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August 29, 2013 | By Robert J. Lopez and Julie Cart
A drone the size of a small Cessna plane buzzing over the massive Rim fire has become a valuable tool as commanders use its real-time imagery to strategize their next move. The remotely piloted plane began flying Wednesday morning after Incident Cmdr. Mike Wilkins requested the MQ-1 aircraft belonging to the California Air National Guard. It has since been giving fire commanders a bird's-eye view of the 300-square-mile blaze in and around Yosemite National Park, which is now the sixth largest fire in state history.
August 28, 2013 | By Julie Cart
GROVELAND, Calif. -- The nation's latest cutting-edge firefighting tool is now flying through the smoky skies above the Rim fire near Yosemite National Park: an unmanned drone aircraft that provides real-time imagery affording fire commanders a birds-eye view of the 300-square-mile blaze. Incident Cmdr. Mike Wilkins requested the MQ-1 aircraft belonging to the California Air National Guard. The remotely piloted plane began flying Wednesday morning. It continued on a 20-hour mission throughout the day, alerting crews to a spot fire and providing a more comprehensive fire map. The drone, about the size of a small Cessna plane, takes off from the Victorville Airport and is operated from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, said Lt. Col. Tom Keegan of the National Guard.
August 27, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan
For the third quarter in a row, Monrovia drone maker AeroVironment Inc. reported a sharp downturn in quarterly revenue after a drop in military contracts for its small robotic aircraft. The downbeat report comes as the company battles an upstart Newport Beach activist investment firm over how to improve market valuation. AeroVironment said revenue was $44.1 million in its fiscal first quarter. That's down 24.9% compared with $58.7 million last year. The lack of sales led to net loss of $7.2 million, or 32 cents a share.
August 22, 2013 | By Steve Chawkins
C. Gordon Fullerton waited years for his chance to go into space but less than six minutes after the space shuttle Challenger took off in 1985, he was starting to rethink it. One of the Challenger's three main engines suddenly shut down and Fullerton, the mission's commander, didn't know whether the others would follow. "Absolutely, with no warning - kapow! - there was an immediate drop in acceleration," he later told reporters. "The red light came on, and there we were. " Fullerton and pilot Roy Bridges immediately dumped a load of surplus fuel, worked the two remaining engines harder, and maneuvered the Challenger into orbit just 45 miles lower than planned.
August 19, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan
For Air Force Capt. Daniel "Swoop" Welch, flying a B-52 bomber has become the family business. His father, retired Lt. Col. Don Welch, was trained to drop nuclear bombs with the aircraft during the height of the Cold War. His grandfather, retired Col. Don Sprague, flew B-52 combat missions in Vietnam. "It is definitely a testament to the robust design of the B-52," said Welch, 28. "Getting to fly the same aircraft as my father and grandfather has been pretty cool. " Despite the bomber's more than half-century of service, the Air Force believes that modifications and overhauls have made the B-52 ageless.
August 12, 2013 | By Mark Magnier
NEW DELHI - India launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier Monday with an eye on regional rivals China and Pakistan, although it will be several years before the ship is fully operational. The $5-billion Vikrant, meaning “courage,” was unveiled at a shipyard in the southern port of Kochi. The 37,500-ton ship will be outfitted with electrical cables, ventilation, weaponry and machinery before undergoing sea trials in 2016 and formal induction into the navy in 2018.
July 13, 2013 | By Andrew Blankstein
Authorities are investigating an incident in which a $2.3-million Learjet was spray-painted with graffiti in a secure area of Van Nuys Airport, a crime that Los Angeles police said was gang-related. The jet, which was vandalized with black spray-paint spelling out "flame," "R.I.P. " and an unidentified initial on the left front fuselage, was parked in an overflow area of the tarmac near Maguire Aviation in the 7100 block of Valjean Avenue, said law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.
July 11, 2013 | By Paresh Dave
After a pair of a historic arrested landings aboard an aircraft carrier, a U.S. Navy drone aborted a third landing because of a malfunction in one of its three redundant navigation computers. The X-47B drone was four miles out Wednesday, with its landing gear down, when the unmanned vehicle reported to the mission operator that one of its computers had an issue. The landing was called off and the drone returned to shore, as per policy and the drone's pre-planned logic. Navy officials said the anomaly was a great learning moment on a day that they hailed as a landmark in aviation.
July 8, 2013 | By Lee Romney, Kate Mather and Victoria Kim
Emergency personnel -- several close to tears -- shared tales Monday of their race to save passengers and crew from the burning wreckage of Asiana Airlines Flight 214. As the drama unfolded, firefighters ran up the aircraft's inflated escape chutes to get to those trapped inside. A police officer without protective gear joined them, entering through the breached tail section and clearing a passage by tossing out luggage and wrecked overhead bins. All the while, jet fuel streamed off the wing.  It began like any other Saturday, until the 11:27 a.m. call came in. For the fire crews who staff the “crash house” at San Francisco International Airport, emergency calls usually entail lights out on a plane, a problem with a wing flag or other minor issues.
July 7, 2013 | By Lee Romney and Laura J. Nelson
Asiana Flight 214 made no distress calls and appeared to be operating smoothly moments before it slowed to a near-stall, crashed into a seawall near the runway and broke apart, a federal official said Sunday. “There is no discussion of any aircraft anomalies or concern with the approach,” Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at an afternoon news conference that included reporters from all over the world. Then, at seven seconds prior to impact, a call is heard from one crew member “to increase speed,” Hersman said.
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