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This is a collection of my blog entries and experiences with flying, and learning to fly. Something I had been wanting to do for quite a while.
You can find all the pictures I've taken here, and read below for my experience.
Specifically, I have a page for my Trips to Oshkosh, the mecca for pilots

Table of Content for flying:

More pages: September 2021 August 2021 July 2021 May 2021 November 2020 August 2020 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 June 2019 March 2019 January 2019 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 June 2018 May 2018 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 April 2017 January 2017 December 2016 August 2016 July 2016 May 2016 February 2016 January 2016 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 February 2015 January 2015 November 2014 September 2014 August 2014 June 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 April 2013 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 January 2012 November 2011 August 2011 July 2011 April 2011 March 2011 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 May 2010 March 2010 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 March 2009 November 2008 August 2008 July 2008 May 2008 April 2008 December 2007 October 2007 September 2007 July 2007 June 2007 May 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 July 2006 June 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 October 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 May 2005 April 2005 March 2005 December 2004 September 2004 August 2004 May 2004 March 1999




2021/09/02 Imperial War Museum in Duxford
π 2021-09-02 01:01 in Flying
Lots of flight museums in the UK, I'm glad I got to see the main ones:
  • London Science Museum's Airplane Section
  • RAF Museum North of London
  • RAF Museum in Cosford (30mn from Birmingham and Stafford)
  • Imperial War Museum in Duxford (this one)
  • Flight Over Cambridge From IWM Duxford (while there, I rented a plane for a short flight)
  • There are multiple Imperial War Museums in the UK, and Duxford is likely the biggest plane museum in the country, 7 hangars and next to an active runway used to demonstrations and flights you can rent/pay for. I was there for opening time (took an uber from cambridge as it's not convenient to go by public transport):

    first impression: it's big
    first impression: it's big

    I had a tour booked to get a private tour of a spitfire and sit in the cockpit. I didn't know that for just 60 times more money, I could have flown in one for 30mn. A bargain :)




    this was the actual aircraft, recovered on the beach in normandy
    this was the actual aircraft, recovered on the beach in normandy


    I then went to sit in it
    I then went to sit in it








    After my tour, I went to visit the hangars:










    auto gyro
    auto gyro









    I went back to hangar #1 to see the concorde that closes earlier:






    They had one of the 6 concorde prototypes in the world. I had seen severals, but prototypes are always special, so it was worth seeing:







    it never had passengers, it was a test airplane for multiple systems including anti-icing and engine management
    it never had passengers, it was a test airplane for multiple systems including anti-icing and engine management

    the seats in the passenger versions, were much smaller
    the seats in the passenger versions, were much smaller


    lots of test equipment
    lots of test equipment

    cockpit was off limits
    cockpit was off limits

    the numbers were references to see how much icing happened
    the numbers were references to see how much icing happened














    harrier engines are awesome
    harrier engines are awesome



    Next, I went to the restoration hangar, lots of planes being worked on:












    Next was a small control room that re-enacted the only real air attack from Germany that was stopped:



    Further down was a very nice hangar filled with US planes. Not as interesting to me since I had seem them all many times in the US, but still worth the walk through:









    Last, but not least, was land warfare, this was a war museum, not just a plane museum:






    And that was it for the visit, I finished just 30mn before closing time.
    Also, while I was there, I got to

  • fly myself to cambridge for some nice pictures
  • and see many other cool planes fly during the day








  • Those planes did inspire me to do my own flight Over Cambridge From IWM Duxford.

    Getting back home was also not easy, no ubers at all, and taxis were a 45mn wait. I got lucky and shared a cab with a woman who had already called a cab herself and was also going to the train station in cambridge.

    See more images for Imperial War Museum in Duxford
    2021/09/02 Flight Over Cambridge From IWM Duxford
    π 2021-09-02 01:01 in Flying
    While visiting IWM Duxford, I noticed that they were offering scenic flights in different kinds of planes (all the way to a $5000 30mn flight in a Spitfire). I had a hard time justifying that much time

    I was a bit worried about how much time I had as I wanted to see the entire museum, so in the end I settled for a 30mn scenic flight, but there were none, so I rented an old carburated C172 with CFI since I am not legal to fly in the UK and know nothing about radio work, or airspace there.
    I hadn't flown a plane like that for about 10 years, but ended up remembering pretty well how to do it. After landing the CFI said he didn't have to touch or correct me on anything and all he did was the radio work.

