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News Letter 6 June 2019

Good day all

Its Speed Rally time again and all roads lead to Bethlehem for the PilotInsure Bethlehem Speed Rally. Aircraft are expected to start arriving from early tomorrow morning for the 5Th of the series of exciting Speed Rallies. Test flights will take place throughout the day and Saturday is Race Day, anyone in the area come join in and become part of South Africa’s fastest growing aviation sporting discipline.

Read all about the previous speed Rallies

Kroon Airfield and Rosslyn Microflyers will be hosting their annual Fly-In breakfast on the 8 June, Kroon is situated North of Pretoria close to the “Red and White Radio Mast” alongside the N4 Platinum Highway. Anyone that has been there for a fly-in will testify to the great breakfasts that are always on offer, and of course the comradery amongst the locals is nothing short of legendary.

Rand Model Aeronautical Club will be hosting the Large Scale Aerobatics Regional Competition. This is a very exciting form of radio controlled aviation and makes for a good day out for all.

Update on the Little Annie fund Raising drive

I very happy to report that Little Annie is once again airborne and as I write speak is making her way back to Wonderboom Airport for further intense medical care. The plugs and Leads on piston no. 3 were replaced and a Borescope was performed yesterday, the piston seems fine but a decision on the way forward will be made once an intensive “medical” has been performed when she is home safely.

We at Flightline Weekly would like to thank every person that contributed to getting Annie up where she belongs, the outpouring of support, love and most importantly finances by the Aviation community has been amazing to witness. The funds raised will not only take care of all the immediate repairs but also go along way to help with the replacement of the motor which is coming very close to end of its usable life.

Due to your generosity Little Annie will continue to introduce young children to the joy of flight and maybe encourage them to follow their dreams whether aviation related or not.

Indian military Antonov AN-32 mysteriously vanished.

The Indian Air Force said it has not been able to locate the, a Soviet-era twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft, after it disappeared mid-flight Monday.

The plane took off at 12:27 p.m. in Jorhat, a city in India's eastern Assam state bound for an airfield in Manchuka, about 128 miles to the north, the Indian Air Force said. The aircraft contacted ground control about 30 minutes after take-off but has not been heard from since. Families of the 13 Indian Air Force personnel on board have been notified.

IAF has intensified efforts to locate the missing AN-32 despite challenges posed by vegetation, inhospitable terrain & poor weather, the search has been expanded. All leads from airborne sensors are being closely assessed and followed-up with search by aircraft & ground teams

Search operations were suspended Wednesday due to heavy rain. They are expected to resume Thursday, Wing Cmdr. Ratnakar Singh, spokesperson for the Indian Air Force base in Shillong, said

Newly minted Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said he spoke to the vice chief of the Air Force regarding the missing plane. "I pray for the safety of all passengers on board," Singh said.

Geoffrey Thomas, an aviation expert who is editor-in-chief and managing director of, said it's possible the plane could have crashed in a very remote region, making it difficult to locate.

The Indian military's AN-32s have a spotty safety record. The plane and its variants have been involved in more than 15 incidents since 1986. In 2016, an AN-32 carrying 29 people went missing en route after taking off from Chennai bound for Port Blair in India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Thomas said the aircraft's propensity for accidents is likely due to where and how it operates, rather than any deficiency in the plane itself. He said the AN-32 is considered a rugged workhorse often used in "extreme" environments.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Thomas said it's true there are better planes to fly in such mountainous region, but they are expensive.

The incident could raise questions about India's defence budget, especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's re-election in May.

Modi campaigned extensively on his image as a strong defence-minded leader, dubbing himself the "chowkidar" (watchman) of the nation, especially with respect to rival Pakistan. "This new India will enter your home and kill you. We will respond to a bullet with a cannon," he said at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh last month.

New aircraft wing structure is flexible and lightweight

Aircraft wings have been assembled the same way for decades. But, engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and NASA have developed a flexible aerostructure that is produced from hundreds of tiny, identical pieces using composite lattice-based cellular materials.

The lightweight wing is comprised of thousands of tiny hollow triangles made up of matchstick- size struts along each edge. The subassemblies are bolted together to form an open, lattice framework that is covered with a thin layer of polymer material.

An active wing morphing design enables it to change shape in flight. Instead of requiring separate movable surfaces, such as ailerons, to control roll and pitch, as conventional wings do, the new assembly system makes it possible to deform the whole wing, or parts of it. “The result is a wing that is much lighter, and thus much more energy efficient, than those with conventional designs made from metal or composites,” claims Nicholas Cramer, a research engineer at NASA Ames Research Center who worked on the project. “Because the structure is composed mostly of empty space, it forms a mechanical metamaterial that combines the structural stiffness of a rubber-like polymer and the extreme lightness and low density of an aerogel.

Each phase of a flight, such as take-off and landing, cruising and manoeuvring, has its own, different set of optimal wing parameters, so a conventional wing is necessarily a compromise that is not optimized for any of these, and therefore sacrifices efficiency,” adds Cramer. “A wing that is constantly deformable could provide a much better approximation of the best configuration for each stage.”

According to Cramer, it would be possible to include motors and cables to produce the forces needed to deform the wings. However, he and his colleagues have taken this a step further and designed a system that automatically responds to changes in aerodynamic loading conditions by shifting shape.

“We’re able to gain efficiency by matching the shape to the loads at different angles of attack,” says Cramer. “We produced the exact same behaviour you would do actively, but we did it passively. “This is accomplished by the careful design of the relative positions of struts with different amounts of flexibility or stiffness,” explains Cramer. “The wing, or sections of it, bend in specific ways in response to particular kinds of stresses.”

A test version of the wing was manually assembled by a team of MIT graduate students. However, the repetitive process is designed to be easily accomplished by a swarm of small assembly robots. The plastic injection-molded parts are made from polyethylene.

“The resulting lattice has a density of 5.6 kilograms per cubic meter,” says Cramer. “By way of comparison, rubber has a density of about 1,500 kilograms per cubic meter. They have the same stiffness, but ours has less than roughly one-thousandth of the density. “Because the overall configuration of the wing or other structure is built up from tiny subunits, it really doesn’t matter what the shape is,” Cramer points out. “You can make any geometry you want”.

“The fact that most aircraft are the same shape — essentially, a tube with wings—is because of expense,” claims Cramer. “It’s not always the most efficient shape. But, massive investments in design, tooling and production processes make it easier to stay with long-established configurations.

“Studies have shown that an integrated body and wing structure could be far more efficient for many aerospace applications,” adds Cramer. “With this system, those [aircraft] could be easily built, tested, modified and retested.

“The same system could be used to make other structures as well, such as wind turbine blades,” says Cramer. “The ability to do on-site assembly could avoid the problems of transporting ever-longer blades. Similar assemblies are being developed to build space structures and could eventually be useful for bridges and other high-performance structures.”


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