Here is an amazing story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11 .On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic .
All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”
No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, New Foundland.
He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.
While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.
We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander , New Foundland, to have it checked out.
We promised to give more information after landing in Gander .. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.
There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the US.
After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.”
Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.
The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane.
In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets.
Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC.
People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.
Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.
We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.
We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning.
Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.
Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing.
And they were true to their word.
Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.
About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.
After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander!
We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.
We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.
Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.
Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days.
What we found out was incredible…..
Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.
Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.
ALL the high school students were required to volunteer theirtime to take care of the “guests.”
Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.
Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.
Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility.There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.
Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips.
Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests.
Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.
Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.
In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.
Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about thewhereabouts of each and every passenger and knew
which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.
It was absolutely incredible.
When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.
Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
And then a very unusual thing happened.
One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days.
He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.
He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.
“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte.
He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!
“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.
As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.
“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them.
It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”
“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.
*This is one of those stories that need to be shared. Please do so…*
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HAL Plans Batch Upgrades for Sukhoi-30MKI Fleet
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India’s state-owned aerospace and military firm, is planning a significant modernization programme to improve the capabilities of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft fleet. This massive project, which is set to begin in fiscal year 2026-27.
The cockpit of the Sukhoi-30MKI has been completely redesigned as the main point of this upgrade effort. In a state-of-the-art makeover, new-generation touch widescreen checks will replace the present cockpit displays. This improvement is expected to improve pilot situational awareness, data visualization, and control over the aircraft’s systems, leading to a more responsive and accessible interface.
The addition of a new Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system produced locally for the programme is critical to the upgrade plan. In electronic warfare settings, this radar technology is critical for improving targeting precision and performance. It improves the Sukhoi-30MKI’s ability to operate effectively in difficult operational conditions by improving detection and tracking capabilities.
Along with the radar update, the mission control computer—a crucial part of the aircraft’s avionics suite—will also see significant advancements. Given the updated Sukhoi-30MKI’s powerful radar system and new display infrastructure, these improvements are crucial to guaranteeing seamless integration and top performance.
Additionally, the modernization programme anticipates an improved arsenal of weaponry that may include advanced electronic defenses and ammunition. A powerful asset in both air-to-air and air-to-ground operations, this improvement will considerably increase the aircraft’s combat effectiveness.
The modernization project planned by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) represents a significant stride in India’s quest for enhanced air combat capabilities and technological self-reliance. With the comprehensive redesign of the Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft fleet, encompassing cutting-edge cockpit displays, an indigenous AESA radar system, and an upgraded mission control computer, the Indian Air Force is on track to secure a formidable edge in contemporary aerial warfare.
This strategic initiative not only strengthens the Sukhoi-30MKI’s capabilities but also underscores India’s commitment to innovation and defense technology development.
In the pursuit of its ambitious upgrade plan, HAL, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, places a pivotal emphasis on successfully securing the much-needed approvals and financial sanctions from both the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Indian Air Force (IAF).
This visionary project, if granted the necessary green light, is set to unfold over the course of multiple years, signifying a long-term commitment and dedication to a transformative goal. The overarching objective is nothing short of remarkable: to meticulously convert the entire existing fleet of Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft into the cutting-edge Super-30 variant, with the ambitious deadline set for the year 2034. The meticulous execution of this grand undertaking will proceed at a steady and methodical pace, with an annual target of transforming 20 to 25 aircraft.
Comparison between F-35A and F-15Ex
The F-35A and the F-15EX are both advanced aircraft developed by renowned aerospace companies, Lockheed Martin and Boeing respectively. Each aircraft boasts a distinct set of features and capabilities, making them well-suited for specific roles within modern air warfare. Let’s compare these two remarkable aircraft in terms of their primary functions, specifications, capabilities, and support.
Primary Functions & costs
The F-35A, designed jointly by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, has a wide range of primary roles. It excels at stealthy, all-weather strike missions, close air support, air superiority, maritime strike, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and command and control operations. Its estimated price is roughly $80 million, with a flying cost per hour of less than $24,000, and its anticipated procurement is for 2025.
On the other hand, The F-15EX, developed by Boeing, serves as a cutting-edge aircraft with primary functions focused on air superiority and targeted strikes in less or uncontested airspace. Its estimated price is roughly $80.3 million, with a flying cost per hour of less than $27,000, and its anticipated procurement is for 2025.
The F-35 A is a single-seater aircraft with impressive characteristics that is Equipped with a powerful Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. It can fly with a maximum takeoff weight of 65,918 lb (29,900 kg), with a fuel capacity of 18,250 lb. The aircraft measures 51.4 ft (15.7 m) in length, 35 ft (11 m) in wingspan, and 14.4 ft (4.4 m) in height. It has a combat radius of 670 miles and a top speed of Mach 1.6 at altitude. The service ceiling of the F-35A is 50,000 feet.
F-15 offers flexibility with a crew capacity of 1 or 2 individuals and is Powered by 2 General Electric F110-GE-129 engines. The maximum takeoff weight is an impressive 81,000 pounds (37,000 kg), supported by a fuel capacity of 13,550 lb. The aircraft spans 63.8 ft (19.446 m) in length, with a wingspan of 42.8 ft and a height of 18.5 ft (5.64 m). It achieves a maximum speed of Mach 2.5 at altitude and has a combat radius of 1,100 miles, with a service ceiling of 60,000 ft.
