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Airbus A380
Darling to $50BB Disaster in a Decade

The Boeing-747 has dominated the large-aircraft market since its inception in 1970, four years before the first Airbus product (the A300) took to the skies. It took almost two decades for Airbus to begin investigating how to crack Boeing's monopoly. In the early 1990s, Boeing and Airbus conducted independent feasibility studies of the very large commercial transport (VLCT) or ultra-high capacity airliner (UHCA), as each referred to this specific market.

The results could not have been more different. Boeing saw the airline market already straying from the "hub-and-spoke" network that valued large numbers of large aircraft to connect hubs, instead focusing on aircraft to fill more non-stop routes (namely the 777). Airbus was confident there was an opportunity to build a plane 15% more efficient than the 747 and to take an ever-increasing market share away from Boeing. The two companies came to one similar conclusion: the development cost of creating a comparable aircraft to the 747 "Queen of the Skies" would be astronomical, Airbus estimated $12 billion, Boeing $15 billion.

Initial A3XX designs, as the A380 was originally designated, included such 'innovative' ideas as having side-by-side fuselages (instead of the double-decker approach) and the inclusion of restaurants, casinos, beauty parlors, and gyms onboard the gargantuan aircraft.

In 2000, the A380 project was officially launched with an estimated development cost of approximately $12.5 billion. Airbus stopped publishing estimated development costs in 2006, but experts estimated in 2016 that the cost had grown to $25-30 billion. The rise in development cost, and multiple years of delays, stemmed from many sources. In particular, logistic issues arising from transporting massive subassemblies from all over Europe (indeed, the world), required specialized land and water transportation and the creation of custom jigs to secure the precious hardware. Another trouble spot was the 330 miles worth of cabling on the aircraft. In addition to the expected complexity, Airbus made serious unforced errors. The most famous example of these faux pas is that different Airbus facilities were using different versions of a Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) package, known as CATIA, which were not congruent. As the problems grew, Airbus was forced to focus on the passenger variant of the aircraft which put the freighter variant on the back-burner. This decision motivated UPS and FedEx to cancel their orders. Work on the A380 Freighter is suspended with no expected service date, but it remains on offer.

Other airlines also began to question their orders and, in 2006, the announcement of another delay caused the share price of EADS, Airbus' parent company, to drop 26%. This loss led to a shakeup of the executive team and further delays. Back in 2014, Airbus CFO Harald Wilhelm hinted of a 2018 termination of the program, causing stock prices to drop again. Airbus leans on its sales of its other aircraft to maintain jobs created by the A380 program. Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier, in attempting to defend the program recently stated that "it was almost certainly introduced ten years too early." Airbus is trying to stick by its 20-year forecast which estimates a demand for 1400 large aircraft. Airbus has also admitted the $25 billion production cost will never be recouped.

Boeing estimates the market demand so low it expects Airbus to struggle to deliver the last 100 of its 315 firm orders. Independent estimates anticipate the final delivery of A380s in 2020 and point to "shoddy market analysis, nationalism, and simple wishful thinking" for its struggles. Quite clearly, the battle for airliner market-share is centered on single-aisle and two-engine wide-body aircraft. As United Airlines said, the A380 "just doesn't really work for us" because travelers prefer more choices (more frequent flights) and that can be offered at lower trip costs using other airplanes.

The current list price of the A380 is $432 million (more than 50% higher than most B777s). With that price tag comes an estimated hourly cost of $50 per seat hour which fails to improve on the A350 or B-777. This list price also factors into why Airbus is struggling to sell the aircraft and why current customers are terminating rather than renewing their leases. The weakness of a secondary market for the A380 has led to speculation of scrapping relatively new jets or attempting to convert them for the business jet market (could you imagine!).

Despite its struggles, the A380 has had a significant impact on the aviation industry. The four-engine jet has 40% more usable floor space than the next largest commercial airliner and can carry up to 853 people over 8,500 nautical miles (i.e. Hong Kong to New York) at 0.85 Mach. The plane is so big that an optimal design for its weight is too wide for current airports. Instead, the wings are designed to fit within airports. The plane's fuel efficiency and operating costs suffer because of this. That being said, aided by composite materials, the plane is 20% more fuel efficient than the 747-400. Its size has caused other problems, as well. ICAO was forced to declare a new designation of aircraft, the "super" A380 creates much more wake turbulence than "heavy" aircraft. This new designation lead both to higher separation requirements with air traffic control and to the A380s nickname, the Superjumbo.

