In this episode we speak with David Baker, who wrote a fascinating book about spy satellites. We cover the political and military context that drove their development, their (known and suspected) capabilities, methods of recovering the images, as well as typical orbits and the sartellites’ ability to change that orbit for quick repositioning.
As part of my trip to the US earlier this year I visited NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. I conducted six interviews over two days, those concerning full scale (“real”) aircraft are in this episode. We start out with Kevin Weinert, with whom we talk about the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge project, essentially a flap made of flexible materials to save fuel and reduce noise. Next up is Jim Less, one of NASA’s F-15 and F-18 pilots; we chat about his flying and various research projects where the jets are utilized (you can see this part as a continuation of Episode 73, where we chatted with Dick Ewers). Finally, we talk about flying the MQ-9 and RQ-4 unmanned aerial vehicles with the pilots Scott Howe and Hernan Posada.
As part of my trip to the US earlier this year I visited NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. I conducted six interviews over two days, the ones concerning subscale research (i.e., on model airplanes) are in this episode. We start with a conversation about flying wings in general and Prandtl-D in particular with Armstrong’s Chief Scientist Al Bowers. Next, we chat about flutter research and the X-56 with project lead Cheng Moua. Finally, we talk to Matt Moholt about his project, the Spanwise Adaptive Wing project.
In late March 2017 I was participating in the media day of the European Air Refuelling Training Exercise, organized by the European Air Transport Command headquartered in Eindhoven. While the planned flight on the Dutch KDC-10 did not work our for technical reasons, I recorded a follow-up interview with tanker captain Martin and boom operator Louis. We discussed a number of details around air-to-air refuelling in general and the KDC-10 in particular. The episode begins with an overview of aerial
refuelling that I recorded myself.
On the second day of my visit to Nellis AFB we covered the Red Flag, an advanced aerial combat training exercise hosted at multiple times per year at Nellis. We started out with a general overview with Jan Stahl; we also covered the role of the aggressors. I then talked with John Traylor who works as a ground intercept controller for the aggressors. Next is a conversation with Graham Johnson about Red Flag from the perspective of a blue force participant; he flies an F-15C out of Lakenheath. We conclude the episode with a look at the historical context that lead to Red Flag, again with Jan.