    at least it had a garmin 430, but no autopilot legal to use in the UK
    at least it had a garmin 430, but no autopilot legal to use in the UK

    taxing amongst warbirds
    taxing amongst warbirds

    good view of the multiple museum hangars
    good view of the multiple museum hangars

    weather/lighting was not great, but a typical UK day. At least, no rain
    weather/lighting was not great, but a typical UK day. At least, no rain



    overflying cambridge airport
    overflying cambridge airport

    weird that they don't use 23L and 23R
    weird that they don't use 23L and 23R

    We then made it to Cambridge. Forgive the heavy color correction, the original colors were very dull due to the poor weatherpit




    Flying over the colleges was very nice.











    this delta is where I went punting with Louis, very nice views from the river
    this delta is where I went punting with Louis, very nice views from the river


    We then flew away for a few other views



    american cemetery
    american cemetery


    And back to the airport for an easy landing



    the plane still had an ADF antenna
    the plane still had an ADF antenna

    2021/09/01 RAF Museum in Cosford (30mn from Birmingham and Stafford)
    π 2021-09-01 01:01 in Flying
    As part of my trip through the UK, I went to visit the best flight/plane museums, and what I have now seen is:
  • London Science Museum's Airplane Section
  • RAF Museum North of London
  • RAF Museum in Cosford (this one)
  • Imperial War Museum in Duxford
  • I was going from Liverpool to Cambridge, so I figured I'd stop at Cosford for its enticing RAF museum. I have to say right here that it is not easy to get there by public transport only, unless you have a lot of time. In order to save 1H off the trip, I took a trail to Stafford, got off there and caught a somewhat expensive cab to Cosford (public transport only requires going to Birmingham, and then changing to a once per hour slow train, plus a 10mn walk from the station to the museum).

    I got there just before 10:00 as was my plan, and they nicely agreed to stash my luggage which was not a given in the UK (they are more against it as everything is now a bomb apparently). The best part though was that I was able to arrange a private guided tour with a guide called Frank who was a wealth of knowledge on the museum and gave me a 3.5h tour of everything. It was absolutely fantastic, and well worth the 50GBP donation to the otherwise free museum.

    The museum is big, 4 different hangars:








    this prototype plane actually had an alternate T tail made for it, but it didn't work as the elevator could stall at high angles
    this prototype plane actually had an alternate T tail made for it, but it didn't work as the elevator could stall at high angles

    the english electric lightening is really a cool powerful plane
    the english electric lightening is really a cool powerful plane



    when the harrier went to a 98.5 degree angle, it could fly backwards
    when the harrier went to a 98.5 degree angle, it could fly backwards



    the brits invented ejection seats and made many different kinds
    the brits invented ejection seats and made many different kinds


    Frank giving me cool explanations like how this plane had motors to speed up the wheels to landing speed before they touched the ground, how cool is that?
    Frank giving me cool explanations like how this plane had motors to speed up the wheels to landing speed before they touched the ground, how cool is that?


    brakes and motor in the same wheel
    brakes and motor in the same wheel



    plane to test alternate pilot positions
    plane to test alternate pilot positions

    this was uncomfortable but allowed the pilot to take more G forces (that was before G suits)
    this was uncomfortable but allowed the pilot to take more G forces (that was before G suits)

    this one is a little bit black bird looking
    this one is a little bit black bird looking







    The section on Japanese aircraft, was surprisingly good:

    KI-46-III reconnaissance plane
    KI-46-III reconnaissance plane

    the Yokosuka Ohka suicide powered rocket, was sobering
    the Yokosuka Ohka suicide powered rocket, was sobering



    Spitfire Mk I
    Spitfire Mk I

    Nice german planes too:



    Ju 88R-1 with advanced radar
    Ju 88R-1 with advanced radar



    German U-boats even had this towed autogyro, it didn't have power but would be towed by the submarine and take off high enough to see far away targets
    German U-boats even had this towed autogyro, it didn't have power but would be towed by the submarine and take off high enough to see far away targets


    let's not forget the first turbojet powered Me 262, so ahead of its time
    let's not forget the first turbojet powered Me 262, so ahead of its time


    and the Me163B-1a komet was liquid fuel rocket powered, super cool too (with dynamo generator in the front for electrical power)
    and the Me163B-1a komet was liquid fuel rocket powered, super cool too (with dynamo generator in the front for electrical power)


    This plane attached to a bomber turned into a bomb that work be flown to and dropped on the target, was interesting too:



    A few russian planes too:





    More planes in another hangar:
















    And a good rocket and missile collection too, the germans were way ahead during the end of WWII:










    And that was it for the visit. Frank was a fantastic tour guide and really made the visit a lot better. A huge thanks to him and Cosford for putting us in touch.
    Getting out timely was not trivial either, but byo sheer luck I was able to call an uber that happened to be driving by and got me 10mn after I called it. Normally it would have been a hard to get cab and a longer trip.