The A380 faces a long, uphill battle as the future of aircraft with more than two engines is bleak. Emirates, which bought nearly half of the A380s sold to date, just announced a purchase of 40 B-787s at cost of $15 billion.

The novelty of the massive jet and its distinct profile will always have its own chapter in the history of aviation but at what a cost!
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12/2/17
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Boeing 787 Dreamliner
In the late 1990s, the Boeing Company began to research possible replacements for their aging wide-body aircraft, namely the 747 and 767. Whatever design Boeing came up with would replace the "Queen of the Skies" needing its own auspicious nickname.
The Boeing-787 "Dreamliner" was announced to the world on January 29, 2003. The optimistic plan called for a revolutionary wide-body, twin-engine jet. The Dreamliner was designed to improve everything from profit margin to fuel efficiency to passenger comfort. A 20% increase in efficiency was expected over the 767 due to the combination of improved aerodynamics, more efficient engines, and lighter materials. The weight savings would come predominantly from the use of composite materials which make up 80% by volume and 50% of the weight of the plane.
Have you ever wondered why the wings of a 787 bend so much? It's because the wing is constructed of carbon fiber that stretches more than conventional titanium and aluminum. Additionally, the wing's high aspect ratio of 11, magnifies this effect. In flight you will feel less shaking due to turbulence and wind gusts, because the wing will dampen load changes more effectively.
The 787 Dreamliner wide-body, twin-engine design and capacity of 335 passengers, versus a four engine 500-plus seat 747 replacement was a huge risk and fundamental decision for Boeing as it involved ceding the large end of the commercial airliner market to the new A-380. The A-380, developed at the same time as the 787 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine super-jumbo airliner manufactured by European consortium, Airbus.
Boeing's position was that the future of intercontinental air travel would be greatly enhanced by avoiding major hubs and moving to direct point-to-point route structures, a radical idea in 1990's. This has proven to be the correct decision as the production of the A-380 Supper-Jumbo is now less than one-per month while 787 production rate is 14-units per month. By July 2017, 565 787's have been delivered, versus 216 A-380's. The Dreamliner will play an important role in shaping the structure of tomorrow's air travel networks but not without its own set of troubles.
Let's say the "dream" has had plenty of nightmares. Another key decision in the development of the 787, a first and probably last for Boeing, was to outsource the manufacturing of virtually every component with Boeing doing the final assembly. Although it was supposed to enter service in May 2008, a wide range of obstacles, primarily supply chain issues and union strikes, resulting from out-sourcing, prevented the 787 from operating a revenue flight until October 26, 2011. The plane fell so far behind that airlines began to seek compensation from Boeing. Boeing went so far as to buy some of their suppliers and make concessions regarding the design's weight to get final assembly going. When the planes finally did role off the line, they were 8% overweight which restricted their range by 15%.
The problems didn't stop once the plane was airborne. A rash of fires caused by faulty wiring and lithium-ion batteries caused the FAA to ground the entire 787 fleet in January 2013. It was the first time the FAA grounded an airliner in over 30-years. The FAA reinstated the 787 in April 2013 but the plane already had a reputation of bad batteries and leaky fuel tanks. The NTSB later tried to ground a portion of the fleet due to GE engine failures.
It is estimated that by the end of this year, the 787 will have enabled 39 airlines to open 163 new routes (983 routes overall) with an average stage length of over 2,800 nautical miles. With a program cost of $32 billion and a development cost of at least $20 billion, the plane continues to be a fiscal loss for Boeing. At one point in 2013, it was estimated the 787 would be profitable after 1,100 units sold. Another estimate claims Boeing is losing $30-45 million per unit. The accumulated losses totaled almost $27 billion by May 2015. The company hoped to break-even per plane by the end of 2015 and make an average profit of more than $35 million per plane for the next 900 units. Independent models forecast a bleak financial outlook for the elegant aircraft.
It might not be a cash cow for Boeing, not yet anyway, but all is not lost for the already-iconic airliner. At least let's hope so.
For those having an interest in the intrigue, inner-workings, politics and multi-billion-dollar "bet the company decisions" behind many modern commercial airliners, you may enjoy "The Sporty Game" by John Newhouse.
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11/2/17
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Your Captain Speaking
F-117A Night Hawk
Nevada, August 1979. A United States Marine Corps Captain sits behind the controls of a ground-to-air Hawk missile system utilizing powerful radar tracking technology. The Captain is engaged in a war game with Ben Rich of Lockheed Advanced Development Projects, also known as Skunk Works. For Rich, it's more than a game.

