Final Call: The View from the Cockpit [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Colin Hilton
eBook Category: People/Travel
eBook Description: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome on board from the captain. My name is Colin Hilton and I shall be doing the flying this morning. Our route takes us from the airport to the wider world of aviation, with perhaps a glimpse of a personality or two enroute. Judgment will occasionally be clouded and I anticipate a little turbulence in relationships, besides odd flashes of inspiration. Do not let such rumblings spoil your enjoyment of the service. The crew today will be on hand to assist your journey. They will happily answer queries on aspects of flight safety. These may not all appear on the card in the seat pocket, neither should you expect the commercial pressures attending us to feature in the in-flight magazine. Once in the cruise we might see the origins of flight, while I shall speak to you later on the consequences of flight at 35,000 ft to our health and environment. In the meantime, do please sit back, relax and enjoy the read.
eBook Publisher: Summersdale Publishers Ltd/Summersdale - Colin Hilton, Published: 2004
Fictionwise Release Date: March 2005
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All aeroplanes are designed nose heavy, so if the wings stall and lose their lift, the aircraft drops like a paper dart and gathers flying speed again. The only thing to stop it nosing down like this during the course of normal flight is the tailplane, which pushes down like a kid on the other end of the seesaw. If ever you board a jetliner by the rear stairs, take a look at it. Whereas the big wing, the mainplane, is curved on top and flatter beneath, the tailplane is flatter on top, especially at the front. They work in different directions.
The classical formula for lift is half x Rho x V squared, from what I recall. The Greek letter in the middle was I think the density of the surrounding atmosphere, though the thing to note is the V squared bit which says that lift increases out of proportion to speed. When Richard Noble developed the Thrust SST, the car that broke the sound barrier, they calculated if the nose lifted a little too much, it would suddenly develop an upward force, a hammer blow seventy times stronger than the force of gravity. Do you remember gravity? That was the force that, if you fell from a thirty-two foot ladder, would pull you to the ground in about a second. If you see anyone about to fall from a ladder, get that stopwatch ready.
That is all the equations we get to look at and even this one is probably wrong. People who do pure mathematics claim equations have an inner beauty, but from where I stand they are as ugly as a bare ass. When British Airways updated their corporate image and lost a lot of money painting their tails in ethnic art from places nobody could recognise, the tower controllers complained they could not tell which aeroplane was which. At night they rely on a pair of binoculars and the logo light that all aircraft have to illuminate the tailfin. Once while we were waiting to line up for take-off, the controller testily said, Follow the BA, I don't know what the motif is supposed to be. Their pilot replied he thought it was aboriginal art, whereas I told them it looked like Jackson Pollock?s.
The plane is then simply a flat place, so the wing is literally a flat place that gives you a lift, like Amsterdam. Wings are nothing special and if you fitted hand grabs to a piece of hardboard (most DIYers use eight by four) and run down a slope, you could probably do something respectable. This is what Sir George Cayley had in mind, though he used his carriage driver to do the flying and after a while, the carriage driver left his employment. Next up was a mad German aristocrat whose name escapes me (Lilienthal, you idiot) who ran down hills with a giant pair of batwings. His last words were, Sacrifices have to be made. If you need last words in this business, make sure they belong to somebody else.
The Wright brothers noticed like everybody else that lift itself was not a problem. It was more a question of directing it. The weight of the aeroplane once supported only by air, which is very slippery stuff like oil, literally wants to slide off the side of it. The closest analogy I can give you is a floor tile with a rubber ball on top. It is going to need constant corrective action to stay put. You can improve things by dishing the tile slightly in the middle and you can do much the same with aeroplanes, but any aeroplane without a means of correction is eventually going to crash. Which all of them did until the Wright Flyer.