A very wet takeoff

Here’s footage taken a few days ago of a US Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy transport taking off from Prestwick in the UK during a heavy rainstorm.  It kicks up a lot of spray. I wonder what landing would be like, with that much water on the runway?  I suppose the Galaxy is heavy enough that it wouldn’t aquaplane, but a lighter aircraft might be a different story. Peter

Continue reading

The damage road brine causes to your car

I’m obliged to Eric Peters for reminding us about the damage that road brine does to our vehicles. Last week, there was a rumor of snow. The possibility – 60 percent chance – of “up to an inch” that never materialized resulted in a hosing down of every road with a salty brine carried by huge tanker trucks … The sign on the back of the truck reads: Pre-Storm Treatment. . . . This liquid brine – which appears to have replaced the solid salt scattered on roads when it snows and while it’s snowing – is a guaranteed rust-enhancer. You literally

Continue reading

He’s going to need more than a defroster

Being from Alaska, Miss D. gets more than a little angry when she sees people driving around in cars from which they’ve not swept the snow and ice, so that it flies off at speed and hits the vehicles around them.  Apparently, in the frozen north, the cops ticket drivers who do that – which sounds like a good idea to me. I thought about it after finding this picture on MeWe: Look at that compressed rear suspension! I’d love to know what all that snow weighs . . . Peter

Continue reading

Do we need an “open container law” for the cockpits of Airbus planes?

For the benefit of readers overseas, most localities in America have so-called “open container laws“, forbidding the presence of opened bottles or other containers of alcohol in many public places, usually including vehicles in motion. In the case of Airbus airliners, I’m referring to open containers in the cockpit holding any liquid, not just alcohol, because they seem to have a problem with spills affecting their electronics. Airbus and Rolls-Royce are investigating two incidents in which A350s experienced uncommanded in-flight engine shutdown after drinks were spilled on controls situated on the cockpit centre pedestal. . . . One of the incidents involved a Delta Air Lines

Continue reading

Snow, ice, and off-road excursions

Last weekend Miss D. and I drove to a seminar held at a lakeside resort east of Gainesville, TX.  Unfortunately, that coincided with the arrival of a rare snowstorm.  Our normally safe roads were suddenly covered with 2-3 inches of snow, with patches of ice forming beneath the snow, invisible until you hit it. This was US Highway 82 near Gainesville at about 8 AM on Saturday morning.  The photograph looks clearer than conditions actually were, and doesn’t capture the snow falling fairly thickly.  The car was distinctly “twitchy” over the slush in the tire ruts. A drive that normally takes 2 hours took

Continue reading

The Panama Canal, faster than usual

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog, here’s a time-lapse video of a passage through the Panama Canal.  The trip lasts 11 hours, but the video takes less than 7 minutes – much more palatable in our high-speed world!  Note the “locomotives” on either side of the ship, hauling it through the locks.  They’re partly visible from time to time, as in the video ‘cover image’ below, on the right of the ship’s bow. The digging of the Panama Canal remains one of the great adventure stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It advanced not only navigation, but also medicine,

Continue reading

Boeing’s answer to the 737 Max problems: more automation?

In all the hype about the problems surrounding Boeing’s 737 Max airliner, particularly the two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia, I couldn’t help noticing one thing.  Airlines and pilots in First World countries appear to have had few similar problems with the aircraft.  It’s those in Third World countries that did – and not all of them, either.  The Lion Air 737 Max that crashed had experienced control problems just the day before the accident – but a third pilot on board, who knew what he was doing, told the flight crew what to do (as was pointed out in the aircraft manual), and the problem

Continue reading

A nifty, low-cost camper van conversion

I’ve long wanted a travel trailer or small camper, something Miss D. and I can use for weekend getaways, or even for a week or longer.  However, it’s been financially impossible for us, and looks like it’ll be that way for some time. Nevertheless, I keep my eyes open for good ideas in that area.  I was struck by this article about a low-cost conversion of a 2017 Ram cargo van.  It’s filled with interesting touches and useful ideas, as well as lots of photographs.  Here’s an excerpt. When we bought her, our immediate thought was to hire professionals to build it for us

Continue reading