Monday, March 14, 2022

What’s Up by LeRoy Cook


Sheer Russian Stupidity 

Now that the switch to no-daylight-saving time has occurred, it appears that the weather is turning decidedly more spring-like. The previous week was mostly spent hunkering down and talking about flying, rather than indulging in it. Other than for some UH-60 Army Guard helicopter traffic, few aircraft came by. Local airplanes that were rolled out included the Cessna Skyhawk, flown by Eric Eastland, and a Cessna 150, taken up by Patrick and Les Gorden on an instructional flight. 

Thurday night’s 6 to 8-inch snowfall had to be dealt with, as the wet stuff was too heavy for little airplane tires to negotiate. Once again, the City street crews made short work of cleaning the access areas at the airport, despite having to assist some idiot (that would be me) who had gotten his car stuck while making an assessment of the accumulation. The sun finished the cleanup by Saturday afternoon.

The Antonov Design Bureau in Ukraine has long been a builder of big airplanes for Eastern Bloc countries, when the country was part of the former Soviet Union. Its most notable project was creating the AN-225 Mriya, the world’s heaviest airplane with a takeoff weight of over 1,400,000 pounds (a Boeing 747, by comparison, weighs about 850,000 pounds.) The big beast was built for the Russian space program, to carry a Soviet space shuttle piggyback like NASA had done; the “Shuttleski” never got of the ground, after the USSR collapsed in 1991. The one-and-only six-engine AN-225 was turned into a civilian cargo hauler and has been operating worldwide as the sole airplane capable of taking on outsize freight jobs.

Unfortunately, the AN-225 was between assignments at its home base when Vladimir Putin decided to make war on Ukraine, and the airfield and hangar was shelled in a Russian attack. The “Dream,” as the Mriya translates, now lies as a broken, burned-out shell in its hangar. No longer will it be a tramp steamer of the skies, carrying cargo no one else could accommodate. Its hulk has become a monument to mankind’s stupidity during wartime, posing no threat but caught up in the “collateral damage.”

In concert with the inflation that’s now gripping our nation, aviation gasoline is currently $5.75 a gallon at our local pump, and no doubt headed higher. There will no doubt be less flying done, although all other means of transportation are going to be more expensive as well. We may as well get used to it.

Our weekly brain-teaser concerned the two Wright Brothers, inventors of the airplane, specifically how to tell Orville from Wilbur when seen in a photograph. It’s simple; Orville’s the one with the mustache, Wilbur was cleanshaven. All righty, for next week, tell us why the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” had silver-colored maingear tires.  Send your replies to kochhaus1@gmail.com


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