The Air Force is on the fence with respect to his latest program known as Have Blue. Rich decided the war game was not enough to demonstrate his latest invention. To prove his point -- he was going to help the Marines, his adversary in this war game, to cheat. He provided the anti-aircraft battery with his plane's flight plan prior to the game. Soon enough, the radar system positively identified an incoming plane and gave the Marines a moment of satisfaction. Rich would have the last laugh when he explained that they were looking at the chase plane and their target, a prototype of what would become the F-117A Night Hawk, had flown past minutes before.

The $111 million, single seat, twin-engine attack fighter would soon become the first operable stealth aircraft in history. Working off of mathematics developed by Soviet scientist Pyotr Ufimtsev, Skunk Works had written a computer program (appropriately named Echo) to design a faceted airplane that absorbed and deflected radar signals instead of returning them. Ufimtsev published a paper called Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction in 1964. Echo came up with an angular and rather unsightly airplane that looked completely unnatural. No sleek aerodynamic lines on this design (later supercomputers would allow for smoothed edges and designs like the B-2). In fact, not even computers could keep such an unstable design airborne. That is, until the late 1970's. Skunk Works made the contraption fly using quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire control systems.

During its operational run from 1983 - 2008, the F-117 gave the US a staggering technological advantage. The government didn't even admit the plane existed until 1988. The plane's 25-year run of remarkable achievements was no accident. Skunk Works had to overcome a plethora of massive technical challenges to make the plane airworthy. Foremost among the challenges facing Rich's team was finding the right way to compromise aircraft performance for radar stealth. Every single design decision made on the aircraft was made with stealth in mind. To hide the heat signature of the engines, afterburners were left off the plane and innovative inlet and outlets were created to disperse heat. The wings required a drastically high sweep angle (50-degrees) and thus a very low aspect ratio (the ratio of a wing's span to its mean chord). Additionally, no radar was allowed on-board to limit the amount of radiation it emitted.

With all of these concessions, the F-117A was not going to win any dogfights. The performance specifications of the plane (45,000' service ceiling, 2,800-ft climb, 623 miles per hour maximum speed at altitude) would work if and only if the plane could not be detected by radar. With a radar cross-section (RCS) equivalent to some insects (approximately 0.001 square-meters), the Night Hawk accomplished its goals and more. For comparison, the F-16 has an RCS of 5 square-meters.

The stealth F-117A gained notoriety for coming through the Gulf War untouched despite flying approximately 1,300 sorties and almost 7,000 flight hours en route to destroying 1,600 high-value targets. In 25 years, only one F-117A was ever damaged by the enemy. Although still effective, the Night Hawk became an unnecessary expense once the F-22 Raptor was introduced in 2005. It was retired in 2008.

Skunk Works was formed in June, 1943 by the legendary Kelly Johnson. After 32 years of remarkable innovations (including the U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird), Johnson handed the reigns to Skunk Works over to Rich in 1975. Ben Rich made his mentor proud and secured his place in history as the "Father of stealth" thanks to the unconventional yet ground-breaking F-117A Night Hawk.
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9/24/17
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Getting To Know: Scott Neifert
Scott Neifert is the Chief Pilot at Merlin One.
Scott started his aviation career in 1983 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Daytona Beach, FL. Two years and 8 months later he graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Aeronautical Science to go along with his degree in Computer Science from Penn State.

