Thursday, May 24, 2007

Miracle of Flight

Most of the time when I'm working, I'm completely unaware of what is going on. Completely. I know how many people we have onboard, I know who is acting suspicous, I know who has the funniest hairdo of the day, who is cross-dressing (if I happen to be on a flight from burbank to vegas on a friday night, you always have cross dressers), and which parents have absolutely no control over their child.

But then you stop, and take a second, and peer out of one of the porthole windows, down into the 40,000 foot abyss, and you really get a reality check of what truly is going on.

I'm sure we all mumble it under our breathes every now and then. "I'm in a hundred thousand pound...wait..who KNOWS how freaking heavy we are, floating upon air 40,000 feet above the earth...what am I DOING???"

Just the other day I said this to myself. I felt like a prop on one of those ANCIENT tv shows where everything is strung up by a wire. "We're just sitting here...floating..."

The Miracle of flight is just that...a MIRACLE. Goodness knows what was going through the minds of the Wright Brothers as they barrelled down a grassy runway in a rudamentary structure they had just built in the garage...hoping that SOMEHOW they could get it into the air. "BUT HOW DO WE GET DOWN??" wonder if that ever crossed their mind.

As a typical 737 takes off it can weight a staggering 150,000 pounds. (hey guys, lets fly this OBESE TANK! YEAH!)

Occassionally, upon taking off, you can hear the joints and hinges of the plane creaking and groaning. You can see passengers, eyes wide and wandering around the feusalage, worried about a complete aircraft dismemberment. I've heard it so much, I just smile. "Shes got some arthritis."

I've never been on a jumbo 777 or any other massive international beast. I've fairly sure the awe of that thing taking off is just..well...nerve racking. ;)

Anyways, I had one of these moments the other day, and I felt like I would share. Thanks!

Maybe sometime in the future: "Miracle of a 25 minute turn."


BSC said...

Miracle of the in-flight Hugh Grant movie and the people who survived it.

J-Wild said...

I am notorious for being a nervous flyer (too my family anyway). Recently I went on my first international flight, and we were on a Boeing 747 Jumbo jet. As we hurdled down the runway I was very conscious of the power coming out of the four engines that were propelling us skyward. I fly a lot, but this felt different, it felt like there was power to spare as opposed to smaller planes which sound like they are giving it all they got.

The plane was packed, with everyone surely maxing out their luggage limit. Add fuel, engines, and cargo and the thing has to weigh an unbelievable amount. And all of it is supported by those wings as the plane rises above the ground. I could see the wings out the aisle window (I was in the middle of the body) and on takeoff they rose up and I didn't see them again until we had landed. It had to be a flex of ten or more feet.

Despite my nervousness I marvel at the engineering that goes into flight. The physics and engineering behind flying is so incredibly solid. It doesn't make a lot of sense naturally, but in a real world sense it really is safe to travel 600 mph at 40,000 feet in a +150,000 lbs metal tube.

So have you had any "nervous" moments? Whenever there is a lot of turbulence I handle it ok, but if the pilot is throttling the engines up and down during the turbulence, I fell like I could climb the walls and scream, "WE'RE GONNA DIE!"

Have you seen this video, it's how I would want to be in the event of the unthinkable?

The Juice said...

wow, what a fantastic video! How wonderful would it be to just let go like that...

anyways, I've never had anything really remotely scary. Plenty of getting tossed around 50 feet from the ground, but since I've worked there I've gained an unbelievable amount of respect for the talent of those guys up front. Phenomenal. In severe turbulence and we're landing, maybe once have I been the least bit nervous. especially since our guys fly the same aircraft so many times a week (15 or so takeoffs and landings) they know that machine like their own child.

anyways, heres an interesting tidbit: They test the integrity of the wings by bending them until the tips touch.

Anonymous said...

It really is amazing how it all works. Ask me sometime how a helicopter flies. 25,000 small moving parts, all in unison, some as fast as 62,000 RPMs. And it truly flaots on air. It's insane. One time we went up to 6,000 feet and pulled into a hover. It was the weirdest feeling I have ever experienced. Fun stuff.


The Juice said...

next time i come out for a visit, we're taking a tour. you can tell me then!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I just flew DFW-Houston-Amsterdam to elope. I am such a nervous flyer that no one likes going on trips with me. That little plane to Houston was bad enough, with its bumps and wiggles and absolute drops in altitude in windy stormy weather, but we made it alive and rushed to the other side of the airport with no time for me to think about what I just survived. Then we take off in this huh-yuge jet non-stop to Amsterdam and I tell ya, talk about some creaking bolts. This thing shook and roared its way around, and that was just around the runways! The takeoff was something else, almost plastering me to the seat, but amazingly, I was so much more comfortable in that huge jet. Kinda felt like a big loud bus, but with a little screen in front of me telling me I'm now crossing over Greenland and have 4 more hours of ocean to go. Yeah. Flight is definitely a miracle, and I have all the respect in the world for the men and women up there who have to take those big birds up in the sky everyday... and then bring them back down again!

Respect for you as well, doing it everyday without batting an eyelash. If it weren't for y'alls steadfast attitudes, I wouldn't fly at all!

Hope all's well,
Sara Nichols (formerly Tooley)