Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Aviation news

Over the weekend a Continental airlines flight reported an encounter with what looked to be a "rocket". Apparently the crew saw an object pass them trailing smoke. The article doesn't say anything about heat-seeking missiles per se, but it certainly leaves that concept dangling by speculating about model rockets. Missiles also tend to trail smoke but depending on altitude and type it's doubtful a missile would have just whizzed on past. This was interesting, though:
Model rockets can be made of cardboard and glue or have aluminum air frames, he said. Rockets also have no difficulty reaching the 30,000 to 40,000 feet, the altitude at which an airliner may cruise.
They say shoulder fired missiles could not have reached TWA 800 at even 14,500 feet but to think a paper model could reach the flight levels (above 18,000 feet give or take) is a bit disconcerting.

There was another encounter several years ago off the California coast that was blamed on a bottle rocket. Not sure what the resolution was but the implications are still around.

In other news, the British Airways 777 that landed short of London's Heathrow Airport earlier this year is still a mystery:
"This is a great mystery, and I never expected this accident to be this difficult to solve, given the state-of-art tools on the plane and the fact that the aircraft was largely intact," Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, told the Washington Post this week. "This has potentially broad implications that go beyond this one airplane, depending on what they find."
In a different vein, this video shows some very strange clouds. Apparently there are still a few things up there we don't quite understand. Somebody please inform Mr. Gore.

Finally, a Kalitta Air Boeing 747 broke in half during an aborted takeoff in Brussels over the weekend. The cargo craft was heading for Bahrain under contract with DHL. Since the plane ended up 300 yards off the end of the runway but it's unclear whether the breakup was caused by running off the pavement or was responsible for the "loud noise" the captain reported hearing during roll out, which caused him to abort. This pilot forum has more, including rank speculation, of course!

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