Best pilot ever

Tuesday, 7 May 2013 09:23
claidheamhmor: (F-111 in the Sky)
I reckon Eric Brown is probably the best pilot in history. I read his book "Wings of the Luftwaffe" in the early '80s, and met him when he came out to South Africa. I'm amazed that he's still around.

 


Dambusters

Tuesday, 11 October 2011 16:19
claidheamhmor: (EF-111 in the sunset)


So it turns out that Guy Gibson, leader of the famous Word War II "Dambusters" missions, was shot down by a Lancaster in 1944.

Revealed after 70 years: Dambusters legend was shot down by BRITISH airman who mistook him for German
claidheamhmor: (EF-111 in the sunset)
This was sad to see.

Vintage B-17 Flying Fortress crashes with seven people aboard
The seven people on board were all OK; those B-17s had a reputation for bringing crews back.

claidheamhmor: (F-111 in the Sky)
Nigel Davies, historian, posted an interesting article, on comparing military technology in World War 2 (for example, with respect to things like the capabilities of the US and British navies at the start of the war, when "start of the war" was 1939 for Britain and 1941 for the US). Good reading for the military buffs.

World War Two Naval statistics - Comparing Apples with Oranges

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] erudito for the link.

Bedroom décor

Monday, 5 July 2010 21:14
claidheamhmor: (F-111 in the Sky)
I want this bedroom! I used to think my Spitfire cockpit duvet cover was cool, but this...



From NerdApproved
claidheamhmor: (EF-111 in the sunset)
The new Russian PAK-FA fighter's quite sleek, and sounds quite competent. I find the tails quite interesting.



(Via [livejournal.com profile] erudito)

Psychics

Friday, 21 May 2010 22:27
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
From [livejournal.com profile] cuddlycthulhu, today:

To say that I am skeptical of anyone claiming to be a psychic is a bit of an understatement, that I have a low opinion of them is equally understated, and that the people who give them their money get exactly what they deserve. However, I do have to applaud the sheer audacity of some of the schemes because the claims some of these people make would make P.T. Barnum blush.

For instance, there Nancy Marks, a self-proclaimed psychic out of Colorado. Now, not content to just give palm or tea readings, Nancy decided to take it up a notch by telling her clients that their money was evil and that they should give it to Marks so she could punish it.

Their money. Evil. And she would punish it. AND PEOPLE BELIEVED HER.

Apparently, she was going to punish nearly three hundred thousand possessed dollar bills. Do you know how many spankings that is? At least three hundred thousand!


I LOLed. I think this is a tax on the gullible...

Avatar 3D

Friday, 18 December 2009 14:00
claidheamhmor: (Stranger in a Strange Land)


We went to see Avatar last night, and saw it in 3D at Cresta (since they have a newly upgraded theatre).

I thought the special effects and 3D were absolutely outstanding; totally seamless, and it felt entirely believable. I simply couldn't tell where reality became special effects. The 3D animations, textures, etc. of creatures, aircraft, space ships, and the environment seemed to me to be flawless.

The sound effects were impressive, very impressive indeed. Our theatre's speakers were really good; when ships were landing, or vehicles moving, I could feel the vibration right through my body; it felt really convincing.

The scenery was fabulous; much was filmed in New Zealand (what a surprise), but it was hard to tell what was real and what wasn't. The night-time ultraviolet was done beautifully, and I loved that; the night-time animal and plant life was lovely.

However, I thought the story was rather predictable and dull - essentially, Dances with Wolves on an alien planet, which was rather a pity given the interesting concept of the avatar. The characters were rather distant, and I found it hard to empathise with them in any way; sadly, they also seemed to largely be stereotyped caricatures, where you could predict exactly which role each would play. Acting was good, within the limited ambit of the characters, though I did think Zoe Saldana was especially good.

James Horner's score was a veritable pastiche of copy & paste from his other scores - Titanic, Enemy at the Gates, Star Trek, and others. Very derivative, and not particularly interesting.

More, but with spoilers )

The film could have been so much better, but between hiring Weta and ILM, I guess there wasn't enough money left over for an innovative script.

Edit for score.

Lightning down

Saturday, 14 November 2009 18:53
claidheamhmor: (EF-111 in the sunset)
One of the four remaining flying English Electric Lightnings (one of the two-seater ones, from the looks of it) went down at an air show today, killing the pilot, Dave Stock, who had problems ejecting.

A terrible loss, of both an experienced pilot, and a fantastic fighter aircraft.

This picture was taken at the last take-off:



Saturn V

Wednesday, 22 July 2009 16:26
claidheamhmor: (Cylon Raider)
Power and fury of US Moon rocket

Cool article on the Saturn V rocket. It's amazing how big it was - take a look at some of the pics, especially of those engines! And 30 stories high...

claidheamhmor: (EF-111 in the sunset)
The Reader



Last night we went off to see The Reader at Rosebank Mall. I must say, I was somewhat disappointed. Kate Winslet (nude) was hot (at least in the early parts of the movie), but I found the film rather lacking in emotion, character or pace. Ralph Fiennes pretty much snoozed through his scenes; a more boring and emotionless character one cannot imagine (except for me, but then, I'm not a character in a movie). The actor who played the boy who read to Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet's character), David Kross, did pretty well. The story had no decent tale of repentance or change or love, and the characters did what seemed like strangely uncharacteristic things. I really wanted to like the movie, but it was far too long and pointless.

