Apollo 11

July 16 2019 is the 50th Anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. It was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16 1969 at 13:32 UTC and was the fifth crewed mission of NASA’s Apollo program . The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a command module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, and the only part that returned to Earth; a service module (SM), which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a lunar module (LM) that had two stages – a descent stage for landing on the Moon, and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit.

Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, both American, landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56:15 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the command module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon’s surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21.5 hours on the lunar surface at a site they named Tranquility Base before rejoining Columbia in lunar orbit.

After being sent to the Moon by the Saturn V’s third stage, the astronauts separated the spacecraft from it and traveled for three days until they entered lunar orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into Eagle and landed in the Sea of Tranquility. The astronauts used Eagle’s ascent stage to lift off from the lunar surface and rejoin Collins in the command module. They jettisoned Eagle before they performed the maneuvers that propelled the ship out of the last of its 30 lunar orbits on a trajectory back to Earth. They returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24 after more than eight days in space. Armstrong’s first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. He described the event as “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy: “of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth”

Lockheed YF-117a Nighthawk

The first Lockheed YF-117a Nighthawk, stealth fighter made its maiden flight from Groom Lake, Nevada, on 18 June 1981. The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a single-seat, twin-engine stealth attack aircraft that was developed by Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works division and operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). The F-117 was based on the Have Blue technology demonstrator. The Nighthawk achieved initial operating capability status in 1983. It was initially shrouded in secrecy until it was revealed to the public in 1988. Of the 64 F-117s built, 59 were production versions, with the other five being demonstrators/ prototypes. The F-117 was widely publicized for its role in the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Although it was commonly referred to as the “Stealth Fighter”, it was strictly an attack aircraft. F-117s took part in the conflict in Yugoslavia, where one was shot down by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) in 1999; it was the only Nighthawk to be lost in combat.

The F-117 was developed following combat experience in the Vietnam War as a response to increasingly sophisticated Soviet surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). So the Air Force approached Lockheed with the stealth concept, Skunk Works Director Kelly Johnson proposed a rounded design. He believed smoothly blended shapes offered the best combination of speed and stealth. However, his assistant, Ben Rich, showed that faceted-angle surfaces would provide significant reduction in radar signature. The resulting unusual design surprised and puzzled experienced pilots; a Royal Air Force pilot, who flew it as an exchange officer while it was still a secret project, stated that when he first saw a photograph of the F-117, he was not convinced it would fly.

The project began in 1975 with a model called the “Hopeless Diamond”(a wordplay on the Hope Diamond because of its appearance). In 1976 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) issued Lockheed Skunk Works a contract to build and test two Stealth Strike Fighters, under the code name “Have Blue”. These incorporated jet engines of the Northrop T-38A, fly-by-wire systems of the F-16, landing gear of the A-10, and environmental systems of the C-130 By bringing together existing technology and components, Lockheed built two demonstrators under budget, at $35 million for both aircraft. The F-117A’s faceted shape resulted from the limitations of the 1970s-era computer technology used to calculate its radar cross-section.

The maiden flight of the demonstrators occurred on 1 December 1977. Although both aircraft were lost during the demonstration program, valuable test data proved useful. The success of Have Blue led the government to increase funding for stealth technology. Much of that increase was allocated towards the production of an operational stealth aircraft, the Lockheed F-117A, code named “Senior Trend”. The decision to produce the F-117A was made on 1 November 1978, and a contract was awarded to Lockheed Advanced Development Projects, popularly known as the Skunk Works, in Burbank, California. This was led by Ben Rich, with Project manager Alan Brown, Lockheed mathematician, Bill Schroeder, and computer scientist Denys Overholser. They designed a computer program called “Echo”, which made it possible to design an airplane with flat panels, called facets, which were arranged so as to scatter over 99% of a radar’s signal energy “painting” the aircraft with the necessary aerodynamic control being provided by computers.

