Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Secret X-37B Space Plane Set to Land This Weekend

(USAF Photo)

The U.S. Air Force Boeing X-37B is set to land at Vandenberg AFB, CA sometime between December 3-6, according to a November 30 Air Force statement.  The vehicle was launched April 22 aboard an Atlas V booster, and is designed to orbit up to 270 days and automatically reenter and land.  Little is positively known about the spacecraft or its mission, but another test vehicle is planned for launch next year.

UPDATE: The X-37B landed at 1:16 a.m. PT December 3 at Vandenberg AFB, CA after a 220 day mission since its launch on April 22. 

(Boeing Photo)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Privatize Lambert Airport? Lt. Governor Peter Kinder Floats the Idea, St. Louis Mayor Slay Disagrees

(Lambert St. Louis International Airport Photo)

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder this week suggested that the City of St. Louis sell Lambert St. Louis International Airport to private investors in order to improve service and relieve the city of the burden of owning and operating an under-performing airport.  This may ease the operational costs in the short run, but there would not be a large windfall.  Mayor Francis Slay, in his response, pointed out that the FAA does not allow the use of revenue from the sale of an airport to cover other costs of the former owner.  Also, with the political mistrust that exists between the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the state of Missouri, sale of the airport to an entity other than a regional authority, Slay wrote, would not bring about any improvement in the performance of the airport.  Although the sale of Lambert Airport is not practical at this time, at least there is a recognition of a problem (airport), and that may be the first step toward a solution.

Friday, November 26, 2010

New Air Ambulance Service Helicopter Stops at St. Louis Downtown Airport

Jefferson Regional Medical Center-based air ambulance, a Bell Helicopter 206-L4 Long Ranger, stopped in at St. Louis Downtown Airport today.  In service since November 10, the aircraft is operated by Air Medical Services of Glendale, AZ and serves primarily Jefferson County, MO.  It also shares air ambulance duties with Arch and Air Medical Life Team in the St. Louis and Metro East Illinois area. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Company Profile: Sabreliner Corporation

Navy T-34C at the Perryville Plant (Mark Nankivil Photo)

Sabreliner Corporation continues to thrive as a diversified aviation services company that supports current and older aircraft maintenance, refurbishment and remanufacturing needs for civil and governmental customers. Since its success with the Rockwell Sabreliner line of business and military jets, Sabreliner has become a premier supplier and subcontractor to Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, Bombardier Aerospace, L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Sikorsky Aircraft as well as the U.S. military. Sabreliner is headquartered in Clayton, MO and has facilities in Perryville, St. Mary and Ste. Genevieve Missouri.

In Perryville, Sabreliner services U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters, U.S. Air Force C-21 Learjets, U.S. Navy T-39, T-34 and T-44 trainers, and A-4 Skyhawk aircraft for civilian customers. In Ste. Genevieve, Sabreliner provides maintenance for flight control components for the Air Force KC-135 and the Navy E-6B. Also, replacement components are made for KC-135 rudders and E-3 Sentry elevators as well as center wing assemblies for the P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft flown by the U.S. Navy, other U.S. agencies and allied governments. In St. Mary, the company also fabricates sheet metal assemblies for Bombardier's production of long-range Challenger business jets and makes assemblies, sub assemblies and components for Sikorsky helicopters.  

Sabreliner will provide special vintage paint jobs for selected U.S. Navy aircraft during the 2011 celebration of the Centennial of U.S. Naval Aviation.  Check back in the future for more photos as they become available.  Go to for a preview.

For more information about Sabreliner Corporation, visit

(Portions of this post were provided by the Sabreliner public website)

St. Louis Science Center Receives $5 Million Gift from Boeing

St. Louis Science Center Press Release, November 24, 2010


Gift to fund new exhibition hall, educational programs

ST. LOUIS - The Saint Louis Science Center announced it has received a $5 million gift from The Boeing Company.

The gift was announced at the Boeing St. Louis Partnership for the Future Rally held on Nov. 22, 2010, which celebrated Boeing St. Louis’ rich aerospace heritage, military aircraft developments and strategic partnerships.

“Boeing employees consider it an honor, but also a responsibility to share our success with the region,” said Dennis Muilenburg, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security at the event. “We view this gift to the Saint Louis Science Center as an investment in the future of science and technology, because it will help the institution better serve and educate its visitors, advancing the region’s science literacy and building the skilled workforce of the future.”

According to Science Center officials, a portion of the gift will be used to fund the Science Center’s new exhibition hall, already under construction. The rest will support the institution’s educational programs and initiatives, including the expansion of programs like Youth Exploring Science and plans for more modern, interactive exhibits about critical topics like energy, climate change, the life sciences and flight.

