July 30, 2001

Model Flying

I was looking for a picture of an erg, and came across this on ConceptII's web page. Read it – it's an interview with a 90-year-old woman who’s been rowing since 1938. Interesting to hear that she was told "girls don’t row," back then; Dorothy Sayers commented on the issues of women being in college at all, but treated women’s rowing at Oxford quite matter-of-factly, a few years earlier. As Christopher Morley noted, in his wonderful columns on the city, Philadelphia has rarely been at the forefront of fashion (I think the last time was 1776).
(Note: the article's no longer up.)

And now I've gotten that out of the way, I have a couple of corrections to make. The lake is now back open. Apparently -- I am not making this up -- someone caught a fish that was thought to be a piranha, but that turns out to be a related species that only eats other fish. I swear, I am not making this up. Hardcore tried to set up a raffle in which each participant puts in $5 and takes a guess as to the real reason -- opinion is divided as to whether the guesser closest to the real reason or the most creative one should win the pot. Queue very nearly guessed right, actually.

Also, it turns out, from discussions with Rudder, who has an instrument rating, and from additional news coverage, that the problem with the new stadium is not that it would obstruct the VFR, as I said earlier, but that it would obstruct the ILS (Instrument Landing System) for the north runway. So just the one runway is affected, not all local traffic, but my other arguments still apply. The obstruction is still there whether the stadium is full or not, and the people who think airport safety ends at the airport fence are still idiots.

Speaking of aviation, we were riding around a private airstrip this weekend, looking at all the cool houses, and stopped to watch two guys flying their radio-controlled airplanes. These were the smaller sort, with wingspans of less than 2 feet. One had a trainer, which appeared to be modeled on a Cessna 172, but the other was modeled on a Sukhoi, one of the hottest aerobatic planes there is. He was a good pilot, too; it was fun to watch the little thing doing snap rolls and attempting hammerheads. They were kind enough to let us take a turn, too, using a "buddy box" that could be over-ridden if we seemed to be doing anything risky. Those are harder to fly than you'd think.

If you look hard, you can usually tell an RC plane from a real one. The scale can be deceiving at a distance, but somehow they seem to fly more lightly, and turn more easily than a real one, like the difference between a sparrow’s flight and a hawk’s.

Tracing loops and spirals in a spirograph pattern
No larger wings could match,
To the evident bewilderment of a raven flying by,
The little craft wheeled and swung,
In deceptively precise abandon.

All I could think was with what joy
Leonardo’s spirit, watching, would be weeping.

Posted by dichroic at July 30, 2001 12:35 PM
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