Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Liberty University Student’s Work on Restoration Project for D-Day Memorial

     With the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy approaching, students and faculty from the aeronautics program at Liberty University have been working to restore a 1940s Aeronca L-3 “Grasshopper” plane for the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford that will be on display June 6th.
     For several years, New London Airport founder and World War II veteran Rucker Tibbs would clean the aircraft and prepare it to be displayed near the reflection pool at the memorial. After Tibbs’ death in 2015, Bob Howell, chairman of Liberty University’s aviation maintenance technician school and his students stepped in.
     Liberty aeronautics student Matthew Moyer said working on the L-3 will help him in the general aviation field after he graduates.
     “It’s pretty practical experience,” Moyer said. “And it’s nice to work on something that will be on display. I wanted to play a part in getting that plane ready for D-Day.”
     The students will learn about the history of the airplane as well as hone their skills in aircraft maintenance. The goal of this project is to keep the authenticity of the airplane during the restoration, but there will be a small change to paint scheme.
     “The only thing we are going to do differently when we do the paint is put the invasion stripes on it to match it with the Normandy invasion,” Howell said.
     The plane was donated by Morton Lester and has been on display at the National D-Day Memorial for about 12 years. This aircraft is very rare as it is one of only 19 surviving L-3 Grasshoppers, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s aircraft registry.
     The National D-Day Memorial Foundation is very grateful to have the Liberty University’s support with this project and the students are very excited to be a part of the restoration. Everyone looks forward to seeing the finished project on display this year.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

DOAV Partners with Youth Academy for Aviation Career Exploration Day

     It was an honor to have the Upsilon Nu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Inc. Youth Academy at The Virginia Department of Aviation hangar on Saturday, January 26th for the Aviation Career Exploration Day.
     The students and chaperones were able to participate in aviation lesson plans, watch videos that explained aviation history and tour the different education stations set up in the hangar by the DOAV staff. Betty Wilson, Public Relations Manager, provided three different hands-on science lessons about air flow and showed the group how to use an aeronautical chart for flight planning. Aviation Technicians, Jeff Taylor and Greg Gilmour, showed the students various tools and parts of the aircraft so they could better understand how everything works together. They also talked about safety while allowing the students to get a hands-on lesson about maintaining the aircraft. Kim Wells, Public Relations Specialist took photos during the event, provided the guests with a goody bag and also provided educational assistance. Alton Jordon, an Engineer who has his private pilot’s license, demonstrated how drones can be used and explained his engineering role with the airports.  Andrew Crider, Customer Relations Specialist who also has his private pilot’s license, explained how to preflight aircraft and showed them how flight controls work. DOAV Pilot, Greg Dextor spoke about aviation career and airspace and, assisted by Pilot Claiborne Craig, gave the guests a tour of the agency’s airplanes.
     A big thank you to Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady of Virginia Pamela Northam for interacting with the kids and adults to explain the importance of choosing a career you love. We truly appreciate Virginia National Guard for landing their Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk on the ramp and allowing everyone to get inside and learn about military aviation. We were also lucky to have Richmond International Airport (RIC) Fire come by with their firetrucks to do a water demonstration. In addition to the outdoor activities, RIC police brought over a patrol car. The crowd really enjoyed touring the vehicles learning about various careers and how they interact with aviation. We hope to do more events like this in the future! For more photos, visit our Facebook page (@VirginiaDOAV).
Governor Ralph Northam posed with the group in front of the agency's King Air.
Photo taken by Kim Wells

Friday, January 25, 2019

Boeing’s experimental autonomous aircraft first test flight took place in Virginia

     Boeing successfully completed the first test flight yesterday of its autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype in Manassas, Virginia. Boeing NeXt, which leads the company’s urban air mobility efforts, utilized Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to design and develop the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and will continue testing to advance the safety and reliability of on-demand autonomous air transportation. 
The PAV prototype completed controlled takeoff, hover and landing during the flight, which tested the vehicle’s autonomous functions and ground control systems. Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes. This transition phase is typically the most significant engineering challenge for any high-speed VTOL aircraft.
     Powered by an electric propulsion system, the PAV prototype is designed for fully autonomous flight from takeoff to landing, with a range of up to 50 miles (80.47 kilometers). Measuring 30 feet (9.14 meters) long and 28 feet (8.53 meters) wide, its advanced airframe integrates the propulsion and wing systems to achieve efficient hover and forward flight.
     “This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” said John Langford, president and chief executive officer of Aurora Flight Sciences. “Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean and safe urban air mobility possible.”
     The reason Boeing’s efforts here are notable is because, simply put, there are no electric-powered aircraft, or even gas-electric hybrid aircraft, in commercial operation today. Flying requires an incredible amount of energy, and present battery technology just doesn’t offer the power-to-weight ratio needed to achieve liftoff. Most experts predict that it will be years, if not decades, before the technology catches up.
     “Boeing was there when the aviation industry was born and in our second century, we will unlock the potential of the urban air mobility market,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt. “From building air vehicles to airspace integration, we will usher in a future of safe, low-stress mobility in cities and regions around the world.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

 Photo Contest Winners Announced

Congratulations to the 2018 Virginia Aviation Photo Contest winners! Their artwork will be featured in the annual aviation calendar that will be available later this month. This annual photo contest proves that Virginia really is for flying lovers. Each year, a person can submit up to 12 photos that were taken in Virginia and we are very excited to have received such a variety of photos despite all of the rain that fell last year. The contest was broken down into 2 categories and the winners are listed below. The deadline for photo submissions this year is October 14th so keep taking pictures across the Commonwealth of Virginia and submit your photos to be featured in the annual aviation calendar.