On the positive side, I think the movie captured the sense of Germany from the 1950s to the 1990s very well; it felt authentic and gritty in the right ways. It may be worth watching purely for that.


World War II in Colour

Now, for the World War 2 buffs, seeing as we're on the topic, take a look at this: World War II in Colour. It's an interesting collection of photographs taken during the war, of people, places and equipment.

For example, here are a couple of thumbnails:


Rudel's gunbird: The Stuka flown by Hans-Ulrich Rudel, one of the most successful combat pilots of all time; he destroyed more military hardware than many modern armies even have.



Major Erich Hartmann, highest-scoring fighter ace of all time, with 352 kills.
claidheamhmor: (F-111 in the Sky)
The world's last airworthy Avro Vulcan is flying again!



I always found the Vulcan fascinating; not exactly classically beautiful, it radiates power. I walked around one in the Hendon museum, and it feels absolutely enormous.
claidheamhmor: (EF-111 in the sunset)
There's this commercial on the radio that is advertising emergency medical rescue by helicopter for the low, low fee of R90 per month.

How incredibly rare is is to be in a situation where you survived an accident or something, but you're hurt badly enough that the small time advantage (if there is one) of getting a helicopter medivac will save your life? Pretty rare, I'd say.

I wonder how many customers that company has...
claidheamhmor: (F-111 in the Sky)
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is currently anchored in Table Bay on a visit to Cape Town. I really wish I could get a close look at it.

Some facts I read about the Theodore Roosevelt though, to put things in perspective:
  • With a crew of well over 5000, the Theodore Roosevelt has more military personnel than the entire South African Navy.
  • With 90 aircraft and helicopters, the Theodore Roosevelt has many times more combat aircraft than the entire South African Air Force. Not only more, but significantly more capable too.
And here we're talking only of the aircraft carrier, not the naval group that wanders around with it.

According to the unofficial Theodore Roosevelt website, the carrier was where the well-known "crewman sucked into jet intake" incident took place.
claidheamhmor: (Adamson)
Accents:
For those non-South Africans who seem to think the South African accent is nice, here's Whackhead's guide on how to speak English wiff a Souf African eksent.


Online dating:
I love reading the dating profiles linked to local news sites. This one, FireLilly84, seems somewhat strange. To start with, she seems to not be very discriminating about what she's looking for - it appears that she's looking for a breathing male. But then, in her narrative description, she has this:
Why should you get to know FireLilly84?
I am a confident, assertive girl looking for the same thing in a man. I'm looking to meet my match in all respects - someone who can stimulate me at every level. I have ten toes on my right foot.
OK, then. I always wanted a girl with ten toes on one foot...


Traffic:
The AAD2008 airshow was held down in Cape Town over this last weekend; too far for me to go, sadly. I hope they move it back to Pretoria soon. Anyway, this marvellous little vehicle was on display there: A Smart car with a gun-mount. Ideal for traffic, I say.




Politics:
So, South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, has resigned. I'm no fan of his - his denialist AIDS policies, ineffectual policy on Zimbabwe, uncaring attitude to domestic issues, tolerance of incompetence, and behind-the-scenes guiding hand have annoyed me. That said, I am uncomfortable with him essentially being removed from office so abruptly. It seems like he's taken it with grace though; I expect he's still be used acting as a roving African diplomat (hey, that's mainly what he's been doing anyway).

On the plus side, there's a good chance certain Cabinet members will leave too - in particular, those incompetents who have done so much damage to South Africa in the fields of telecommunications, health, and energy.

Planes & cars

Thursday, 18 September 2008 16:25
claidheamhmor: (F-111 in the Sky)
Crash tests

Here's a really scary video clip showing crash testing of a VW Beetle and a VW Golf 2. Bear in mind that the Golf 2 was safer than the Golf 1, which is still sold in South Africa in vast numbers under the guise of the Citi Golf. For comparison with more modern cars, browse around in YouTube; the difference in passenger safety between pre-1980s cars and modern cars is quite startling.




Big aircraft
This was interesting: Monstrous Aviation: World's Biggest Airplanes. It's a bit of a varied selection: I see that, among others, the Caspian Sea Monster was missing.

The VM-T "Atlant" impressed me though:

claidheamhmor: (EF-111 in the sunset)
I was reading a couple of nice Time Life books on the Luftwaffe and the RAF during WW2, and that got me on to looking up a whole bunch of things on Wikipedia, thinks like the Victoria Cross (did you know that only one has ever been awarded to a fighter pilot?), and entries on many of the great aviation heroes, such as Johnny Johnson, Pat Pattle, Douglas Bader, Guy Gibson, Leonard Cheshire, Sailor Malan, Hans Ulrich-Rudel (unsurprisingly, he was involved in the design of the A-10 Thunderbolt II), Erich Hartmann, Adolf Galland, Hans-Joachim Marseilles, and many others. They're virtually all dead now, over 63 years later, but it seems strange to know that many were still alive when I was a boy, and nuts about aircraft. My great-uncle Hugh was a Spitfire pilot; I wish I'd got to know him better. I met him for the first time in 1977, when I was on a trip to Windhoek; apparently he was astonished at how much I knew about WW2 aircraft.

I'm amazed at how those men all coped back then; it must have been so hard, getting back into a fighter or bomber each day, knowing that it was not unlikely that they'd not be coming back, and that it was quite probable that some of the comrades wouldn't.

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