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95 votes
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Were there any planes used in WWII that were able to shoot their own tail?

The Douglas SBD Dauntless's rear gunner could shoot its own tail. The SBD-5 had two 30-cal machine guns that could be popped out of storage in the aft fuselage and locked into a ring frame around the ...
Rob McDonald's user avatar
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35 votes
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What type of aircraft do Tintin and Captain Haddock use on their way to Peru in "The Seven Crystal Balls"?

It bears a distinct resemblance to a Short Sunderland, except that it lacks the gun turrets. The shape of the hull, the fin, the engine configuration, the cockpit, the forward observation window (a ...
DJClayworth's user avatar
  • 4,501
35 votes

Has there ever been a transfer of occupants from one aircraft to another while airborne?

Of course there has! No air bridge involved, however. This picture shows one of several such performances made for movies or at airshows in the 1920s. The earliest I could find was done by Jim Hester ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
32 votes
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Soviet (Eastern bloc) aircraft innovations?

Innovations developed by one side significantly before the other adopted them were not as common. With how long it takes to complete an aerospace program and the espionage capabilities of both sides, ...
fooot's user avatar
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24 votes

Has there ever been a transfer of occupants from one aircraft to another while airborne?

X-1 pilots took off in the mothership B-29 and transferred to the rocket plane in the air. At 12,000 feet Yeager, with Ridley behind him, crawled through the hatch to the unpressurized bomb bay. The ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
20 votes

Has there ever been a transfer of occupants from one aircraft to another while airborne?

The Red Bull plane swap counts - jumping from one plane to another whilst in free-fall. One person was successful, the other plane went out of control and crashed. The FAA wasn't happy about it...
Ben's user avatar
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18 votes

Has there ever been a transfer of occupants from one aircraft to another while airborne?

What came to mind was a few military projects, although this list is not exhaustive. Unfortunately the "easy/safe to couple and decouple" was generally a problem. Also note that you not ...
Eugene Styer's user avatar
  • 3,709
15 votes

First airplane with software?

A RAND report from 1982 suggests that the first digital computer in an aircraft was a fire control system on the F-102, quoting from page 1: "Among the earliest, if not the first, digital ...
Adam Hyland's user avatar
10 votes
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Are there any variable-diameter propellers?

The 1994 NASA report Wind tunnel test of a variable-diameter tiltrotor model documents wind tunnel tests of a 1/6th scale variable-diameter tiltrotor. Fig. 3 on p. 4 (p. 12 of the pdf) shows the ...
Camille Goudeseune's user avatar
8 votes
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RB-77C Destroyer on March 10th, 1964 over Magdeburg

You have the correct date, and an almost correct aircraft designation; it was an RB-66C not a RB-77C: On 10 March 1964, a 19th TRS RB-66C flying on a photo-reconnaissance mission from the Toul-...
Jamiec's user avatar
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8 votes

Has any aircraft in history ever pulled 7g for 15 or more seconds?

Many aircraft are rated for 7Gs or more, and certainly many of them in history have pulled 7Gs for more than 2 seconds. I know this to be a fact because I have personally experienced 7Gs for more ...
Michael Hall's user avatar
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8 votes

When was the word "aerodynamics" first used?

In French, the word appeared in print in 1784 in a journal, Journal de l'Orléanois. In an article, the Société Royale de Physique d'Orléans, created 25 years ago, describes the different branches of ...
mins's user avatar
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7 votes
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What was the first law requiring licensing or certification for pilots?

What was the first law requiring licensing or certification for pilots? Connecticut, a pioneer State for aviation, passed an act on June 8, 1911 to regulate aircraft registration, identification, and ...
mins's user avatar
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6 votes
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Is it correct to say that the expected behaviour at a Fly-by/Fly-over waypoint derives from when there was no GPS, but rather just VOR/DMEs?

The concept of a difference between Fly-By and Fly-Over predates RNAV, GPS, and even VOR/DME. The most basic navigation happens without any navaids at all, and just a map, compass, airspeed, and ...
Ralph J's user avatar
  • 51.8k
6 votes

What happened to the Japanese aviation industry after WW2?

Japan started (continued) building aircraft not long after the war. Kawasaki Helicopters https://global.kawasaki.com/en/mobility/air/helicopters/index.html Mitsubishi engines (these are in the ...
WPNSGuy's user avatar
  • 9,077
6 votes

Which aviation flight computer is Spock using aboard the Enterprise (as a prop)?

It looks just like the ubiquitous E6B.
Michael Hall's user avatar
  • 26.9k
6 votes

When was the word "aerodynamics" first used?

In German, the word Aerodynamik is in print by 1780 in the Deutsche Encyclopädie oder Allgemeines Real-Wörterbuch aller Künste und Wissenschaften vol 3 under the entry for Baumeister (a builder / ...
Party Ark's user avatar
  • 13.6k
5 votes

Advantages of an inverted sesquiplane?

One might be especially fascinated by the airliner design, as the sesquiplane plane structural box was strong, tried and true, and allowed a good place to mount the (more efficient) double propeller. ...
Robert DiGiovanni's user avatar
5 votes
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Advantages of an inverted sesquiplane?

This is a really good question. I have to admit that I am baffled by the few designs which use the inverted sesquiplane layout. Possible advantages I can come up with: You can use the same wing ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Could "Lady Be Good" Incident Prevented by the Technology of its Time?

The issue here is that the HF/DF (High Frequency Direction Finder) at Benina had only a single loop antenna, with a symmetrical gain. This means that a signal from an aircraft at a bearing of 150 ...
Chris's user avatar
  • 16k
5 votes

How did novice pilots hit the Twin Towers?

World Trade Center 1 and 2 were pretty big. That is likely one of the reasons the terrorists chose them as targets. I think the question should be: How could you miss a 60 m by 400 m target? For ...
Anonymous Physicist's user avatar
4 votes

Has any aircraft in history ever pulled 7g for 15 or more seconds?

The "elementary math" in the post you've linked to is completely wrong. The formula they used is only valid if the aircraft is in a level turn with a constant radius of curvature (even then, ...
Chris's user avatar
  • 16k
4 votes

Soviet (Eastern bloc) aircraft innovations?

Yes actually there were some innovative aircraft developed in the East. The Soviets built the ultra long range ANT-25 in the 30s, which flew across the North Pole to the USA non-stop. Check out this ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
4 votes

Lightoff to speak about an engine start

It's one of those quirks of the English language. From the Cambridge dictionary - use of "off" to start a process: "To begin by doing something, or to make something begin by doing ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
3 votes

Have two similarly sized aircraft ever hard-docked with each other while in flight?

If you define aviation to include space craft then yes, the Lunar Module and Command Module of the Apollo era routinely hard docked with each other in flight. There was also the Apollo Soyuz docking ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
3 votes

Have two similarly sized aircraft ever hard-docked with each other while in flight?

There was a case when one F-4 have been used to push mechanically another F-4 that was damaged and out of fuel, hence providing thrust (Pardo's push). The damaged F-4 was "powered off" in ...
h22's user avatar
  • 12.1k
3 votes

Origins and Efficiency of the Phonetic Alphabet in Aviation

In 1944 english was chosen as the universal aviation language to simplify communications in the sky. Since not everyone is a native english speaker you have issues of accents when using a common ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
2 votes

Which individual airframe has carried the most passengers in its lifetime?

Japan has very high demand for short distance flights. At least according to Wikipedia, JAL had two 747-100BSR-SUD aircraft with 563 seats. Google Image Search shows numbers JA8170 and JA8187. They ...
Anonymous Physicist's user avatar

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