PZL TS-11 Iskra bis B: “You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine.”

The Iskra (Spark) was designed to meet a Warsaw Pact specification for a basic and advanced jet-powered trainer. The prototype made its maiden flight in early 1960. The Czech L-29 Delfin won the evaluation, and it was accordingly the aircraft selected to be mass produced for the USSR and its related clients. Poland, with a national industry to support and not happy with the outcome, chose to go put the Iskra in production for their own needs. Performance was never the Iskra’s Achilles’ heel anyway: it achieved four world records in its class. More than four hundred were produced for the Polish and the Indians, the only foreign sale.

I kinda like this spartan “pod and boom” trainer. Nothing fancy, but pretty anyway. This gorgeous photo also helps.

Antonov An-12: Centuries, millenniums apart.

One of those photos -poor quality, sorry- you never forget; at least it’s my case. An Indian An-12 is seen landing at the harsh Leh high-altitude airfield (Ladakh Himalayas), 11,5554 ft above sea level. While these soldiers bring in a casualty by a yak.

This neat jewel brought me here. Perusing times in this muggy day. Superb Derek Bunce’s cover piece of art.

Project Strato-Lab: Men are from Mars (V).

Project Strato-Lab was a nowadays little known high altitude balloon test program undertaken by the US. Navy during 1956-61. Five high flights, and some at lower altitude, were accomplished, in both open and pressurised gondolas. Sadly, the last one ended tragically with the death of a crew member.

Lieutenant Commander Malcolm D. Ross and astronomer Alfred Mikesell, pre-breathing before departing in one of the “low” altitude flights (in an open gondola) from the pit of a open iron mine outside Crosby, Minnesota, May. 1958. Weird and wonderful image

More photos and first hand data by Alfred Mikesell.

IAR IAR-93A Vultur: Resting Places (XXXVI).

The Vultur was the Romanian less lucky brother of the Orao. Circa 90 of this very basic supersonic jets in three variants were produced and only saw service in their country. They had a brief and somehow unproductive service life; the last was withdrawn from service in 1998. Many surviving Vulturs were stored -well, almost dumped- at Craiova.

Pretty (&) sad photo.

Myasishchev M-17 Stratosphera: Resting Places (XXXV).

The M-17 was a sort of Soviet “U-2” employed as a civilian earth resources experimental aircraft. That was the end result, but its origins are more interesting. Believe it or not, this design started as the Subject 34, a high-altitude interceptor to counter the reconnaissance balloon used over the USSR by the US. That 1950s/60s spy program was long cancelled when the Subject 34 prototype made first flight in 1978. No problem, the design got rid of its intended gun and air-to-air missiles armament and left the military. Two conveniently modified M-17 were produced. They achieved a nice bunch of speed, altitude and rate of climb world records, a few of which still stand.

The bucolic end of the prototype (CCCP 17401) at the Monino AF Museum. Russians lovely derelicts.

Convair B-58A Hustler: Daddy Cool (XXII).

Hustler pilot Henry John Deutschendorf Sr with his cute family. As a Major, Deutschendorf, achieved with his crew six Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) speed records flying this Hustler (59-2442 – “Untouchable”) on 12 Jan. 1961.

The lovely toddler was Henry John Deutschendorf Jr who became later the “air-minded to the very end” singer John Denver.