Throughout the cold war, and til today, the Cobra-codenamed ground, sea and air assets have been used by the US to monitor Soviet/Russian ICBM missile launches and warhead reentries. The air component consists of the RC-135 Cobra Ball/Eye aircraft. Flying from Shemya in the Aleutians they used cameras and other sensors. Our guest, Robert Hopkins has been flying the aircraft in the late 1980s. In this episode he tells us about the mission and the flying — Shemya could be quite challenging.
In this episode I talk with NASA Armstrong’s chief scientist Al Bowers about the research projects he has been involved in during his long career at NASA. We cover deep stall research with a Schweizer sailplane, high-alpha flight and thrust vectoring with the X-29, X-31 and F-18 HARV, aero-tow of fast jets with the F-106, supercritical wings with the F-8, as well as space related projects using the SR-71 and the X-30. This is one of my favourite episodes of all time, since it is a bit of trip down memory lane for me personally, and Al perfectly hits the sweet spot between recounting facts and telling anecdotes.
The Perlan Project aims to fly gliders into the stratosphere by exploiting mountain waves in order to better understand those waves and to explore the edge of what gliders can do. In fact, last September, they broke the world altitude record for gliders. In this episode we chat about the project, the airplane and the flying with engineer Lars Bensch and pilot Jim Payne.