The story of civil aviation is told in sequences of numbers—flights, models of aircraft, hydraulic fluid designations. Famous accidents become known by their flight numbers—Eastern 401, Air India 182, Wayfarer 515. Like the full names of serial killers or executed persons, this is the official mnemonic way to record this data. Categories of planes are distinguishable by number(s): the Airbus A-320, the Boeing 747-300, now the Boeing 747-8. If you wanted to superstitiously/erroneously avoid planes with recent crash records, you would already know what the Boeing 737-200's been up to this century–more like down to. Because the elevators and ailerons of a modern aircraft are too [...]
This weekend the Times travel section wrote about frequent flier security programs, including TSA PreCheck—or, as the government likes to call it, TSA Pre✓™. Mostly it was just speculation from the writer: "I’m anticipating an expedited stroll through a special security checkpoint." Oh honey! Well, let me tell you about that expedited stroll, as a bona fide government-approved flying person who has now strolled security more expeditiously than can be believed.
"The windows are absolutely amazing. You're not confined. You've got the outside inside." —*THROWS UP* No thanks! But hey, it's the first flight of the Boeing 787, for which Boeing made the windows 30% bigger. :( Also the bathroom has a window and a bidet. I think having a TV on the back of every seat in economy is really gross and weird! (Doesn't everyone have her own device anyway?) Anyway, here's the hour-long documentary on the mechanics, if you're an obsessed weirdo. (1.2 tons of air per second at full thrust!)
"On a street of brownstones in Park Slope, Brooklyn—a run-down neighborhood politely described at the time as being “in transition”—one plane, a state-of-the-art jetliner, gouged long-lasting scars. The tail slammed down in an intersection. White-hot engines, smoldering cargo and badly burned bodies fell nearby. A stream of jet fuel touched off a fire that grew to seven alarms and destroyed 10 buildings and a church. Two men selling Christmas trees on a corner and a man shoveling snow were killed." —If you live in New York, and have, for the past nine years, watched every airplane that passes overhead with a bit of secret dread, waiting for a sudden [...]
This is one of my weird hobbyhorses, so, sorry, but! Everyone I know is terrified by turbulence, so today's PSA is: "About 60 people, two-thirds of them flight attendants, are injured by turbulence annually in the United States." That's also usually because they just weren't wearing seatbelts. THE MORE YOU KNOW.
Security consultant Hugo Teso says he has spent the last four years analyzing airplane navigation and communication systems, and at a security conference in Amsterdam, he presented PlaneSploit: "a practical demonstration on how to remotely attack and take full control of an aircraft."
Yup, it will make you feel not good: "Teso used his Samsung Galaxy and a specially crafted app called PlaneSploit to demonstrate how to hack an airplane’s computer."
On his new song "Mercy," Kanye West says that he put suicide doors on his private jet, and that's how we know he's "fly to death." But Kanye's dance troupe flies coach, and his choreographer Yemi AD filmed them doing the ballet routine they'd developed for the song "Runaway"—on an airplane flight during this year's Australian tour. The other passengers look like they don't quite know what to do. Especially the poor guy who picked the wrong time to get up and go to the bathroom.
There's always a bit of scaremongering that goes on with the genre of Crazy Airline Stories. Are our skies safe? What about the children? That kind of thing. So, in the story of the Jet Blue pilot, Clayton Osbon, who lost it this week and was restrained by passengers and crew, the LA Times says today that he "pounded so hard on the locked cockpit door that the first officer feared Osbon was breaking through the bulletproof barrier." This sentence reads funny, on first glance! But the door is bulletproof, one thinks! Surely a non-bullet, then, can't break down the door? Or can it.
"Airmindedness” is a term that used to be everywhere and now it's nowhere. The word, as defined by the OED, means an interest in and enthusiasm for the use and development of aircraft. The expression emerged with the development of the airplane in the early twentieth century, during which an entire generation struggled to expand their conceptual boundaries skywards. Prompted by the invention of mechanical flight, this airminded cultural moment was sustained by the military incentives that ceaselessly pushed for improvements to air power.
