Here his painstaking interpretation of the Spitfire’s “office”; this drawing appeared, coloured, as a supplemental poster in the Spirou 1858 of 1973.

Northrop YA-9A: Loser at first sight.

The YA-9A drew the short straw against the Fairchild A-10 prototype in the 1970s USAF Attack Experimental (A-X) competition. If the A-10 couldn’t certainly be considered a “beauty” -being more a sort of acquired taste-, the YA-9A was awful, pure and simple. That gargantuan vertical tail surface should have been such a “flying target.”
The only two built ended their short flying days with NASA.

Artist: John Weal.

DFS 230: “The Eagle has landed”.

The DFS 230 was the main transport glider operated by the Luftwaffe in WW2. The Germans were the pioneers in the employ of these assets. The ten seats (pilot + 9 Fallschirmjäger) DFS 230 entered service in 1938 and was built in huge numbers -more than 1600. Handy and with an excellent glide ratio, these gliders took part in some legendary missions: the incredible Fort Eben-Emael capture, the fateful Battle of Crete, and in the daring rescue of Benito Mussolini, among others.

Wonderfully staged landing; it wasn’t always so easy.

Sukhoi Su-22M4: The very fit “Fitter” (II).

I’ve always found very clever the variable-geometry adaptation undertaken by the Sukhoi Bureau with their basic Fitter airframe. They sure love massive wing fences. In this pic an upgraded “M4”, the final production version variable-geometry “Fitters”. One of the now retired Bulgarian AF at the unmistakably “Warsaw Pact” Bezmer AB… those polygonal concrete segments.

Photo: Ognyan Stefanov.


Challenger’s STS-51-L Crew : The End of Innocence.

Thirty years ago -on January 28,1986- during the launch of mission STS-51-L the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart just after launch killing all seven astronauts on board. The causes, well, unreal launch expectations; lack of management communication and poor technical decision-making practices.

Superb flightdeck fisheye photo taken during training. The STS-51-L members seen here are (from left to right) Mike Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik and Dick Scobee -in the lower deck were Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis and Ron McNair. So routine seemed them the Space Shuttle operations that the astronauts wore only these ordinary flying suits and helmets. The latter, the NASA LEH (Launch-Entry Helmet), was a derivative of the US Navy HGU-20P. This dandy “Clam Shell” helmet despite its looks is of the conventional and non-pressurised kind.

Photo: NASA.

Rest in Peace.

Gemini Spacecraft: Work Hard, Play Harder.

On Oct 1962 the second astronaut class reported to the Manned Space Center (MSC), Houston. Nickname by the press as “The Next Nine”, they soon were known by the general public by the more descriptive “The Gemini Astronauts”. The best group of astronaut ever to enter NASA service, in my very, very humble opinion.

Clockwise around this gorgeous Gemini model:
The intense Frank Borman; the effective John Young; the reliable Tom Stafford; “Pete” (the one & only); the no-nonsense Jim McDivitt; the unmistakable “Shaky” Lovell,  Elliot See and the first american “spacewalker” Ed White (both sadly gone too soon) and the first one on the moon, Neil.