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Desert Birds by Werner Bartsch

The Mojave and Sonoran deserts are home to a variety of civil and military aircraft “boneyards”—vast storage areas for craft too old or expensive to fly.  Most airplanes that find themselves in such a location will be recycled in one way or another.  Either a decades-long living death, cannibalised by parts for still-flying brethren, or—when there are no useful organs left to transplant—they may be cut up for scrap.

German photographer Werner Bartsch has taken a journey through these boneyards and amassed a collection of pretty, melancholic images.  These were published in the book Desert Birds, whose first edition was released in Europe in October of 2010; the North American release is scheduled for September of 2011.

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The Checker

Time for a palate cleanser.  Videographer Jordi Blumberg has filmed many terrific sequences of aircraft and airside operations around London Gatwick Airport; here is one featuring a runway check.

Airport operators are required to check surface movement areas (aprons, taxiways and runways) for FOD—Foreign Object Debris which can cause critical damage to an aircraft’s engines.  In practice this means that every hour, an airport utility vehicle goes bolting down the runway (with anti-collision lights flashing), looking for dangerous bits of metal that might have fallen off other aircraft and could potentially cause damage to the next departing or arriving plane.

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KLAX SADDE6 Standard Terminal Arrival

Via the esteemed Professor Flea.

If you want to try and follow along at home, here’s the chart.  As I’m not the FAA, don’t do something silly and try and use this chart (which will become outdated in a matter of days) for actual air navigation.

Los Angeles Intl (KLAX) SADDE6 standard terminal arrival

Category: Aeronautics  Tags:  One Comment

The Barber of Siberia (1998) – Tsar Alexander III and cadets

The impressive martial pomp and ceremony of late 19th century Imperial Russia, as imagined by modern filmmakers.  (Via the Tiger on Politics.)

As Mikhalov likes to say about Barber of Siberia, in a phrase that reveals the extent to which his film about the heroic past is intended as a blueprint for the troubled present, “It is not about what was, but about what ought to be.”

— Larsen, Susan. National Identity, Cultural Authority, and the Post-Soviet Blockbuster: Nikita Mikhalov and Aleksei Balabanov. Slavic Review, Vol. 62, No. 3, (Autumn 2003), p. 493.

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Strike Eagle training mission

Flares are released from an F-15E Strike Eagle during a local training mission Dec. 17, 2010, over North Carolina. The F-15E is from the 335th Fighter Squadron from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

See the entire 6-image photo essay at AF.mil.

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Programmatic diversity

I have no idea how Discovery’s Military Channel manages to retain viewers in large enough numbers to continue justifying their broadcast license. Every time I tune in, they seem to have programmed a show I’ve already seen—and what’s worse, they program similar items together in a block. Here’s a chunk of today’s lineup:

7:00 am — X-Carriers (60min, TV-PG, CC)

From super-computer design facilities to liquid-metal cooled, nuclear propulsion systems, the top secret future of the U.S. Navy’s most dangerous weapons are revealed.

8:00 am — Mega-Carrier, Episode 1 (60min, TV-G, CC)

Over 18,000 men and women have been brought together to build the world’s most technologically sophisticated aircraft carrier: The U.S.S. George H.W. Bush. From initial construction, to its first day at sea, follow the story of its builders.

9:00 am — Toughest Carrier Jobs (60min, TV-PG, CC)

The Toughest Carrier Jobs highlights the skill, training and commitment of the men and women who have the honor of working on what is essentially a floating city: A U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier, which is full of amazingly difficult jobs.

10:00 am — Carrier – Fortress at Sea (60min, TV-G, CC)

Life aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is thrilling, tedious, demanding and dangerous all at the same time. En route from San Francisco to the Persian Gulf, the crew’s extraordinary adventure unfolds.

11:00 am — Mega-Carrier, Episode 1 (60min, TV-G, CC)

Over 18,000 men and women have been brought together to build the world’s most technologically sophisticated aircraft carrier: The U.S.S. George H.W. Bush. From initial construction, to its first day at sea, follow the story of its builders.

12:00 pm — Sinking of an Aircraft Carrier (60min, TV-PG, CC)

Nearly a quarter of a ton of explosives are set to sink the Oriskany Aircraft Carrier during the world’s largest non-military exercise to sink a ship. Bad weather, flooding, short tempers, and grueling labor conditions threaten to halt the project.

1:00 pm — Extreme Machines – Carriers (60min, TV-G, CC)

Footage of the Navy’s huge floating fortress, the John C. Stennis, demonstrates the sophistication and complexity of today’s carriers.

2:00 pm — A Supercarrier is Burning: The U.S.S. Enterprise (60min, TV-G, CC)

A fire aboard a supercarrier detonates the ship’s weapons. The harrowing minutes that follow are packed with terror, heroism, sacrifice and courage. There are 18 detonations, 15 aircraft destroyed, 17 damaged, 28 dead and 343 wounded.

3:00 pm — City of Steel: Carrier (60min, TV-PG, CC)

The construction of the new aircraft carrier, the Reagan, vividly illustrates the remarkable scale of these floating cities and the weapons onboard. A new carrier, the Truman, is put through its paces on its maiden outing.

I like aircraft carriers as much as the next guy, but holy mackerel, that’s nine solid hours of carrier junk. Four hours devoted to carrier design and construction, three to day-to-day operations.

Enough is enough, fellas. Every single one of these shows has been aired a half-dozen times already, and they are not what we would call current. Some still feature the F-14 Tomcat, a fighter that was retired from USN service four years ago.

I seriously wonder how the channel manages to retain viewership.

Pad 110/37 (110L), Baikonur Cosmodrome

English Russia displays a collection of contemporary images from the former launch facility for Russia’s Buran-Energia space shuttle.  The one and only launch from Pad 110L occurred in 1988; it’s been inactive ever since.

RELATED: Pad 110L and the Buran-Energia program in happier days, some 22 years ago.  Many outstanding images and videos at the link.

Category: Ars Gratia Artis, Historica  Tags: ,  Comments off