“A gift of this magnitude will help ensure we’re able to realize our strategic vision for the future,” said Doug King, President and CEO of the Saint Louis Science Center. “We are extremely grateful to Boeing for its generosity and applaud its foresight in supporting science and technology education.”

The Science Center’s strategic vision focuses on three main areas - maintaining a World-Class Science Center, expanding its educational programs into a formal organization called the Institute for Science Learning, and becoming not just the Science Center, but a Center for Science, the place to which people can turn for all science and technology information.

According to King, the new exhibition hall, funded partially by the Boeing gift, is vital to this vision. The 13,000 square foot addition will provide a needed venue to better accommodate traveling exhibitions, and provide space to house unique educational activities on a distinctive, green rooftop terrace.

“Boeing has been an exemplary corporate citizen in this community,” said King. “Its continued support of not only the Science Center, but also programs like FIRST Robotics has inspired countless St. Louis students to pursue engineering careers and solidified its commitment to the work force of the future.”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Boeing Phantom Ray Taxi Tests Conducted November 18

(Boeing Photo)

Boeing News Release Issued: November 22, 2010 10:00 AM EST

Boeing Phantom Ray Completes Low-speed Taxi Tests

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 22, 2010 -- The Boeing Phantom Ray unmanned airborne system successfully completed low-speed taxi tests on Nov. 18 at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.

"Phantom Ray did exactly what it was supposed to do," said Craig Brown, Phantom Ray program manager for Boeing. "It communicated with the ground control station, received its orders and made its way down the runway multiple times, allowing us to assess its performance and monitor the advanced systems on board."

The tests were the first for the Phantom Ray following its roll out ceremony in May. Boeing now will prepare Phantom Ray to travel to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on top of one of NASA’s modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. At Edwards, Phantom Ray will undergo high-speed taxi tests before making its first flight. The flight-test program will last approximately six months.

"The autonomous nature of this system is unique, so achieving this milestone speaks volumes about the technology and expertise of Boeing, the Phantom Works organization and the Phantom Ray team," said Dave Koopersmith, vice president, Advanced Boeing Military Aircraft.

Phantom Ray is designed to support potential missions that may include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; suppression of enemy air defenses; electronic attack; strike; and autonomous aerial refueling.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

EAA 64 Members Pitch In to Beautify and Repair Historic Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport

Historic Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport is getting a face lift by members of EAA Chapter 64.  Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2, completed in 1930, is home to EAA 64 and the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum.  Please join me in thanking EAA 64 for their hard work - painting hangar doors and entrance doors, and rebuilding a portion of the roof. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

BD-5 Microjet Returns to Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Today

The BD-5 Microjet returned to its hangar at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum today.  Here are some scenes from the delivery - come to the museum to see it in person!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Elmendorf AFB F-22 Raptor Crashes During Training Flight - Wreckage Found

(USAF Photo)

A U.S.Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter from the 3rd Fighter Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska  lost contact with air traffic control at 7:40 p.m. local time while on a routine training mission Nov. 16 according to the Air Force.  Wreckage was found near Denali National Park, and pilot, Captain Jeffrey Haney, appears to have perished.

Newly Refurbished BD-5 Microjet Set to Return to Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum in Cahokia This Week

A BD-5 Microjet will soon arrive at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum in its new red, white and blue paint scheme. The aircraft, donated by Mike Kohnen, was refurbished and painted by members of the 126th ARW sheet metal shop at Scott AFB. Mark Nankivil, VP of the Museum, commented, "What a great bunch of guys and what a simply wonderful job they did...If I did not know better, I'd say they went and bought a different one and painted that! I cannot tell you enough how truly great a job they did in restoring this!"

The aircraft should arrive later this week at the Museum, located at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, IL. Visit this site again for more photos of the arrival and later display of this beautiful aircraft.

The following photos were taken by Mark Nankivil during his visit to Scott AFB yesterday:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Missouri Aviation Historical Society

Missouri Aviation Historical Society
The Missouri Aviation Historical Society is an informal group of folks with a love of aircraft, and we are striving to record and document the rich aviation history that has been a part of the great state of Missouri for the past century. From Benoist to Zenith, the aviation industry in the "Show Me" state has always been at the forefront of technology, and has produced some of the world’s best known aircraft. Famous pilots, from Jimmy Doolittle, to Slim Lindbergh, all called Missouri home for a portion of their lives, and made significant contributions to the advancement of aviation. One of our goals is to establish a Missouri Aviation Hall of Fame.

