Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fifi's Back

With this long-awaited take off, on Thursday, August 5, 2010, ...

Video via the CAF.

...the world's only airworthy Boeing B-29A Superfortress 44-62070, N529B, 'Fifi' of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) returned to the air after a four-year grounding, and after the development of a new engine system setup.

“I am deeply pleased to see FIFI fly again after such a long wait,” said CAF General Staff member, Neils Agather. “Today’s flight is a product of the dedication of many people, Gary Austin, Dave Miller and many more volunteers. We must also thank Jim Cavanaugh for his support. My parents, Vic and Fifi, would be proud.”
More from the CAF here.

For most of the post-Superfortress era, 'Fifi' has been the sole flyer, with only a couple of other airframes ever likely to be in a position to fly again at best. As the sole airworthy example of the worlds' first nuclear bomber, it is an important and historic type to have in the air.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Was 1940 like this?

Image via 'Their Finest Hour' See the post's endnote for details.

As one might expect the commemorative juggernaut of the Battle of Britain 70th anniversary rolls on in an entirely predictable and unsurprising manner. Good, perhaps to introduce those who know little or nothing of the history and events (such as Britain's Prime Minister) but otherwise lacking in news to anyone knowledgeable in their aviation or British history.

So far only a few items have seemed worth commentary. Firstly I've noticed a tendency for the medium to overwhelm the message. In a somewhat desperate attempt to engage children and people who can only think like children, numerous organisations have gone overboard with Twitter feeds, blogs (yes, like this) YouTube and other new media methods to engage what they'd call 'a wider audience' and my cynical devil calls 'the illiterate with short attention sp..' What, I've lost you?

There's a great merit in original material (either from the period or modern, thoughtful new stuff) being made available through these methods, and a a few examples will appear here. However the downside seems to be a need to chop about the historical reality for the demands of the modern media; something that Marshall McLuhan would probably feel was OK.

One bizarre example is the Twitter feed (spotted by 'Bob') from which has a fictitious pilot 'Tweet':
Exhausted this morning after night with @1940Jane. Glad I'm not on dawn patrol today!
Image via 'Their Finest Hour'.

Image via 'Their Finest Hour'.

And a post-script, explaining the illustrations to this post. Another oddity is the 'Spitfire' and 'Messerschmitt' Smart Cars, from 'Their Finest Hour' and the photos, by photographer Dave Hammond. Obviously both the name Spitfire has already been used for a sports car, and Messerschmitt went on to produce bubble cars under their own name, but these are certainly something you'll either love or hate.