Thunderstorm photographed over the Pacific Ocean at night. The photographer and pilot, Santiago Borja, says he was circling around it at 37,000 feet altitude en route to South America when he captured this spectacular view.
No cockpit demands as much intense focus as an SR-71 Blackbird’s, and in frustrating irony, no cockpit offers a better view. There was no time to look out the window. The plane knew when your eyes started to wander to the spectacle of earth from 85,000 feet; that’s when something would go wrong. There was much to monitor. The many “steam gauge” instruments reflect a bygone era, giving the pilot information ranging from heading to compressor inlet temperature, each dial representing a critically important system.
Even though this cockpit was operated through 2,854 flight hours, it looks brand new. That’s because it was only ever flown using the gloved hands of a crew member wearing the essential high altitude pressure suit. Every control is large enough to be adjusted with those bulky pressure suit gloves.
You sit atop your throne, the SR-1 ejection seat, which carries a rare 100% success rate. To operate the circuit breakers, you must reach beside and behind your seat, outside your field of view through the pressure suit helmet. To make sure you actuate the correct breaker, you count down the rows and columns by feel.
March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California, is kind enough to display SR-71A 17975 with her cockpit open. This gives us a rare peek inside the world of the Blackbird, allowing us to look inside something that was formerly top secret and reserved only for a privileged few crew members. These photos were captured using a camera extended into the cockpit via monopod. At no point did I or my equipment come in contact with the artifact.
First introduced in 1973, the PSM semi automatic pistol was produced as a new concealable pistol for the Soviet military. Utilizing a blowback action, it featured an eight round magazine and used the new 5.45x18mm cartridge. Unlike common pocket pistol calibers of the day like .22LR and .25ACP, the 5.45x18mm was exceptionally lethal for it’s size. The interesting bottlenecked pistol cartridge made up for it’s small caliber with exceptional velocity, with a muzzle velocity of over 1,000 feet per second, rated to pierce 55 layers of kevlar at reasonable combat distances. Originally the PSM was outfitted with lightweight aluminum grips, today they are made of plastic.
Originally the PSM was intended as a side arm for the Soviet Military, however most officers preferred their older Makarov and Tokarev pistols. However, due to its small size (6 inches overall length, 12 oz weight) it became popular as a concealable pocket pistol among police officers, KGB agents, and Soviet politicians or other high officials. Today the PSM is still commonly used in Russia by security, police, and government officials. It is also commonly used in many former Soviet Republics.
Ariel photography has exploded in recent years, but even within the genre Filip Wolak‘s beautiful landscapes of rural New Jersey and beyond dusted with snow are a little different. He shoots them while flying just 1,000 feet off the ground with his camera pointed toward the ground.
Being in the closet is like being on a plane, except it’s on fire. Obviously you can’t stay in it forever, you have to jump, but jumping 15,000 feet is the most frightening thing you’ve ever done. Getting out of the plane is vital and you will have to gather ever fibre of courage there is in you to do so. And you will eventually, have faith, you are loved and brave
Crater Lake is an incredible place. One of the High Cascades’ numerous stratovolcanoes, it was, at one time, the base of a mountain that stretched as much as 12,000 feet skyward. About 7,000 years ago (5200 BCE), a catastrophic eruption blasted the mountain skyward, and in a massive event that lasted for days and days, the entire mountain sank into the earth, leaving behind a massive caldera.
For the next 720 years, sporadic small eruptions and landslides were contained within the caldera, which filled with amazingly clear water (usually 30-40 meters of visibility) and left behind a lake that would astonish people for centuries. The eruption was witnessed by the local Klamath peoples, and remained in their legends as a battle between the sky god Skell and the god of the underworld, Llao. It has remained a place of great spiritual meaning ever since.
When Theodore Roosevelt first saw the lake, he immediately became infatuated with it, and when he became president he declared it a national park in 1902. The first white men to see the lake were perhaps a trio of prospectors in 1853, and the lake was officially surveyed in 1886 by a USGS expedition which hauled a boat up and over the crater rim to perform depth soundings of the lake.
The lake is 1,949 feet deep, and is the deepest lake in the USA, and the tenth deepest in the world.
I last visited on September 17th (birthday!) 2016.
The first Cygnus launch from Cape Canaveral in nearly 10 years successfully placed NASA’s eight CYGNSS satellite into orbits Thursday, December 15. Pegasus, attached to the belly of Orbital ATK’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Skid Strip runway at 7:38am EDT.
