October 2020

Gone West

A long-time member, Oscar Bayer, passed away on October 22nd. Around the airport Oscar was best know as the builder and pilot of a Starduster. But he had a long a varied career. He was active duty from 1943-1946 and 1950-1974 in Korea and Vietnam. After leaving the Army as a Colonel, he flew with the airlines. He will be missed.

SOFIA has discovered more water on the Moon

I hadn’t planned to send an newsletter this month, but then this discovery was announced this week. Since Liz Ruth spent some time talking to us about SOFIA I thought you might want to know about one of its new discoveries.

“It was, in fact, the first time SOFIA has looked at the Moon, and we weren’t even completely sure if we would get reliable data, but questions about the Moon’s water compelled us to try,” said Naseem Rangwala, SOFIA’s project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. “It’s incredible that this discovery came out of what was essentially a test, and now that we know we can do this, we’re planning more flights to do more observations.”

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places. via NASA

A new paper published in Nature Astronomy presents further evidence for significant water near the surface of the Moon. This is exciting news for the prospects of a lunar base, especially since NASA is planning on returning permanently to the Moon by 20204. via Steven Novella

Of course the Bad Astronomer has lots of details as well as his opinions on establishing a moon base by 2024. However, it turns out it's not like you can just scoop up lunar regolith and squeeze out the water. And that's because of how they think the water got there in the first place.

YouTube Recommendations—The SR-17 Blackbird

This is an old speech that most of you have probably seen in one version or another over the years, but it bears watching again. Brian Shul was shot down over Cambodia, hid from enemy soldiers overnight with major burns, was rescued, and spent over a year recovering. He went on to teach at Top Gun and fly the SR71 Blackbird. At the end of the video he tells the famous speed check story.

His back seat radio operator and photographer, Walter Watson, is the one who did the radio call mentioned above. His story is interesting as well.

There are lots of other videos by pilots of the Blackbird. I found this one by two pilots was really informative about the details of flying the plane and the missions they engaged in.

I mentioned the History Guy last month and you may have already seen his videos on the SR-71, but just in case here they are.

More YouTube Recommendations—The A-12

Once I had viewed a couple of SR-71 Blackbird videos, YouTube decided that I needed to see more spy planes. I was vaugely aware that this plane existed, but didn’t know the details. And if you are a fan of detalis, this video is for you. Frank Murray was a pilot for the CIA flying the A-12—a precursor to the SR-71. It was single pilot, single camera, high-altitude plane that was similar to the more familiar Blackbird. The codename for the development of the plane was Oxcart and in this video Frank gives the story of its development.

Frank spent 29 years as a pilot in both the Air Force and the CIA. This video is an interesting one where he talks about his career and the planes he flew.

Bill Flanagan provides details on the A-12 Spy Plane and secrecy during the cold war in this video.

A-12 and SR-71 Losses

It’s not surprising that a cutting edge airplane suffered what looks like inordinate losses. Fortunately, only one A-12 pilot, and one SR-17 crewmenber lost their life. This chart shows all of the losses of the program. None of the aircraft were shot down or sustained damage from missles or fighters. PDF in case the original site goes offline.

Public Service Announcement—It’s Icing Season

I just listened to a heartbreaking recording of a Cessna 210 encountering icing conditions earlier this week in Lubbock Texas of all places. VAS Aviation has an analysis of the flight on YouTube.