Radar cross-section & Weaponry
The F-35 A design is robust; in contrast to its 8,000-hour design life, its service life has been evaluated to reach 24,000 hours. The F-35A has an extremely low radar cross-section, at 3.8mm, which reduces its radar profile. It can transport a range of US and NATO air-to-air and ground weaponry, with an internal weight capacity of 5,700 pounds in stealth mode and 22,000 pounds in exterior “beast mode,” including a 25mm cannon.
The F-15EX has a design life of 8,000 hours, although testing over 30,000 hours has shown it to be robust. It is relatively large on radar compared to the F-35 A due to its greatest radar cross-section of 42.8 feet. With a total weight of 29,500 pounds distributed among nine external stations, the aircraft is equipped with all US air-to-air and ground armaments, including a 20mm cannon.
Major differences from Earlier Versions
Multiple software and processor updates have been made to the F-35A. Progress includes improved weapon capability and electronic warfare systems. The current version, known as Block 3F baseline, is moving towards Block 4, with software and weapon improvements planned twice yearly in 2024.
The F-15 has undergone advancements since 2001, including the addition of digital fly-by-wire technology, enhanced display coding, and Suite 9 avionics. With a passive-active Warner survivability system, its cockpit display is similar to that of the T-x trainer and Eagle trainer.
Major constituencies like Texas, California, Georgia, and Florida have been vocal in their support for production, demonstrating the congressional leadership’s backing. In Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, notable bases and installations house or support the F-35A. In order to demonstrate its broad reach, Lockheed has distributed F-35 subcontracts to all 50 states.
Regions in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and Washington are actively supporting production, which has significant congressional support. North Carolina, Oregon, and Georgia all have significant institutions that support F-15 operations. Boeing’s wide influence is evident, with business conducted in all 50 states.
In conclusion, while both the F-35A and the F-15EX are cutting-edge innovations in military aircraft, they excel in different domains. The F-15EX is a strong option for uncontested airspace situations due to its focus on air superiority and focused strikes, remarkable performance, and cost-effectiveness. While the F-35A’s stealth capabilities and versatile design make it suitable for a variety of tasks. Both are remarkable aircraft with their own strengths and capabilities, catering to different mission profiles and strategic objectives.
UAE reportedly seeking a role in KF21 fighter jet
The Financial News, a South Korean daily, said on Thursday that the UAE’s Tawazun Economic Council had sent a letter to South Korea’s Office of National Security explaining Abu Dhabi’s desire in direct cooperation on the development of the KF-21.
Surprisingly, the letter allegedly requested that Abu Dhabi replace Indonesia’s investment in the program.
Indonesia holds a 20% shareholding but has failed to meet its financial obligations. Jakarta, which had planned to purchase up to 50 KF-21s, joined the program in 2010 but fell behind on payments in 2017, owing an estimated $557 million by July 2022. In May, Jakarta attempted to assuage Seoul’s fears by announcing a revised payment schedule.
The KF-21 Boramae’s stealth capabilities are a crucial feature. The aircraft is equipped with modern stealth technology such as a low-observable design, radar-absorbent materials, and internal weapon carriage.
These features lower the radar cross-section of the aircraft, making it more difficult to detect and track hostile radars. The KF-21’s stealth characteristics increase its survivability and allow it to more effectively infiltrate opposing defenses.
The UAE’s alleged interest is not surprising. After all, Abu Dhabi pledged $30 billion in South Korean businesses, including defense, in January. The affluent Arab kingdom inked a $3.5 billion contract with South Korea for the Cheongung II KM-SAM air defense missile system in January 2022, the largest-ever arms export transaction for Seoul at the time.
As these multibillion-dollar investments in the South Korean industry illustrate, the UAE would have little issue repaying Indonesia’s debt to the Boramae programme. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi would surely be interested in co-producing the fighter since it would aid in the development of its domestic defence sector through significant technology transfers, which Seoul has proven to be generous with.
The UAE has halted talks with the US over a record sale for 50 fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II stealth planes in late 2021 due to differences over American preconditions and Emirati cooperation with China.
The KF-21 Boramae is powered by two General Electric F414-GE-400K afterburning turbofan engines. These engines provide the necessary thrust for the aircraft’s high-performance capabilities. The F414 engines are known for their reliability, fuel efficiency, and ability to operate in various environmental conditions. They enable the KF-21 to achieve the supersonic speeds and maneuverability required for air combat scenarios.
On the other hand, India, China, and Turkey are already in the process of developing their own Fifth Generation Fighter Jet. Turkey has already exhibited it and is awaiting the final engine selection for their 5th generation fighter plane. Americans are looking forward to the 6th generation fighter jet, which will be the most advanced in terms of engine thrust and weapons technology.
Most countries are working together to develop collaborative efforts to build their own fighter plane.
HAL Plans Batch Upgrades for Sukhoi-30MKI Fleet
Comparison between F-35A and F-15Ex
UAE reportedly seeking a role in KF21 fighter jet
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