The 4450th Tactical Group stationed at Nellis AFB, Nevada helped develop the early F-117 between 1981 and 1989 they used LTV A-7 Corsair IIs for training, to bring all pilots to a common flight training baseline and later as chase planes for F-117A tests. The 4450th was absorbed by the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing in 1989. In 1992, the entire fleet was transferred to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, under the command of the 49th Fighter Wing. This move also eliminated the Key Air and American Trans Air contract flights to Tonopah, which flew 22,000 passenger trips on 300 flights from Nellis to Tonopah per month. The Air Force initially denied the existence of the aircraft until 10 November 1988, when Assistant Secretary of Defense J. Daniel Howard displayed a grainy photograph at a Pentagon press conference, disproving the many inaccurate rumors about the shape of the secret “F-19”. After the announcement pilots could fly the F-117 during daytime and no longer needed to be associated with the A-7. April 1990, two F-117 aircraft were flown into Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada and displayed to the public. Five Full Scale Development (FSD) aircraft were built, designated “YF-117A” . Between 1984 and-1992, the F-117A fleet was based at Tonopah Test Range Airport, Nevada, where it served under the 4450th Tactical Group. The first production F-117A was delivered in 1982, and operational capability was achieved in October 1983

The F-117 is primarily an attack aircraft and is designed with a focus on minimal radar cross-section (RCS) rather than aerodynamic performance. Highly-stealthy, the F-117 Nighthawk isshaped to deflect radar signals and is about the size of an F-15 Eagle. The operational aircraft was officially designated “F-117A”. The public assumption was that the aircraft would likely receive the F-19 designation as that number had not been used. However, there were no other aircraft to receive a “100” series number following the General Dynamics F-111. Meanwhile Unusual military aircraft types flying in the southern Nevada area, such as captured fighters, are assigned an arbitrary radio call of “117” Which was used by the enigmatic 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron, also known as the “Red Hats” or “Red Eagles”, that often had flown expatriated MiG jet fighters in the area. Consquently WhenLockheed released its first flight manual (i.e., the Air Force “dash one” manual for the aircraft), F-117A was the designation printed on the cover.

The F-117 Nighthawk is powered by two non-afterburning General Electric F404 turbofan engines. It is air refuelable and features a V-tail. The maximum speed is 623 miles per hour (1,003 km/h) at high altitude, the max rate of climb is 2,820 feet (860 m) per minute, and service ceiling is 43,000 to 45,000 feet (13,000 to 14,000 m). The cockpit is quite spacious, with ergonomic displays and controls, however there is a large blind spot to the rear. It has quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire flight controls. To lower development costs, Many systems, were derived from the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet and McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle. The aircraft is equipped with sophisticated navigation and attack systems integrated into a digital avionics suite. It navigates primarily by GPS and high-accuracy inertial navigation, however The F-117A carries no radar. Targets are acquired by a thermal imaging infrared system, slaved to a laser rangefinder /laser designator that finds the range and designates targets for laser-guided bombs. The F-117A’s split internal bay can carry 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg) of ordnance. Typical weapons are a pair of GBU-10, GBU-12, or GBU-27 laser-guided bombs, two BLU-109 penetration bombs, or two Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), a GPS/INS guided stand-off bomb.

Unfortunately the increased stealth capabilities of the F-117 came at a price and the F-117 is aerodynamically unstable and requires constant flight corrections from a fly-by-wire (FBW) flight system to maintain controlled flight. Engine thrust was also reduced due to losses in the inlet and outlet, due to the need to reduce Infra red signature. The F-117 has a very low wing aspect ratio, and a high sweep angle (50°) to deflect incoming radar waves to the sides. The F-117 also lacks afterburners, because the hot exhaust would increase the infrared signature, and breaking the sound barrier would produce an obvious sonic boom, as well as surface heating of the aircraft skin which also increases the infrared footprint so the F-117 is limited to subsonic speeds. A normal exhaust plume would also contribute a significant infrared signature. So The F-117 reduces IR signature with a non-circular tail pipe (a slit shape) to minimize the exhaust cross-sectional volume and maximize the mixing of hot exhaust with cool ambient air. The F-117’s performance in air combat maneuvering required in a dogfight did not match that of a dedicated fighter aircraft so it was designed to be a bomber.

