Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Video Del Fuego, Part V

Holy Jet-Blast, Batman!

This guy is, without a doubt, stone barking mad. But I love it. Definitely my kind of guy.

What kind of maniac bolts a jet engine into, of all things, a Dodge Caravan? Not that there's anything wrong with that...

This dude must burn through brake pads at a truly alarming rate. But what a ride!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Video Del Fuego, Part IV

Ordinarily I have little use for the French. But whatever their other proclivities, there's nothing at all wrong with the products of Dassault. Their thunder chariots have always been first-rate. This video features a Mirage 2000 fighter, with a few guest appearances by a Dornier Alpha Jet.

Really, the worst you can say about the Mirage 2000 (or, for that matter, the Rafale) is that it's not a Raptor. But what else is?

Bonus Feature: Speaking of Raptors, if you're a Chinese military aviator, scenes like this probably loom large in your nightmares:

Video Del Fuego, Part III

I haven't fallen into a rut, honest I haven't, but (a) I'm convalescing from a cold, and don't care to engage in serious thinking; and (b) I just figured out how to embed videos into blog posts. Today, Video Del Fuego lives up to its name, as we honor the Saturn V.

So far as I'm aware, the Saturn V has no nickname. Gods have no nicknames. You approach them with fear and trembling, not with easy familiarity.

This is the most powerful machine ever built by human hands:

Brief science lesson: A fast stream of fluid, like a jet or rocket's exhaust, will drag the neighboring air along with it. So, during a launch, you'll see a very brief puff of smoke at the rocket's base, then see that puff sucked back down into the exhaust channel as the thrust builds up.

Another curious thing you'll see is that the plume coming right out of the nozzle isn't as bright as the flow just downstream. There are two reasons for this. One, the nozzle itself is cooled by a flow of liquid oxygen, so the flow right next to the wall is much cooler than it would be ordinarily. Second, the fuel-oxidizer mixture has not completely burnt up yet. There's just not enough time between the thrust chamber and the end of the nozzle. It's mostly burnt, but not completely.

Musical note: This sequence was set to "Mars, the Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's suite "The Planets". It's an appropriate piece. The business end of an F-1 engine running full-bore isn't a very friendly place to be.

Bonus double feature: the liftoff of Apollo 8.

This is about the best launch sequence I've seen from this era. You see all the important bits, all the way up through staging. Two things to look for: first, as the vehicle climbs up into the high, thin air of the upper atmosphere, the exaust plume expands. It was designed to match pressures at sea level. But as it gets higher, it's working against thinner air, and the plume expands until it reaches equilibrium. Second, when the second stage lights off, you don't see an exhaust plume. Its J-2 engines burn liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, producing a clear flame. There's exhaust, we just can't see it.

In many ways, this was our finest hour: we built the most powerful machines ever so that we could go somewhere we'd never been, and learn something new we didn't know before.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Video Del Fuego, Part II

Continuing to mine the vein of vintage thunder crates, here's a 1986 Van Halen music video featuring the Blue Angels.

The A-4 Skyhawk was a simply astonishing airshow airplane. Fast, nimble, and they can damn near fly them right on top of one another. I realize that they had lots of good reasons for switching to the F-18, starting with the fact that logistical support was getting expensive, and ending with the fact that military pilots really need to keep currency with their go-to-war airplane.

Be that as it may, I loved Heinemann's Hot Rod, and I still miss it.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Video Del Fuego, Part I

New semi-regular feature: videos from YouTube that I like. For the first entry in this series, let's get acquainted with thirty tons of angry St. Louis steel -- The McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom.

The Smoking Thunderhog lives!