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Remembering The First Nonstop Transpacific Flight





Pioneering trips across the Atlantic Ocean are well-spoken about across the aviation spectrum. While these feats are groundbreaking and deserve the attention, early achievements across the Pacific should also be highlighted. In 1931, Clyde ‘Upside-Down’ Pangborn and his co-pilot, Hugh Herndon, Jr., managed to cross the largest ocean in the world by air without stopping for the very first time. Let’s take a look at this unique journey.

Bellanca Skyrocket Monoplane Before Record Flight Over Pacific
There was a series of unexpected events that led to this transoceanic trip. Photo: Getty Images

No stranger to risks

Pangborn was given the name of “Upside-Down Pang” due to him rolling his aircraft onto its back and fly upside down during his time in World War I. Following a career in barnstorming, exhibition flying, and aerial acrobatics after returning from air service, he had his eyes set on a new challenge.

The aviator was keen on besting the around-the-world speed record. So, he requested the help of his fellow barnstormer, Herndon, to try and beat the then-record of 20 days, four hours, achieved by the German Graf Zeppelin in 1929. Herndon would be a navigator on the job. He also had the cash to fund such a project as he was the offspring of Standard Oil heiress Alice Boardman.

The pair acquired a Bellanca “Skyrocket” monoplane to help them on their adventure. However, in June 1931, the legendary Wiley Post and Harold Gatty set a new record. This situation, however, didn’t deter the duo as they felt they could still beat the new record of eight days, 15 hours, and 51 minutes.

Stuntman Walking on Wing of Curtiss JN-4D Jenny Biplane
Pangborn walking on the wing of a Curtiss JN-4D Jenny in 1920. Photo: Getty Images

On their way

So Pangborn and Herndon left Roosevelt Field to head northeast on July 28th, 1931. The two were actually making good ground to catch up to the record, but they soon ran into trouble. They got lost when flying over Mongolia, and after the pair found their way, there was a severe rainstorm in Siberia. As a result of these issues, there wasn’t much hope to beat the record. Therefore, the pilots abandoned the mission.

Despite the failed attempt to circumnavigate the globe, the conditions allowed for another record to be achieved. While waiting for the weather to improve, they considered taking on a challenge set by a Japanese newspaper. A $25,000 (~$435,700 today) prize was on offer to someone who could make the first nonstop flight between Japan and the United States. It’s important to note that Alaska wasn’t a state at this time, which is where Post and Gatty stopped off.


One of the most difficult issues that the two pilots had to deal with in regard to this trip was before they set flight back across the ocean. They were met with angry authorities after arriving at Tokyo’s Tachikawa airport. Tensions were high as Japan was at war with China at the time. So, officials were concerned about unannounced foreigners flying in and taking photos in sensitive areas.

Pangborn said the following, according to HistoryNet.


“We were arraigned on three counts. That we had flown over fortified areas and that we had photographed these areas. True we didn’t have a flight permit with us, but we assumed it would be routine for our embassy to arrange it. As for flying over fortified areas and taking pictures, we were just tourists taking what we thought were pretty landscape shots.”

Subsequently, Pangborn and Herndon were arrested on charges of espionage and sent to jail. After a guilty verdict, they were fined $1,050 each and were released.

The pair were only given one shot to take off for the US in a Bellanca plane, nicknamed Miss Veedol. If they landed back in Japan, they would have to go back to prison, and the aircraft would be taken away.

The American Ocean Pilots Hugh Herndon (Left) And Clyde Edward Pangborn On Their Arrival In Berlin-Tempelhof. 30Th July 1931. Photograph.
While spending several weeks under arrest, Herndon (left) and Pangborn had time to carefully plan their flight across the Pacific. Photo: Getty Images

Preparing for the return

There were concerns about the limited fuel supply of the aircraft. So, the duo created a strategy to reduce the plane’s weight, which would allow it to fly for longer. Pangborn fitted a device so he could jettison the aircraft’s landing gear after lifting off. Altogether, he determined that Miss Veedol would increase its range by about 600 miles (966 kilometers) without the gear.


