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News Letter 5 December 2019

Good day all

Last week we were all battling with the sweltering heat and now we are experiencing the great relief of wonderful rain countrywide, unfortunately it doesn’t do much for aviation.

It seems like we in for a very quiet weekend with only one major event planned that we are aware of, The ICAD SACAA Airshow in Polokwane. The airshow is being held to commemorate International Civil Aviation Day, with the Theme of “75 Years of connecting people”

The preliminary line-up includes:

Little Annie airborne with skydivers (Big SA Flag)

SAAF Gripen

Gyro display

Team Extreme

Good Year Eagles

SA Police Chopper


Golden Eagles Skydivers

Nigel Hopkins Aerobatics

Puma Energy Flying Lions

Aero L-29 Delfín

So, if you find yourself up north this is the place to be.

Silver Spitfire lands back in Britain after world tour

The Silver Spitfire is home. On Thursday afternoon, the fighter jet landed back on British soil after its 27,000-mile, four month trip around the world. Steve Brooks, 58, and Matt Jones, 45, set off on Monday 7 August with the words of the Duke of Sussex ringing in their ears. "Have fun", Prince Harry told them, as they took off from Goodwood in the 1943 fighter.

They have now completed their mission, which they have called "The Longest Flight" - flying the newly restored original MK IX Spitfire, named Silver Spitfire, around the globe in a world first. Over four months, 27,000 miles, 91 stages and 30 countries, the pilots entered airspace in which no Spitfire has flown, in a plane that last saw action in the Second World War before being grounded for 50 years.

Highlights of the planned four-month trip have included joining the Red Arrows in Ottawa to fly by the Canadian parliament and "victory rolling" over the pyramids. It is painted silver to avoid appearing "provocative".

Engineers and enthusiasts teamed up in a two-year restoration project in which they focused on repairing rather than replacing original parts. A few modern elements, including iPads, have been added, with a small support team due to follow the plane.

The trip hasn't been without controversy. Mr Brooks and Mr Jones were left stranded in the Russian town of Sokoi in September following a delay in paying their handlers on the ground.

October 1943 MK IX LF Spitfire MJ271 was delivered from Castle Bromwich, Solihull, to RAF Lyneham, before being finished, tested and harnessed with guns and given to 118 Squadron at RAF Detling. February 1944 With 118 Squadron, the Spitfire was immediately sent into action, sometimes completing several missions per day, including patrolling the Dutch coast and acting as cover to Fortresses attacking Berlin. April 1944 Moving to be based at RAF Ford, the aircraft was frequently sent to divebomb targets and encountering greater degrees of flak (antiaircraft gunning) than before. November 1944 Now housed with the 401 Squadron at the Dutch base of Volkel, the Spitfire saw out the war with several missions targeting railways, before sustaining damage in December 1944 and seeking repairs in the Belgian province of Wevelgem. It never returned to action.

August 1947 After the war, the Mark IX was delivered to the Dutch air force. Over the coming decade, it was struck off charge, used as a decoy at Volkel, and moved to the Delfzijl War Museum. April 1973 After more than 25 years on the roof of Delfzijl War Museum, it was transferred to the Anthony Fokker Technical School, before being restored and moved to a museum in Schipol, near Amsterdam. March 2003 The Spitfire made its final foreign move to Leylstad, before Historic Flying Ltd, based at Duxford, bought it and brought it home in 2006.

September 2016 Buying the aircraft at auction, Boultbee Flight Academy conjured a plan to have the plane restored to its former glory as the Silver Spitfire. August 2019 The Mark IX, under the registration G-IRTY, is set to circumnavigate the globe.

Mooney Reopens Kerrville Factory

After a two-week surprise shutdown, Mooney has reopened its Kerrville, Texas, factory, but it’s unclear if the entire workforce is back on the job or just production workers. Fred Ahles of Fort Lauderdale-based Premier Aircraft Sales, a Mooney regional dealer, said on Monday evening that officials at Mooney confirmed that all production workers building aircraft and parts were back on the job Monday morning.