Aerial First Place, Chad Weaver
Aerial Second Place, Nancy Lewis
Aerial Third Place, Alexander Peters

Aircraft First Place, Bonnie Jones
Aircraft Second Place, Bonnie Jones
Aircraft Third Place, Nancy Lewis
Aircraft Fourth Place, Alex Hrapunov
Aircraft Fifth Place, Ryan Kelly

Aircraft Sixth Place, Chad Weaver
Aircraft Seventh Place, Nancy Lewis

Aircraft Eighth Place, Alex Hrapunov

Monday, November 26, 2018

NASA's Virginia facility selected as Rocket Lab’s US spaceport

     Rocket Lab confirmed that it will build its first US launch pad for the Electron rocket that will launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, located in Virginia. The launch site will be called Launch Complex 2 since Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 is located in New Zealand.
     The company made its final decision based on time for launch pad development, customizability for the Electron launch vehicle as well as whether it could support 12 launches a year and reach multiple orbital inclinations.
     Launch Complex 2 will be capable of supporting monthly orbital launches and is designed to serve US government and commercial missions. The site brings Rocket Lab’s global launch availability across two launch complexes to more than 130 missions per year.
     Through construction and day-to-day operations, Rocket Lab expects to create around 30 jobs immediately to directly support Launch Complex 2, with this number predicted to increase to approximately 100 as launch frequency increases. The development of Launch Complex 2 will also see Rocket Lab continue to expand Electron rocket production at the company’s headquarters in Huntington Beach, California, to supply complete launch vehicles for government and commercial customers.
     “We are honored to be Rocket Lab’s selection for Launch Complex 2” stated Dale Nash, CEO and Executive Director of Virginia Space. “There is an incredible synergy between Virginia Space and Rocket Lab and we are proud to support their missions launching from U.S. soil.”
Rocket Lab, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and Virginia Space are looking to launch the first Electron from LC-2 at Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) as early as Summer 2019.
      “Rocket Lab’s decision to locate this launch site and integration facility at Wallops Island reflects the Commonwealth’s strategic transportation planning efforts to create a world class, customer-oriented gateway to space,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine.  “The MARS facility is an important part of our multi-modal transportation system that serves as the platform to drive Virginia’s economy forward.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

City of Manassas Wins Governor’s Technology Award

At a conference last week, City of Manassas GIS and Airport staff received the Governor’s Technology Award for their new app,  the Regional Airport Inspection Application. This new application allows the Manassas Regional Airport to perform FAA required runway and airport property inspections electronically on their mobile devices.

The application that staff members Margaret Montgomery, GIS Coordinator, and Richard Allabaugh, Airport Operations, created reduces the need for paper reports and maps, decreases the time to transmit findings to maintenance staff, eliminates the confusion of handwritten notes, and increases the ease in locating archived records and generating maps. This app will also allow for easy archiving and greater ease of access for staff.

“This is no small achievement because the competition was even fiercer than usual,” said Jack Mortimer, Vice President of Events for Government Technology Magazine. “The panel of 12 judges from state, county, city and education faced a difficult challenge but your entry stood out as being clearly praiseworthy. Congratulations!”

The winners were recognized at the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) in Richmond.

Monday, August 27, 2018

‘Wolf Hound’ scenes filmed in Suffolk skies

      The film crew arrived in Suffolk in August to capture aerial footage for the World War II action movie “Wolf Hound,” which is currently in principal photography. Mechanics, pilots and four genuine warplanes from the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach were fueled and ready to take flight so the crew could capture every maneuver.
     Director Michael B. Chait explained that the surrounding Suffolk landscape was ideal for a skirmish in Nazi-occupied France circa 1944. The wooded area as well as the historic aircraft provided the perfect backdrop for the film.
     “Wolf Hound” takes place in the course of a single day in 1944 France. An Allied pilot is escorting a B-17 bomber into Nazi territory and engages a Nazi aircraft. The dogfight cripples both aircraft, and the pilots parachute into the forest below where their cat-and-mouse game continues.
     The museum provided three warbirds for filming earlier this month: a Hawker Hurricane, MK-1XE Supermarine Spitfire and the P-51 Mustang dubbed “Double Trouble Two.” Chief Pilot Mike Spalding flew the P-51 with Maslow in the seat behind him to capture Maslow’s character flying with camera shots of him inside the cockpit.
     Military Aviation Museum Pilot John Mazza, whose call sign is “Pappy”, was flying the Spitfire between 150 to 200 knots for aerial shots of engagement moves. He said he was smiling ear-to-ear in the cockpit. When asked how the plane handled, he quoted the late Geoffrey Wellum, a veteran of the Royal Air Force during World War II who piloted a Spitfire extensively in the Battle of Britain.
    “You can’t fly a Spitfire and forget about it; it stays with you,’” Mazza said inside the Spitfire cockpit, quoting Wellum. “Now I’ll give you a Pappy quote: you haven’t flown until you’ve flown a Spitfire. It’s the most graceful, maneuverable plane.”
     Robert Dickson Jr. who is a caretaker of history, flew a P-51 Mustang he owns with his father called “Swamp Fox.” This plane underwent complete restoration for five years before the Dicksons purchased it in 2012.
     Most of the Military Aviation Museum pilots that flew for the film have been airborne since they were just children and all of them were encouraged by Chait and his crew’s commitment to authenticity.
     The Military Aviation Museum crew was excited to help bring real World War II planes to movie theaters as opposed to CGI. Chait said he used actual warplanes not just for the audience to enjoy the “excitement and awe-inspiring visuals,” but also to give “the most respectful, regal treatment to the actual veterans.”
     “It’s like a tribute and an homage to them in showing the audience what this was for real,” Chait said. “Using the actual aircraft means a lot to me as a filmmaker, just to give people not only an exciting experience but a much more authentic and meaningful one.”