Wind flames out Northern Thunder 2022

The Thunderbirds parked and grounded at KRDR, 18 Jun 2022 (Fargo Orbit)

It just doesn’t happen every year. It was called off two years ago, and it didn’t quite take flight this year, either. The Grand Forks AFB Air Show, this time simply called “Northern Thunder”, couldn’t get away from Grand Forks’ defining feature: the wind.

Not only was it gusting to almost 20 m/s, it was coming from the wrong direction for takeoffs and landings. Even if the base had extra runways, they  would never be built facing into the rather unusual direction.

Not everything at an air show is airborne, of course: Though a few announced planes didn’t quite make it to the tiedowns, this was more than offset by the surprise visit of a CC-130J Super Hercules, which drew a huge crowd despite being placed just about the farthest from the food and port-a-potties.

Not past local noon, the wind shot up violently, sending aircrew scrambling to check their lines and chalks, while visitors with loose items soon found themselves deprived. As nothing had taken to the skies, the event program turned to the occasional pull of the Shockwave, essentially a semi-truck with an afterburning jet engine stuck on the back.  Loud and flashy, it kept spirits up during the lengthening wait for the return of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds to the Grand Forks skies.

By 1800 UT, there was a thick black cloud clinging to the ground around the airfield. This dirty air should have been hot and acrid with jet wash, but was instead a hazy, gritty Minnesota soil sample, carried on the raging southeast gale that turned hats and corn chip bags alike into wrathful FOD. It was time to visit the food trucks.

Food and Vendors at Northern Thunder, 18 June 2022. (Fargo Orbit)

Vendors from all over the region were onsite; among the more impressive drives, Cookies For You brought baked cookies and frozen cake pops from Minot. Magic Bean, also from Minot, brought its black van and baristas, and Fargo’s Mi Barrio Dominican Cuisine brought a unique flavour.

Overall, it was a great event for young learners, a chance to grab squeeze toys, pop can coozies, and air-themed stickers and mission patches, or to hang out of the door of a refuelling tanker, sit in the hotseat of a fighter jet, or spin around the turret of an air defence system.

2LT Shields of the North Dakota National Guard demonstrates an FIM-92 Stinger MANPADS at Grand Forks Air Force Base, 18 June 2022 (Fargo Orbit)

For older or wiser folks, there were a few tables from institutions doing fundraisers or fly-ins, or perhaps the beer garden for those not in a rush to drive back. Stick around and you might learn something about these metal beasts, the people who flew them and knew them, or even hear an RCAF corporal waxing on about the merits of Lobster Poutine.

As the haze only grew by 1900 UT, any would-be pilots had no choice but to save their kerosene for some other time. The show previously known as “Thunder Over the Red River” will still be looking for its first aerial event since 22 May 2010. And since the one before that was in 2006, there’ll be a fair while to wait again.

Coronavirus information

FiveThirtyEight has published an excellent summary of what every person needs to know about COVID-19, which is updated frequently.

Vaccines are widely available in the US and Canada for walk-in service at medical providers and pharmacies. Many areas are still operating dedicated immunization clinics. Vaccines are safe and effective, including against the omicron variant of concern. Vaccines are now available for all age groups.

As of June 2022, travel restrictions have largely ended for travellers with up-to-date vaccinations. Be ready to show proof of vaccination when crossing national borders. Canada also requires use of the ArriveCAN app or website.

Continue reading “Coronavirus information”

Fly-ND Summerfest to land in Washburn 19 Aug 2021

Summerfest 2021 (Fly-ND.com)

The 2021 North Dakota Aviation Association Summerfest will be an in-person event this year.

The one-day event will take place at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn 19 August 2021 from 0930 to 2030 CT, with an optional golf game at Painted Woods.

Ticket prices vary by activity choices:

  • $25 for lunch and talks;
  • $50 for talks and dinner;
  • $150 for lunch, talks, golf, and dinner.

Friends and Family of Washburn pilot and North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame member Bill Beeks are especially encouraged to attend.

