Showing posts with label aircraft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aircraft. Show all posts

Friday, June 14, 2013

Take-off

The Airbus A350—in competition with the Boeing 787—took off from Toulouse Blagnac less than an hour ago on its maiden flight.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mess in a plane

I was intrigued by the information that seems to be conveyed by this photo. The regards of these hostesses are calm. They appear to be oblivious of the mess in the passenger area behind them.

                                              — photo by Alan Cross

They seem to be saying to themselves: "It's the passengers who made that mess, deliberately and stupidly. So they can clean it up by themselves."

This interpretation of the sense of the image is totally false... and so much the better. On this flight between Singapore and London, when the hostesses were serving breakfast, the plane was severely shaken by a zone of huge turbulence, and it almost turned upside-down. Within a short time, happily, the aircraft emerged from the turbulence, and it is said that the hostesses lost no time in cleaning up the mess and making the aircraft spotless.

I often wonder whether there are people (pilots, hostesses, passengers...) who actually get a kick out of flying through zones of turbulence. In asking this question, I think back to the wonderful season of sailing on the Zigeuner in Western Australia in 1986. When the sea was turbulent, I loved to sit on the tip of the bow, where my body could receive the brunt of the waves. But it's no doubt silly to compare sailing on an old wooden vessel with flying in a jet airliner.

Talking about the possible effects of turbulence, many of us can't help thinking that a wing might fall off. Here at Choranche, I once went out driving with a lady friend from Paris who was suddenly terrified, while we were moving up along spectacular roads beneath the cliffs, that the wheels of my Citroën might be about to fall off, sending us hurtling down into the dark abyss. And there's a notorious case, too, of a great vessel in Western Australia whose front fell off.

 

Monday, July 23, 2012

From my bathroom window

Often, when I look out through my bathroom window, I'm surprised to find an aircraft looking back at me.


It would be nice to know the preoccupations—the nature of the missions—of such visitors. But it would be hard to acquire such information. And hardly worthwhile. Most often, the aircraft disappear just as rapidly as they arrived on the scene.


I'm always a little worried, though, that low-flying aircraft might get tangled up in hard-to-see power cables that crisscross the Bourne valley. My late friend Adrian Lyons—a skilled pilot until he went down in England on 1 August 1999—once told me that this danger is indeed very real at Choranche.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Exiting in style

There's a nice story in the US media about a 38-year-old flight attendant, Steven Slater, who was totally fed up with the behavior of an unruly passenger at the end of a flight from Pittsburgh to New York. While the plane was still taxiing, the passenger stood up to fetch his luggage in the overhead rack. When the flight attendant intervened, the passenger refused to sit down, and confusion ensued. The flight attendant released his anger through a stream of invective over the aircraft's public-address system. Then, as soon as the plane stopped, the overwrought flight attendant activated the emergency-evacuation chute, grabbed himself a can of beer for the road, and slid down onto the tarmac, thereby terminating in an eye-catching flash both the flight and his airline career.

In this morning's French news, there's a banal story about the crash of an ultralight aircraft in the vicinity of Angers.

It's said that the pilot hit a tree before landing, and that he died instantly in the crash. When I saw the age of the pilot, 83, I imagined immediately that, like the flight attendant, it might be thought that he had made a spectacular and stylish exit.

ADDENDUM: Just after finishing this post, I came upon the case of a 94-year-old British gentleman, Wing Commander Ken Wallis, who gives the impression that he's hell-bent upon exiting in style. Or maybe he's just another charming British eccentric…

Click the photo to access the article by Patrick Barkham in the Guardian.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taking to the sky

The aspect of the flight of Solar Impulse that fascinated everybody was its simple two-phase schedule. First, during the day, the solar-powered aircraft would climb to 8,500 meters and then float around at that altitude for twelve hours, in order store a maximum quantity of the sun's energy. Then, as soon as the sun went down, the aircraft would descend to an altitude of 1,500 meters and fly around in the dark for the entire night, until its batteries were flat. To designate this second phase, many French observers borrowed the title of a famous novel by Louis-Ferdinand Céline [1894-1961]: Journey to the End of the Night.



Meanwhile, 50 noisy passengers—described as rabbis and Jewish mystics—took to the sky in Israel with a noble goal: putting an end to the threat of the H1N1 flu virus.

Personally, I would put my money on the solar-powered aircraft rather than the prayer-chanting and shofar-blowing plane-load of kooks.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ultimate travel

It was particularly hot yesterday. Towards the end of the afternoon, when Pif had reluctantly gone home (after ten minutes of persuasion from his mistress Alison, who wasn't happy with her dog's new behavior), I took Sophia down to Pont-en-Royans for a swim in the Bourne. Lots of people had gathered there for the annual Wood Festival... which is not very exciting. Hearing the sound of a lawnmower above my head, I looked up and saw a fellow flying a paraglider above the village.

An engine was attached to his back, with a propeller housed in what looked like a big silver bicycle wheel. In this way, he was able to fly/glide at a constant low altitude. He made it look as easy to get around in the sky as riding a bike. You could almost imagine him using this contraption to fly down to St-Jean-en-Royans to buy his groceries.