Finally, Pangborn and Herndon departed Samishiro Beach, Japan, on October 4th, 1931, to head to the State of Washington. The United States Centennial of Flight reports that there were issues soon after takeoff as two of the landing gear’s struts remained behind despite the jettison.

This factor meant that the plane wouldn’t touch down if they attempted a belly landing. So, using his barnstorming experience, Pangborn climbed onto the wing of the plane at 100-mile per hour winds and, in freezing temperatures, set about loosening the struts.

At the time, equipment was limited compared to what subsequent transoceanic voyagers had. Moreover, there wasn’t much space to fit much on board the aircraft.


The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum shares:

“Supplies for the overloaded Bellanca included 915 gallons of fuel, 45 gallons of oil, sandwiches, tea, and chicken. The plane did not have a radio, life raft or emergency equipment. Jettisoning the landing gear decreased the load by 300 pounds and added 15 mph to the airspeed.”

Nonetheless, these difficulties did not prevent Pangborn and Herndon from achieving their mission. After 41 hours 13 minutes, they belly-landed at Wenatchee, Washington. Overall, the flight was a success!

Bellanca Skyrocket Monoplane After Belly Landing
Miss Veedol had to land on its belly due to the lack of landing gear. Photo: Getty Images

National heroes

Both Pangborn and Herndon were military veterans. Notably, Herndon met Winston Churchill in the Bahamas during World War II. He then joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and shipped bombers to the UK before the United States joined the conflict.

Pangborn also offered his services to the war effort. He helped to launch the Ferry Command of the Royal Air Force. Being a senior captain, he was involved with over 175 ocean deliveries of military planes.

Avro Lancaster I Bomber in Flight
Pangborn flew the Avro Lancaster Bomber across the Atlantic for the first time. Photo: Getty Images

Altogether, the pair were well decorated both in the public and military sphere. According to The National Aviation Hall of Fame, honors include the Harmon Trophy, the King’s Medal, and the White Medal of Merit.

Pangborn passed away in New York on March 29th, 1958. He was 63 years old and was laid to rest with his military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Herndon died on April 5th, 1952, in Cairo, Egypt, and is buried at Titusville, Pennsylvania. Miss Veedol was sold and renamed The American Nurse soon after the transpacific flight. However, the plane disappeared after last being seen in the eastern Atlantic in 1932.

This transpacific feat emphasizes that there can be opportunities even when there is failure. If the two pioneers didn’t struggle during their around the world attempt, they wouldn’t have become the first to fly nonstop across the Pacific Ocean.

What are your thoughts about the first-ever nonstop transpacific flight? Are there any other early aviation achievements that you’d like us to cover? Let us know what you think of these feats in the comment section.

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What Happened to Zambia Airways?





Zambia Airways spent 30 years operating out of Lusaka Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN). During this time, the carrier served a wide range of destinations as far afield as North America and Europe. The airline also operated an interesting and diverse fleet during its three decades of operations. Let’s take a closer look at its history.

Zambia Airways Douglas DC-10
The airline flew the DC-10 to destinations such as London Heathrow. Photo: Dean Morley via Flickr

In the beginning

1964 saw a reformation of Central African Airways (CAA). This airline had previously been the flag carrier of three territories: Malwai, Southern Rhodesia, and Zambia. At this time, it decided instead to create national airlines for each of these three territories and own them all as subsidiaries. As such, Zambia Airways came into being in April 1964.

Operations began three months later, in the form of generally unprofitable domestic services. The airline was supported by CAA’s more successful international operations, although it chose to part ways with its parent company in 1967.

Having broken away from CAA that September, Zambia Airways became the country’s state-owned national airline. It soon enlisted the support of Alitalia in the fields of technical assistance and management. This allowed the carrier to begin flying internationally.