Scott then earned a Commercial Instrument, Certified Flight Instructor, and Dispatcher's Certificates at ERAU. He then became a flight instructor but soon moved to a Part 135 charter operator flying King Air E-90's out of Denver. Most of the operations in Denver were single pilot air ambulance missions often at night in the mountainous regions of Colorado. It wasn't long before he moved into right seat of the Learjet 35 and soon thereafter became a LearJet captain.  Scott has accumulated over 2,200 hours as captain in the Lear 35.

After 7 years in Denver, Scott decided to try the airlines. He was hired as a First Officer on the Boeing 747 with Evergreen International Airlines. At Evergreen, Scott became a world traveler. The 18-day circuit would take him from JFK, or Dover, to places like Ramstein, Germany, Nairobi, Kenya, Harare, Zimbabwe, Johannesburg, Dubai and many other international destinations. Scott is one of a small group of pilots that has flown scheduled commercial flights through North Korean airspace.

Two years of seeing the world was a real eye-opening experience for Scott. Scott then went back to flying domestic charter flights eventually moving to San Antonio. Scott served as the Chief Pilot for a local air ambulance operator shortly before joining the Merlin One team.
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Your Captain Speaking
Lieutenant Edward "Butch" O'Hare

February 20, 1942. The USS Lexington, an aircraft penetrates enemy waters north of Ireland. Throughout the day, the Lexington responds to several radar contacts of enemy aircraft by launching its own fighter aircraft. At 4:49PM, a wave of 9 Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers is engaged by the American F4F Wildcat fighters launched from the aircraft carrier. Lieutenant Edward "Butch" O'Hare and his wingman, Marion Dufilho, were climbing to combat altitude and not yet engaged when they received a distressed call from officers onboard the Lexington. A second wave of Bettys were approaching the carrier from the opposite direction, 12 miles out, and unopposed.
O'Hare and Dufilho approached the V-shaped enemy formation from 1,500 feet above it with 450 bullets, or 34 seconds of firing, in each of their four, 50-caliber machine guns. Or so they thought. They soon discovered Dufilho's guns were jammed. Now, only O'Hare stood between a wave of enemy bombers and an otherwise unprotected aircraft carrier.
Butch swung into a diving attack on the bombers with concise, swift, bursts of fire into one bomber's engine after another. By his fourth pass at the eight Japanese aircraft, the Betty's were within range of the Lexington and its antiaircraft guns. Five bombers managed to drop ordinance but all ten bombs missed their target. Of the 8 planes, O'Hare destroyed three and damaged two more before running out of ammunition. In return, the Japanese gunners managed to place a single bullet in the port wing of O'Hare's F4. Butch lost his airspeed indicator, but none of his calm demeanor that carried him through the most intense five minutes one could dare experience. In fact, Butch's only response to drawing friendly fire from the Lexington during his approach to landing back on the carrier was a light rebuke of the young gunner, "Son, if you don't stop shooting at me when I've got my wheels down, I'm going to have to report you to the gunnery officer."
Those five minutes transformed O'Hare's life. He became an ace, the first naval aviator to receive the Medal of Honor, was promoted to Lieutenant Commander, and became somewhat of a spokesman for the Grumman Aircraft Corporation (who built the Wildcat), saying, "You build them, we'll fly them and between us, we can't be beaten." He was removed from combat duty until late in 1943 when he took command of 24 F6F Grumman Hellcats. The introduction of the Hellcats, and new aircraft carriers, immediately shifted the balance of power in the Pacific toward the U.S. For his actions with the Hellcat's first combat mission on August 31, 1943, O'Hare received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Just a month later he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second DFC.
The Japanese quickly changed their tactics in response to the American's air superiority by implementing low-altitude, nighttime air assaults. The American response to the nighttime raids consisted of an Avenger, and its radar capabilities, leading Hellcats toward the enemy bombers hidden by the night. O'Hare volunteered to lead the mission and on the night of November 26, 1943, the first-ever nighttime fighter attack from an aircraft carrier launched to intercept the Japanese torpedo bombers. On that fateful night, Commander Air Group O'Hare found himself caught in the crossfire between a friendly Avenger and enemy Bomber. His plane slid from view and was never seen again.
The universally adored St. Louis-native would be declared dead a year later. His widow, Rita, received his posthumous decorations of a Purple Heart and Navy Cross on November 26, 1943. The destroyer, USS O'Hare, was commissioned on January 27, 1945. On September 19, 1949, the Orchard Depot Airport in Chicago was renamed the O'Hare International Airport (KORD). Within the airport's second terminal, a replica F4 Wildcat is displayed as part of a tribute to the airport's namesake.
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8/24/17
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Merlin1’s Customer Service Team
Merlin 1 would like to introduce our new customer service team. Cassey Diehl, Kylie Bottensek and Priscilla Pesina are here to take calls, plan trips, deliver quotes, ensure that your favorite food and beverages are on board, answer any questions you may have while ensuring our customers and guests continue to experience the level of customer service that sets Merlin 1 apart.