Since the F-117 entered service Stealth technology has advanced and Today Passive (multistatic) radar, bistatic and multistatic radar systems detect some stealth aircraft better than conventional monostatic radars, since first-generation stealth technology (such as the F-117) reflects energy away from the transmitter’s line of sight, effectively increasing the radar cross section (RCS) in other directions. Consequently the last of 59 production F-117s were delivered on 3 July 1990 and The F-117 was eventually retired In 2008 after the Air Force closed the F-117 formal training unit (FTU),in 2006 and announced the retirement of the F-117. The first six aircraft to be retired made their last flight on 12 March 2007 after a ceremony at Holloman AFB to commemorate the aircraft’s career. The F-117 has since been replaced by the F-22 Raptor and the multirole F-35 Lightning II.

Weston Park International Model Airshow

Weston Park International Model Air show takes place from Friday 14 June until Sunday 16 June 2019 at Weston Park. Weston Park is a 15th Century stately home covering over 1,000 acres in Shropshire, not far from RAF Cosford. Weston Park International Model Air Show has established itself as one the foremost model shows in the country, attracting visitors and pilots from all over the world. Giving an opportunity for Model aircraft enthusiasts as well as The top model pilots from all the over the UK and Europe to take to the skies and demonstrate their awesome flying skills.

There is also a Battle of Britain pyrotechnic display and the Swift Glider display team will perform their amazing mid-air acrobatics. In addition there will be a model boat regatta, slot car racing and a fun fair for children who can also attend free model building workshops. There is also a mega swap meet and trade stand selling everything you need to create your own model aircraft.

There is also a Luxury Glamping Village and on site food and catering selling hamburgers, baguettes, fish and chips, hot dogs, Pasta, Ice Cream, Doughnuts, candy floss, there is also an on site pub selling many alcoholic beverages. The Weston Park Steam Gala Weekend will also be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, featuring four guest steam engines which will be taking visitors on rides on the Miniature Railway.

R.j. Mitchell CBE FRAeS

British Aeronautical Engineer and designer of the Supermarine Spitfire Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE, FRAeS, sadly died 11 June 1937. He was born 20 May 1895. In 1917 he joined the Supermarine Aviation Works at Southampton. Advancing quickly within the company, Mitchell was appointed Chief Designer in 1919. He was made Chief Engineer in 1920 and Technical Director in 1927. He was so highly regarded that, when Vickers took over Supermarine in 1928, one of the conditions was that Mitchell stay as a designer for the next five years. Between 1920 and 1936, Mitchell designed 24 aircraft including light aircraft, fighters and bombers. As Supermarine was primarily a seaplane manufacturer, this included a number of flying boats such as the Supermarine Sea Eagle, the Supermarine Sea King, the Supermarine Walrus and Supermarine Stranraer. However, he is best remembered for his work on a series of racing aircraft, which culminated in the Supermarine S.6B, and the famous Supermarine Spitfire short range Interceptor/fighter.

The S.6B was a British racing seaplane developed by Mitchell for the Supermarine company to take part in the Schneider Trophy competition of 1931. The S.6B marked the culmination of Mitchell’s quest to “perfect the design of the racing seaplane” and was the last in the line of racing seaplanes developed by Supermarine that followed the S.4, S.5 and the Supermarine S.6.The S.6B won the Trophy in 1931 and later broke the world air speed record. Mitchell was awarded the CBE in 1932 for his contribution to high-speed flight.

