Flight Facts

  • On 11th August 1986, a modified Westland Lynx ZB 500 set the world helicopter speed record of 400.9 km/h or 249.10 mph). 
  • The Lockheed AC-130 Gunship stands out as one of the heaviest armed aircraft in the skies. It is a close air support/air interdiction craft and the AC-130U variant is equipped with a 25mm Gatling gun, 40mm cannon, and a 105mm M102 Howitzer.
  • In 1972 Jean Boulet set the world altitude record for helicopters by taking an Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama up to 12 442 m (40 820 ft).
  • UK-born Edwin A Shackleton holds the Guinness World Record for the most aircraft flown in as a passenger with a total of 806, including aeroplanes, airships, balloons, and helicopters.
  • The first proven case of commercial aviation sabotage occurred in 1933 when a United Air Lines Boeing 247 was destroyed by a bomb.
  • The largest passenger aircraft currently in service is the new Airbus A380. It can carry 555 passengers in comfort with a wingspan of 79.8 m (261.1 ft) and measures 73 m (239.6 ft) long.
  • The Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik was a Soviet ground attack aircraft in World War II and holds the record for the most produced military aircraft with over 36 000 having rolled off the production lines.
  • The longest paper airplane flight Guinness World Record was set in October 1998 when USA-born Ken Blackburn threw his paper plane to a record-setting 27.6 seconds flight.
  • The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird is the fastest jet in the world able to reach sustained speeds in excess of Mach 3 (3529.56 km/h [2188 mph]). It also holds the altitude record for sustained flight at a maximum altitude of 25 929 m (85 069 ft).
  • The heaviest payload carried to a height of 2 km by a piston-engine aircraft is 15 166 kg. It was set by B. H. Warren in 1946 flying a Boeing B-29 Superfortress.
  • B. H. Warren also holds the record for the highest altitude achieved with a 15 000 kg payload: 12 046 m. Also set in a Boeing B-29 Superfortress.
  • The fastest propeller-driven aircraft of World War II was the German one-seater Dornier Do-335 Pfeil, a fighter/bomber with a maximum speed of 763 km/h (474 mph).
  • The Bombardier CL-415 Super Scooper seaplane is capable of filling its maximum water load of 6132 l (1620 gal) in only 12 seconds.
  • Baron Manfred von Richthofen, more commonly known as the Red Baron, had the most German aircraft victories in World War I – 80, this was more than 50 more than his United States counterpart Eddie Rickenbacker, who racked up 26 victories.

What Is A Black Box?

A FDR (Flight Data Recorder) is a flight recorder used to record specific aircraft performance parameters. A separate device is the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder), although some recent types combine both in one unit.

Popularly, though almost always falsely, known as the black box used for aircraft mishap analysis, the FDR is also used to study air safety issues, material degradation, and jet engine performance. These ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) regulated “black box” devices are often used as an aid in investigating aircraft mishaps, and these devices are typically one of the highest priorities for recovery after a crash, second only to bodies of victims.

The device’s casing is usually painted bright orange and it is typically located in the tail section of the aircraft. In this position, the entire front of the aircraft acts as a “crush zone” to reduce the shock that reaches the recorder.

The prototype FDR was produced in 1957 by Dr. David Warren of the then Aeronautical Research Laboratories of Australia. In 1953 and 1954 a series of fatal mishaps on the de Havilland DH106 Comet jet airliner prompted the grounding of the entire fleet pending an investigation. Dr. Warren, a chemist specialising in aircraft fuels, was involved in a professional committee discussing the possible causes. Since there had been no witnesses, and no survivors, Dr. Warren began to conceive of a crash survivable method to record the flight crew’s conversation, reasoning they would likely know the cause.

Despite his 1954 report entitled “A Device for Assisting Investigation into Aircraft Accidents” and a 1957 prototype FDR named “The ARL Flight Memory Unit”, aviation authorities from around the world were largely uninterested. This changed in 1958 when Sir Robert Hardingham, the Secretary of the UK Air Registration Board, saw potential in Dr. Warren’s invention.

