Tuesday, April 29, 2014

An unforgettable gesture of a Swiss Flight Engineer

An unforgettable gesture of a Swiss Flight Engineer

Good gestures by people around us make a special place in our hearts and remain in our memory for ever.   Whenever we think of them, they make us feel good and also make us realize that the world is full of good people, it is our fortune how many we come across in our life. 

This is a short story about one such an unforgettable personality, I was lucky to have met. 

Over 28 years have passed, but despite the fact that my memory is fading with age, I can not forget a memorable gesture by a gentleman, who knew that our chances of meeting again were remote, remains in my memory as fresh as if it had happened last month only. 

I would like to share those pleasant memories with you. 

In 1985, IndianOil had posted me on deputation to Male International Airport, the capital airport of Republic of Maldives.  My job involved training Maldivian officers and staff in handling and refuelling and safe aviation practices for aircraft ranging from small Otters to wide body aircraft like Boeing 747s, Lockheed Tristars and DC 10s. 

I used to be available at the apron on almost all refuelling operations, as my responsibility was to train the Maldivian Aviation Officers and staff in refuelling all type of aircraft with accurate quantity, refinery like quality and uncompromising safety. 

During the refuelling operations, I preferred standing under the tail of wide-body aircraft to observe refuelling activities as both sides of aircraft were visible from here. 

One day a DC-10 (three engine wide body 300 passenger capacity aircraft) of Balair (a subsidy of Swissair) was being serviced.  I was observing the refuelling operations from my usual position, under the tail of aircraft.  I was not aware that the flight engineer was topping up oil in the tail engine, which was 4 to 5 Meters above me.   In the process, a few drops of lube oil fell on my shirt.    

“Oh! I am so sorry Sir”, shouted the engineer rushing down from top of the ladder apologetically.  He was apologizing so much that I was feeling embarrassed.   Every time he said, “I am sorry, I spoiled your shirt.”  I felt embarrassed and repeated, "Don't worry this is an old shirt.  I was going to discard it anyway."  But his apologies were not ending. 

After about 3 months, the same engineer came on a similar flight.  Looking for me on the apron he said, “Ah! So there you are! How are you my friend?”
Handing me over the gift wrapped box, he said, “I am sorry, that day I spoiled your shirt.  "Before I could say anything he said, "You have to take it as a gift from a Swiss friend.  This shirt I have brought from Vienna, just for you.”  I was really speechless at such a warm and friendly gesture.  I told him that it was really not required but he insisted so much that I could not refuse.  I thanked him from my heart for this lovely gesture and above all, his feelings for me.  I opened the packet and found three things in it, a shirt of my size, an “I am sorry” card and a gold plated Swissair aircraft pendant for my wife.

I never met this Swiss engineer again, but his warm gesture touched my heart and further enhanced my respect for kind and gentle Swiss people.   

History is the witness that during both the World Wars, Switzerland remained neutral.  The Swiss provided medical help to injured soldiers under the banner of Red Cross. 

From this experience, I learnt that prominent features of National character are aptly visible in most of its citizens. 

-V S Saxena
 Retired Chief Aviation Manager (WR)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ho 229
1944 Blue Print of Nazi Stealth aircraft H.IX V1
Fighter/ Bomber
Gothaer Waggonfabrik, Munich, Germany
Designed by
Horten Brothers. Munich, Germany
First Flight
1 March 1944
Aircraft built
3 (Three only)

Today when we see a photo of US Air Force’s Northtop B2 stealth bomber, we ponder how advance US warfare technology is. But the fact may differ. B2’s stealth design and technology is a virtual copy of 1944 original invention of Hitler’s Aeronautical Engineers Reimar and Walter Horten .
History is witness that German stealth aircraft “Horten H.IX”, (also known as Ho 229 and Gotha Go 229), was a World War II prototype fighter/bomber and built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik of Frankfurt. It was the first pure flying wing, powered by two jet engine and designed to be hard to be detected by radars. This was the first aircraft to incorporate what is now known asstealth technology”. A personal favorite of Luftwaffe chief Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring. This was the only aircraft to come close to meeting his 100% requirements of performance. Its flew at 1,024 km/h (636 mph) at a ceiling of 15,000 meters (49,213 ft).