Casey’s primary focus will be scheduling. Kylie’s primary focus will be customer service, following up with customers after trips and back up scheduling. Priscilla’s primary focus will be catering and greeting customers as they depart and return.

To ensure you reach the right team member, we have added a new program called Ring Central. When you call the Merlin 1 Ops phone, you will be directed to an automated menu and will have to select the option that best suits your call.

Our goal is to provide consistently outstanding customer service. As always, we appreciate your comments.
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Safety
Merlin1 thanks Brian Kieser, Managing Partner at Fountainhead Investment Partners for his continued support.

Benefits
“One of the big things for me is that you get to know the pilots, you fly with them on multiple occasions, you get to know them. The fact that they all come from military or commercial airline background is very important to us.
When my family and kids are on-board our family feels safe knowing who is on the left seat.”

View more Merlin One videos here http://www.merlin1.com/video-testimonials/
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Your Captain Speaking
Air Force One
Just off of Highway 290 between Johnson City and Fredericksburg lies the Lyndon Baines Johnson Ranch. During his five years in office, LBJ flew back to his ranch 74 times. In the late 1960s, the duties of Air Force One were carried out by a Boeing-707. Alas, LBJ's ranch grandiose though it was, was ill-equipped to handle a 250,000-pound airplane like the 707. From his early years in Texas politics to his days in Congress, Johnson flew in to a 3,000-foot grass strip. When he took the highest office in the land, the strip was upgraded to a 6,300-foot-long paved strip in order to accommodate a Lockheed JetStar VC-140. President Johnson referred to the 41,000 pound, 10-seat aircraft as "Air Force One Half".
FDR was the first sitting president to fly. He took a Boeing 314 Clipper to the Casablanca Conference in 1943. Presidents FDR, Truman, and Eisenhower saw a C-54 Skymaster, a VC-118 Liftmaster, and a C-121 Constellation pressed into service, respectively.
In 1953, Eisenhower's aircraft was flying along under the call sign, Air Force 8610. Eastern Airlines also had a plane in the air with the same flight number. There was confusion and the airliner entered the same airspace as the president's plane. This confusion directly led to the creation of the unique call sign, Air Force One, though it would be six years before Eisenhower made the first official flight under the now iconic call sign. By the time the call sign appeared in 1959, the 707 had brought presidential travel into the jet age. During a 19-day stretch in December 1959, Eisenhower managed to fly over 22,000 miles and visit 11 Asian nations -- two times faster than a Constellation could have accomplished his "Flight to Peace" goodwill tour.
In October of 1962, a Boeing C-137 Stratoliner -- a modified long-range Special Air Mission (SAM) 26000 version of the 707 -- was purchased by the U.S. Air Force. President John F. Kennedy felt the plane's marking reflected a more royal appearance than befit a democratically elected public official. Jacqueline Kennedy helped her husband through the process of redesigning the aesthetic of the plane, leading to the classic teal look complemented by the presidential seal. SAM 26000 served as Air Force One through 1998 and Bill Clinton's presidency. President Johnson was sworn into office aboard the plane.
SAM 27000, another modified Stratoliner, came online in late 1972 with President Nixon. Air Force One was over Syria in June of 1974 when Syrian fighter jets intercepted the aircraft. Nixon's pilots immediately took evasive action, throwing the plane into a steep dive and getting on the ground as soon as possible. The Syrians had neglected to notify the United States that the fighters were dispatched to escort the American delegation. Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, and climbed on SAM 27000 to fly to California. The plane was over Jefferson City, Missouri when President Ford was sworn-in prompting the following conversation with Air Traffic Control:Colonel Ralph Albertazzie, pilot of Air Force One: Kansas City Center, this was Air Force One. Will you change our call sign to SAM 27000? Air Traffic Control: Roger, SAM 27000. Good luck to the President.
Almost thirty years later, SAM 27000 performed its last flight as Air Force One carrying President George W. Bush to Waco, Texas on August 29, 2001. By that time, the Boeing 747 had become the primary aircraft to claim the call sign.
