The Best Beach Day Ever…

…if you like planes and a breeze. These are actual photos from Maho Beach on the Dutch side of Saint Maarten.

The beach's neighbor is Princess Juliana International Airport, where planes have to touch down as close as possible to the beginning of crazy-short Runway 10 (7,500 feet).

Best Eject Ever…

If you saw this crash landing sequence in an action movie, you'd curse the screenwriter while geting up and leaving the theater. What happened was, in 2009, a Harrier GR9A crashed on the runway at the Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan and…

…You know what you've got to see this…

Related Link: Amazing F/A-18 Crash

50 Years Ago: First Flight of the Valkyrie

The XB-70 Valkyrie was a high-altitude deep-penetration bomber capable of Mach 3 and a contender for Coolest-Looking Plane Ever. It was designed in the 1950s and first flew almost 50 years ago—Sept. 21, 1964 to be exact—at which point it had been rendered obsolete by ICBMs. For more information and specs, see the National Museum of the Air Force site. For pictures and video, scroll down…

A second Val first flew on July 17, 1965, and famously crashed a year later following a mid-air collision (video below):

Related Link: SR-71 Blackbird page

The B-52 that Lost its Tail

January 10, 1964 was supposed to be an ordinary day for the Wichita-based Boeing flight test group. As you may have surmised, it wasn't.

Cruising at 500 feet over a mountainous stretch of Colorado, their B-52H hit turbulence. Pilot Chuck Fisher climbed to 14,300 feet in hope of smoother air. He got the opposite. A monster gust whacked off the plane's vertical tail fin.

Fisher told the crew to prepare to abandon the plane. He descended to about 5,000 feet where they would bail out. Meanwhile the Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control centers at Denver and Kansas City cleared the air around the troubled plane, and emergency responders all over the Midwest raced to help.

Then a funny thing happened. The B-52 continued to fly without significant impediment. Fisher landed it in one piece—minus the tail—at Blytheville Air Force Base in Arkansas.

"The B-52 is the finest airplane I ever flew," he said.

Here's an Air Force video regarding the incident:

Airliner Number 4

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Norman Bel Geddes (1893-1958) was an accomplished industrial designer known for aerodynamic form than was as much about aesthetics as wind resistance. He began as a theatrical designer before venturing into furniture, cars, trains and aircraft. Perhaps his most innovative design was Airliner Number 4, a transatlantic boat with a 528-foot wingspan— a 747's is just under 200 feet.

The proposal included twenty 1900-horsepower engines capable of lifting Airliner Number 4 to 5,000 feet and attaining a cruising speed of 100 mph. The 450 passengers could choose from nine decks including private dining rooms, a solarium, a gym, six shuffleboard courts, a dance floor, a library, and a concert hall.

Airliner Number 4 mock-up

Airliner Number 4 mock-up

Along with the members of the orchestra, Airliner Number 4's 155-person crew included telephone operators, masseuses, manicurists, and—ahead of its time—a personal trainer.

Unfortunately, Airliner Number 4 didn't make it much farther than the drawing board, but its legacy included Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose.

Below are photos of other Bel Geddes creations, including his his daughter, Barbara, a.k.a. Miss Ellie on Dallas.

Bel Geddes's 1939 World's Fair pavilion

Bel Geddes's 1939 World's Fair pavilion

Locomotive Number 1

Locomotive Number 1