In 1931 the Air Ministry issued specification F7/30 for a fighter aircraft to replace the Gloster Gauntlet. Mitchell’s proposed design, the Type 224 was one of three designs for which the Air Ministry ordered prototypes. The Supermarine Spitfire prototype, K5054, first flew on 19 February 1934, but was eventually rejected by the RAF because of its unsatisfactory performance. While the 224 was being built, Mitchell was authorised by Supermarine in 1933 to proceed with a new design, the Type 300, an all-metal monoplane that would become the Supermarine Spitfire. This was originally a private venture by Supermarine, but the RAF quickly became interested and the Air Ministry financed a prototype. The first prototype Spitfire, serial K5054, flew for the first time on 5 March 1936 at Eastleigh, Hampshire. In later tests, it reached 349 mph, consequently, before the prototype had completed its official trials, the RAF ordered 310 production Spitfires.

The Spitfire was built in many variants, using several wing configurations, and was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter to be in continuous production throughout the war. During the Battle of Britain (July–October 1940), the Spitfire was perceived by the public to be the RAF fighter, though the more numerous Hawker Hurricane shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against the Luftwaffe. However, because of its higher performance, Spitfire units had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes.

After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire superseded the Hurricane to become the backbone of RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and the South-East Asian theatres. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber and trainer, and it continued to serve in these roles until the 1950s. The Seafire was a carrier-based adaptation of the Spitfire which served in the Fleet Air Arm from 1942 through to the mid-1950s. Although the original airframe was designed to be powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine producing 1,030 hp (768 kW), it was strong enough and adaptable enough to use increasingly powerful Merlin and, in later marks, Rolls-Royce Griffon engines producing up to 2,340 hp (1,745 kW); as a consequence of this the Spitfire’s performance and capabilities improved, sometimes dramatically, over the course of its life.

In August 1933, Mitchell underwent a colostomy to treat rectal cancer. Despite this, he continued to work, not only on the Spitfire, but also on a four-engined bomber, the Type 317. Unusually for an aircraft designer in those days, he took flying lessons and got his pilot’s licence in July 1934. In 1936 cancer was diagnosed again, and subsequently, in early 1937, Mitchell gave up work, although he was often seen watching the Spitfire being tested. Mitchell went to the American Foundation in Vienna for a month but sadly died and His ashes were interred at South Stoneham Cemetery, Hampshire four days later. He was succeeded as Chief Designer at Supermarine by Joseph Smith, who took over as chief designer and was responsible for the further development of the Spitfire. Nevertheless, Mitchell’s design was so sound that the Spitfire was continually improved throughout the Second World War. Over 22,000 Spitfires and derivatives were built. Mitchell’s career was depicted in the film The First of the Few and The Spitfire continues to be popular with approximately 53 Spitfires being airworthy, while many more are static exhibits in aviation museums all over the world.

RAF Cosford Air show

The RAF Cosford Air Show takes place Sunday 9th June 2019. The main event is a six-hour flying display, featuring a variety of aircraft, including modern military aircraft from the Royal Air Force and international military partners. This year Cosford Airshow will be marking the 70th Anniversary of NATO and 50 years of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier.

Among the flying displays this year will be The Red Arrows aerial display team, the Battle of Britain Memorial Filght featuring an Avro Lancaster B1, Douglas Dakota, Supermarine Spitfire IX and a HawkerHurricane will be flying. The Swiss Hornet Display Team/Fighter Squadron 17, McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet display team. The Boeing Chinook helicopter from HC618 Squadren/RAF Chinook Display Team, The RAF Typhoon Display Team, The Shorts Tucano T1 72 Squadron / RAF Tucano Display Team. Two aircraft from the German Navy plus a Lockheed P3C Orion from the German Navy. Aero Vodochody L-159A ALCA from the 212 Tactical Squadron of the Czech Air Force. The Agusta A109-BA from the Belgian Air Force – 17 Squadron / A109 Display Team. the Grob Tutor T1 115 Squadron / RAF Tutor Display Team. SAAB JAS-39C Gripen from the 211 Tactical Squadron of the Czech Air Force. The Westland Apache AH1 Army Air Corps – Attack Helicopter Display Team. SAAB T-17 Supporters from the Royal Danish Air Force Baby Blue Display Team.