After reaching an altitude of 39,000 feet and within the 10 by 40 mile launch box, Pegasus was commanded for release, falling away from the mothership at 8:37am. Less than five seconds later, the first stage ignited, beginning a 14-minute climb to orbit for Pegasus and the eight CYGNSS satellites.
CYGNSS, short for Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, will use high-fidelity GPS signals to help forecasters better measure and predict hurricanes. In honor of the storm recently affecting the space coast, the Pegasus rocket launching CYGNSS was named Matthew.
On 21 October, 1978, 20-year-old “flying saucer enthusiast” Frederick Valentich disappeared while on a solo training flight over Bass Strait, Australia. During this flight, he radioed air traffic control to report another aircraft orbiting around him at around 1,000 feet above him, and that unexplainably, his own engine had began to run roughly. Suddenly, he blurted out “It’s not an aircraft…” before the line went dead. Valentich was never seen nor heard from again. Many UFOlogists have speculated that his aircraft was destroyed by aliens or that they even abducted him. They report that other individuals witnessed seeing “an erratically moving green light in the sky” on the day of his disappearance.
Because I’m airplane drunk, but more because I love @youkindofblowmeaway, here’s a ficlet from 35,000 feet of a tipsy Ginny & Mike at the grocery store
Ginny’s giggles fill Mike’s ears as she traipses through produce. Her fingers brush over the little signs designating the names of various fruit and vegetables. She looks ridiculously out of place in the short, decadent blue dress, and heels that make her legs looks like obscenely long.
“Ugh,” she mutters as she stops in front of the display of cilantro. “So gross,” she says as she flicks at the waning leafy greens before picking a bundle up. “It tastes like soap. We should buy it and get rid of it so no one else has to eat it.”
“We’re not doing that, Gin,” Mike replies, taking the bunches she has in her hand and placing them back amongst the other herbs. “Not everyone hates cilantro as much as you do.”
“Well, they should.” She throws him a glance over her shoulder before stalking off, her hips and ass begging him to follow behind her.
And he does, because how could he not? He’d follow her anywhere as is, but the combination of her slightly off-kilter walk from alcohol and those sky high heels have him hypnotized.
He feels utterly ridiculous with his bow tie loose around his neck, trailing behind his tipsy, bordering-on-drunk, twenty-five-year-old girlfriend, until she looks at him, or smiles at him, or trails her fingers up his tux-clad thigh. Then he feels like a giddy twenty-something idiot who would follow this woman to the ends of the earth, even if that means pushing a grocery buggy behind her.
He loses her for a moment, then laughs out loud when he sees her round the corner carrying three cases of grape soda.
“Gin,” he starts and he can’t keep the mirth out of his voice or stop his lips from curling into a smile. “There’s still grape soda at the house, unless you’re planning on taking a bath in it, rookie.”
She frowns and lowers the cases into the cart before she walks to him and presses her body flush with his. She grabs the lapels of his jacket and tips her head up just a little to notch their lips together.
They kiss sloppy and wet; she tastes like sugar and mint and Mike takes her ass in his hands and brings her hips against his.
She breaks the kiss first, grappling to catch her breath as she runs her tongue across her bottom lip. “We need some Captain Crunch, old man,” she says and he shakes his head and gives her ass another squeeze.
“That stuff is gross, Gin.”
“I’m tired of eating your bran flakes old man.”
Mike gasps when Ginny’s hand slides between them to grip his length. He drops his forehead again hers and moans when her hand tightens.
“Though,” she whispers against his mouth as her hand teases him, “those bran flakes seem to do your body good.”
“Fucking hell, Gin,” he bites or before he kisses her again, just as rough and hungry as before. “Get your fucking cereal,” he says when he pulls away. He nips her lip and throws her a grin he knows drives her crazy. “Five minutes left in this store, or I’m fucking you in the middle of the cereal aisle.”
When most folks say that they live in a castle, they’re either saying that they have a big house or they’re being sarcastic about how many hours they work at White Castle. But when Howard Solomon says that he lives in a castle, he means that he lives in the actual castle he built himself in the middle of a Florida swamp. Because where else would you put one?
Solomon started out as a junk artist – someone who creates projects out of recycled materials. But he had a hard time selling his works made out of maxi-pad wrappers and old answering machines, so all his art started to pile up. Most of us would have just built a shed or a teepee or whatever; Solomon started building a castle. And he kept building until decades passed and his glorified storage closet clocked in at three stories and over 12,000 square feet. By the time he was done, Solomon’s castle featured a dungeon, towers, and a Spanish galleon in the moat. Not to mention 60 custom-built stained-glass windows.
And the castle itself is as shiny as a knight’s ass, thanks to hundreds of aluminum printing plates that make up the exterior.