Tag Archives: aviation

Follow flights on your smartphone

This is a neat side-effect of a new aircraft-to-aircraft airspace separation and aircrew situational awareness system (“ADS-B”, short for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) that’s being deployed throughout the fleet of U.S. aircraft: How planefinder works. From your smartphone, you can track the progress of any suitably equipped plane while it’s in flight.

ADS-B will provide continuously updated air traffic and weather information to pilots. The FAA has mandated that ADS-B transceivers be installed on most aircraft before 2020. The existing ground-based radar system will become a backup to ADS-B. Here’s the FAA’s description of ADS-B:

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is FAA’s satellite-based successor to radar. ADS-B makes use of GPS technology to determine and share precise aircraft location information, and streams additional flight information to the cockpits of properly equipped aircraft.

ADS-B system illutration: www.propilotmag.com
ADS-B system
illustration: http://www.propilotmag.com

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Fort Lauderdale Air Show 2013 Surprise

Last weekend, Fort Lauderdale hosted its annual air show. I found this well-produced brief video clip which includes a surprise ending.

I guess that two videos were merged using a video editor such as Adobe Premier. I’ve never attempted this sort of editing. Have you? Any idea how this video clip was created?

Fly like a high-speed Peter Pan

This is a long way from simple parachute jumping. Just the scramble up the mountain would be a challenge.

Click to stream or download video

But is climbing enough entertainment for these adrenalin junkies? Noooo. Sky diving doesn’t interest me, but this video clip adds another dimension and looks like great fun, with no margin for error. Otherwise, these Peter Pans will sing, I can fly. I can fly. I can . . . Splat!

Mandatory computer content: the wingsuit manufacturer employs a CAD/CAM system.

The Eagle has landed.

photo: NASA

How powerful was Apollo 11’s on-board computer?

You’ll be amazed to learn just how little computing power was aboard Apollo 11.

The first lunar explorer has died at age 82. When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon’s surface in 1969, he answered the question that was posed by e.e. cummings in a favorite poem:

Who knows if the moon’s a balloon,
coming out of a keen city in the sky,
filled with pretty people?


Neil stumbled slightly when speaking the words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” I don’t blame him. The whole world was watching. Stage fright’s tough just on the local school’s stage. It must have been paralyzing on the moon.

I’m glad that NASA chose such a capable yet modest, dignified man for the role of first man on the moon. Mr. Armstrong made us all proud.

“Armstrong, probably the only man for whom the 20th century will be remembered 50,000 years from now”

– J. G. Ballard

Have a safe journey, Neil.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Augmentum absurdum in aerea machinas

World's Biggest Aircraft article
Russian Ka-7, early 1930s
Absurdly large aircraft: Megalomania in the skies

Let us get the context issue out of the way: this article has nothing to do with computers. It does very much concern technology run riot.

In Monstrous Aviation: World’s Biggest Airplanes, Avi Abrams pulls together a fascinating assortment of photographs and drawings of airborne giants, some only imagined, but most real flying machines. (It’s debatable whether the one mile long 70 foot high flight of Howard Hughes’ Hercules Spruce Goose could be called flying.) The article is in three parts.

Most of the images — and numbers (weight, length, lift capacity) — are amazing. Be sure to catch the last part of the article (apparently written two years after the first part). In fact, check out Avi’s other Odd Airplanes.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

US agencies catch SOME counterfeit network gear

Photo by Eunice WinG
Sheesh! What’s "genuine"?

The US FBI recently announced that it has seized over $100 million in counterfeit (mostly Cisco) network hardware. The source? China. One bad guy tried to sell counterfeit network gear to the US Defense Department for use in Iraq. 30 people have been convicted. (Their sentences seem lenient.)

The big question is, did the bogus network gear’s software contain undocumented backdoors that would allow bad guys to take control, once the gear was installed in networks? Note that the counterfeiters have copied products by well-respected manufacturers such as Cisco, just as they try to copy Rolex watches and Gucci handbags.

Some of this junk is sold on eBay. (I bought cellphone accessories on eBay that proved to be Samsung counterfeits. They performed poorly.) Cisco gear is so widely counterfeited in China that there’s a word for it: Chisco. Handbag and wristwatch counterfeits are one thing; the installation of low-quality components with possible backdoors into mission-critical networks is quite another.

My friends in the auto repair industry tell me that counterfeit and sub-standard parts are a major problem in their industry. Some China-based vendors (such as Meyle) masquerade as Germany-based vendors. Most of their products look substantially the same as the original, but they perform poorly and/or fail prematurely. Other scams include parts that look like Mercedes-Benz branded parts, presumably sourced through their distribution channel, but are counterfeit junk.

I wonder if we’ll need to add traceability to consumer- and commercial-grade computing equipment? Traceability has long been important in defense and aviation markets — and is a major reason for the high prices typical of those markets. What’s involved in product tracking  Once again, crime can be viewed as a tax on the average person.

More reading:

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