Nadezhda Popova 1921–2013
Obituary: The ‘night witch’ who bombed the Nazis
“For three years during World War II, Nadezhda Popova terrorized German troops fighting on the Eastern Front. The Soviet pilot was one of the most celebrated members of an elite all-female regiment that flew bombers that had been converted from plywood-and-canvas crop dusters. Flying only in the dark, the pilots would surprise the enemy by shutting down their engines in the final stages of their bombing runs. The Germans heard only a whoosh in the air above them and, likening the sound to a broomstick, called the women “night witches.” Their skill prompted the Germans to spread rumors that Russian women were given special injections that endowed them with cat-like night vision. “This was nonsense, of course,” said Popova, who flew 852 missions in the war, including 18 in a single night, and was named a Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation’s highest honor. “What we did have were clever, educated, very talented girls.” …
The casualty rate was high among the pilots. Popova saw dozens of her female comrades die, and thought that she might have survived the war simply because she was born lucky. “I sometimes stare into the blackness and close my eyes,” Popova said in 2010. ‘I can still imagine myself as a young girl, up there in my little bomber. And I ask myself, ‘Nadia, how did you do it?’”
“Occasionally, the blog has dropped in to check on the progress of the F-35, the $400 billion … flying Swiss Army Knife that stands as a monument to government boondogglery of the highest caliber. Well, look what has managed to survive the sequestration crisis just fine, thank you very much.
Ninety senators have a political stake in this clown show, so it will never close. Meanwhile, Congress is fighting tooth-and-nail over how much to cut food stamps, and we keep building a new airplane that can’t maneuver in combat or perform air-to-ground support any better than the ones we have now, and that spends more time in the shop than my old minivan did, and it had axles that would break if you looked at them and an electrical system designed by bonobos. The next person who talks to me about how we need to ask Americans to ‘sacrifice’ more gets a cream pie in the face. I am not kidding about this.”
Progress Of The F-35 (Previously | More)
Long Ago, a Pilot Landed on an Uptown Street. That’s Where the Bar Was.
“Thomas Fitzpatrick, turned a barroom bet into a feat of aeronautic wonder by stealing a plane from a New Jersey airport and landing it on St. Nicholas Avenue in northern Manhattan, in front of the bar where he had been drinking.
As if that were not stupefying enough, the man did nearly the exact same thing two years later. Both landings were pulled off in incredibly narrow landing areas, in the dark – and after a night of drinking in Washington Heights taverns and with a well-lubricated pilot at the controls. Both times ended with Mr. Fitzpatrick charged with wrongdoing. The first of his flights was around 3 a.m. on Sept. 30, 1956, when Mr. Fitzpatrick, then 26, took a single-engine plane from the Teterboro School of Aeronautics in New Jersey and took off without lights or radio contact and landed on St. Nicholas Avenue near 191st Street.
The New York Times called it a “fine landing” and reported that it had been widely called “a feat of aeronautics.”
The second flight was on Oct. 4, 1958, just before 1 a.m.
Again he took a plane from Teterboro and this time landed on Amsterdam and 187th Street in front of a Yeshiva University building after having “come down like a marauder from the skies,” in the words of Ruben Levy, the magistrate at Mr. Fitzpatrick’s ensuing arraignment. Newspapers reported that Mr. Fitzpatrick jumped out of the landed plane wearing a gray suit and fled, but later turned himself in.
Mr. Fitzpatrick told the police that he had pulled off the second flight after a bar patron refused to believe he had done the first one.”
“More than 800 people have paid as much as $200,000 apiece to reserve seats on commercial flights into space, some of which are expected to launch, at long last, within a year. Space-travel agents are being trained; space suits are being designed for sex appeal as much as for utility; the founder of the Budget hotel chain is developing pods for short- and long-term stays in Earth’s orbit and beyond. Over beers one night, a former high-ranking NASA official, now employed by Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin transportation conglomerate, put it plainly: ‘We happen to be alive at the moment when humanity starts leaving the planet.’”