18 Dec
2019

She taught the world to fly!

first_imgShe taught the world to fly but she had an extraordinary, almost uncaring birth. The man who wanted her couldn’t afford her, the man who built her was reluctant to build her and the men who first flew her on December 17th, 1935, didn’t bother to arrange a photographer to capture one of aviation’s greatest moments.See a stunning video of the Breitling DC-3 below.Legendary American Airlines’ President Cyrus Smith who wanted the DC-3 as a sleeper transport was in “a cold sweat, because he just didn’t have the money to pay for them,” according to Donald Douglas Sr., famed founder of Douglas Aircraft Company in a 1965 interview. Mr Smith spent $300 ($5,500 today) on a 2-hour telephone conversation with Mr Douglas trying to convince him to widening his existing – and very successful – 14-passenger DC-2. “I did not like it at all,” Mr Douglas recounted in the interview. “Why should I have liked it? I had plenty of DC-2s on order.” But Mr Smith was persuasive and ordered 20 of the larger DC-3s that would have 50 per cent more capacity than its smaller sibling, so Mr Douglas gave in. As Mr Smith did not have the money, he flew to Washington to successfully beg a colleague who ran President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation for a $4.5 million loan. Eighty years on December 17th, 1935 Douglas Aircraft Company chief pilot and VP of Sales Carl Cover, accompanied by flight engineers Fred Stineman and Frank Collbohm, boarded X14988 at 2:15 pm local time, ran the engines up for about 30 minutes and taxied for take-off at Clover Field in Santa Monica, California. Mr Collbohm, who occupied the right seat, recalled 40 years later that “it was just a routine flight. I can’t separate it in my mind from any other test flights we made in those days.”Chief designer of the DC-3 Arthur Raymond, didn’t remember the event either: “When the plane was ready, I suppose Carl and the others simply got aboard and took off.” And take off the DC-3 did at 3 p.m. for a 1 hr. 40 min. flight, landing just as dusk was approaching. With it came nightfall for every other commercial aircraft flying. The DC-3 instantly redefined travel because it was the first plane that could make money just carrying passengers freeing airlines from government mail contracts and stops at tiny out of the way places. Now airlines could link bigger cities non-stop and slash travelling times.Within three years, 95 per cent of all passengers in the US were flying on DC-2s or DC-3s. Globally that number was 90 per cent.Movie stars, such as Shirley Temple, also played a big role helping sell the DC-2 and larger DC-3 and “flying on a Douglas” quickly became “the thing to do.” And as recently as 2008 the DC-3 was still in the movies helping James Bond out of one of his many tight spots. In the “Quantum of Solace,” Daniel Craig was in the cockpit of a DC-3 with the lines; “Let’s see if this thing will fly.” It did and some!And just as James Bond impresses with technological wizardry the DC-3 was a marvel for its day.Duplicate instrumentation for pilot and co-pilot as an added safety measure, new cockpit lighting for night flying, automatic hydraulically actuated retracting undercarriage, foot brakes and hydraulically operated wing flaps were all introduced on the DC-3.The impact of the DC-3 on the world’s economy was immense. Flying was now safe and economical. In the US, passenger fatality rates plummeted seven fold and in 1939 the “Scheduled Airlines of the United States” were awarded the prestigious Collier Trophy for flying 17 months without a single fatality.Owing to the safety record of the DC-3 insurers began offering flight insurance in 1937 for the first time to passengers and pilots while the practice of temporarily cancelling policies when passengers set foot on an aircraft was discontinued. Time magazine commented: “That insurance companies can now bet US$5,000 to two bits (25 cents) against a passenger being killed on a flight of some 800 miles is one of the best pieces of publicity which US airlines ever had.” And Mr Douglas would appear three times on the cover of Time in recognition of the DC-3 and his leadership and organisation of the US war effort in building 300,000 planes between 1940 and 1945.The amazing performance and economics of the DC-3 saw a 50 per cent decline in airfares by 1940 compared to when it entered service in 1936.During WW11 the DC-3, or Dakota or C-47 became the backbone of the allies transport armada with over 10,000 produced in the US. Most were built by women.During World War II, Douglas employed more women by percentage — 85 per cent — than any other defence company and the company’s peak workforce was 160,000.The women — nicknamed “Rosies” after one of the first women to work in a defence factory — turned out DC-3s, or Dakotas as they were better known in Australia, at the staggering rate of one every 34 minutes. Individually, they took three-and-a-half days to build.Thousands of DC-3s flooded the commercial market after WW11 and they helped restart the world’s economy. Today the DC-3 keeps on flying! Estimates have the global fleet at about 200.While many are only seen at air shows there are well over 100 still hauling freight and passengers. Cost? A good one goes for $500,000.And there is little doubt the DC-3 will keep on going and be still earning money when she reaches 100.last_img read more