Dr. Warren was asked to create a pre-production model that resulted in the “Red Egg”: the world’s first commercial FDR by the British firm S. Davall & Son. The Red Egg got its name from its shape and bright red colour. Incidentally, the term “black box” came from a meeting about the Red Egg, when afterwards a journalist told Dr. Warren, “This is a wonderful black box.” The term “black box”, as it was used in this context, was technical jargon and refers to a device that has defined or known input and output characteristics, but how it functions is unknown.

How to Handle Long Airport Layovers


Whoever said that the journey is more important than the destination obviously never had to endure a long airport layover. For most travelers, a layover is a painfully boring delay in an already arduous travel experience, but cutbacks in the number of nonstop flights (and generally higher fares for nonstops) often mean layovers are unavoidable. Plan your layover right, though, and it can become a productive part of your business trip or an extension of your vacation. While you may never get excited about layovers, you can at least make them a little more bearable.

Think of a layover as an extra travel bonus that allows you to get out and explore even if you only see the inside of the airport. Look at it as a positive experience that allows you to meet new people and see new things. When you are on a long international flight, an overnight layover can help reduce the effects of jet lag and help you reach your destination with plenty of energy.

Consider scheduling extra-long layovers when planning your trip. Layovers of 2-4 hours are common. If you can’t get a short layover, just long enough for you to catch your connecting flight and you’re not pressed for time, try to pick a connecting flight that departs several hours, or even a day, after your first flight arrives. That way you’ll have time to visit the surrounding area instead of being stuck in the airport.

Research the layover airport to determine if there are restaurants, shops, and perhaps other activities available there. Some have theatres, museums, gyms, and even play areas for children. Have a look at the airport’s website for information. If they have a map, print it, and mark out what you want to see when you get there.

Realise that while many an airport seems as far away as possible from the city it serves, some are located close enough for tourist attractions to be enjoyed. This way, if you have time, you can take in some sightseeing. Before leaving find out how long it will take to see specific attractions. Most airports are connected by direct trains or buses so you can avoid expensive cab fares.

Carry on what you will need during the layover, so if you plan on getting some work done, bring your computer and other necessary supplies. Be prepared for whatever activities interest you. Minimise your carry-on luggage as it will only weigh you down.

Find out the exact time your next flight leaves and from which gate by asking an airline agent or checking the departure board as soon as you arrive. Physically locate your next flight’s gate. This way you will be familiar with getting around the airport and will know if you have a long distance to cover. See if there is a light rail or a shuttle as most large airports these days make it very easy to travel from one flight to the next.

Bring something to read. This will ensure that you do not have to pay an overpriced amount for a book or magazine at the airport book store.

Surf the web while waiting for the next plane or get some work done. Bring your laptop with you as some airports have free wireless Internet throughout.

Check on the status of your flight from time to time and return to your gate at least 45 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave. This way if there are gate or time changes, you will still make your flight.

If you follow these guidelines a layover doesn’t have to be a dreaded event, but an enjoyable experience.

Written initially by Maja Gray originally for WikiHow.

Starting Out In RC Flying

RC, or Radio-Controlled, aircraft are small model aircraft that can be controlled remotely. They use radio control with a hand-held transmitter and a receiver within the craft. The receiver controls the corresponding servomechanisms that move the control surfaces based on the position of joysticks on the transmitter, which in turn maneuvers the plane.

In starting out new flyers will need a few things:

  • A trainer model aircraft,
  • An engine compatible with the aircraft, and
  • A set of RC equipment.

These can all be bought new at reasonable prices.

Novices should also seek the help of professionals when taking their aircraft out for its first flight. It is recommended that they join a local club that will help them learn to fly. They also help with insurance too for when the aircraft crashes, which will happen, and this helps cover against damage to property and injury of people.

Trainer aircraft are more stable than more advanced models and are generally forgiving in the hands of a novice.

Aircraft kits are usually made of mostly plastic or foam, with reinforced carbon fiber, as well as balsa wood and are either:

  • RTF (Ready To Fly) requiring minimal construction,

  • ARTF (Almost Ready To Fly) that need up to four hours to be ready for flight.

Experienced modelers can also build aircraft from plans or even design their own craft, making the airframe themselves and installing all the electronics and control systems.