Existential angst, with airplanes!
Many, many years ago, back when even I was young, a fellow named Alan Cobham (Sir Alan in later years) who had already dad a very long and colorful career in aviation, devised a practical method for in-flight refueling (others had certainly done it, but the company Cobham formed, Flight Refueling Ltd is still in existence and still manufacturing the equipment you just watched a demonstration of. It's truly great stuff, but like the biplane, probe and drogue refueling through a flexible hose ought to have been retired to a museum many years ago.The USAF virtually stopped using it back in the 1970's, except for helicopter refueling which is, I guarantee you, a lot more scary than this video.The basket which you saw connect to the probe has to be 'snapped on' to the receiver aircraft probe by momentum, but if the forward movement of the receiver continues just a few feet too far, a slack hose and a well washed windshield result. The US Navy still "likes" this game of Russian Roulette but the more practical method of a rigid, maneuverable probe being inserted by the boom operator in a flush receiver receptacle is orders of magnitude safer an a lot more efficient. Boom and receptacle refueling does require a dedicated tanker, though, which is one reason the house type will likely be with us a long time ... it can be built into an under-wing pod and added on to a non-purpose built aircraft.Notice all the incident pilot's squadron mate waiting at the side? No fuel for them, so they all have to divert some place within their remaining range and land ... and "Hapless Harry" gets to proudly taxi in with the drogue hanging off his undoubtedly bent and twisted probe. (no it can't be jettisoned in flight)Used to be good for a lot of beers for us maintenance guys back in my last air war, though, it's standard procedure that a pilot who brings the aircraft home bent has to buy a case of brew for the crew chief and anyone else quick enough to claim their prize.Thanks for the memories.
Was doing some more research on this and found, to my suprprise tat air refueling is now no longer military only ... another service of "General Aviation" to the world ... and an excellent use for old 707's:http://www.omegaairrefueling.com/
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