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16 Dec
2019

DOE Announces Winners of its ‘Apps for Energy’ Competition

first_imgApplication developers are busy people. There are now hundreds of thousands of apps available for PCs and mobile devices, whether they’re running an Apple operating system, Google’s Android, HTML 5, or a mobile or PC version of the Microsoft platform. But just knowing there’s an app for every issue and craving doesn’t mean you’ll find it in the vast inventory of the app store.For people interested in apps that might help them reduce their electricity bills, though, the Department of Energy has tried to make shopping a bit easier by sponsoring an app-development competition and then touting the results. Called Apps for Energy, the competition features both juried and “Popular Choice” awards categories. Prizes totaled $100,000. The results of the juried contest were announced on May 22, while results from the Popular Choice voting, which ended May 31, are scheduled to be unveiled on June 6.The DOE required that each competition entry incorporate data available through Green Button, a standardized, industry-led initiative designed to allow customers access to their usage information in easy-to-understand form. Contest rules also required that each entry include a video that explains how the app works.Calculating tree unitsThe app developers took it from there. Apps for Energy’s five judges – professionals from government, industry, and technology sectors – selected an app called Leafully for Best Overall App honors and a $30,000 grand prize. Leafully’s developers, Timothy Edgar and Nathan Jhaver, both of Seattle, decided that energy use doesn’t necessarily have to be described to utility customers in kilowatt hours, a measurement standard that, while common, might seem technically dry and abstract to many people. Edgar and Jhaver decided to instead measure energy usage in terms of trees – the number of trees (presumably trees of average height and leafage) required to offset the pollution created by energy consumption, depending on the sources used to feed electricity into the grid as demand increases and decreases over the course of a day.In addition to translating Green Button energy-usage data into trees, Leafully allows users to view their historical usage patterns, develop strategies for reducing energy consumption, and calculate the potential monetary and environmental benefits – in terms of adding trees to the environment – of following through on those strategies.Leafully’s developers point out that not all energy-saving strategies reduce user expenses: the premiums paid for energy efficient “always on” appliances or renewable-energy systems, for example, might take several years to recover through reduced utility bills, although the tree rewards could be impressive over that period.Leafully users type their Facebook login on the service’s home page to authenticate their Leafully account, which allows them to tap their Green Button data. Facebook also is used to help Leafully participants to build a community of energy savers who will collaborate on energy-reduction strategies and help motivate each other to increase their aggregate tree value.Other prize winnersThe Best Overall App second prize went to Melon, an energy efficiency startup based in Washington, D.C. Melon, which won $15,000 in the contest, focuses on using Green Button data to help commercial buildings achieve Energy Star performance. Melon’s app is designed to assess a building’s energy efficiency quickly, highlight opportunities for energy savings that would bring the building to Energy Star performance, and help building managers find contractors to make improvements.VELObill, developed by software company Zerofootprint, based in New York City, took the Best Overall App third prize, $7,500, for a app that provides users with a simple format for monitoring their electricity use (as well as water and natural-gas use), ranking it against that of their peers, and developing a plan for improvements.Two winners were announced in a Best Student Apps category: wotz, submitted by a team of students at University of California at Irvine, took first place, and Budget It Yourself, a project developed by students at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Institute of Art, took second.Wotz combines Green Button data with data the U.S. Census Bureau and the California Energy Commission, and offers users “play,” “explore,” and “challenge” activities to help them analyze the data, which can be presented as a landscape of shapes representing various levels of energy usage. Like Leafully, wotz has created kilowatt-hour equivalents, including one that equates 1 kwH with one deluxe bacon double cheeseburger, and another that equates electricity consumed between 2 and 3 p.m. to a number of MacBook Air recharges. Wotz also includes two games whose difficulty is determined by the amount of electricity used in the household the previous day. The app also allows users to share their usage findings on Facebook.Budget It Yourself, as the name indicates, is a tool for Android smartphones that is designed to analyze Green Button data and offers guidance on how best to budget each day’s energy usage to reduce overall consumption.Building on existing app strategiesRight now, the prospects for adoption of the Apps for Energy programs are tied to the adoption of Green Button, which was launched in January and currently has commitments from enough utilities to make data available to 27 million households once the service is fully implemented. Whether consumers will take to these apps is less certain.Adoption of usage-monitoring tools offered by Microsoft and Google, for example, was too modest to keep those initiatives alive, even though they were available for free. But some systems, notably OPower, which provides information about power usage by other OPower participants in the community, have held their own.last_img read more

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3 Dec
2019

Disgruntled legislators give PDP the jitters

first_imgBharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national general secretary Ram Madhav on Saturday may have attempted to put to rest the speculation on government formation in J&K, but the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference (NC) accused the BJP “of making bids to split local parties”.NC vice-president Omar Abdullah alleged that the State unit of the BJP had admitted to being party to efforts to break the PDP. “Power at any cost would seem to be the guiding philosophy [of the BJP],” the former Chief Minister said.Turning against partyMr. Abdullah’s remarks come days after at least five PDP legislators — Imran Ansari, Abid Ansari, Abbas Wani, Yasir Reshi and Javaid Beigh — hinted at quitting the party and expressed “disillusionment with Ms. Mufti’s leadership.” Mr. Ansari hinted at many leaders from the Congress and the NC “ready to quit their parties.” “J&K is set to witness a political tsunami,” he said.However, no MLA has put in papers. The anti-defection law in J&K is stringent.What compounds worries for PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is the growing number of disgruntled members, like Rajpora Haseeb Drabu and Lolab Abdul Haq Khan, MLAs, who are maintaining a “meaningful distance from the party’s central leadership”.Delhi meetingsMr. Drabu’s meeting in New Delhi with Peoples Conference (PC) chief Sajjad Lone, considered close to the BJP and Mr. Madhav, fuelled speculation of a third front being formulated ahead of the Assembly polls. Mr. Ansari is also considered close to Mr. Drabu and Mr. Lone, who is emerging as a point-man to cobble a third front ahead of the elections.last_img read more

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