The U.S. Air Force published a Request for Proposal (RFP), in 1985 under President Ronald Reagan. The RFP called for two wide-body, three-plus engine aircraft with a minimum range of 6,000 miles. Only two companies responded. McDonnell Douglas put forth their DC-10 and Boeing nominated the "queen of the skies", the 747-200 jumbo jet. Two 747s were ordered and First Lady Nancy Reagan drew up the initial interior designs. After a few delays, including one to protect the sophisticated craft from electromagnetic pulses (EMPs), the Air Force took delivery of the 747s, designated VC-25As, in 1990 under President George H.W. Bush. Though a great deal of the capabilities of the aircraft remain classified, it is public knowledge the President has secure phone and computer communications available to him while on board. Along with the Marine One helicopters, the 747s call Andrews Air Force Base home.
Air Force One is capable of aerial refueling and boasts over 4,000 square feet of interior space, including a conference/dining room, private quarters, office area for senior staff, a medical facility, work and rest areas, enough galleys for 100 meals at a time, a self-contained baggage loader, front and aft air-stairs, and proprietary navigation, communication, and electronic technology. It can travel 6,735 nautical miles (without refueling) at a speed of 0.84 Mach, an altitude of 45,000 feet, and take-off at a gross weight over 830,000 pounds. Each of the four engines produce more than 56,000 pounds of thrust.
The Boeing 747-8 and the Airbus A380s emerged as leading contenders to the USAFs Air Mobility Command as replacements to the VC-25As. In 2009, after serving as Air Force One for 19 years, the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization Program, conducted by the Air Force Material Command, publicized a search for a replacement to begin service in 2017. When the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company announced it would not respond to the notice, Boeing was left as the sole applicant. Boeing nominated both the 747-8 and the 787 Dreamliner as possibilities. The Air Force selected the 747-8 on January 28, 2015. In any case, the next aircraft to join the 89th Airlift Wing in Maryland (assuming President Trump doesn't cancel it) will be an expensive one. The U.S. Air Force's projected budget for the plane is nearly $4 billion. Various sources put Air Force One between 20 - 25% of the entire Air Force budget!
Acquisition cost aside, the plane is incredibly expensive to operate. Often, the 747 is preceded by a fleet of several cargo planes that stage the planned destination. The plane receives extensive maintenance attention before and after every flight, and costs over $200,000 per flight hour. (For comparison's sake, a private citizen can charter a private 747 for less than $17,000 an hour).
Cost aside, Air Force One has forged an iconic place in history and implemented ground-breaking technology, most of which we won't learn about for a long time to come.
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2/3/17
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Your Captain Speaking
It's pretty rare that the most mundane period of a person's life is his term in the U.S. Senate. And yet, the 24 years spent in Congress by the Gentleman from Ohio would almost certainly qualify.
John Herschel Glenn, Jr. was born on July 18, 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio. In 1941, Glenn was a senior studying engineering at Muskingum College. It is at Muskingum that he earned a private pilot certificate. Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, John Glenn left school to enter the U.S. Army Air Corps. By March of 1942, he had yet to be called for service and enlisted as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Navy. While in advanced training, he accepted an offer to transfer to the U.S. Marine Corps. A year after he joined the Navy, Glenn received his commission as a second lieutenant and married his childhood sweetheart, Anna Margaret Castor.
Glenn spent the rest of 1943 in the continental US, first flying the C-47 (the military version of the DC-3) before moving on to learn the F4F Wildcat which was quickly replaced by the F4U Corsair. As a first lieutenant in 1944, Glenn was stationed to Hawaii and then the Marshall Islands. By the time his one-year tour of duty ended in 1945, Glenn had flown 59 combat missions. While strafing and bombing the Japanese, Glenn had been hit by anti-aircraft fire five times, been awarded ten Air Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) twice. Shortly before the war ended, a regular commission and promotion to Captain greeted the famous aviator.
