Airborne Awesomosity

P-38 Engine Start

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The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is a damn sexy bird. It was primarily used in the Pacific Theater during WW2 as a bomber, night fighter, ground attack, and long range escort. It was extremely forgiving, but that meant it was also not quite as maneuverable as some of the other fighters in the war. Therefore, it’s use as a dogfighter was limited. It was also the only US aircraft to be in production from Pearl Harbor through V-J Day. Hit the jump for a video of the P-38J at the Chino Planes of Fame Museum, 23 Skidoo, startup and taxi. Crank up the speakers and immerse yourself in the sound of the two turbo-supercharged Allison V-1710-89/91 engines.

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Airborne Awesomosity

Bipolar Lightning

The British Electric Lightning is sort of the Forrest Gump of aircraft. It was the result of the cancellation of a research program that had resulted in the construction of another aircraft, but that aircraft — the Miles M.52 — was never finished. After the cancellation of the Miles program, the Brits realized they had to do something, so they issued a new specification in 1949 for what would be regarded as a prototype fighter.

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Airborne Awesomosity

XP-58 Chain Lightning

Lockheed XP-58 Chain Lightning

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When the P-38 showed itself to be successful the US Air Force looked at what other roles it could fill. This lead to the creation to one of the more unusual Lightnings by Lockheed.

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Atomic Awesome, Things that go BOOM!

Bolt From the Blue

A picturesque positive lightning bolt

Good morning everyone.

This will probably come as a surprise to everyone, but I love electrical storms. When I was much younger, there was nothing I loved more than to climb onto the roof of the house during a noisy thunderstorm and scream and yell at the gods while jumping up and down. I’d occasionally fall off of the roof while I was doing this, but I blame that more on leather soled shoes than the gods.  In particular, I love lightning, it’s just so raw and pure. And powerful.

As powerful as ‘normal’ lightning is, there is an even more powerful form of lightning, called positive lightning. Normal lightning comes out of the bottom of a storm cloud, which is negatively charged, and jumps to a positive charge on the ground, and makes up about 95% of all lightning strokes. Once in a while though, lightning will issue from the top of a storm cloud, which is positively charged, and jump to a negative charge on the ground.

These positive lightning bolts are quite different from the normal negative ones. Positive lightning can be as much as 10 times more powerful than negative lightning, carrying a current of over 300,000 amps. The positive strokes last around 10 longer too, persisting for hundreds of milliseconds, where a negative stroke only lasts about 30 microseconds on the average. Worst of all, positive lightning commonly strikes far away from where the actual storm is, with strikes more than 30 miles away from the storm having been recorded. Many times these strikes happen long after the storm has passed an area, and come out of a clear sky, hence the term “A bolt from the blue”. They’re deadly too, with a survival rate of nearly zero from what I could find. A good story about a guy in Australia who had a close call can be found here.

So, who else likes electrical storms and lightning? Anybody have any good stories? You get extra credit for good pictures too.

After the jump are some more pictures of positive lightning strokes. Pretty, as long as you’re not too close.

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User Input

User Input: Vintage Beauty

If you don’t think that’s beautiful, you’re probably on the wrong site.

A few years ago, an ex-girlfriend bought me a birthday present that took my breath away. It was a huge painting of a Supermarine Spitfire flying through the clouds; now I know what you’re thinking. We’ve all seen paintings like this […]