Category Archives: What Wheels?

Space and aviation

Airplane Flies Through Tunnel at 150 MPH

Red Bull is all about the stunts. The crazier, the better. For their next trick, pilot Dario Costa flew his Zivko Edge 540 through not one, but two Turkish tunnels at 150 mph, reports Aero News Network.

I look forward to seeing the full video, but this teaser shows us just how fast and narrow this flight was. This is the sort of insanity I try in Flight Simulator X Steam Edition, not in real life.

Starlink Satellites To Get Freaking Laser Beams Attached To Their Heads

Don’t worry, Dr. Evil hasn’t taken over SpaceX (although some do compare Elon Musk to a James Bond supervillain). Space reports that the pause in Starlink satellite launches since June is not because of some bumbling villain’s irrational order, but because new satellites will now have laser communication devices between them. By talking amongst themselves, Starlink won’t need to rely on ground bases as much to connect satellites to the internet. If a satellite can’t reach a ground station directly, it can beam data by laser to another satellite that can, keeping the entire network connected. We’re living in the future.

Cessna Hits Errant Police Drone

Two weeks ago, a Cessna 172 making a routine approach to Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport in Ontario, Canada, collided with a police drone operating in the area, reports Jalopnik.

Despite being a student pilot under the watchful eye of an instructor, it appears that it was the police who were in the wrong here. Drones may not fly within three nautical miles of an airport, or above 400 feet anywhere, without special authorization. This drone was struck one mile out from the airport at 500 feet altitude. You’d think law enforcement would actually follow the law.

It’s a good thing the drone struck the Cessna’s body. A few feet lower and it could’ve gone right through the windshield, with disastrous consequences.

You Can’t Autocross a Cessna

I have fond memories of many autocrosses on the runways of the old Fort Devens. I grew up nearby, and used to dream of taking a car out there and tearing around. In that way, I got to live a childhood dream.

A Cessna 152, however, can’t turn on a dime the way my Mazda Miata could. An unfortunate student pilot in Hollywood, Florida, learned this the hard way when she tried to exit the runway after landing but took the turn too fast, leaving the runway and smacking a taxiway sign. General Aviation News has the story. (Thanks to Airforceproud95 for the appropriate image.)

Happy 100th, Gene Roddenberry

The creator of Star Trek was born on August 19, 1921. Today would be his 100th birthday. Though he never went to space himself, he created a universe that would inspire many who actually did. In fact, in the 1970s NASA recruited Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura, to recruit new astronauts, particularly women and people of color.

Science fiction became science fact when the first Space Shuttle was named Enterprise after a massive letter writing campaign convinced NASA to do it. The cast of the original series, as well as Roddenberry himself, were on hand at the public unveiling, featured as today’s NASA Image of the Day. Although Enterprise also never flew into space, it was an extremely important proof of the Space Shuttle concept, particularly its ability to land like an airplane. (Later, the Space Shuttle Enterprise would appear on a display on the Starship Enterprise of previous ships of that name in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. How meta is that?)

Teenage Woman To Attempt a Flight Around the World

Nineteen-year-old Zara Rutherford takes off from Kortrijk, Belgium tomorrow to begin a solo flight around the world, which would make her by far the youngest woman to ever do this. The current record holder for this feat is an elderly 30 years old. She’ll be flying a Shark, which will also make her the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe in a microlight aircraft.

Read all about it at General Aviation News, and follow her progress on TikTok and her website.

Oregon Fires Need Eyes In the Sky

The Pacific Northwest seems to have joined northern California in that it is consistently on fire these days. According to AOPA, the authorities are asking civilian pilots to help them spot and monitor these wildfires from the air.

Col. Paul Ehrhardt with the Benton County Oregon Sheriff’s Office Air Search and Rescue department has asked pilots flying over Oregon to watch for any fires on the ground and report them to authorities upon landing. “This will go a long way in getting fires spotted and stopped before they grow too big to stop,” Ehrhardt wrote to AOPA.

In an emergency, authorities and emergency services need all the help they can get. In this case, as many literal eyes in the sky as possible will help them keep tabs on the firefight, monitor their progress, and redeploy fire crews as needed.

What If Tunguska Happened Today?

The Perseid meteor shower is peaking right now, so go outside tonight and look up to see them. While you’re at it, consider what would happen if a 200-foot diameter meteor exploded three to six miles above the ground. That’s exactly what happened in a (fortunately) uninhabited part of Russia on June 30, 1908. Real Life Lore ponders how such an event would affect the world of 2021.

The explosion was as powerful as 3–30 megatons of TNT. For comparison, the Castle Bravo explosion, the most powerful known US nuclear test, was 15 megatons. If such a meteorite struck the same area again today, the result would be surprisingly similar. It’s still uninhabited, and while it would still flatten 80 million trees, it would have little additional effect. If such a meteorite struck New York City, however, civilization as we know it would be permanently changed.