Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

On the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month, the guns of the "War to End All Wars" fell silent as the armistice ending the First World War was signed in 1918. Originally celebrated as "Armistice Day" in memory of WWI, this day is now celebrated as "Veteran's Day" in America to honor all Veterans who have served in all wars and in peacetime.

This day, November 11th, is also celebrated in many other countries around the world for like reasons even though it may be called by different names. Although our choice of videos and stories is often America-centric, the Cold War Air Museum takes this opportunity to recognize all veterans, of all wars, and of all nations. Our doors are always open to you and your families.

Take time today to think of those who are serving and to thank those around you who have served. And may our special thoughts and prayers be with the men, women and children of our extended military family, both overseas and at home where tragedy recently struck at Fort Hood.

Veteran's Day 2009, may our thoughts and prayers be with you

A special song for Armistice (Veterans) Day
Before leaving our blog today, I want to add a story about a special song. Irving Berlin, a famous American Composer wrote "God Bless America" in 1918, the year of the Armistice, but put it aside at the time. In 1938 with WWII looming on the horizon, the composer, who had a special appreciation for the plight of the Jews in Europe and the freedoms of America, brought forth his song for Kate Smith to perform on National Radio for the Armistice Day program that year.

The Song became an instant hit, a second national anthem for all Americans in the 40's and 50's, a signature song for Kate Smith and for Patriotism. The early days of (black and white) national television coincided with the early days of the cold war and stations would often sign on in the morning with the National Anthem and sign off at night with God Bless America. Such patriotic feelings now seem as rare as those black and white televisions.

All royalties from this patriotic song of just 40 words were assigned to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America by the composer.

We also wish to extend a "thank you" and acknowledgement to the authors of these videos whose credits may be found on YouTube.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Anatomy of a MiG-21 Drag Parachute

One of the things our MiG-21 was decidedly lacking was a drag parachute. Even with the new extension, lengthening the Lancaster Airport runway to 6,500 feet, stopping the MiG-21 without rapidly going through brakes and tires is going to take a little extra work.

We looked around for parachute sources and, out of curiosity, checked with the importer that brings in things for the Nanchang CJ-6A. Since the Chinese make a MiG-21 copy, the J-7, it stood to reason that drag parachutes might be available at a reasonable price. To everyone's surprise, he discovered that J-7 parts are even more plentiful than are CJ-6A parts. Eventually a box with a military looking bag and some funny nylon umbrellas showed up:

Upon opening the bag, we discovered that there were plenty of goodies in it... but this was starting to look a lot less simple than anticipated.

Fortunately, the bag came with instructions... in Chinese.

But a couple of diagrams go a long way in any language.

Step by step instructions were included for assembling the 14 individual pieces of the MiG-21 drag parachute.

The system consists of a container bag into which a hook mechanism on a plate fills the base end.

A 5 meter multi-part braided line then connects to the plate. The lines are covered with a protective canvas sleeve. One of the reasons that drag parachutes are hard to find in Eastern Europe is that the braided line makes an excellent tow rope for pulling cars.

This line then connects to the base of the parachute itself. At each connection point, a canvas sleeve with drawstrings protects the parachute components from chafing on the runway. We were pleased that a completely new parachute set like the one we'd acquired came with several extra protective sleeves.

Last, but not least, a drag chute drogue chute connects to the top of the parachute to assist in deployment. The inner sleeve of the drogue houses a spring that leaps out into the world and pulls the main chute behind it. It's interesting to see the ratio of various spares... the kit came with three drogues; the drogue must take a lot of abuse.

The instruction manual references a machine that assists in packing the chute into the housing bag:

We haven't acquired one of these machines but we're told that it's possible to manually pack the parachute into the housing bag with a little effort.

The parachute is deployed manually by the pilot upon landing with a push of a button in the cockpit. The housing in the tail opens and pneumatic pressure opens the clamshell in the tail to let the drogue chute leap out into the world. After slowing to a speed where the parachute is no longer effective, a second button releases the chute to be picked up by ground crew.

A final picture shows the parachute tied into the bag with a holding pin that keeps it all together until it's been placed in the aircraft and "armed".