Picturing aircraft facing the natural elements can be a difficult task. Photos taken midair of a Jumbo facing stormy clouds are very rare for obvious reasons. Taking a shot of an airliner with nearby weather close to the ground has its own challenges (rain, lightning, strong winds, ...). So I was rather happy, and lucky, to be able to capture this Boeing 747 as it was approaching Luxembourg airport with the clouds hanging as a threat in the background. The contrast of the grace of the aircraft's wings and the towering clouds is accentuated by the use of black and white imagery.
The Queen of the Skies, aka Boeing 747, at its best. Wings spread, she is ready to go flying.
Choosing black and white for this picture, I wanted to show only the essentials: weather, airplane and runway... and the timeless elegance of this beautiful machine.
The 737 has been a true bestseller for its manufacturer Boeing, selling at more than 10.000 units. Optically, the 737 embodies what every kid believes an airplane should look like. And yet, it has evolved quite a a bit over its 50 years history. The elegant wingspan with the large wingtips at its ends and the relatively big engines give away the newer -700 version while the nose section remains unmistakably "old school".
If you are an aviation enthusiast, a stroll around Lake Hood in Alaska is a must. Even more so if you happen to be there on a gorgeous fall day, when the leaves have already turned into countless shades of yellow, orange and red, the sky presents most different kinds of blue and the mountain tops are covered in white snow.This Beaver here sits calmly on the quiet water longing to be taken to the sky.
When airplanes are not needed anymore for their intended purpose, they are being withdrawn from service. What happens with them afterwards varies enormously. In the best of cases they find a new owner and keep flying; in the worst case they are being gutted for useful pieces and then scrapped. Between those two extremes, anything can happen.
The bird on the photo is at a crossroads of its career. Placed in a junkyard, will it end as a metal can or be restored to its former beauty?
Early version of the famous North American P-51 Mustang. This one is an -A model and unlike the more well known -C and -D versions, the early Mustang was driven by an Allison engine (instead of the later RR Merlin), featured a 3-bladed propeller and presented the more heavily framed canopy.Typically considered as an American product that helped escort, and hence save, hundreds of bomber crews on their immensely dangerous missions over Nazi Germany, the Mustang was actually kick-started by a British request for a fighter and, ironically enough, a German engineer by the name of Edgar Schmued, was one of the leading designers of the aircraft.
Flying a Jumbo around the world can be challenging. It is often beautiful. And sometimes it is both at the same time. Like that day in Anchorage when you operate in arctic conditions and witness a most gorgeous sunrise. The colleagues from Cathay Pacific are several minutes ahead of us, leaving a cloud of fresh snow powder behind as they taxi off for departure.
This is what a Hawker Typhoon could look like in flight, if it was still flying.
The "Tiffy", as it was also called, was designed to replace the very successful Hawker Hurricane and as a fighter aircraft. After a difficult start it eventually developed into a very capable ground attack aircraft and was extensively used by the RAF during the latter stages of the Second World War. It was paramount in paving the way for the Allied troops after D-Day, by eliminating huge numbers of enemy tanks, artillery and supporting equipment and thus saving the lives of Allied soldiers as they moved to free Europe from the Nazi rule.
666 Tiffy pilots paid the ultimate price for their actions. And while more than 3.300 Typhoons were built, not a single one was maintained in flying condition.
This aircraft is the living proof that the devil can come in the most beautiful disguise. Its intended purpose of delivering deadly loads, fully undetected, to its designated target make the B-2 Spirit a fearsome weapon. The beauty of its lines and the elegance with which it soars through the air however cannot be denied.
The "Spirit" is a so-called "flying wing" design. Such a design offers maximum lift and minimum drag and thus great fuel economy. And while the advantages are well known, controllability of these aircraft has always been an issue and so far no design could yet be produced that would allow for the transport of passengers, which is why flying wings are almost exclusively used militarily. The first registered flight of a flying wing has been achieved as early as 1926 by the Russian Chyeranovskii BICh-3, followed in the 1930s and early 1940s by the successful Horten family of flying wings in Germany. The first one to make it past the prototype stage was the pictured Northrop B-2.
Called the "Komet", the Me-163 truly was one of a kind. Built as an interceptor, it was propelled by a rocket engine which made it reach speeds beyond 1000 km/h. This was only short-lived though as the rocket engine would run out of gas within a couple of minutes, effectively turning the Komet into a glider. The plan was to have it in the air long enough to intercept a couple of bombers before returning to the ground in one piece, be refueled and do the same again. In practice though the Me.-163 didn't pay off. Lack of fuel in the late stages of the Second World War, its difficult handling and virtual helplessness in the air once the engine was quiet, made the Germans look for alternatives to intercept the increasing number of Allied bombers over Germany.
Engineering wise, the Me-163 Komet was a little marvel though and its speed records would only be surpassed years later by the Bell X-1, the first (officially recorded) airplane to reach supersonic speed.
A face of the Cold War.
Easily recognisable by its huge Delta wing, the Avro Vulcan was the backbone of the RAF's nuclear deterrent force from the late 1950s well into the 1970s. Along with the Vickers Valiant and the Handley Page Victor, it constituted the so-called V bomber strategic bomber Force.
Luckily the Vulcan was never actively to be used in the nuclear role and the only real combat it saw, took place in 1982 during the Falklands War. In order to bomb targets on the Falkland islands, off the South Coast of Argentina, the Vulcans would fly non-stop from the remote island of Ascension, in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean and back, in 16 hours.
By 1984 all the Vulcans were retired, except for one example that was kept airworthy until 2015, mainly for promotional purposes.
The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Cargolux. The company has come a long way during that period and so has aviation. The evolution of both is represented in this picture which shows Cargolux's newest aircraft, the modern Boeing 747-8, and the Canadair CL-44, mirroring the past when, in 1970, it became the company's very first workhorse.