Zambia Airways Boeing 737
Zambia Airways was only a CAA subsidiary for its first three years (1964-7) before becoming state-owned. Photo: Steve Fitzgerald via Wikimedia Commons

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Fleet and destinations

Most of Zambia Airways’ destinations were, understandably, situated in Africa. As well as a robust domestic network, the carrier also flew to the likes of Botswana, Kenya, Liberia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Tanzania. Further afield, Zambia Airways also served Mumbai, as well as several key European hubs, including Frankfurt and London Heathrow.


It even operated a single transatlantic route, to none other than New York JFK. Such a wide range of destinations also demanded a correspondingly diverse fleet. During its three decades of operations, Zambia Airways operated the following aircraft types.

  • ATR – 42-300.
  • BAC – 1-11.
  • Boeing – 707, 737, 757 (freighter).
  • de Havilland Canada – DHC-2 ‘Beaver.’
  • Douglas – DC-3, DC-8, DC-10.
  • Hawker Siddeley – HS 748.
  • Vickers – Viscount.
Zambia Airways Boeing 757PF
The Boeing 757 freighter provided Zambia Airways with more cargo capacity. Photo: Pete Webber via Flickr

A new dawn?

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Zambia Airways ran into financial difficulties. Despite hiring Lufthansa in an attempt to regain profitability, the airline’s precarious economic situation forced it to make cuts. These included the closures of its New York and Tokyo offices, the former of which also meant the suspension of its service to the Big Apple.


Zambia Airways’ story eventually came to an end in December 1994. This was when the country’s government placed it into liquidation due to its losses and debts. However, a new chapter to the Zambia Airways story may yet be written.

Indeed, with the help of Ethiopian Airlines, the Zambian government had planned to launch a new version of the airline on October 24th, 2018 (the country’s independence day). However, since then, the launch has been subjected to multiple delays, and is yet to occur. In any case, it will be an interesting one to watch out for as African aviation looks to weather the storm of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the coming years.

Did you ever fly with Zambia Airways? If so, which of its aircraft did you travel on, and where to? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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Egyptian Low-Cost Carrier flyEgypt: What You Need To Know





Many travelers might be familiar with Egypt’s largest airline, Egyptair. They might even know about its low-key subsidiary, Air Sinai from our articles. Today, we’d like to introduce you to another Egyptian carrier by the name of flyEgypt: A six-year-old carrier with seven aircraft and an impressive list of destinations.

flyEgypt’s fleet consists of seven Boeing 737s with an average fleet age of 14.2 years. Photo: TJDarmstadt via Wikimedia Commons 

Six years of operations

Launched in 2015, flyEgypt is an Egyptian airline that offers domestic and regional service. Additionally, the carrier conducts charter operations to an impressive 80 cities across Europe.

“We connect Cairo and the world to Egypt’s top holiday destinations, and support hardworking Egyptians around the region looking to fly home,” the airline says on its website.

According to Arabian Aerospace, flyEgypt’s network is an “unusual blend” of 70% charter flights to Europe, with the other 30% being scheduled services. Going to the website’s list of destinations and it certainly appears impressive for a carrier with just seven aircraft.

Indeed, there are 20 cities in Germany alone, with another 12 in France, five in Poland, and six in Finland. Other countries served by the airline include Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Hungary, Armenia, and more*.  Of course, these destinations make up the airline’s charter destinations- ferrying European holidaymakers to sunny resort spots in Egypt such as Sharm El Sheik and Hurghada.

*Destinations listed are during normal, non-pandemic operations.


Just a few of the routes flyEgypt has operated or will operate. Photo:

In terms of domestic and regional service, the airline had planned to operate flights from Cairo to a handful of Egyptian destinations (Sharm El Sheikh, Marsa Alam, Luxor, and Aswan). The carrier’s CEO told Arabian Aerospace the following in 2019:

“Launching the domestic network has been a key component of our long-term growth plans, and we’re very excited to be finally seeing this milestone come to life, not only is it important for us as an airline, but we believe that it helps support tourism and rural employment, which are both critical for Egypt’s national economy.”