Stealth Technology Design and Development

In the early 1930s, as a method of improving performance of German gliders, Horten brothers had become interested in the flying wing design.
The flying wing design removed all unneeded surfaces which lead to the lowest possible drag. “A wing-only” configuration allowed for a similarly performing glider with wings that were shorter and thus sturdier, without additional drag of the fuselage.
In 1943, Reichsmarschall Goring issued a request for design proposals to produce a bomber that was capable of carrying a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) load over 1,000 km (620 mi) at 1,000 km/h (620 mph); the so called "3 X 1000 project".
Reichsmarschall (Marshal of the Empire or Imperial Marshal) was the highest rank in the armed forces of Germany during World War II after the position of Supreme Commander, which was held by Adolf Hitler.
Conventional German bombers could reach Allied command centers in Great Britain, but were suffering devastating losses from Allied fighters. At that time, there was no way to meet these goals — the new Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets could provide the required speed, but fuel consumption was high.
The Hortens concluded that the low-drag flying wing design could meet all of the goals: by reducing the drag, cruise power could be lowered to the point where the range requirement could be met. They put forward their private project, the H.IX, as the basis for the bomber. The German Air Ministry approved Horten’s proposal, but ordered the addition of two 30 mm cannons, as they felt the aircraft would also be useful as a fighter due to its estimated top speed being significantly higher than that of any Allied aircraft.
The aircraft was a mixed construction. The center pods were made from welded steel tubing and wing spars built from wood. The wings were made from two thin, carbon-impregnated plywood panels glued together with a charcoal and sawdust mixture. The wing had a single main spar, penetrated by two jet engine inlets. The wing's chord/thickness ratio ranged from 15% at the root to 8% at the wingtips.
Control was achieved with ailerons and spoilers. Directional stability at low speeds especially while coming in for landing, was achieved by undercarriage covers, which has control surfaces in the trailing edge and could be operated only at the time of landing after the undercarriages were lowered and locked.
The control system included both long span (inboard) and short span (outboard) spoilers, with the smaller outboard spoilers activated first. This system gave a smoother and firm control of yaw than would a single spoiler system.
The aircraft utilized retractable tricycle landing gear. A drag parachute slowed the aircraft upon landing. The pilot sat on a primitive ejection seat. Engines offered thrust lower than expectation and pilots were never satisfied with them.

Testing and evaluation

The first prototype H.IX V1, an unpowered aircraft flew on 1 March 1944. Flight results were very favorable, but there was an accident when the pilot attempted to land without first retracting an instrument-carrying pole extending from the aircraft. The design was taken from the Horten brothers and given to Gothaer Waggonfabrik. The Gotha team made some changes: They added a simple ejection seats, added a failsafe device that would not open the undercarriage if the projected probe was extended. They changed the undercarriage to enable a higher pay load, changed the jet engine inlet design for lower noise in dive, and as the wing was made of wood, they added a system to rush fresh air to cool the jet engine's outer casing.
In December 1944, this stealth H.IX V1 was followed by second prototype H.IX V2, for which, the BMW 003 engine was fitted. Goring believed in the design and ordered a production series of 40 aircraft from Gothaer Waggonfabrik. The first flight of the H.IX V2 was made in Oranienburg on 2 February 1945.
By this time, the Horten brothers were working on the Amerika Bomber.
The H.IX V2 reportedly displayed very good handling qualities, with only moderate lateral instability (a typical deficiency of tailless aircraft). While the second flight was equally successful, the undercarriage was damaged by a heavy landing. There are reports that during one of these test flights, the H.IX V2 undertook a simulated "dog-fight" with a Messerschmitt Me 262, the first operational jet fighter and that the H.IX V2 outperformed the Me 262.
Two weeks later, on 18 February 1945, disaster struck during the third test flight. Ziller took off without any problems to perform a series of flight tests. After about 45 minutes, at an altitude of some 800 m, one of the Jumo 004 turbojet engines developed a problem, caught fire and stopped. Ziller was seen to put the aircraft into a dive and pull up several times in an attempt to re-start the engine and save the precious prototype. Ziller undertook a series of four 360 degree turns with the wings banked 20 degrees. Ziller did not use his radio or eject from the aircraft. He may already have been unconscious as a result of the fumes from the burning engine. The aircraft crashed just outside the boundary of the airfield. Ziller was thrown from the aircraft on impact and died from his injuries two weeks later. The prototype aircraft was completely destroyed.[4]
Unloading of captured Horten Ho 229 V3 in the USA
Despite this setback, the project continued with sustained energy. On 12 March 1945, the Ho 229 was included in the Jäger-Notprogramm for accelerated production of inexpensive "wonder weapons". The prototype workshop was moved to the Gothaer Waggonfabrik (Gotha) in Friedrichroda. In the same month, work commenced on the third prototype, the Ho 229 V3. The V3 was larger than previous prototypes, the shape being modified in various areas, and it was meant to be a template for the pre-production series Ho 229 A-0 day fighters, of which 20 machines had been ordered. V3 was powered by two Jumo 004C engines, and could carry two MK 108 30mm cannon in the wing roots. Work had also started on the two-seat Ho 229 V4 and Ho 229 V5 night-fighter prototypes, the Ho 229 V6 armament test prototype, and the Ho 229 V7 two-seat trainer.
During the final stages of the war, the U.S. military initiated Operation Paperclip, an effort by the various intelligence agencies to capture advanced German weapons research, and keep it out of the hands of advancing Soviet troops. A Horten glider and the Ho 229 V3, which was undergoing final assembly, were secured and sent to Northrop Corporation in the United States for evaluation. Northrop was chosen because of their experience with flying wings, inspired by the Horten brothers' pre-war record-setting glider. Jack Northrop had been building flying wings since the N-1M in 1939.