In February 1953, a recently promoted Major Glenn reported to an F-9F Panther squadron in South Korea. In four months with the squadron, Glenn flew 63 combat missions. Nicknamed "Magnet A**" for his tendency to attract enemy fire, two of the missions saw his aircraft hit with more than 250 bullets. One of Glenn's wingmen in the F-9 was a reservist by the name of Theodore Samuel "Ted" Williams. In June of '53, Glenn transitioned to the F-86 in which he would fly an additional 27 combat missions. Glenn was credited with three aerial victories over MiG-15s, including the last of the war just five days before the armistice. An additional eight Air Medals and two more DFC's were presented for his service.
Glenn took his 149 combat sorties of experience with him to the Naval Test Pilot School in 1954. His first assignment was flying the FJ-3 Fury which was the Navy's version of the F-86. The jet's cockpit depressurized and Glenn turned to his oxygen system but that failed too! It wasn't a combat mission but it came close to being his last flight. On July 16, 1957, Glenn completed the first supersonic transatlantic flight from Los Angeles to New York in 3.5 hours. The feat earned him his fifth DFC. The late 1950s also saw Glenn transfer to Washington, D.C. where he enrolled in Maryland University and was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He also volunteered and was selected to be one of the military's representatives to NASA for designing the mockup of what would come to be the Mercury space capsule.
Despite Glenn's impeccable resume, he wasn't a sure thing for selection in the initial class of astronauts. Glenn was 38, approaching the cut off of 40 years old, and he lacked the science-based degree that was officially required. He wouldn't be denied. In 1959, John Glenn was reassigned to the NASA Space Task Group as one of the Mercury 7 astronauts.
While in training at Langley, the astronauts were responsible for providing input on the design of the vehicle. Glenn's input on the design of the cockpit layout and control functioning contributed not just to Mercury but to Apollo as well. He was listed as the backup to Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom on Freedom 7 and Liberty 7, respectively.
On February 20, 1962, Glenn climbed inside Friendship 7. The capsule was situated on top of an Atlas D LV-3B poised for liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Russians had put a man in orbit in 1961 but NASA had only managed to do it with a chimpanzee. Tension was high as NASA tried to plan for every possible eventuality. Glenn had at his disposal four or five drugs to combat all sorts of potential physiological effects of space, including motion sickness and shock. Also on board Friendship 7 was a survival kit with a plethora of items in case the splashdown didn't go as planned.
Just getting to the launch proved difficult. The flight was delayed no less than 11 times for weather and multiple mechanical problems with the fueling system. NASA's failure to launch a manned orbital flight in 1961 and each delay increased the pressure and public scrutiny. On February 20th, an additional 4.5 hour delay was caused by a faulty component in the guidance system. Once the hatch was bolted on, one of the bolts broke causing another 45 minute delay. Glenn was forced to sit through a third delay, this one a paltry 25 minutes, when a valve in the liquid oxygen propellant tank was discovered to be faulty. He had been strapped in to his small spacecraft for three hours and 45 minutes by the time the button was pushed. Scott Carpenter, himself a Mercury 7 astronaut, uttered, "Godspeed, John Glenn" into the microphone as the rocket began its tortured rise off the launch pad.
After all the mechanical problems and so much time to think about what else could go wrong, it's no wonder Glenn's heartbeat was 110 beats per minute as 67,000 pounds-force thrust him skyward. The launch went extremely well and Glenn found himself in orbit five minutes later. Initial metrics showed the vehicle could stay in orbit for at least seven orbits. It turns out the capsule had separated from its booster rocket 2.5 seconds late. It took the automatic attitude control system 38 seconds and 8% of the fuel on board to correct the resulting orientation. At 17,544 miles per hour, Glenn settled into his first orbit with all systems go. Glenn noticed the craft's attitude indicators were not indicating properly and the automatic stabilization and control program was allowing the ship to drift to the right. He noticed the yaw thruster wasn't working properly when the computers controlled the vehicle and the most fuel efficient correction was to fly by hand.
