- Paul Davidson
An Un-Biased, Un-Scientific, Uneven Look at Airplanes
Airplanes are pretty damn heavy pieces of metal, if you ask me.
I have been known to, in the past, test the floating capabilities of different types of metals in my constant quest to understand physics. I have thrown items like crowbars and car parts into the sky and they have quickly found their way back to Earth, landing on fleshy places like my shoulder and head.
But Airplanes? These things way at least a few pounds more than crowbars and car mufflers and yet they hover in mid-air while packed to the hilt with things like, oh I don’t know, people!? Yeah, and snack boxes and all the Apple-Cranberry juice in a can you could ever want to drink.
How the hell do airplanes fly?
Yes, all you well-read people out there (or those with a knowledge for searching on the net) will be more than happy to tell me about the mathematical and technical reasons behind air flight and how fuel and force and mass allows a bird that big to fly cross country and all over the world.
But I’m not here to talk about science. This is an emotional conversation. The kind you have with yourself as you sit on a plane, taking off into the air, and watching the little people turn into ants. While you’re sitting there you have those thoughts to yourself, which include but are not limited to:
How the hell does this thing manage to get off the ground?
What in God’s name would I do if this thing started to nose dive and head for the ground?
Would I really be able to handle a water landing?
In case of a water landing where that big yellow raft thing inflates from the side of the plane, would I really slide down said raft with grace, or would I look like a fool tumbling head over feet?
Why have they stopped serving honey roasted peanuts on the flights?
I have had the great opportunity lately to fly all over the place and I have found myself in a constant question battle with the un-scientific part of my brain. I have had a lot of trouble embracing science and have, instead, found myself thinking quite a bit about how heavy the damn plane has to be.
Rough calculations, as made on a cocktail napkin, come out to about “more than five hundred pounds.”
So, how does something that weighs more than five hundred pounds actually stay in the air simply by burning gas and using engines to propel it up above the clouds? I’m not looking for scientific answers, again, I would prefer emotionally unstable, completely insane answers that belong on The Onion and not in a scientific journal on the theory of flight.
Thank you for your understanding and patience in this matter.