A Horten H.IV flying wing glider is in the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, California. The only surviving Ho 229 airframe, the V3, is at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Paul E. Garber Restoration Facility in Suitland, Maryland.

Stealth technology

Northrop-built reproduction

After the war, Reimar Horten disclosed that he mixed charcoal dust in with the wood glue to absorb electromagnetic (radar) waves, which he believed could shield the aircraft from detection by British early warning ground-based radar known as Chain Home. A jet-powered flying wing design such as the Horten Ho 229 will have a smaller radar cross-section than conventional contemporary twin-engine aircraft. This is because, with wings blended into the fuselage, there would be no large propeller disks or vertical and horizontal tail surfaces to provide a typical identifiable radar signature. Horten's theories were tested by Northrop-Grumman in 2008 through the building of a replica that was found to give a radar cross section only 40% that of conventional aircraft.[2][4]
Engineers of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation had long been interested in the Ho 229, and several of them visited the Smithsonian Museum's facility in Silver Hill, Marylandin the early 1980s to study the V3 airframe. A team of engineers from Northrop-Grumman ran electromagnetic tests on the V3's multilayer wooden center-section nose cones. The cones are three-fourths of an inch (19 mm) thick and made up of thin sheets of veneer. The team concluded that there was indeed some form of conducting element in the glue, as the radar signal slowed down considerably as it passed through the cone.[2]
In early 2008, Northrop-Grumman paired up television documentary producer Michael Jorgensen, and the National Geographic Channel to produce a documentary to determine whether the Ho 229 was, in fact, the world's first true "stealth" fighter-bomber. Northrop-Grumman built a full-size reproduction of the V3, incorporating a replica glue mixture in the nose section. After an expenditure of about US$250,000 and 2,500 man-hours, Northrop's Ho 229 reproduction was tested at the company's classified radar cross-section (RCS) test range at Tejon, California, where it was placed on a 15-meter (50 ft) articulating pole and exposed to electromagnetic energy sources from various angles, using the same three frequencies used by the Chain Home in the mid-1940s. RCS testing showed that a hypothetical Ho 229 approaching the English coast from France flying at 885 km/h (550 mph) at 15–30 meters (50–100 ft) above the water would have been visible at a distance of 80% that of a Bf 109. This implies an RCS of only 40% that of a Bf 109, from the front at the Chain Home frequencies. The most visible parts of the aircraft were the jet inlets and the cockpit, but caused no return through smaller dimensions than the CH wavelength.
With testing complete, the reproduction was donated by Northrop-Grumman to the San Diego Air and Space Museum. The television documentary, Hitler's Stealth Fighter(2009), produced by Myth Merchant Films featured the Northrop-Grumman full-scale Ho 229 model as well as reconstructions depicting a fictional wartime scenario where Ho 229s were operational in both offensive and defensive roles.


