Jan 12, 2013

Worlds most unique aircraft: The MD 200/199

While on christmas vacation I happened over to ELP where a good friend has been storing what is possibly the worlds most unique and one-of-a-kind aircraft, the McDonnell 220/199 to take some photos of it for him.

It is serial number #1 because it was the first and only fully functional and flying airframe that ever left the McDonnell factory in St. Louis.  There had been another airframe in progress but was never completed.

What makes it unique is that the fuselage is about 50% longer than a Sabreliner (T-39) yet sports (4) turbojet, pod-style engines under it's wings - which makes it almost resemble a miniature 707 or 720.  The engine nacelles themselves are unique in that they have a rounded-square shape, something I've not seen on any other aircraft of any type.

Originally specced to be built for the military it was given the designation of MD 199, which later turned to MD 220 when it was repurposed for the role of 10-passenger "biz jet", a category that was literally created for aircraft, and the first to be certified by the FAA as a "business jet".

Today it sits idle, baking the in the hot desert sun where it's been for years, while it's owner attempts to find it a proper home in a museum.

The future of the MD 200 is unclear as it would be financially impractical to revive it to flying condition and so far no museum has the funds to get it transported.  So it sits, being admired by everyone who sees it as a unique, one-off aircraft.

Taken with the iPhone 4s, which can't handle high degrees of light-to-dark differential, I had to tweak these images manually in PS to get a decent balance between light and dark.

Enjoy this rarest of birds.

Jan 10, 2013

One of the worlds strangest aircraft: The Super Guppy

While on vacation in southern NM I went to the airport at ELP to take photos of a friends a/c.  While on the ramp I came across a still-flying example of a really rare bird, the "Super Guppy".

Originally designed for transporting large, unwieldy cargo for any client, it saw it's most of it's life in service for NASA moving large main-body parts for the Gemini and Apollo space programs.

This bird is still in NASA's care for testing and occasionally moving large pieces of cargo for the international space station.  This is the only remaining flying version of this aircraft as all the other are either mothballed or in museums.

Winter Wonderland: 2013

After years of not having a real vacation I finally broke down and visited an area of the country I'm very partial to: Southern NM.  Specifically the area surrounding Holloman AFB and the nearby mountainous areas of Cloudcroft and Ruidoso.

I didn't get to travel around to all the places I wanted but got some cool wintery photos with my iPhone.  The ultra-wide shots were done with the iPhone 4s "panorama" mode - about 180-degree turns.

For someone who spends 99% percent of his time in the brown of the desert southwest it was nice to get up to 10,000 feet and be in crisp, clean mountain air, away from humans and tourists.