Fly-ins may land at Washburn Airport (5C8 – AirNav, SkyVector)

Morning lunar eclipse

The Total Lunar Eclipse of 26 May 2021; lighter areas saw more of the eclipse. (NASA GSFC)

A lunar eclipse greeted early risers on 26 May 2021. Earth’s shadow totally covered the moon for a few minutes at about 1119 UT. This was about the time the moon was setting over North America, and was after sunrise in the far north of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Goddard Spaceflight Center’s eclipse page is always an excellent resource to plan future eclipse viewing.

Iowa State hosts Women in STEM event series with regional universities

Iowa State is leading a Women in STEM program called “Joining Forces”, alongside North Dakota State, Michigan Tech, and Western Michigan U, funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program.

In addition to mentorship and professional development, there is a 2020 scheduled event series. The first event, on 1 Oct 2020 at 6pm Central Time, is an online groupwatch and discussion on the documentary film Picture a Scientist (film trailer).

To participate, contact the ADVANCE Midwest Partnership at Iowa State University.

Hot abort past fortnight

Orbital news
23 Aug 2020 0227 UT – Jiuquan CZ-2D Gaofen-9
29 Aug 2020 0728 UT – Canaveral Delta IV USMil (abort)
31 Aug 2020 0305 UT – Mahia Electron Sequoia Photon
31 Aug 2020 2044 UT – OGO-1 reentry (hangtime 55yr11mo26d 19h21m)
31 Aug 2020 2318 UT – Canaveral Falcon 9 SAOCOM 1B

03 Sep 2020 0151 UT – Kourou Vega rideshare mission
03 Sep 2020 1246 UT – Canaveral Falcon 9 Starlink

Regional news
21 Aug 2020 – Wildfire smoke reaches Calgary
21 Aug 2020 – Manitoba pilot hits glass ceiling in public service hiring
22 Aug 2020 – US domestic surveillance flights declared lawful
24 Aug 2020 – Dr. Cindy Blaha (Carleton C) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
24 Aug 2020 – Kyle Fraser-Mines (Carleton C) featured by Minnesota Space Grant

24 Aug 2020 – Carleton C galactic emissions study featured by Minnesota Space Grant
24 Aug 2020 – Dr. Ryan Terrien (Carleton C) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
24 Aug 2020 – Eric Kuha, MS (Leech Lake TC) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
24 Aug 2020 – St. Catharine U Ballooning Team featured by Minnesota Space Grant
24 Aug 2020 – Leech Lake TC rocket team featured by Minnesota Space Grant

24 Aug 2020 – Freja Olsen (Carleton C) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
24 Aug 2020 – Satellite imagery of Iowa derecho damage
24 Aug 2020 – Delta furloughs almost 2000 pilots
26 Aug 2020 – Carleton C stellar spectroscopy featured by Minnesota Space Grant
26 Aug 2020 – New North Dakota aviation scholarship

27 Aug 2020 – Omaha plans new science museum
27 Aug 2020 – Delta bans maskless fliers
27 Aug 2020 – U Wisconsin gets data science grant
27 Aug 2020 – Saskatchewan will produce rare earth elements
27 Aug 2020 – Winners announced from 21 Aug SNOLAB Science Talks

28 Aug 2020 – Bozeman drone firm Ascent Vision Technology sold to CACI
28 Aug 2020 – Nebraska wildfire spreads over 16 sq km
28 Aug 2020 – Montana pilot dies in Oregon fighting fires
29 Aug 2020 – Skydiving fatality near Westlock AB
29 Aug 2020 – Lost drone returned to owner in Thunder Bay

29 Aug 2020 – Sun Country parcel deal keeps airline afloat
31 Aug 2020 – American Airlines will compete with Allegiant on Billings-Phoenix route
31 Aug 2020 – Mackenzie Klima (Iowa SU) featured by Iowa Space Grant
31 Aug 2020 – Restored Korean War B-25J flies through Missoula
01 Sep 2020 – Fatal case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Nebraska

01 Sep 2020 – Saskatoon library is local election issue
01 Sep 2020 – Art contest details from Iowa Space Grant
01 Sep 2020 – Drake U announces new partner 2-year institution: John Dee Bright C
01 Sep 2020 – Snowbirds flight team reinstated, fly Tutors back to Moose Jaw
01 Sep 2020 – WestJet passes higher Nav Canada fees to customers

