Unfreakingbelievable Helicopter Crash

February 8, 2014: In the mountainous Paktika province of Afghanistan…

An AH-64 Apache helicopter was overwatching patrols retrieving airdropped supplies…

Then this happened…

"Thankfully," according to an International Security Assistance Force official, "no one on the ground was injured and both members of the aircrew survived.

Related Links: Amazing F/A-18 crash photos/video.

For more plane porn, check out my Birdwatching album.

Click here for a compendium of cool Blackbird photos. Or read a 92,000 word spy book (worth 92 pictures).

Science Non-fiction: Planebows

If I were watching a sci-fi movie in which, each time a spaceship reached the speed of sound, it caused a conic vapor cloud, I'd figure the filmmaker liked computer-generated effects too much. But those cones are real, the result of something called the Prandtl-Glauert singularity. Truth is stranger than science fiction.

Stranger still are "plainbows," created when the vapor acts like a prism on the light passing through, breaking it into the colors of the spectrum. For an actual scientific explanation, you can click here. Or check out these pix.

Here are some garden-variety light-refracting vapor pix, all of which are real except one—see if you can pick out the fake.

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For more plane porn, check out my Birdwatching album. Click here for a compendium of cool Blackbird photos. Or read a 92,000 word spy book (worth 92 pictures).

Flying Lawnmower?

Please help me decide on a lawnmower:

Choice 1) The cordless EGO Power+ mower is the most powerful rechargeable mower on the market and the first to match or surpass the performance of premium gas-powered models. About $450. It's perfect for our yard/needs.

Choice 2) The Skycutter: It cost more than $1,000. The battery only lasts about 10 minutes. It barely makes a dent on grass. But it flies. (video below)

Amazing F/A-18 Crash

A Canadian Air Force F/A-18 Hornet loses all control while conducting an air-show practice flight at an Alberta airport. As it happened, the Bee Gees' song Staying Alive was playing over the public address system at the time.

The pilot lands safely.  As U.S. Air Force photographer Gerald R. Massie said after the 1944 crash-landing of his B17, "Any landing you can walk away from is a good one."

Here's the video, from NBC:

Related links: Unfreakingbelievable helicopter crash photos/video

To learn how to land a plane if your pilot bails, leaving you to crash, read Twice a Spy.* Click here for SR-71 Blackbird photos. And for more plane porn: Birdwatching.

*If you're going to read Twice a Spy, it pays to read Once a Spy first. (You'll learn what to do if your helicopter experiences catastrophic engine failure mid-air and your pilot, a CIA officer with early-onset Alzheimer's, has forgotten the procedure.)

The Coolest Plane That Never Was

Debuting in the early 1960s with Mach 3.2 speed and an 85,000-foot ceiling, the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane was universally regarded as the greatest aircraft in history.

By the 1980s, there was sentiment to relegate the Blackbird to history, because its imagery and radar data couldn't be used in real time. And as then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney lamented, operating the Blackbird cost $85,000 per hour. Which put the kibosh on Lockheed's planned Mach-5 SR-71 replacement, shown below.

But at least, soon, we'll have the Mach-6 SR-72:

To learn more about the SR-71, check out habu.org. Click here for a compendium of cool Blackbird photos. And for more plane porn: Birdwatching.

The Most Controversial Plane Photo Ever

You may have seen this F-14 photo—which is real. It was taken aboard the USS America in 1989. All the online rumors that "the insane maneuver" got the pilot time in the brig, a suspension, and/or court-martial: Just rumors. In fact, the pilot, Navy Captain Dale "Snort" Snodgrass, was asked to perform the maneuver again the following day, in a demonstration at sea. The resulting photo is shown below.

Snodgrass later co-authored a book, Anytime, Baby!: Hail And Farewell to the Us Navy F-14 Tomcat, in which he explains the maneuver:

“It’s not risky at all with practice… It was my opening pass to a Tomcat tactical demonstration at sea. I started from the starboard rear quarter of the ship, at or slightly below flight deck level. Airspeed was at about 250 knots with the wings swept forward. I selected afterburner at about ½ miles behind and the aircraft accelerated to about 325-330 knots. As I approached the ship, I rolled into an 85 degree angle of bank and did a 2-3 g turn, finishing about 10 – 20 degrees off of the ship’s axis.”

For tons more plane/drone/rocket pix, see the Birdwatching album.

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