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RED FLAG is an advanced aerial combat training exercise hosted at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada and Eielson Air Force Base Alaska. Since 1975, air crew from the United States Air Force (USAF) and other U.S. military branches and allies take part in the exercises, each of which is two weeks in duration. The Red Flag exercises, conducted in four-to-six cycles a year by the 414th Combat Training Squadron of the 57th Wing, are very realistic aerial war games. The mission of the 414th Combat Training Squadron (Red Flag) is to maximize the combat readiness and survivability of participants by providing a realistic training environment and a forum that encourages a free exchange of ideas. To accomplish this, combat units from the United States and its allied countries engage in realistic combat training scenarios carefully conducted within the Nellis Range Complex. The Nellis Range complex is located northwest of Las Vegas and covers an area of 60 nautical miles (111 km) by 100 nautical miles (190 km), approximately half the area of Switzerland. This space allows the exercises to be on a very large scale. The Aggressor squadrons, the opponents who flew against the pilots undergoing training, were selected from the top fighter pilots in the Air Force. These pilots were trained to fly according to the tactical doctrines of the Soviet Union and other enemies, to better simulate what NATO pilots would encounter in real combat. The Aggressors were originally equipped with readily available T-38 Talon aircraft to simulate the MiG-21. F-5 Tiger II fighters, painted in color schemes commonly found on Soviet aircraft, were added shortly thereafter and became the mainstay until the F-16 was introduced. The 64th and 65th AGRS currently use F-16 and F-15 aircraft to emulate, respectively, the MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-30 Flanker, and continue to be painted in their camouflage schemes. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





Free solo climbing, also known as free soloing, is a form of free climbing where the climber (the free soloist) forgoes ropes, harnesses and other protective gear while ascending and relies only on his or her physical strength, climbing ability, and psychological fortitude to avoid a fatal fall. Free solo climbing should not be confused with general free climbing, in which gear is typically used for safety in case of a fall, but not to assist the climb. Reasons for free soloing given by high-profile climbers include the simplicity and speed with which one can climb, for example (although it was not a free solo climb) Alex Honnold's five hours and 49 minutes ascent of the 3,000 ft. Nose of El Capitan, a route normally demanding two to four days. Other reasons given are the intense concentration required and the adrenaline rush. The practice is mostly confined to routes familiar to the climber and whose difficulty lies well within the climber's abilities. However, inherent risks such as loose rocks or sudden change in weather are always present. Some high-profile climbers, including John Bachar and Derek Hersey, have been killed this way. Hersey died on Sentinel Rock in 1993. The challenge of free soloing single pitch routes is mainly in the mental difficulty for the climbers of staying focused on what they are doing. Free soloing is usually not meant to be hard in a physical sense. That said, however, unpredictable weather and rock conditions can create grave hazards for climbers on longer routes. Hersey, though a master of solo climbing's physical and mental demands, is believed to have encountered rain during his fatal solo ascent of the 1000-meter Sentinel Rock. The sport has produced a number of well-known practitioners, made famous by remarkable photos of a climber totally alone and unprotected on sheer cliffs. One of the most famous is Frenchman Alain Robert ("spiderman"), who has scaled dozens of skyscrapers around the world — a sport known as buildering (not to be confused with bouldering) — and many rock walls, without using any safety equipment. Some of the driving forces in rock climbing and free soloing from 1900 to today are: Hansjörg Auer, John Bachar, Henry Barber, Peter Croft, Steph Davis, Derek Hersey, Alexander Huber, Dan Osman, Dave MacLeod, Dean Potter, Alex Honnold, Andreas Proft , Ueli Steck, Paul Preuss, Kevin Jorgenson, Patrick Edlinger, Michael Reardon, Alain Robert, Catherine Destivelle, Dennis "Tank" George Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla, and Renaldo Clarke. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



Apollo 1 is the official name that was later given to the never-flown Apollo/Saturn 204 (AS-204) mission. Its command module (CM-012) was destroyed by fire during a test and training exercise on January 27, 1967 at Pad 34 (Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral, then known as Cape Kennedy) atop a Saturn IB rocket. The crew aboard were the astronauts selected for the first manned Apollo program mission: Command Pilot Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee. All three died in the fire. Although the ignition source of the fire was never conclusively identified, the astronauts' deaths were attributed to a wide range of lethal design hazards in the early Apollo command module. Among these were the use of a high-pressure 100 percent-oxygen atmosphere for the test, wiring and plumbing flaws, flammable materials in the cockpit (such as Velcro), an inward-opening hatch that would not open in this kind of an emergency and the flight suits worn by the astronauts. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century Bavarian palace on a rugged hill near Hohenschwangau and Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner, the King's inspiring muse. Although public photography of the interior is not permitted, it is the most photographed building in Germany and is one of the country's most popular tourist destinations. Ludwig himself named it Neue Hohenschwangau; the name Neuschwanstein was coined after his death. The reclusive Ludwig did not allow visitors to his castles, which he intended as personal refuges, but after his death in 1886 the castle was opened to the public, in part due to the need to pay off the debts Ludwig incurred financing its construction. Since that time over 50 million people have visited the Neuschwanstein Castle. About 1.3 million people visit annually, with up to 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared in several movies, and was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle (1955) at both Disneyland Park and Hong Kong Disneyland. In 1923 Crown Prince Rupprecht gave the palace to the state of Bavaria, unlike nearby Hohenschwangau Castle which was transferred to the private Wittelsbach Trust , which is administered on behalf of the head of the house of Wittelsbach, currently Franz, Duke of Bavaria. The Free State of Bavaria has spent more than €14.5 million on Neuschwanstein's maintenance, renovation and visitor services since 1990. In 2007, it was a finalist in the selection of the New Seven Wonders of the World. As it was not voted on the top positions it now is advertised as the 8th world wonder. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



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