A captured German Horten Ho 229 V3 prototype at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Garber restoration facility. Placement of engines closest to the cockpit reduced torque on failure of one of the engines and during engine failures, the aircraft performed satisfactorily well.
Rear view of Horten Ho 229 prototype H.IX V1
Ho 229 V3’s revised design also revised air intakes. Engines were placed a bit forward to correct longitudinal imbalance. Its nearly completed airframe was captured in production, with two Junkers Jumo 004B jet engines installed in the airframe.
Ho 229 V4: Two seat all weather fighter, in construction at Friedrichroda, but not much more than the tubular framework completed.
Ho 229 V5 planned two seat all weather fighter, in construction at Friedrichroda, but not much more than the tubular framework completed.
Ho 229 V6: Projected definitive single-seat fighter version with different cannon, mock-up in production at Ilmenau.
Horten Developments:
H.IXb (also designated V6 and V7 by the Hortens) Projected two-seat trainer or night-fighter; not built. Ho 229 A-0.
Projected expedited production version based on Ho 229 V6; not built.

Specifications (Horten Ho 229A (V3))

From manufacturer's estimates-three view drawing at top of page shows the Ho IX V1 glider prototype.
Data from The Great Book of Fighters
General characteristics
§ Crew: 1
§ Length: 7.47 m (24 ft 6 in)
§ Wingspan: 16.76 m (55 ft 0 in)
§ Height: 2.81 m (9 ft 2 in)
§ Wing area: 50.20 m² (540.35 ft²)
§ Empty weight: 4,600 kg (10,141 lb)
§ Loaded weight: 6,912 kg (15,238 lb)
§ Max takeoff weight: 8,100 kg (17,857 lb)
§ Powerplant: Junkers Jumo 004B turbojet, 8.7 kN (1,956 lbf) each
§ Maximum speed: Mach 0.92, 977 km/h (607 mph) at 12,000 m (39,370 ft)
§ Combat radius: 1,000 km (620 mi)
§ Ferry range: 1,900 km (1,180 mi)
§ Service ceiling: 16,000 m (52,000 ft)
§ Rate of climb: 22 m/s (4,330 ft/min)
§ Wing loading: 137.7 kg/m² (28.2 lb/ft²)
§ Thrust/weight: 0.26
§ Guns: 2 × 30 mm MK 108 cannon
§ Rockets: R4M rockets
§ Bombs: 2 × 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombs


V S Saxena

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Morale boosting for airport oil company staff

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lecture on "Passion to Win" at IOSTL Delhi Airport 28 Jan.11

On 28th January 2010, I had the privilege of taking a day long session of lecture at Hydrant Fuel Station od Indianoil Sky Tanking Ltd.'s (IOSTL) located at Delhi airport.

The participants were drawn from IOSTL's airport field officers. These officers toil hard to ensure thatirrespective of day or night, rain or thunder, hot winds of upto 50 degrees or chilling temperature touching freezing point, the aircraft at Delhi Airport, are refuelled on time, safely, with assured quality, accurate quantity, withing the stipulated short stay of the aircraft on ground.

These unsung heroes work silently without anyone knowing the intricacies, complexities, importance and significance of their job as well as the values attached to it. Such jobs do bring in a bit of monotony,which can be eliminated by exercises like this one initiated by IOSTL's Chief Executive Officer. I won't hesitate to admire the management of IOSTL, who realised this and arranged a series of lectures to ensure that the morale of officers involved in this responsible and important job does not go down at any time.

The 6 hours' series of lectures entitled, "Passion to win", were divided in 14 participative sessions as follows:
1. "Who am I?" makes a difference
2. Role of attitude in building our own personality
3. Communication: A presentation based on USAF C-130 crash. A practical exercise.
4. History of aircraft refuelling from 1900 till date, including mid-air refuelling
5. A Video of "Mid Air refuelling" of a helicopter
6. History of Aviation in Pictures from 400 BC till date.
7. Hydrant Refuelling System at Heathrow Airport.
8. A study by IAF on how "Human Factors" affect performance.
9. Select fleet of IAF
10. A rare video of "Cobra Maneuver by Sukhoy 30 of IAF"
11. How failures of control on quality of fuel can allow "Bacterial growth" in aviation fuel filters
12 Analyses of human errors: How, Why, & Remedy

Most of the presentations were on Power Point, making them feel that their company cares for them and values how important their job is.