    2021/08/24 RAF Museum North of London
    π 2021-08-24 01:01 in Flying
    As part of my trip through the UK, I went to visit the best flight/plane museums, and the RAF one north of london was the easiest one to get to first. What I have now seen is:
  • London Science Museum's Airplane Section
  • RAF Museum North of London (this one)
  • RAF Museum in Cosford (30mn from Birmingham and Stafford)
  • Imperial War Museum in Duxford
  • During my last visit, I got to see the airplane section of the science museum in london, and that was quite good already. This was obviously bigger though; a very decent collection which is easily worth 4H at least:





    the harrier engines were amazing
    the harrier engines were amazing










    that was a close parking job :)
    that was a close parking job :)

    it is a beautiful plane, reminds me of the US B1 bombers a bit
    it is a beautiful plane, reminds me of the US B1 bombers a bit








    really cool twin boom
    really cool twin boom

    the British invented a lot of things, including ejection seats, including 0/0 rocket powered ones
    the British invented a lot of things, including ejection seats, including 0/0 rocket powered ones








    these missiles had rotating gears to stabilize them in flight
    these missiles had rotating gears to stabilize them in flight

    no elevator needed when you have a full moving tail
    no elevator needed when you have a full moving tail











    rear view mirror
    rear view mirror













    it's been weird to see all those UK planes with what looks like french flags on them
    it's been weird to see all those UK planes with what looks like french flags on them

    And that was it for the overview, definitely a nice museum worth visiting and easy to access via public transport from London

    See more images for RAF Museum North of London
    2021/07/25 First Bay Tour Flight in a Long Time
    π 2021-07-25 01:01 in Flying
    I was due for a flight not to lose my flight currency, so I went for a quick bay tour:










    By the time I reached SF, it was all fogged in, nothing to see, not even a hint of the golden gate:



    at least angel island was visible
    at least angel island was visible










    new google building
    new google building


    2021/05/15 Alameda Naval Air Museum
    π 2021-05-15 01:01 in Flying
    It's a small museum of an old abandonned base:


    there was an RC swap meet
    there was an RC swap meet



    it used to be a bit naval airbase
    it used to be a bit naval airbase


    really cool picture
    really cool picture






    Nice beach nearby:



    See more images for Alameda Naval Air Museum
    2020/11/19 Tucson's Pima Air and Space Museum
    π 2020-11-19 01:01 in Flying
    As part of driving across the southern states back to CA, we were in Tucson. The museum is indeed in Pima, next to Tucson, and more an Air Museum than a Space Museum, but the Air Museum bit is quite good. It's a distant second to the national museum of the airforce in Dayton, OH, but it's still worth a good 6-7H. It would be worth more time if all the planes outside had better descriptions, or working QR links (most of them pointed to a non working website, which was a shame).

    I have 3 big picture galleries here:

  • Hangars: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Jw4X62bi1M8tigdm7
  • Flightline: https://photos.app.goo.gl/KPqTNyfyfNBG295W8
  • Graveyard: https://photos.app.goo.gl/teWebDopAA1TtE8W6
  • While in Tucson, and after vistiing the Tucson Titan Missile Museum the previous afternoon, I was there bright and early, 30mn before they opened at 09:00 :)




    A good portions of the displays are in 5 different hangars:




    Some hangars had a mix of things:














    Interesting pieces were japanese planes and a pilot guided cruise missile trainer:






















    I had never seen this portable helicopter. For some reason, it never became popular, I wonder why :)



    More planes and helis:



    a D21 drone, meant to be launched from the A12, the first version of the SR21
    a D21 drone, meant to be launched from the A12, the first version of the SR21







    interestingly, there were severals warthogs flying outside that day
    interestingly, there were severals warthogs flying outside that day

    Of course, a sizeable portion of the collection is outdoors, which most of the year, is in somewhat unberable heat, but thankfully in november, it was only mid 80's. Normally you can get a narrated tour in a tram, but during covid, they were cancelled, so I just went on foot. Unfortunately a lot of description plaques were missing, or pointed to unreachable web pages :-(














    unconventional propellor bomber that was improved with small jet engines
    unconventional propellor bomber that was improved with small jet engines







    super gumpy
    super gumpy


















    even some french planes
    even some french planes




    english electric
    english electric


    multiple migs
    multiple migs






    There were a few airliners, that felt a bit out of place:





    They did have some really cool plane paintings:







    Normally, the museum also has a tour of the graveyard in a bus, the huge amount of planes that are sitting around the airport, some decomissioned and dismantled, while others are technically ready to be re-used if needed. Unfortunately, again, with covid, that tour has been cancelled, and I heard it might not come back.
    So, I hired an uber to drive me close to some of the fences around the area, and I jumped out in a few places to take some pictures:








    This is a better idea of what it looks like from the sky:











    So that was it. It wasn't a complete visit since I wasn't really able to see the graveyard from inside, or get a good description of the outdoor planes in the museum (they were missing plaques and had non working QR codes), but it was the best that could be done during covid times, and it was still quite enjoyable :) It's definitely a unique collection.

    2020/11/18 Tucson Titan Missile Museum
    π 2020-11-18 01:01 in Flying
    As part of driving across the southern states back to CA, we drove by Tucson, and on my list of things to do, was the Tucson Titan Missile Museum which I found out later is, I believe, the only (former) genuine 9 megaton class ICBM site in the world, that you can visit (the newer ICBMs are much smaller).
    Titan missiles were back when the US ICBM arsenal was only 54 missiles with very high yield (9 megaton). They were, for the times, very precise missiles that were guided at takeoff and then fully ballistic once their takeoff fuel ran out. They have since then been replaced by hundreds of smaller minuteman missiles of 150 kilotons each.
    All the titans sites were destroyed except for this one, and the ICBMs were mostly re-used as rockets to launch other payloads. This makes this site and one remaining display rocket, very unique, and it was very cool that we were able to visit them (they also had just re-opened after a lengthy covid closure).
    To learn more about those weapons, and how things could have gone very wrong with them, watch comand and control

    It was great that we were able to visit after arriving in Tucson:



    this is the actual size of the warhead
    this is the actual size of the warhead




    they also have a very nice short RF antenna
    they also have a very nice short RF antenna

    Outside is unassuming:



    but if you look through the right window, you see the titan missile, impressive view
    but if you look through the right window, you see the titan missile, impressive view

    a few side displays
    a few side displays



    But after a set of stairs, we got down, and it was really cool:



    the whole room is kept completely level
    the whole room is kept completely level



    I won mission commander
    I won mission commander

    the launch key was actually pretty simple
    the launch key was actually pretty simple

    ready to launch
    ready to launch

    missile launched
    missile launched

    we gave the key to Jennifer for a second launch
    we gave the key to Jennifer for a second launch

    From there, we had a look at the missile launch room across the corridor:





    Definitely a special experience, really happy we got to see this.

    See more images for Tucson Titan Missile Museum
    2020/08/23 Wendover Airfield Museum between Nevada and Utah
    π 2020-08-23 01:01 in Flying
    It had been a while since I had done a short refueling stop at Wendover, so it was great that we got to stop with Arturo on our way to Moab. We arrived just 45mn before they were closing at 16:00, but it turned out to be just enough. That airfield in an important part of US history, this is where the B29s were training during WWII and where the crews and planes that went drop the two atomic bombs on Japan, trained. Today, it's mostly a ghost town with the barracks falling apart:












    I didn't know the planes left from Tinian by Guam and there was a plan for them to land at Iwo Jima, and have a 2nd plane take the bomb and try again if the weather didn't allow for the first plane to reach the targets:


    mission #1
    mission #1

    mission #2
    mission #2

    It was so an artillary range:



    We had a look around the rest of the base, not much left:








    2019/10/13 Prague Military Aviation Museum
    π 2019-10-13 01:01 in Flying
    While in Prague, I realized a bit late, but not too late, that there was a good military airplane museum slightly out of town. It was a quick enough cab ride to the collection, and I arrived just around 13:00, which turned out to be barely enough to visit everything (closure time was posted as 18:00, but actually all the hangars closed at 17:30).

    Most of the planes were at the main location, a few were in another location around 1km walk away (not super convenient). The collection had a nice mixture of planes, including the most soviet planes I've seen in a single museum:




















    Most of the planes were in hangars:


    for a change, that was a museum with proper warnings :)
    for a change, that was a museum with proper warnings :)


    very early airliner with only 6 person capacity
    very early airliner with only 6 person capacity

    interesting, this plane had radiator cooling lines on its wing
    interesting, this plane had radiator cooling lines on its wing












    The secondary location looked close on the map, but was actually a fair walk away on city streets:











    And with just a few minutes to spare before they closed he hangars 30mn earlier than then expected closing time, I barely finished the museum. It was well worth the visit.

    See more images for Prague Military Aviation Museum

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