Catalina Air Show, October 2016

How cool! Another air show at Catalina Island!  Check out www.catalinaairshow.com for details and some great pics of the 2014 event.

This is an interesting show because there is no admission charge. They rely completely on company sponsorship.  Arrive in your boat or plane, or take the water taxi to Avalon.  If you really want to get there quick, take a Helicopter from Long Beach!  Long Beach has several boat launch ramps and they charge only $12/day.

P51 Mustang flying over Avalon harbor

Grumman Albatross at Avalon Harbor

A Grumman Albatross bobbing in the waves at Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island. (image via Catalina Air Show)

Solar Impulse – flying around the world on solar power only

This is very cool.  It’s an aviation first and hopefully will pave the way for more electric powered flight.  The flight started from Abu Dhabi and will circumnavigate the globe, ending in Abu Dhabi once again. As I write this, this leg of the flight is a very long stretch over open water, so very little margin for error.  Takeoff was June 20th in Japan (after being stuck there for weeks due to weather) and will land in Hawaii 5 days later.  The aircraft uses 26kw of power during the day, with 25kw additional power being used to charge the batteries.  At night, the aircraft cruises on batteries until the sun comes up again.

You can watch this LIVE – click here.  The cockpit video is really neat, and the “widgets” on the right hand side let you take a close (and live) look at everything from the state of the battery charge, to the state of the pilot’s “emotional charge” :-)

Here is what the “energy” widget shows right now:

image

Real life hoverboard

Catalin Alexandru Duru has set a Guinness World Record for farthest flight by hoverboard!

Catalin needed to travel a minimum of 164 feet airborne to break the record — and in the end, he smashed it easily, travelling 905 feet and two inches at a height of around 16 feet at Lake Ouareau in Quebec, Canada.  The hoverboard was built over a one year period and is apparently very stable to ride.

Biplane with a Jet engine strapped on? YEA!!

Acrobatics pilot Jeff Boerboon flys a modified Waco biplane for Jack Link’s flying team (Jack Link’s of the always ready-to-eat beef jerky).  What makes this particular plane so unique is the addition of a Learjet engine attached below the traditional engine and propeller.

A replica of a 1929 Taperwing biplane, the Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch was built from the ground up by pilot and mechanic Dell Coller for stunt flying.

Jeff Boerboon

Coller says that when they first fired up the Sasquatch’s jet engine while the plane was on the tarmac, it burned a hole right in the pavement. “We’ve since learned to start it up only on concrete,” said Coller. They can also take off with just the prop engine and turn on the jet while in flight.

That engine, by the way, doesn’t just look cool, it literally supercharges the biplane. Without the jet engine, the plane’s propeller has about 1,500 lbs. of thrust. With the jet engine, it has 4,000 lbs. On prop power, the plane can fly roughly 110 miles per hour. With the jet on, it can do 250 mph.

That extra equipment gives the Screamin’ Sasquatch special capabilities. For example, it can fly up and then use the jet engine to almost hover in the air (with the nose pointed up) and then, jet off even higher. Coller told me. It’s a feat “the rest of them wish they could do,” he said.

Plane over Jones Beach

Cloud backup for files on your PC, or even for your business server! 5G free!

There are many backup solutions out there, but I ran across this one which has a really great feature set and is about half the price of services like Carbonite!  I figured I’d share this with you.  Click on the iDrive banner below, then when you sign up, it will ask you to confirm that “CappsNet” referred you – say yes, and you’ll get a 25% discount on your first year of service! (you are welcome)  If you want to “kick the tires”, sign up for a free 5G backup account to try it out, and if you like it, you can seamlessly upgrade at a later date.

IDrive Remote Backup

Tank’s Eye View – RCAF Snowbirds air demonstration team

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds air demonstration team has taken remote camera video to a new level with their “Tank Cam.” The team, officially 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, has mounted a gimbaled, remote-controlled Plexiglas protected camera to the back of the small external centerline fuel tank on the team lead’s aircraft. This provides some really cool shots of formation flying.

US regulations – regulating us into the 3rd world? We are behind in UAV race.

Lack of regulations could leave the U.S. behind in commercial UAV race
BI Intelligence estimates potential for $100 billion in global expenditures on unmanned aerial vehicles in the next decade, as commercial uses skyrocket. Meanwhile, uncertainty over U.S. regulation of UAVs has pushed investment and innovation to other countries, according to Patrick Thevoz, co-founder and CEO of Swiss-based Flyability. Reuters (3/8)

Here in the “land of opportunity”, it seems that opportunity fades with time.  We now have too many regulations; some governmental, and some imposed by nervous insurance companies.  The result is that innovation and testing is being done overseas.  That’s the only way to actually make progress.  Many products don’t even progress beyond the idea phase because development and testing would be impossible here.  That leaves innovation to other teams in other countries for the most part, except in the case of large companies who can finance a division outside the US stranglehold.

UAVs are not the only product where we’re slipping behind.  Flying cars and motorcycles are being toyed with here to some degree, but in other countries products are being developed in earnest.  This extends to other industries also.  Drugs is another good example.  The FDA is so slow and cumbersome that many people die each year here because medication that could help them is not approved.  Most don’t have the wherewithal to relocate to another country where such treatment is available.

Unless something is done about this growing problem, we are going to regulate ourselves into the 3rd world as far as the rest of the globe is concerned.  Once you get behind, it’s awfully hard to play catch-up, and the rest of the advanced nations show no inclination to slow their research and development.

Why have peanut allergy cases tripled in the last 10 years?

More than 3 million Americans now have some kind of nut allergy, with cases of peanut allergy in children more than tripling between 1997 and 2008, according to a report released in May 2010.  Other food allergies have risen also, and nobody is certain exactly what is behind this spike.

Here’s one theory that makes a lot of sense to me (from livescience.com):

In general, those with food allergies have extra-sensitive immune systems that react to harmless substances called allergens found in certain foods and drinks. When the person eats a peanut or other allergic item, the body produces antibodies to the specific allergen, leading to an immune reaction. Essentially, the body tries to get rid of the allergens.

One idea for the cause called the hygiene hypothesis posits we’re too clean. Squeaky-clean living and the use of medications to prevent and quickly treat infections leaves the immune system under-stimulated. This “bored” immune system then goes and attacks harmless proteins like those in foods, pollens and animal dander.

Hmm – interesting.  For a long time, it’s seemed like generally a bad idea to be so germ-phobic, grabbing for the hand sanitizer over and over for no really good reason.  My gut feeling was that our immune systems need to be exercised in order to be kept “in shape”, much like one would exercise a muscle.  It didn’t occur to me that the immune system would start to concentrate on smaller and smaller “threats” if deprived of real bacteriological issues to deal with.  Either way, while sanitation and personal hygiene are very good things, we need to draw the line and stop being phobic about it.