Mid-February 2021 should be marked on everybody’s calendar for its double celebratory achievements involving the vast universe of flight history.
First came the fascinating story that climaxed beautifully on the surface of far-off Mars, a planet that constantly teases NASA scientists and engineers, eager to explore the big ball.
Perseverance, a sharply sophisticated outer-space vehicle sent home some pictures on Feb. 19, showing the successful descent and exploration beginnings on the planet’s surface.
Traveling at speeds of 79,000 kilometers per hour across roughly 174 million kilometers, it took nearly eight months to reach its destination.
The system was also used during the landing of the Curiosity rover in 2012 and contributed to the safe arrival of both robotic explorers on the tricky terrain of the fourth planet from the sun.
After the rover set down, the sky crane flew away to a safe location where its landing would not cause any damage to the mission.
Engineers intend to warm up Ingenuity, the experimental helicopter that could be first in controlled flight on another planet.
The second extraordinary flight story occurred on the afternoon of Feb. 20, when a United commercial aircraft, with 241 people aboard, scattered damaged debris across several neighborhoods in Broomfield, Colo., before landing safely in Denver.
The Boeing 777-200 experienced a “right-engine failure” shortly after take-off and the pilots were able to turn back and land on the Denver airstrip.
No one was injured, thanks to some excellent emergency flying. A photo showed the engine burning.
The flight was headed from Denver to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu when the serious incident occurred.
The police in Broomfield, which is about 15 miles southeast of Boulder, said unspecified pieces of the plane fell across three neighborhoods around 1:08 p.m. local time.
Rebecca Schulte, a resident, said she saw two pieces that fell just a few houses away from hers. She described hearing a “mild sound” that she compared to an empty dump truck going over a pothole and then she heard sirens.
She said she found a “large metal ring” that landed on the front steps of a nearby home, striking the handrail.
“How it missed the house is beyond me,” she said.
The metal ring was about 10-feet across.
The plane was a different model from the Boeing 737 Max, which was grounded in March 2019 after two fatal crashes.