02 Sep 2020 – U Alberta education servers crash on first day of class
02 Sep 2020 – Art contest details from Wisconsin Space Grant
02 Sep 2020 – Minnesota Space Grant cancels Midwest High Power Rocket Competition
02 Sep 2020 – MN-ROADS robotics program featured by Minnesota Space Grant
02 Sep 2020 – 16,000 furloughs planned at United Airlines

03 Sep 2020 – Concordia C plasma physics research featured by Minnesota Space Grant
03 Sep 2020 – Lisa Campbell now leader of Canadian Space Agency
03 Sep 2020 – TSB releases report on 10 May 2019 collision involving Sudbury-bound flight
03 Sep 2020 – North Dakota SU transportation studies count as STEM credit

Further news
23 Aug 2020 – PS752 flight data downloaded
25 Aug 2020 – Astronomers issue full report on how to see past glare of commsat clouds
25 Aug 2020 – Pulsar Fusion makes a plasma thruster, still chasing space fusion reactor
25 Aug 2020 – InSight detects Phobos transit
25 Aug 2020 – Tianwen-1 completes en route test

25 Aug 2020 – Crew returns to US side of ISS after leak check
25 Aug 2020 – Starliner plans for next three flights, starting as soon as December 2020
25 Aug 2020 – USPS mail processing sapped by cuts in Minnesota
25 Aug 2020 – Wildfire smoke billows into Iowa
26 Aug 2020 – ISS crew checks for air leak over extra day sealed in on Russian side

26 Aug 2020 – Hope probe images Mars
26 Aug 2020 – Skylab astronaut Jerry Carr dead at 88
27 Aug 2020 – Oneweb still getting new FCC approvals
28 Aug 2020 – SLS cost overruns
28 Aug 2020 – 787 defect grounds planes

29 Aug 2020 – Satellite TV operator DirecTV for sale again
31 Aug 2020 – Outage at CenturyLink affects over 3% of Internet traffic
31 Aug 2020 – Lucy, Jovian asteroid probe, starts assembly, may launch 2021
31 Aug 2020 – US mainline air carriers finally end onerous change fees
31 Aug 2020 – Teprel-B rocket engine passes test

31 Aug 2020 – Amazon approved to fly drone deliveries in US airspace
01 Sep 2020 – JAXA moon rover named ‘Lunar Cruiser’
01 Sep 2020 – Small nuclear reactor from NuScale gets US safety approval
01 Sep 2020 – Airline internet provider Gogo bought by Intelsat
01 Sep 2020 – Jetpack operator spotted too close to LAX

01 Sep 2020 – FAA approves Electron launches from Virginia
02 Sep 2020 – Plasma thruster research featured by ESA
02 Sep 2020 – The Register interviews Rocket Lab exec
02 Sep 2020 – Minuteman III test launch at Vandenberg AFB
02 Sep 2020 – SLS booster test

02 Sep 2020 – SpaceX seeks FCC broadband funds
03 Sep 2020 – FAA awards airport grants
03 Sep 2020 – US drone part import ban affects firefighting
03 Sep 2020 – Starship SN6 test flight

COVID-19 matters
21 Aug 2020 – Ontario finalizes 3M PPE factory deal
22 Aug 2020 – Canada Post closes Edmonton plant for cleaning after COVID case
22 Aug 2020 – South Dakota COVID data hacked
22 Aug 2020 – U North Dakota surge in COVID cases
22 Aug 2020 – 42 cases sets new record in Manitoba

23 Aug 2020 – VIDO-InterVac vaccine building own production line, other delays
24 Aug 2020 – COVID-19 can be caught multiple times, body does not stay immune
25 Aug 2020 – FDA resets expectations for convalescent plasma: safe but only slightly effective
25 Aug 2020 – North Dakota SU prof publishes roundup of COVID drugs
25 Aug 2020 – COVID outbreak follows Sturgis rally

25 Aug 2020 – Nebraska COVID data struck by computer glitch
25 Aug 2020 – Minnesota requires COVID testing for nursing home staff
25 Aug 2020 – Hy-Vee pharmacies added to drive-through COVID test effort