On the ground, there will be a huge assortment ofaircraft on displays including The Airbus Juno HT1 from the Defence Helicopter Flying School, a BAE Systems Harrier GR9 from the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering, BAE Systems Hawk T1 from the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering, a mock up of BAE System Tempest, A de Havilland Devon c1. Grob Prefect T1 from 57 Squadron and the Grob Viking T1 from Central Gliding School will be on static display. A Leonardo Merlin HM2from the Royal Navy – 814 Naval Air Squadron will be on static display. A LET-410 Turbolet from Slovak Air Force 1st Transport Squadron, The Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR3 from the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering, the Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR3, Hawker Siddeley Harrier T4(VAAC) from Jet Art Aviation, the British Aerospace Sea Harrier FA2 Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operation . The Panavia Tornado GR4 from the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering, the Percival Pembroke C1, SEPECAT Jaguars GR3 from the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering, Percival Provost T1 and Percival Jet Provost T1, A supermarine Spitfire XIX, a Westland Puma HC2 from 230 Squadron and Westland Wessex HC2 from RAF St Mawgan, a Pilatus PC-9M from the Irish Air Corps Flying School, Westland Apache AH1 from the Army Air Corps Attack Helicopter Force, Airbus Helicopter from the Midland Air Ambulance, an Agusta A109, an Auster III and Auster V, an Avro Anson C19, Jet Provost T3, T4, T5, a BAC Strikemaster Mk.82A, Boulton Paul Balliol T2, Boeing Stearman, a de Havilland Chipmunk, Tiger Moth and Dragon Rapide, a Hispano Buchon, a Fairchild Argus, a Grumman AA-5, North American P-51D Mustang, a Hawker Hurricane I and Hawker Sea Fury, Piper PA-28 Warrior, Schleicher ASK-21 from the Wrekin Gliding Club and a Spartan 7W Executive Plus many many more will all be on static display inside the RAF Museum’s hangars.

The Cosford Airshow Vintage village also returns, this time focusing on WWII, with the sights, sounds and smells of the era transporting you back in time. Historical figures mingle amongst the vintage aircraft and vehicles, both military and civilian, while live music is provided throughout the day with a variety of acts performing on the bandstand. Inside the marquee, you can enjoy a pot of tea and a slice of cake or even a spam sandwich at ‘Thyme for Tea’ Vintage Tea Room and then browse the authentic items for sale in ‘Tina-Lou’s Vintage Fair’. Wander back outside and you’ll find the Village Pub open and the Church Fete in full swing. Join in the fun and chat with the reenactors to discover what life was really like in Britain during the 1940s!

The RAF Zone will showcase the very best of today’s Royal Air Force. As well as hands on displays and exhibitions from all aspects of the Royal Air Force – including a mock-up Chinook helicopter. A number of Royal Air Force display teams will have a ground presence in the RAF Village, with great opportunities for you to meet the pilots. You’ll also be able to explore the range of RAF Careers available as both a Regular or Reservist. There are also many other hangar displays allowing visitors to see behind the scenes at RAF Cosford and discover what training to become qualified RAF Technicians and Engineers involves. There will be displays from the Defence School of Aeronautic Engineering, No.1 Radio School, Defence School of Photography, RAF School of Physical Education among others. Plus the two STEM (Science Technology, Engineering Maths) Hangars which showcase the best that the RAF, Industry and Academia have to offer in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Adventure001, will also be operating their fleet of helicopters throughout the day giving visitors to the airshow the chance to fly in a helicopter. There is also a bewildering number of trade stands throughout the grounds, from aviation artists, charitable organisations, military merchandise, book stalls, aircraft models, books, clothing, food, and drink.