Regionally, the carrier has flown Kuwait, Lebanon, three cities in Saudi Arabia, and more. However, most of these services are suspended due to the ongoing crisis.


A fleet of just seven 737s

For all of its destinations offered, the airline has a humble fleet of just seven Boeing 737s. Five of these are the popular -800 variant, while the other two are the shorter -700. All -800s are configured in an all-economy set up with 189 seats, while the -700s have 148 economy seats.

The jets are all on lease and have flown for a diverse list of carriers prior to serving with flyEgypt. Previous airlines include Air Berlin, Air Europa, Spicejet, Smartwings, and Pegasus. These aircraft are getting old, though, with an average age of 14.2 years at the time of this article’s publication.

According to data from, the airline is due to take delivery of some 737 MAX jets at some point in the future, with two being listed as future additions to the fleet.

The airline is committed to operating an all-737 fleet and is hoping to take delivery of the 737 MAX in the future. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons 

A new service to Ras Al Khaimah

The airline most recently launched service from Cairo to Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE. Gulf News notes that the airline will operate the service three times per week on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

With Egyptians migrating to countries across the GCC looking for economic opportunities,  this service could indeed be a winner- perhaps more so when this global health crisis is over. The new flight would also serve to boost Egypt’s tourism industry, attracting residents from the UAE.

Have you ever flown with flyEgypt before? Share your experience by leaving a comment.

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Why Asia Is A Big Market For Embraer’s E2 Series





As airlines draw up their future plans, Embraer is eying a huge market for its brand-new E2 series in Asia. The aircraft’s competitive economics and long range make it favorable for many domestic and point-to-point routes in the world’s largest market. Let’s find out about Embraer’s vision for Asia.

Embraer E2 family
While the E2 family has not seen too many customers in Asia yet, the manufacturer expects more very soon. Photo: Embraer


Airlines in the Asia-Pacific have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic. While much of the region has managed to keep cases low (with a few exceptions), this has meant border closures and much lower demand. All of these changes have forced airlines to rightsize their fleets and look into buying smaller aircraft in the future.

Embraer sees these changes as an opportunity for its brand-new E2 family. In an interview with Simple Flying, Embraer’s Commercial Head for Asia-Pacific, Raul Villaron shed light on the Brazilian manufacturer’s outlook and strategy for the region in the coming years.

Embraer E190-E2
While Embraer is yet to add an E2 customer in Asia-Pacific, the airline has seen new carriers take on E-jets in the last year. Photo: Embraer

Perhaps the most attractive aspect about the E2 for airlines is the jet’s economics. The new generation of jets features a lower unit cost ($60mn for a new E190-E2 at list price) as well as a lower per seat cost. The improved costs of the E2 family will make it more attractive to airlines looking to many airlines at this time.

Considering the focus on per seat cost among airlines across Asia, the E2 is now much more competitive. Now that Embraer has a jet ready for the Asia-Pacific market, where does it expect to see the most demand?


Many might be familiar with the E2’s promotional “TechLion” or profit hunter livery from 2019. The reason the E2 is great at turning a profit is because of its efficiency in a particular market segment: flights under 650 nautical miles. Below this distance, the E2 offers better seat costs than even narrowbody jets like the A320 or 737.


This means that Embraer’s newest planes are well-suited to regional routes and adding more frequencies on popular short-haul routes. Considering the renewed focus on domestic and regional traffic in the last year, carriers like Bamboo Airways and Alliance Airlines have added their first E-jets to their fleets (not E2’s however).

Embraer E195-E2
On flights under 650 nautical miles, the E2 is undoubtedly the “profit hunter.” Photo: Embraer

For context, routes under 650nm include Delhi to Mumbai, Beijing to Shanghai, Sydney to Brisbane, and scores of others. It’s clear that there is a growing market for regional jets in the future, one that the E2 is intently eying.


