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News Letter 18 July 2019

Good day all

Seems we in for a much more relaxed weekend this week, we are aware of only one event. If you find yourself anywhere close to Donkerhoek join SAMPRA on their Road trip to the Low-veld for a weekend full of fun filled Pylon Racing.

To all the lucky buggers that are on their way to Oshkosh, have fun and be safe, I wish I was joining you. This is a special year for all the EAA’ers as it marks 50 years of EAA involvement.

Pakistan reopens airspace for civil aviation

Pakistan announced on Tuesday it will reopen its airspace with immediate effect for civil aviation after over four-month long blockage following military tension with neighbouring India. An official from Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that Pakistan airspace is open for all types of civil traffic on published Air Traffic Service routes with an immediate effect.

On Feb 26, Pakistan fully closed its airspace following unrest at the country's northeast border with India. Pakistan Air Force claimed to shoot down two Indian fighter jets along the Line of Control over the violation of its airspace.

Pakistan partially opened its airspace in March but it continued with the closure its eastern and southern border to prohibit flights from India.

Earlier in July, a Pakistani official from the CAA told media that the Indian government had asked Pakistan to open the airspace, but Pakistan asked India to first remove its fighter jets deployed near Pakistani border areas.

Thousands of commercial and cargo flights have been disturbed due to the ban by Pakistan as it is located in an important aviation corridor.

French inventor whose flying board wowed the world

Franky Zapata has been driven by a single dream since he was little: being able to fly. Not in an airplane, he says, but like a bird.

As the French inventor and entrepreneur was born colour-blind, that ruled out learning to fly helicopters. After several years spent racing jet skis, he invented hydrojets which allowed him to at least hover above the water.

Then improvements in technology allowed him to go further, cutting the hydrojet from its tether and taking to the air.

"When you fly with your body," says Zapata, "even your hands affect the direction you want to go in. You feel the turbulence and the air through your fingers. It's like becoming a bird. But it's also very hard. I have to fight against the wind with my legs so there's pain too. It's not as peaceful as it looks."

Last Sunday the 40-year-old former jet-ski champion took to the skies above Paris at the Bastille day parade, capturing the world's imagination with a board that can reach an altitude of nearly 500 feet -- with the potential to go much higher -- and a speed of 140 kilometres per hour.

Back in his workshop near Marseille, Zapata says while he enjoys showing his creation off to a crowd what he really loves is flying alone.

"It's amazing when I'm flying around the Arizona desert, through the mountains. That's why I built this machine," he says. "In my heart the best thing is the freedom".

Already, the father of one has worked with the US and French militaries, with the French investing 1.4 million dollars in tests of the board. "If the question is, do I think I will sell this to special forces all over the world, the answer is yes. When? I don't know," says Zapata.

Zapata spent three years creating Flyboard Air, a jet-powered personal aerial vehicle. The key he says, was being able to place five turbine engines over conventional electric propellers to allow intuitive flight controls designed around the human body.

As for commercial uses, he says that regulations need to be worked out and safety issues looked at before the technology can be put to wider, recreational use. "The problem with this machine is if you're not calm you can break your neck," Zapata says. "You have to be focused. It's not a skateboard. It's a flying machine."

"If you want to build a flying machine you need to want to fly," he says. "You can't be chasing fame or money. You have to have that crazy dream to justify spending all that money on something that only you believe in".

Zapata's next "crazy dream" is to fly from France to England with his Flyboard Air to mark the 110th anniversary of the first crossing of the English Channel.

If he succeeds, the ride will blow away his previous record when he travelled 2,200 meters in the south of France in 2016.

The crossing would require Zapata to refuel several times but it would offer him what he craves, a real bird's eye view of the channel.

"It'll be the flight of my life", he says.

Bloodhound is back from the dead

In September the Bloodhound, a car designed to ultimately hit a speed of 1,000 miles per hour (1,600kph), will be on a ship. By October it is due to be at Hakskeen Pan outside Upington, deep in the Kalahari Desert. There it will fire up its military-grade jet engine and hit at least 800 kilometres per hour, and perhaps start approaching 1,000kph, in tests designed mostly to test its braking.

Because the Bloodhound Land Speed Record project is back from the dead, its leaders announced this week, and now it needs to learn how to slow down. "Going fast is optional, but stopping isn't," the project's CEO and benefactor Ian Warhurst joked on Tuesday.

The Bloodhound SSC aims to reach 1000mph, beating the land speed record of 763mph. Engineers are in the process of preparing the vehicle for testing next month in Newquay. The British-based Bloodhound team say they have already paid the deposit on accommodation for around a month in the South African desert, and are just finalising the paperwork needed to ship its equipment. It is "quite comfortable" that nothing stands in the way of testing in October, said Warhurst.

That hugely increases the odds that the project may be able to meet its target of beating the current, 22-year-old land speed record of a hair under 1,228kph – and put the Northern Cape on the map. Based on preliminary research, the Bloodhound team believes its ultimate attempt to go 1,600 kilometres per hour in a land vehicle could draw a global live audience of 1.5 billion people.

Film crews are already trying to figure out how to use the huge and incredibly flat expanse of Hakskeen Pan for various projects after it becomes the site of a record-busting feat, Bloodhound says.

Over the course of a minimum of 12 runs, Bloodhound will use only a jet engine to accelerate to mind-boggling speeds, albeit only half the final target. There is no need yet to fire up the rocket that will take it above 800kph, its managers say; that is fast enough to test the parachutes that must slow it down, the all-metal wheels that will carry its complicated chassis.

The tests will gather huge amounts of data, including video of how those unique wheels interact with the hard-packed desert surface. Initially those wheels should cut between 10mm and 15mm into the surface, says driver Andy Green, who is also the current land speed record holder. As the car speeds up the cut will reduce to around 5mm, at which point it will probably feel like it is driving on ice. Exactly how it moves will become all the more important at double that speed.

Less than a year ago the Bloodhound project entered administration after running out of money, after 11 years of development. At the time its administrators estimated it required £25 million – nearly half a billion rand – to stay afloat, and nobody was putting up that kind of money. It seemed the massive project run by the Northern Cape government, which saw 300 workers remove 6,000 tons of rock from the pan surface to create a runway 20km long and 1.1km wide, would go to waste.

But in December British entrepreneur Warhurst bought it out of administration. He has since spent "seven figures" Warhurst said on Tuesday, referring to millions of pounds, the equivalent of tens of millions of Rands. Now, with testing dates set, he believes the project will start to sustain itself.

"We know the value of sponsorship on this vehicle and we are comfortable that commercial sponsors will easily be able to pay for it." The project is being branded as the "first digital land-speed record", and hopes to attract both cash and in-kind sponsorship from a range of high-tech and engineering-focussed companies.


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