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Spitfire: A Very British Love Story by John Nichol
Thirty metres. Their position held just above the waves. At any moment they expected the machine to give out and plummet into the sea. Then they had a stroke of luck. The direction-finding instrument suddenly sprang into life, giving their position and course. The nearest airfield was Westerland, on the island of Sylt, just off the Denmark peninsula. They headed straight for it, making a belly-landing. They had survived. Just. It was a testament to the He111’s durability. It had been estimated that bombers needed to be hit a maximum of 300 times to be sure of destruction. ‘Counted holes in aircraft,’ the gunner recorded. ‘Three hundred and fifty.’ The bomber’s resilience and the Spitfire’s inability to bring it down only strengthened German confidence. 72 Squadron’s encounter did not go unnoticed.
The veranda erupted in shouts and curses, like a crowd at a football match. ‘Good show! Now you’ve got him!’ Then: ‘Thank God for that!’ as a fighter turned just in time to avoid a stream of 109 shells. The Malta veterans, both Spitfire and Hurricane, then demonstrated just how determined they had become. One attacked a 109 head-on. Neither broke off and they collided. The German lost an entire wing, the Spitfire its wingtip. As the fighter made a belly-landing, with Hurricanes struggling to provide overhead cover, the pilot jumped out and dashed for cover. As he did so, bullets kicked up the ground around his feet. The Germans were intent on destroying the new Spitfires before they could get into the air. Three hundred Axis bombers struck Takali airfield on 20 April 1942, the day they arrived. Many of the new arrivals had not heard the whistle of a bomb before and some had not even seen an enemy aircraft.
His hand reached up to the hood and he managed to pull it open. Then, as blood flowed down his face, he felt for the pilot’s door handle at his side and opened it. ‘I crawled out and crawled as far as I could from the aircraft, because the Huns were great ones for coming back and shooting you up on the ground.’ Ground crew then came running to pick him up and get him into an ambulance to the field hospital. Like many pilots who had performed a belly-landing, Robbie had discovered that the Spitfire was resilient in protecting its pilots as it broke up. Only his shoulder was bruised from the crash. ‘The Spitfire could take an enormous amount of punishment without any damage to the pilot.’ But Robertson’s right eye had been lacerated with shrapnel from the German bullet. The surgeon told him it would have to be removed. ‘I pleaded with them not to and asked if they could take the bits of shrapnel out that were in and around my eye but keep the eye in.
The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur by Randy Komisar
Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, belly landing, discounted cash flows, estate planning, Jeff Bezos, Network effects, new economy, Pepto Bismol, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs
We were dancing as fast as we could, but it became clear to many of us that GO was unlikely to succeed. Yet Bill's leadership was so powerful that no one from the management team bailed out. This was a group of talented people, most of whom went on to leadership roles at other companies, including their own successful startups. But because of Bill, no one pulled the cord. Everyone rode that plane all the way down to a belly landing. When I finally did leave GO in 1993, it wasn't clear what I wanted to do next. In the years we worked together, Campbell had periodically suggested that I consider becoming a CEO. He had encouraged me to prepare for the role by giving me projects and responsibilities that would help me run a business at some point. Perhaps misery loves company, but for Bill, being a CEO was one of the most fun and satisfying roles he'd ever played.
Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff
Only four PBY Catalinas were in service in Greenland, and they were being used to locate and harass U-boats attacking Allied merchant ships during the ongoing Battle of the Atlantic. Smith feared diverting half his PBY fleet to a dangerous and untested rescue attempt. Danger to crews and equipment was a legitimate concern. A PBY Catalina might suffer catastrophic stress and break into pieces during a hard landing on snow and ice. Smith also knew that the most challenging part of the rescue might not be the belly landing, but the very act of flying over Greenland in the midst of winter. Pritchard and the Duck had done fine in landings and takeoffs, but they went down as a result of storms and fog. In fact, Smith had already squashed discussion of sending the Coast Guard cutter North Star close enough to the east coast to use its Grumman Duck for a rescue attempt. He didn’t want to lose more men and planes to Greenland’s weather.
Commodore: A Company on the Edge by Brian Bagnall
Apple II, belly landing, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Byte Shop, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Firefox, game design, index card, inventory management, Isaac Newton, low skilled workers, Menlo Park, packet switching, pink-collar, popular electronics, prediction markets, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, Robert Metcalfe, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson
“I was soon joined by a new project which was a tape drive mass storage device based on VCR diagonal striping technology.” Commodore also continued developing a hard drive. Feagans’ loyalty to Tramiel was beyond question. He began to enjoy rewards reserved for inner family members, including flying on the corporate jet in November 1980. “Jack flew me and my wife to Las Vegas for Comdex, and also our honeymoon, on the loaner PET Jet after the belly landing in Iowa,” says Feagans. “That was my first meeting with Jim Finke.” At the newly reopened Moorpark offices, where the disk drive designers now resided, Feagans continued working on the concepts introduced to him by Robert Metcalfe, including networking and graphical user interfaces. The others began work on a data storage device using VCR tape. Robert Russell, the young engineer hired in 1979, entered Tramiel’s inner family after his heroic efforts making the VIC-20 a reality.
GCHQ by Richard Aldrich
belly landing, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial exploitation, cuban missile crisis, friendly fire, illegal immigration, index card, lateral thinking, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, Neil Kinnock, New Journalism, packet switching, private military company, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, South China Sea, undersea cable, University of East Anglia, Yom Kippur War, Zimmermann PGP
The pilot, Sergeant Don Coleman, and his navigator, Sergeant Mike Thomson, stepped out onto the tarmac and – to their horror – realised that the approaching troops had red stars on their caps. The Soviets spent several weeks inspecting the aircraft before it was returned to the RAF. The incident earned Coleman the unwelcome nickname ‘Dan Dare’. The following year, another Gloster Meteor on a ‘radio calibration flight’ from Watton arrived unannounced in East Germany. Again the pilots had run out fuel, but this time they could not find a runway, and opted for a belly landing in a field. After a suitable delay for technical inspection of the radio warfare equipment on board, the Meteor was again returned by the Soviets. On the night of 26 June 1955 there was a much more serious incident, when a radio countermeasures Lincoln (WD132) from 199 Squadron exercising over West Germany collided with a USAF F-86D Sabre jet fighter. The Lincoln crashed seven miles north of Bitburg, and all the crew were lost.22 Early incidents like these mostly occurred in northern Europe.