Tag Archives: planes

The fake cardboard planes of Area 51

In Area 51 in the 50s and 60s, Americans designing secret planes had to be wary of Soviet satellites flying overhead. They knew the schedule of the satellites, so they could stow the plane prototypes away before the satellites came by. However, the infrared satellites could still see the shape of the prototype based on the shape of the cool spot that had been created by its shadow.

To thwart the infrared satellites, Area 51 crews began constructing fanciful fake planes out of cardboard and other mundane materials, to cast misleading shadows for the Soviets to ponder. (Not intended to be seen, the decoys themselves were scooted out of sight before satellite flyovers.) Sometimes staff even fired up heaters near imaginary engine locations to make it look as if planes had just landed.

From National Geographic, via Neatorama.

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Correction: No cows ever fell from a plane into a Japanese fishing rig

Correction: February 6, 2011

An article on Jan. 16 about drilling for oil off the coast of Angola erroneously reported a story about cows falling from planes, as an example of risks in any engineering endeavor. No cows, smuggled or otherwise, ever fell from a plane into a Japanese fishing rig. The story is an urban legend, and versions of it have been reported in Scotland, Germany, Russia and other locations.

Via Talking Points Memo.

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Duck on the wing

Duck on the wing of a plane, peeking in the window

From Urlesque.

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Liver survives plane crash, is transplanted

A plane crash-landed in England and burst into flames. A donated liver was on board. Happily, everyone survived, including the liver, which was then successfully transplanted.

Via Gawker.

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Russia inflates its military

Russia has start using decoy inflatable tanks, trucks, and planes in order to fool its enemies. They are made at an old hot-air balloon factory and are of a special material that even fools radar and thermal imaging.

I think there is probably a metaphor for the Cold War in this, but I’ll leave that to others.

Via Neatorama

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Putin puts out fires

There are horrible wildfires going on in Russia. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took to the co-pilot seat of a plane, dumping water on the flames.

Via The Morning News.

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My favorite thing about Ted Stevens

You probably know that former Senator Ted Stevens died in a plane wreck today. I wasn’t a fan, but my favorite thing about him was that he wore an Incredible Hulk necktie whenever he was serious about an issue.

Also don’t forget: the internet is not like a truck.

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