Coming soon

With vaccines slowly rolling out across the world, aircraft demand is expected to pick up once again. Indeed, Embraer saw its deliveries bounce back in the last quarter of 2020 after a difficult year. While revenues are still down, the decade holds many opportunities for the E2 as airlines expand and replace their fleets.

What do you think about the future of the E2 in the Asia-Pacific market? Let us know in the comments!

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Why Do Some Aircraft Have A T Tail?





Take a close look at aircraft tails, and you will notice one major difference between some aircraft. While most modern airliners have a lower tailplane (or horizontal stabilizer), some smaller and regional aircraft have a higher so-called T-tail. This has relevance for the aircraft it is used on.

717 vs MD-80
The Boeing 717 is just one example of a modern jet with a T-tail. Photo: Getty Images

Tails and stabilizers

Firstly, a quick recap on the purpose of the aircraft tail. The tail provides stability and control for the aircraft in flight.

The vertical tail fin (with the airline logo on it) is technically called the vertical stabilizer. In addition to this, there is a horizontal stabilizer. This is the small wing-like protrusions from the main tail, or rear of the fuselage. The horizontal stabilizer is where you will find the elevators – they control the pitch of the aircraft. The tail, of course, also houses the rudder.

The tail / vertical stabilizer with horizontal stabilizer in line with the fuselage. Photo: Getty Images

In all large commercial jets, the horizontal stabilizers are the base of the tail, in line with the fuselage. However, on many other aircraft, you will find them at the top of the tail fin. The shape of this gives rise to its name of T-tail.

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Which aircraft have T-tails

To start with, most current Boeing and Airbus aircraft do not have this. The exceptions are the Boeing 717 and the 727. The 717 is formerly, of course, the McDonnell Douglas MD-95. Both of these aircraft have fuselage-mounted engines.


Boeing 727
The Boeing 727 was once the world’s most popular aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Historically, many jets with fuselage-mounted engines had T-tails. This includes the BAC One-Eleven, the DC-9, DC-10, MD-80, and MD-90.

American MD-80
The MD-80 was a major part of the American Airlines fleet until 2019. Photo: Rene Schwietzke via Wikimedia

Many current small and mid-size jets still have T-tails. Such as the Bombardier CRJ Series, Embraer ERJ, and the BAe 146 / Avro RJ. Also, several business jet series (including Learjet and Gulfstream) have T-tails, as do some large military transports.


Purpose of the T-tail

Placing the horizontal stabilizer at the bottom or top of the tail makes little difference in theory. Both positions will enable the tail to function correctly and allow the elevators to do their job.

The reason why on some jets it is placed higher is to do with airflow. Placing them higher on the tail keeps them out of the disturbed airflow behind the wing and engines. With fuselage-mounted engines, this is always necessary.

A high horizontal stabilizer also aids short-field performance. The disturbed airflow over a lower stabilizer can make control more difficult at low speeds. Better control at lower speed is an important part of short take-off and landing capability.

BAe 146 LCY
The BAe 146 uses four engines and a high tail for short-field performance. Photo: James Petts via Flickr

Lowering it on modern jets

Why then do modern large jets not have T-tails? There are several reasons. Firstly, a lower horizontal stabilizer is simpler to install and maintain, and the vertical tail does not need to be as strong. And secondly, there is no real need to boost the short-field performance with more powerful engines and operation from standard runways.

SAS A320neo
All current Boeing and Airbus widebodies and narrowbodies (apart from the Boenig 717) have a lower horizontal stabilizer. Photo: Getty Images

But perhaps most important is the avoidance of a deep stall. At a high angle of attack, disrupted airflow over the wings flows over the high horizontal stabilizer, leaving the aircraft with no pitch control. This was experienced with a BAC One-Eleven test aircraft in 1963. Since then, modifications were introduced (including stick hackers and warnings of an approaching stall) on other aircraft that used a T-tail. But lowering it would avoid this problem entirely.

There is a lot more to discuss about tail design and development. A full discussion of aerodynamics and the performance of different aircraft types is beyond the scope of this article! Feel free to discuss more specific details in the comments. 

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