#TBT Vintage aeroplane of the week: The Mighty Red Baron

In today’s #TBT post, Alan Jones celebrates the Fokker Red Baron, possibly the most distinctive vintage craft ever built:



“The Fokker was built as a regular dogfighter for Germany in the first world war, one of the first real fighting planes in the world. It’s instantly recognizable thanks to the triple-decker wing designs, and the Red Baron’s signature color scheme. In fact, it’s hard to picture the plane without a bright red coat of paint, apologies to the factory workers whose hard work was immediately covered up by Herr Von Richthofen. He reportedly shot down around 70 Allied pilots in this craft, and it’s a popular figure of legend to this day. That’s also partly because not one of these planes actually survived the war. Needless to say, the Allies did everything they could to eliminate what was one formidable threat. One especially cool story about this plane that grabbed my imagination: a man in England, Paul Ford, has spent the last few years perfecting a working replica of this plane even without the best helmet for welders and other necessary tools, and flying it around the countryside. After a few false starts and crash landings, it’s now the star of the show at a re-enacted dogfight between the Fokker and a restored (original, no less!) Tiger plane. Here’s to the triple decker, and long may it reign supreme in our imagination!”


Gift Guide: What to buy this holiday season for the aerospace professional in your life, including the best welding helmets, flight watches, and much more!

Now that we’re flying through the holiday season, we thought it’d be a great idea to put together a little guide to shopping for the aerospace professionals in your life! It doesn’t matter whether you’re a pilot looking for something to “suggest” to your wife as a present for you, or a partner looking to get a special something for your special someone in the flight biz. Our editors took some suggestions from the forum, and came up with this list of ideas to get you started with your holiday shopping!


For the pilot:


If you have a pro aviator in your life, here are three gift ideas to help them soar even higher.


A watch: every great aviator loves their instruments, so get yours a pilot’s watch! Pilot’s watches have altimeters, chronographic time displays, and lots of world clocks to help a flyer feel on top of absolutely everything. Plus, as you’ll see from all the pictures members posted in the forum, they’re a lifelong heirloom that so many of us treasure until our last flight and long after.

Sully: the ultimate inspirational story to remind the pilot in your life of the best of the profession. It’s a great movie, and it’s a nice emotional journey for you to go on together this holiday season. Find it on DVD and Blu-ray.


A good coffee mug: Whether they’re strolling around an airport pre-flight, or trying to stay focused during the last leg of a long journey, every pilot needs a good travel mug. We’re not talking about some chintzy free one, no, no, no-you want the ultimate travel mug, like a mountaineering one. Something that can stay hot for 10 hours, so your pilot can still have perfect coffee over the Atlantic! Patagonia make a few great ones which are favorites among our members, and the mountaineering/outdoors manufacturers are usually safe bets overall.


For the attendant:


Flight attendants thrive on class and sophistication, so the ideal gifts help them dress even classier, and always be ready to manage a situation with grace and tact.

A smart shirt: A flight attendant can always use another good shirt. Always. Most folks wear vests as a uniform, so a shirt is a chance to show off some personal flair. Just remember to check that the color or pattern will match your flight attendant’s company clothes.


Cufflinks: cufflinks are highly, highly underrated these days. They’re a classic symbol of the class and sophistication of air travel, since back when people smoked cigars in private airliner lounges. Pick a pair that has a special significance for your friendship or relationship with the flight attendant in your life, or get some classic winged ones!


Luggage organizers: most flight attendants have treasured luggage bags. But the thing they probably don’t have is a perfect system for organizing within that bag. And, as you know, squeezing all the necessary changes of clothes, toiletries, and other must-haves is hard enough for the casual traveller, let alone the attendant who always has to look immaculate. Organizers are a thoughtful gift that lets them know you get it.


Solar Cell Charger


As any of us former flight attendants know, international flights can be a logistical nightmare. You’ve got to keep track of all your belongings, know how to get to your bed at night, and all the rest. The trickiest part is charging your phone, especially if you go between continents, or to places with unreliable power. Solar phone/tablet chargers are a super convenient gift for flight attendants, since they can recharge their battery literally anywhere.


For the Mechanic


There are lots of different gifts that suit the mechanic in your life. Here are a few that are easy to find without going to specialist stores.


wrenches: who doesn’t love a good set of wrenches? To go above and beyond the call of duty, get a set that’s in both metric and imperial, so your mechanic can work on planes built anywhere in the world.

welding helmet: if your mechanic does any sort of metal work, and chances are they do, the best welding helmet model is a super personal way to give them protection on the job. You can personalize it with cool decals or designs, and it’ll remind them of you with every job.


gloves: Enough said. Gloves need no introduction or explanation, they’re simply the difference between a great workday and a pain in the behind. Again, they’ll be a constant reminder of you, and they’re one of the most concrete differences you can make with a  gift in your special someone’s work life.

The View From the Cockpit: the current state of the aerospace industry

As we fly on into 2017, it’s time to check in with our editors on the current state of affairs for all us aviators.


So, what’s “up” in aviation in the next year?


Exciting innovations in science and engineering are sure to dominate, especially since Elon Musk has consolidated more of his companies, and will have more capital to put toward research. Space jets could potentially make their first test flights out of the stratosphere, given the pace of testing here on Earth over 2016.

We’re also curious to see how the world’s aeroplane manufacturers respond to all the flight issues, crashes, and concerns over the past year or two. With so many fleets aging or becoming dangerously obsolete, we are sure to see a conflict between the profit motive for the manufacturers and the safety requirements of the public sector. Will manufacturers introduce any new smart technologies to help prevent crashes and other mishaps? We’re hopeful that they might.


Trump: in one word, that’s what’s “up” for Boeing and other US companies. After 8 years of a relatively neutral Obama administration management, the FAA and other regulatory agencies are about to be taken over by quite a different organization. Trump hasn’t said much about the aerospace industry as a candidate, but he did express strong support for rebuilding our airports. We shall see what changes that brings. He has also waded into ongoing contract negotiations between Boeing and the Obama administration over the next editions of Air Force One, which could signal some tension between the incoming administration and the airplane makers, especially those who have been outsourcing parts. If President Trump loosens EPA restrictions on carbon and air pollution, we could potentially see some changes in fuel line designs as well, but EPA regulations can take years to revise, so we’re only putting that in the “somewhat possible” category. Overall, we’re sure to see lots of changes, some large and some small. Stay tuned!

The emergence of drones across public airspace has started to grab headlines, with some drones being flown in surveillance capacities, and others being developed for super-fast delivery from online retailers, Amazon in particular. The FAA has just come out with new regulations for the sector, which theoretically means manufacturers could start testing out prototypes in the coming year. At the very least, Amazon have promised to deploy their first drones across Canada, where regulations are more industry-friendly than here in the States. Looks like next year might be a whole lot easier in terms of doing your holiday shopping. Don’t forget to check out our 2016 Gift Guide before you fly away! It’s got all our top editors’ picks, including the best welding helmets, watches and more to give the aviator in your life.


All in all, things are looking pretty good, especially since the global industry reported record profits in 2016. We’ll all be looking forward to the future, and we’re as dedicated as ever to keeping you informed about all the important changes!