We started with New Year Greetings: Since the year has just begun, we decided to start a new chapter in our lived by shunning the negative and thing of positives. The presentation, "Role of attitude in building our own personality" emphasised on how to make your mind think positive, was most liked session.

The participants were briefed before the session that if they did not agree on any point, or had any doubt on anything which they felt was not understood, or anything was not clear, I would love them to interrupt me during the session/ talk and speak up without any hesitation. The participation was very encouraging and a few doubts raised by the participants were cleared.

Here are a few photos that were taken at the session.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Safety in air starts from ground

Below are two reflections of human errors and negligence.
The picture below clearly states the story that this aircraft was not maintained as per required schedule. Someone somewhere took a short cut that cut the engine cowling and must have cost the airline, a fortune many many times the salary paid to that guy for his entire service.

Following is a result of crew fatigue. Insufficient rest to flight crew is insisted upon all the world over, but some greedy airlines' managements think that pilots sleep in the long flights so blow two hoots and force them to fly more than stipulated hours without rest.

In the year 1986 in Male (Maldives), an American pilot who was flying as captain of DC-8 aircraft for Maldives Airways, became my friend. He told me that he suspected beyond doubt that the earlier company he was working for, was involved in illegal drug smuggling. This he came to know after a few months of flying. He risked his life to get out of their clutches, leaving behind his 3 months salary arrears.

He used to recall his boss telling him there, "Damn it. You just keep flying. Make money. You can't ever make this much in your entire life. Keep your bloody eyes and ears open and all your traps shut." No one had courage to speak a word.

I told him with pride, "For Indians, life is precious than money and morality more than life."

Following is a picture of Pilots fatigue. A heavy landing at Kabul that separated the entire front section including the cockpit from the aircraft.

In Aviation we always keep in mind that howsoever repetitive and boring the checks may be, they are meant to lead us to the path of safe operations in the air.

V S Saxena
Mumbai (India)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, New Delhi

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Why is the famous Gurudwara Bangla Sahib of Delhi, called by this name?

This holy gurudwara dating back to year 1664 AD, is related to the visit of Honourable 8th Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Harkishan Sahib Ji.

In 1664, India was ruled by last of the Moughals, King Aurangzeb. Guru Harkishan Sahib, who was only 8 years old at that time, was requested by Aurangzeb through Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur, to bless Delhi, which was reeling under the epidemic of plague. Every day people were dying of this epidemic. This place, where Gurudwara Bangla Sahib stands now, was the bunglow owned by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur and that is where it’s name as Gurudwara Bangla Sahib originated.

Youngest queen of Aurangzeb perhaps wanted to test Guru Ji’s ingenuity and confirm if this 8 year old boy, whom the Hindus and Sikhs of her regime worship like God, has any sensory perception. So, she dressed herself as a maid and went to Guru ji to offer him a sweet drink. Antaryami Guru Harkishan Das Ji recognized her at the first glimpse. He told her to sit down on the floor. Then Guru ji walked upto her and quietly sat in her lap like a child would. He asked, “Are you satisfied that I am none other than Harkishan? The queen apologized with tears in her eyes and complimented him in traditional Muslim way and left embarrassed.

Plague was taking tolls of life every day in Delhi. King Aurangzeb was worried. Guruji washed his feet in the pond located in the bunglow and asked those who were suffering, to drink a sip. This had magical effects and those who drank the water from the tank, were cured. Those who were healthy, got protected from the disease.

Thus, with the blessings of Shri Guru Harkishan Sahib, Delhi was freed from epidemics of plague. Maharaja Jai Singh dedicated his bunglow (spoken as “Bangla” in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi) for making a holy Gurudwara, which is reason why this is known as Gurudwara Bangla Sahib.

V S Saxena

Thursday, November 4, 2010

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

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