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Balls 8 was a NASA Boeing NB-52B mothership. It derives its nickname from its NASA tail number 52-008: leading zeroes plus the number 8. Among USAF personnel it is common practice to refer to aircraft whose tail number is a single number preceded by multiple zeros as "Balls" and the last number of its tail number. It was retired from active service with NASA on December 17, 2004 after almost 50 years flying service. Balls 8 was famous for dropping aerospace research vehicles for 106 flights of the X-15. Like its NB-52A predecessor, a pylon was fitted under the right wing between the fuselage and the inboard engines with a 6-by-8-foot (1.8 m × 2.4 m) section removed from the right wing flap in order to accommodate the X-15's tail. It flew a total of 159 captive-carry and launch missions in support of the X-15 program, from June 1959 until October 1968. It also flew missions supporting the X-24, HiMAT, Lifting Body vehicles, X-43, early launches of the OSC Pegasus rocket and numerous others. Balls 8 was originally an RB-52B that was first flown on June 11, 1955; and entering service with NASA on June 8, 1959. It was the oldest active B-52 still in service at the time of its retirement. It was modified at North American Aviation's Palmdale facility in order to allow it to carry the X-15. The modified bomber first was used to launch the X-15 on its fifth flight, on January 23, 1960. Balls 8 was the last B-52 in service of any type other than the H model. It also had the lowest total air time of any operational B-52. It is now on permanent public display near the north gate of Edwards Air Force Base. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





Air India Flight 182 was an Air India flight operating on the Montréal-London-Delhi-Bombay route. On 23 June 1985, the airplane operating on the route was blown up in midair by a bomb in Irish airspace in the single deadliest terrorist attack involving an aircraft to that date. The incident represents the largest mass murder in modern Canadian history. The explosion and downing of the carrier occurred within an hour of the related Narita Airport Bombing. The plane, a Boeing 747-237B named Emperor Kanishka, exploded at an altitude of 31,000 feet and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. The bomb caused rapid decompression and consequent in-flight breakup. The wreckage settled in 6,700 feet deep water off the south-west Irish coast 120 miles offshore of County Cork. If the one hour and forty minute delay in leaving Toronto Pearson International Airport had not happened, Air India Flight 182 might have been at London Heathrow Airport at the time of the explosion, with an outcome similar to that of the Narita Airport bomb which had exploded fifty five minutes earlier. While some passengers survived the initial explosion and subsequent decompression, none survived the impact. In all, 329 people perished, among them 280 Canadians and 22 Indian nationals. Investigation and prosecution took almost 20 years and was the most expensive trial in Canadian history, costing nearly CAD $130 million. A special Commission found the accused perpetrators not guilty and they were released. The only person convicted of involvement in the bombing was Inderjit Singh Reyat, who pleaded guilty in 2003 to manslaughter in constructing the bomb used on Flight 182 and received a five-year sentence. He was refused parole in July 2007. In September 2007, the Commission investigated reports, initially disclosed in the Indian investigative news magazine Tehelka that an hitherto unnamed person, Lakhbir Singh Brar Rode, had masterminded the explosions. This report appears to be inconsistent with other evidence known to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Canadian government launched a Commission of Inquiry in 2006. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





Lawrence Richard Walters, nicknamed "Lawnchair Larry" or the "Lawn Chair Pilot", was an American truckdriver who took flight on July 2, 1982 in a homemade aircraft. Dubbed Inspiration I, the "flying machine" consisted of an ordinary patio chair with 45 helium-filled weather balloons attached to it. Walters rose to an altitude of 16,000 feet and floated from his point of origin in San Pedro, California into controlled airspace near Long Beach Airport. His flight was widely reported in many newspapers. Walters had always dreamed of flying, but was unable to become a pilot in the United States Air Force because of his poor eyesight. Walters had first thought of using weather balloons to fly at age 13, after seeing them hanging from the ceiling of a military surplus store. Twenty years later he decided to do so. His intention was to attach a few helium-filled weather balloons to his lawnchair, cut the anchor, and then float above his backyard at a height of about 30 feet for several hours. He planned to use a pellet gun to burst balloons to float gently to the ground. Walters attached the balloons to his lawn chair, filled them with helium, put on a parachute, and strapped himself into the chair. He took his pellet gun, a CB radio, sandwiches, cold beer, and a camera. When his friends cut the cord that tied his lawn chair to his Jeep, Walters' lawn chair rose rapidly to a height of about 15,000 feet. He did not dare shoot any balloons, fearing that he might unbalance the load and cause himself to spill out. He slowly drifted over Long Beach and crossed the primary approach corridor of Long Beach Airport. After 45 minutes in the sky, he shot several balloons, and then accidentally dropped his pellet gun overboard. He descended slowly, until the balloons' dangling cables got caught in a power line, causing a 20-minute blackout in a Long Beach neighborhood. Walters was able to climb to the ground. He was immediately arrested by waiting members of the Long Beach Police Department. Regional safety inspector Neal Savoy was reported to have said, "We know he broke some part of the Federal Aviation Act, and as soon as we decide which part it is, some type of charge will be filed. If he had a pilot's license, we'd suspend that. But he doesn't." Walters initially was fined $4,000 for violations under U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations, including operating an aircraft within an airport traffic area "without establishing and maintaining two-way communications with the control tower." Walters appealed, and the fine was reduced to $1,500. A charge of operating a "civil aircraft for which there is not currently in effect an airworthiness certificate" was dropped, as it was not applicable to his class of aircraft. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





Huntsman spiders is a family of spiders also known as the giant crab spiders, due to their size and appearance. Larger specimens of these spiders are also sometimes referred to as wood spiders, due to their preference for inhabiting woody places (forest, mine shafts, woodpiles, wooden shacks). They are known as rain spiders in southern Africa. They are are found in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, Florida, and Hawaii, and possibly in many other tropical and semi-tropical regions. While frequently very large – in Laos, Heteropoda maxima males can attain a legspan of 250–300 mm (9.8–11.8 in) As with all spiders, they use venom to demobilise or digest prey, but they are not deadly to healthy humans. They do bite if provoked, but the victim will suffer only minor swelling and localised pain, and will recover in a day or two. Some larger types resemble tarantulas. Huntsman spiders can generally be identified by their legs, which, rather than being jointed vertically relative to the body, are twisted such that the legs extend forward in a crab-like fashion. Many huntsman spiders are dull shades of brown or grey. Their legs are covered with fairly prominent spines, but the rest of their bodies appear smooth. They are frequently found in sheds, garages and other infrequently-disturbed places. As adults, huntsman spiders do not build webs, but hunt and forage for food: their diet consists primarily of insects and other invertebrates, and occasionally small skinks and geckos. They live in the crevices of tree bark, but will frequently wander into homes and vehicles. They are able to travel extremely fast, often using a springing jump while running, and walk on walls and even on ceilings. They also tend to exhibit a "cling" reflex if picked up, making them difficult to shake off and much more likely to bite. The females are fierce defenders of their egg sacs and young. They will generally make a threat display if provoked, but if the warning is ignored they may attack and bite. The males anchor themselves firmly to the surface onto which they have crawled and then use their legs to transmit vibrations from their bodies to the surface. Most of the sound emitted is produced by strong vibrations of the abdomen. The characteristic frequency of vibration and the pattern of bursts of sound identify them to females of their species, who will approach if they are interested in mating. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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