As media critic Friedrich Kittler proposes, technologies repeatedly find their ancestry in the mouth of war: “war was called the father of all [...]
NPR fired one of their news analysts, Panama-born (just like John McCain!) Juan Williams, author of Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary, for comments earlier this week on Fox News. He said that he gets "nervous" when he gets on a plane and sees "people who are in Muslim garb" and he thinks "they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims." The second part of this statement is what we imagine constituted the firing, because that's stupid. And dumb. And strangely French! That land of nationalism through conformity! In America? We don't do that. The first part, though… well? Heck. Juan just doesn't fly enough. Here are some [...]
Soon reckless drunken drivers will have a new way of evading pursuant police. Massachusetts company Terrafugia has obtained a special weight exemption from the FAA that clears the way to bring to market the 1,420-pound Transition-a car that can drive on the street, fuel-up at gas stations, and then fold out electrical hinged wings and take to the sky. So with the mere 20 hours of flight experience needed to obtain a light sport aircraft pilot's license, and the $194,000 that the Terrafugia costs (70 have already been ordered), an attention-deficient booze-hound can speed his or her new ride through stop-signs and around school buses until finding [...]
"Passengers disturbed by another passenger's actions led to a US Airways flight from La Guardia Airport to Louisville being diverted to Philadelphia this morning." TERROR IN THE SKIES! The 17-year-old passenger was, it turns out, praying. "An officer said the passenger was 'wearing a device on his head' that had straps hanging from it." So yeah: "disruptive passenger," praying teen, whatever.
Nothing makes my day like an upgrade clearing at the last minute!
— Matthew Klint (@LiveandLetsFly) January 26, 2012
This story has it all. Okay, first the facts, as we know them. (We know them, so far, from the account of just one party.)
Dude—Matthew Klint, a 26-year-old preppy white man and a frequent flier blogger—boards plane. (The plane is a United plane.) Dude takes a few pictures of his seat. Flight attendant says pictures are forbidden, points out printed rules. (Photography is disallowed on-board, say rules: explicitly any photos of other passengers, crew, equipment and procedures are banned, with an exception for "personal events.") Passenger says [...]
Did you read this alarmist story about terror in the skies? Apparently some wacky, backwards country has corrupt support staff, aborted landings, exhausted pilots, runway light failures, eccentric pilots, crazy turbulence, ground control issues, pilots forced to speak out about safety conditions, aging planes, and chaotic crowds of passengers desperately trying to get on overcrowded flights. Let's all point and laugh at the backwards third world!
Cathay Pacific first class, JFK to Hong Kong: caviar and handwritten notes from the cabin crew.
Preliminary Air France 447 black box info! (Preliminary, in air crash investigations, means "take with a grain of salt.") So, according to reporters, the airspeed sensors got all icy, and the autopilot turned off, and the plane stalled, and then… well. It's definitely premature to assign any blame to the co-pilots who were in the cockpit, so we won't! These reports still seem incomplete: even small-craft pilots-in-training know what to do in a stall: you pick up speed, using something really complex called "gravity," and you un-stall. (According to another reporter, the plane was in a steep climb instead.)
This also means the Times magazine got lucky [...]
When last we checked in on the war against the birds, our plan was simply to kill most of them. And now we meet the head of the Department of Agriculture's Airport Wildlife Hazards Program. His job? Killing some birds. In gas chambers. Also, did you know that those fat cats in D.C. are less likely to die in airplane bird strike incidents? That's right! "All the D.C. airports have a federal biologist on the payroll."
Holy Jesus! Did you see this? An airplane pilot named Matt Hall bounced his plane off the Detroit River Saturday and survived. This happened while he was slaloming through an obstacle course, in front of a crowd (including his poor wife!) as a part of a Red Bull Air Race. This terrible, terrible idea for a sport was hatched at the highly-caffeinated beverage company's "think tank" in 2001. Earlier this year, Brazilian pilot Adisson Kindlemann crashed into the the Swan River in Perth, Australia. Luckily, he survived, too. It's very slightly reassuring to know that "any form of dangerous flying," including "crossing the crowd line" leads [...]