In his second orbit, an abnormal indication alerted flight controllers to a potential issue with the heat shield. A serious problem with the shield would be catastrophic and controllers didn't want to worry Glenn when there wasn't much he could do about it. They innocently asked him to make sure the landing bag deploy switch was set to "Off" but this was enough to concern the combat veteran. In case he didn't have enough to worry about, Glenn's suit was also overheating. The cooling system induced too much humidity in the cockpit and added still more stress to the adventure. After three orbits, it was deemed time for Friendship 7 to reenter the atmosphere. The moment of truth, in several ways, was upon him. Would the heat shield hold up? Would his skills as a pilot allow him to hand-fly his craft, which was dangerously low on fuel, through to a safe touchdown?
Just under five hours after liftoff, Friendship 7 splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean a short 40 miles from its planned location. USS Noa, a destroyer class vessel, hauled Glenn onboard just 17 minutes later ending his 75,679 mile journey. Or so he thought. Shortly thereafter, John Glenn was being congratulated by President Kennedy and being ushered through a tickertape parade. He was so famous, and advanced enough in age, he wouldn't be considered for looming lunar missions. With that in mind, Glenn retired from NASA in 1964. The next day, he announced his attention to run for one of Ohio's senate seats.
A concussion forced Glenn to withdraw from the race that year but he would not be denied. His political ambitions and growing friendship with the Kennedy's had him well positioned. A year later Colonel Glenn retired from the Marine Corps. In 1968, he was with Bobby Kennedy when the senator was assassinated. Finally, in 1974, Glenn was elected to the senate. Two years later his name was mentioned as a vice presidential candidate but he lost out on that honor to Walter Mondale. Mondale would best him again when the two vied for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984. Glenn stayed in the senate through 1999, garnering vice presidential consideration in '84, '88, and '92.
While serving as a sitting senator, Glenn climbed on the space shuttle Discovery in 1998. The 77-year old man was returning to space to complete scientific experiments on geriatrics. Despite the controversy of the politics behind his return to space, Glenn was given a second tickertape parade upon his return. He is the tenth, and most recent, individual to be honored with multiple such parades. Though his various honors are too numerous to list here, some of the other decorations he received include the Congressional Gold Medal, Woodrow Wilson Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Distinguished Service medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary medal, and a sixth DFC for his first trip to space. Since his retirement, Glenn served in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University.
On December 8 of 2016, John Glenn passed away at the age of 95. He is scheduled to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on the 74th anniversary of his wedding to Annie Castor. He is survived by his wife, two children, and two grandchildren
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Getting to Know... Brian Hough
Brian Hough runs the maintenance operations of Merlin One and Learjet Leasing. He has been associated with us since July 2013. Previously, he worked for our engine vendor, Turbine Standard/Toledo Jet, as a TPE331 engine repair specialist and Hangar Supervisor. 
 
While visiting Toledo Jet in Spring 2013 the owner and friend, Dave Corwin, introduced me to Brian and mentioned that his real objective was to get back to Texas. The rest is history. 
 
Brian has extensive experience in two airframe types; the Merlin and the Lear and two engine types; the TPE331 that powers the Merlin and the TFE731 that powers the Lear 35. Hmmm, sounds like a pretty good fit!
 
It's unusual to find mechanics that excel at both airframe and engine maintenance as specializations in one, or the other, are the norm. Brian not only has this broad spectrum of expertise but is also pretty sharp on electronics (avionics) and builds a mean guitar. 
 
Brian started his aviation career with the USAF in 1977 working on the A-7D and the A-10A Thunderbolt (another Fairchild product). 
 
His Merlin and TPE331 expertise comes from various stints with Merlin operators and Part 141 maintenance  facilities, specializing in the Merlin, commencing in 1982.
 
Brian's Lear and TFE731 experience was garnered while spending eight years as Director of Maintenance for Travelaire Services, a Pueblo Colorado based operator of Lear 25, 35 and 55's.
 
Brian lives at Canyon Lake and finds the peace and serenity there calming after a busy day at Merlin One.
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