While our initial focus is on Missouri aviation history, we do welcome all regions of the country, as well as International interests. We meet six times per year at 190 Carondelet Plaza, Suite 600, St. Louis, MO 63105.  Our next gathering will be on Tuesday, March 1st at 7 PM. MAHS member, Mark Nankivil, who just returned from the Centennial of Naval Aviation kickoff ceremonies, in San Diego, will give us a full report of all the activities, with lots of photos! Refreshments will be served. For directions or more information, please contact Dan O’Hara at 573-529-2539 or email Hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

McDonnell Planetarium Director and X-Prize Board Member Gregg Maryniak Speaks About Energy From Space

First Slide Illustrates Mr. Maryniak's Various Responsibilities 
Mr. Gregg Maryniak, Director of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium (St. Louis Science Center), X-Prize Board Member, Vice Chairman of the Lindbergh Foundation and veteran pilot addressed students and faculty at the University of MO-St. Louis Friday, November 12.  In his presentation, "Can Space Save the Earth," Mr. Maryniak presented conventional and experimental methods of addressing current and future human earthly energy needs.  He expertly addressed ways of using technology to obtain the additional resources needed for projected increased energy production. 

The U.S. space program, Mr. Maryniak explained, began with the four words, "To Beat the Russians."  It now can be summed up with the phrase, "To Save the Earth."  The point here is that the needs of the earthly population need to be cooperatively addressed, and energy production from space is one area in which many nations can contribute.  The earth-moon system is the key to future space exploration, and the moon, with its lower gravitational forces and oxygenated soil, offers a logical base of operations, such as moving toward mineral-rich asteroids. 

Mr. Maryniak Demonstrates Earth/Moon Distance Relationship

Energy generation using large solar array satellites is an emerging technology that can directly impact life on earth.  The generation of energy for developing countries will eventually consume so much fossil fuel that real impacts on the biosphere will make life difficult for human existence.  Using large solar arrays that transfer energy through microwaves to collectors on earth is a feasible alternative, provided that the hardware will eventually be developed and positioned in high earth orbit. 

Mr. Maryniak has been instrumental in encouraging private industry to develop the technology to achieve such lofty goals.  As a member of the X-Prize Foundation, he has worked to establish several competitions to produce private suborbital space flight, lunar robotic exploration and  high efficiency cars.  The key to success in the development of new methods of addressing global issues is risk management, he said, and the blending of private investment with governmental support is the best way of encouraging additional participants.  Future X-Prizes will continue to encourage this activity.

Additional information on these and related topics may be obtained from these sites:

The X-Prize Foundation:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Boeing's Latest Statement on Dreamliner Incident

Updated Boeing Statement on 787 Dreamliner ZA002 Incident:

EVERETT, Wash., Nov. 11, 2010  Boeing continues to investigate Monday's incident on ZA002. We have determined that a failure in the P100 panel led to a fire involving an insulation blanket. The insulation self-extinguished once the fault in the P100 panel cleared. The P100 panel on ZA002 has been removed and a replacement unit is being shipped to Laredo. The insulation material near the unit also has been removed.

Damage to the ZA002 P100 panel is significant. Initial inspections, however, do not show extensive damage to the surrounding structure or other systems. We have not completed our inspections of that area of the airplane.

The P100 panel is one of several power panels in the aft electronics bay. It receives power from the left engine and distributes it to an array of systems. In the event of a failure of the P100 panel, backup power sources – including power from the right engine, the Ram Air Turbine, the auxiliary power unit or the battery – are designed to automatically engage to ensure that those systems needed for continued safe operation of the airplane are powered. The backup systems engaged during the incident and the crew retained positive control of the airplane at all times and had the information it needed to perform a safe landing.

Molten metal has been observed near the P100 panel, which is not unexpected in the presence of high heat. The presence of this material does not reveal anything meaningful to the investigation.

Inspection of the surrounding area will take several days and is ongoing. It is too early to determine if there is significant damage to any structure or adjacent systems.

As part of our investigation, we will conduct a detailed inspection of the panel and insulation material to determine if they enhance our understanding of the incident.

We continue to evaluate data to understand this incident. At the same time, we are working through a repair plan. In addition, we are determining the appropriate steps required to return the rest of the flight test fleet to flying status.

(Boeing News Release)

AH-1G Cobra on Display at VFW Post 5077 in Wentzville, MO

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kermit Weeks Reveals "Theme Park" Ambitions for Fantasy of Flight During EAA Webinar

(Fantasy of Flight Photo)

Fantasy of Flight founder Kermit Weeks described his vision for an aviation theme park on the scale of Disney World during his appearance on last night's EAA Webinar series.  He also  described his personal story, the development (and destruction by Hurricane Andrew) of Weeks Air Museum, and his personal exploration of metaphysical phenomena.  Visit EAA's webinar page soon to experience this webinar if you missed it live.