He said Mooney is seeking additional financing and may be close or has already secured that to resume production work and additional operations. Ahles said more information would be forthcoming in a few days.

India’s Tejas Fighter to Conduct Maiden Flight from Carrier

The naval version of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is being readied for its first-ever take off from the Indian Navy’s Kiev-class aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, according to Indian defence industry officials.

“The carrier-based take-off is not too far, extra safety is being taken and hence time is being consumed,” a source within the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) was quoted as saying on December 2 by The Print. It is still unclear as to the exact date but they cautioned that more tests will be necessary before the aircraft’s launch from the Indian Navy’s carrier.

The naval variant of the Tejas LCA hit another development milestone last month when it took off for the first time with two beyond visual range (BVR) and two close combat air-to-air missiles (CCM) from the Navy’s Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) located at a naval air station near Dabolim in Goa.

Notably, the Indian Navy has repeatedly ruled out the operational deployment of the naval version of the Tejas LCA as a result a number of technical shortcomings as well as excessive weight, which would prevent the fighter jet from carrying an adequate payload when operating from a carrier.

For now the naval variant of the Tejas is used as a technology demonstrator. DRDO and ADA are already working on a twin-engine medium-weight fighter jet for the Navy’s expanding carrier force. “The Navy has been clear from the very beginning that it needs a twin-engine aircraft and not single-engine because even if an engine fails, the aircraft should be able to land on the carrier”

“The Indian Navy has expressed that, with newly-emerging requirements, only a medium weight category twin-engine aircraft will be inducted for operations,” a DRDO source said. “Currently, the configuration design of a twin-engine naval aircraft as sought by the user has been initiated. The initial flight-testing of this aircraft is scheduled to be carried out by 2026.”

INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenously built flattop, are both fitted with STOBAR systems for launching aircraft from a ski-jump, whereas the second carrier of the new Vikrant-class, the INS Vishal, will likely use a catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) aircraft launch system, possibly incorporating the new electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) technology.

“About 50 ski jump take-offs have been carried out so far with various possible combinations that are likely to be done by this aircraft on-board a carrier,” according to a DRDO source. “Several combinations of aircraft recovery with Arresting Gear System (AGS) at SBTF have been successfully carried out by arresting the aircraft and bringing it to a halt within 90 metres,” another DRDO source said. “To date, 28 arrested landings have been successfully achieved without ever missing the arresting wire.”

AIR7 HD News Helicopter struck by drone over downtown LA

AIR7 HD was struck mid-air by an object, believed to be a drone, while flying over downtown Los Angeles Wednesday night and had to make a precautionary landing. The chopper was flying over downtown around 7:15 p.m local time when the pilot and reporter say they heard and felt a bang as an object struck the tail of the chopper. The impact did not affect the helicopter's ability to fly but the pilot landed as a precaution.

While they initially believed they hit a bird, after landing they determined the object was most likely a drone. Dents and holes are visible in several spots on the helicopter. The helicopter was flying at an elevation around 1,100 feet, drones are prohibited from flying above 400 feet.

"It was a scary couple of minutes not knowing what happened," the reporter said. "But it feels great to be back on the ground."

Who was operating the drone is not immediately known, Los Angeles Police Department officials launched an investigation into the incident. The department launched its own helicopter and sent out a ground crew to look for debris on the ground. In addition to federal laws, the department noted the city of Los Angeles has an ordinance passed in 2015 that regulates drones. The ordinance prohibits flying drones within five miles of an airport, above 400 feet elevation or in a way that interferes with manned aircraft. It also says drones cannot be operated beyond the unassisted line of sight of the operator.

As drones become more popular, conflicts with aircraft are becoming more common. There have been several incidents during California wildfires where firefighters had to stop aerial operations because of drones in the area. During the Woolsey Fire in 2018, Los Angeles County firefighters reported several instances in which drones interfered with helicopter firefighting operations.


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