26 Aug 2020 – U Wisconsin redesigns the facemask
26 Aug 2020 – Minnesota sticks to wider COVID test plan
26 Aug 2020 – Kenosee water park reopens after closure
27 Aug 2020 – New antigen tests need less lab equipment, demand still outpaces supply
28 Aug 2020 – ASM Logic of Burnsville MN creates software to coordinate COVID supplies in Cameroon

28 Aug 2020 – Lengthy recovery from COVID for ND Supreme Court justice
29 Aug 2020 – Major outbreak at U Iowa
29 Aug 2020 – Manitoba fighting outbreaks at nursing homes
31 Aug 2020 – Roblin MB fights to keep full hospital services in town
31 Aug 2020 – US cancels ventilator order

31 Aug 2020 – U Calgary dorms are 70% empty this year
31 Aug 2020 – Canada buys Novavax, J+J vaccines
31 Aug 2020 – U Wisconsin joins Phase III tests of AstraZeneca vaccine
31 Aug 2020 – Travel restrictions return to Northern Manitoba
31 Aug 2020 – One fifth of COVID tests at Iowa SU are positive

31 Aug 2020 – Iowa reaches highest COVID rate in US
31 Aug 2020 – Sweden strategy, poor in hindsight, considered for United States
01 Sep 2020 – Biohackers test experimental vaccines on themselves
01 Sep 2020 – U Nebraska-Lincoln greek houses quarantined
01 Sep 2020 – Phase II/III study of Regeneron antibodies in Sioux Falls

01 Sep 2020 – U Minnesota reopens after 2 week delay
02 Sep 2020 – US not joining international vaccine effort
02 Sep 2020 – Phase III test of AstraZeneca vaccine at HealthPartners in Minnesota
02 Sep 2020 – Studies continue to confirm steroids help COVID patients in hospital
02 Sep 2020 – Medtronic announces restructuring and layoffs

02 Sep 2020 – Likely first US vaccines will ship frozen: Moderna at -20C, Pfizer at ultracold -70 C
03 Sep 2020 – Manitoba will launch PPE test centre
03 Sep 2020 – Iowa schools reopen in COVID wave, lawsuits fly

ExpressJet regional airline shuts down

The Summer 2020 Midwest route network for ExpressJet. ExpressJet announced its imminent shutdown on 30 Jul 2020. (ExpressJet)

United Express regional airline ExpressJet is shutting down. The metro Atlanta-based airline announced the move in an e-mail notice to staff on 30 July 2020. Most ExpressJet staff have already been laid off, and have now lost their jobs.

CommutAir, another United Express regional airline based in metro Cleveland, will now operate the aircraft and destinations previously used by ExpressJet.

The move affects the United Airlines network at all remaining ExpressJet destinations, including Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Peoria. In October 2019, before the pandemic reduced demand for airline tickets, ExpressJet was serving Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Fargo, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Lincoln, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Omaha, Peoria, Rochester, and Winnipeg.

July 2020 Aviation Safety Roundup

We’re starting an aviation safety roundup; most of these stories will now be here instead of in the regular space and science news roundups. Our next report on this will be in August 2020.

Continue reading “July 2020 Aviation Safety Roundup”

GPS flies and Beidou goes global last fortnight

The Long March 3B launch from Xichang on 23 Jun 2020 0143 UT, was covered live on television, unusual for a launch in China. The flight completed the Beidou-3 global satellite navigation constellation. (Xinhua)

Orbital news
23 Jun 2020 0143 UT – Xichang CZ-3B Beidou Navigation

Continue reading “GPS flies and Beidou goes global last fortnight”

Starlink and Gaofen launched this week

Debris falls from a Momo suborbital rocket launched from Taiki, Hokkaido, Japan, 13 Jun 2020 2015 UT. The mission did not reach space. (Interstellar Technologies/Nicovideo)

Orbital and Suborbital News
13 Jun 2020 0512 UT – Mahia Electron US Military, rideshare
13 Jun 2020 0921 UT – Canaveral Falcon 9 Starlink
17 Jun 2020 0718 UT – Jiuquan CZ-2D Gaofen-9-03
13 Jun 2020 2015 UT – Taiki Momo-F5 suborbital mission [failed to reach space]

