High Flying Monday


The last three flightworthy WB-57 airplanes in existence arrayed themselves on a runway near Johnson Space Center in Houston this past week, as if they were dinosaurs brought to life. The long-winged aircraft look something like prehistoric creatures, too, measuring just a stubby 21 meters long compared to an overly broad 37.5-meter wingspan. It had been four decades since as many as three of the great, superannuated birds soared together.

But then they did. One by one, the WB-57s slowly rolled down the runway at Ellington Airport and then began a slow climb upward into resplendent clear, blue skies. They flew again, thanks to a restoration program by NASA to bring a third WB-57 back from its boneyard. “It’s quite a day,” Charlie Mallini, who manages the WB-57 program for NASA, told Ars.

Since 1972 NASA has flown WB-57s as part of a broad ranging science mission. Recently two of the aircraft flew high above hurricanes Joaquin and Patricia, major storms in the eastern Pacific Ocean. They have also flown missions as varied as collecting cosmic dust samples from comets and asteroids in Earth’s upper atmosphere, investigating clouds and studying the environmental effect of plumes from the Titan, Space Shuttle, Delta, Atlas and Athena rockets on the stratosphere.

The B-57 line of aircraft dates back to 1944, when the English Electric Company began developing the plane. After the Royal Air Force showcased the B-57 in 1951 by crossing the Atlantic in a record 4 hours and 40 minutes, and becoming the first jet-powered aircraft to span the Atlantic without refuelling, the United States Air Force began buying them to replace its aging Douglas B-26 Invader.



About Den

Always in search of interesting things to post. Armed with knowledge and dangerous with the ladies.
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11 Responses to High Flying Monday

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Yetch. Morning.


  2. Den says:

    Pain morning, ouch.


  3. Den says:

    Not very fuel efficient:


  4. David B. Benson says:

    In the rain, 54 minutes to the hospital for a colonoscopy and now 19 minutes back down Bishop Blvd to the Birch & Barley for at least a porter and a small bowl of soup.


  5. Den says:

    I dislike colonoscopies since I had to stay awake through one, most uncomfortable.
    Hopefully yours was successful at finding nothing abnormal, mine found a 30mm polyp that was blocking the colon like a check valve back in 2002, snipped it off and digestives went back to normal.
    Hint: next time it is pouring rain and you need to walk 54 minutes in it, take a cab.


    • David B. Benson says:

      Something similar for mine.

      Don’t mind walking in the rain; I have plenty of protective clothing for much stronger rains than ordinarily happen here. But there was the day two summers ago I was caught out in a thunderstorm. Didn’t get wet above the lower thighs.


  6. Den says:

    Time to pack up again. I am tired of this, I need a solution sooner rather than later.
    BIG PHARMA still rattling my bones, I’m in no condition to move, it’s gonna suck.

    Lookout LLamas!


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