Regional News
13 Jun 2020 – Billings pilot earns licence at 17
13 Jun 2020 – Feature on Winnipeg’s eternal mosquito fight
14 Jun 2020 – 45 hectare wildfire near Prince Albert
14 Jun 2020 – C-FOAW emergency landing near Cut Knife SK
14 Jun 2020 – N836JC fatal crash at Mandan airport
14 Jun 2020 – N201UB gear-up landing in Muskegon
14 Jun 2020 – Seaplane flip in Thunder Bay
14 Jun 2020 – Watford City or Williston may get western North Dakota drone tower
14 Jun 2020 – WestJet protects planes from hail with hockey boards
15 Jun 2020 – Calgary mosquito boom
15 Jun 2020 – Kyle Wanner (North Dakota Aeronautics Commission) radio interview
15 Jun 2020 – N87395 landing gear damage at Butte airport
15 Jun 2020 – Williston weather radar now live on North Dakota State Water Commission website
16 Jun 2020 – Bozeman pilot fined for improper helicopter landing
16 Jun 2020 – Duluth Sky Harbor airport reopens
16 Jun 2020 – Edmonton-based Flair Airlines doesn’t offer social distance as standard
16 Jun 2020 – N27RZ nosegear damage at Ely MN
16 Jun 2020 – North Dakota gives $850,000 loan to drone video firm
16 Jun 2020 – Pathfinder Project at North Dakota SU nets NASA funds
16 Jun 2020 – Road traffic at Billings airport halted by misloaded truck
16 Jun 2020 – U North Dakota administrators share an engineering background
17 Jun 2020 – Alberto Passalacqua (Iowa SU) works on OpenQBMM flow model software
18 Jun 2020 – Mohit Gupta (U Wisconsin) and EPL build a better photo sensor

Further News
12 Jun 2020 – Bill Nye and Leland Melvin discuss social concerns and space travel
12 Jun 2020 – Solid rockets arrive at KSC
13 Jun 2020 – Spaceflight Industries finishes sale of rideshare division
14 Jun 2020 – Solar Orbiter first perihelion
16 Jun 2020 – Canadian Forces resume Cyclone helicopter flights after deadly crash
16 Jun 2020 – Chang’e-4 rover resumes work for 19th lunar day
16 Jun 2020 – New charcoal air filters installed on ISS to deal with benzene leak
17 Jun 2020 – 4300 apply for 2 UAE astronaut slots
17 Jun 2020 – Astra targets July orbital launch from Kodiak
17 Jun 2020 – NASA updates Crew Dragon contract with operational realities
17 Jun 2020 – Perseverance rover nearly launch ready
17 Jun 2020 – Robot mission plan would fly by Uranian moon Triton ~2038
17 Jun 2020 – SpaceX Starship program advances: pressure tests, floats launch platform idea
18 Jun 2020 – Florida firm Space Perspective floats space tour trial balloon
18 Jun 2020 – ISS benzene leak search will continue into next week
18 Jun 2020 – Leuders’ timeline is fuzzy for moon landing
18 Jun 2020 – Tom Cruise ISS film will need blockbuster bankroll

COVID-19 matters
12 Jun 2020 – CDC has new COVID recommendations for reopen
12 Jun 2020 – COVID can’t spread in breast milk
12 Jun 2020 – Peter Pelka (U Manitoba) works on adenovirus-based COVID vaccine
12 Jun 2020 – Temperature check required to fly in Canada
15 Jun 2020 – Manitoba extends COVID emergency
15 Jun 2020 – Minneapolis-based Premier Biotech resells China antibody tests
15 Jun 2020 – New China lockdown tries to avert second wave
15 Jun 2020 – NWT adds pass program at border checkpoint near Fort Smith
15 Jun 2020 – TRV027 drug trial attempts to solve COVID blood clots
16 Jun 2020 – Keep your mask on in public restrooms, especially after flushes
16 Jun 2020 – No COVID outbreak in SD due to protests
16 Jun 2020 – Quarantine violation in Fort Frances
16 Jun 2020 – Saskatchewan libraries reopen for remote pickup
16 Jun 2020 – U Iowa plans COVID cuts
17 Jun 2020 – Laurentian U makes hand sanitizer
18 Jun 2020 – Foxconn will still make 10 000 Medtronic ventilators in Wisconsin