How to make a paper aeroplane that will fly record distances

Thursday, 9 February, 2017

During lulls at a place I once worked at many years ago, my colleagues and I would build oversize paper aeroplanes. We’d tape A4 and A3 sheets of paper together so we could construct ever larger craft. The biggest “sheet” of paper we worked with would have been the size of a desktop.

Once complete, we’d go onto the viewing deck outside our seventh floor offices, and launch the aeroplanes across two adjoining, early-stage, construction sites that were next door. The goal was to see if the planes could reach the far side of the far site.

The smaller craft almost did, while the larger ones tended to dive to the ground soon after launch. In our bid to go big though, we gave scant regard to aerodynamics, I guess.

Students at the Graduate School of Design, part of Harvard University, are unlikely to make the same mistake. This after John Collins, designer of a paper plane that flew a record two hundred and twenty six feet, about seventy metres, recently shared his design for the craft with them.

Now I’m wondering to what degree this design can be scaled up? To the size of a sheet as large as a desktop? There’s only one way to find out.

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Flight Attendant, by XXX, this is not flying the friendly skies

Tuesday, 18 October, 2016

XXX is a South Korean music act, made up of producer FRNK, and Kim Ximya, a rapper, and Flight Attendant is their latest release. What can I say? This is not the sort of flight you’d ever hope to be a passenger on. Also, never again shall I be critical of airline food. Some lyrics and images (illustrations) may be NSFW.

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The air force pilot and the aerial photographer

Friday, 12 August, 2016

Photo by Shamim Shorif Susom

Shamim Shorif Susom, a Bangladesh Air Force pilot, has been able to combine his passion for flying, with his interest in photography, building up an impressive photo collection as a result.

Photo by Shamim Shorif Susom

While many of his images are of places in Bangladesh, he has also photographed locations in Europe, Africa, and other parts of Asia. Here is an aerial photographer to envy, I think.

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There’s no airline food like old school airline food

Tuesday, 9 August, 2016

There’s very likely a reason latter day air travellers don’t like airline food, that’s because they don’t cook it, or for that matter, serve it, the way they used to. Check out these photos on the Flickr page of SAS Museet, or museum of Scandinavian Airlines, of the way things used to be.

Could you even imagine having a meal served this way on a regular commercial flight? No, I doubt it’s a sight we’ll see again.

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Why are aircraft flight recorders called black boxes? Good question

Thursday, 23 June, 2016

An introduction to aircraft flight recorders, often known as black boxes. That’s a misnomer, if ever there were one, as they are usually orange in colour.

What’s also interesting is that no one in the aviation industry exactly knows how fight recorders became known as black boxes in the first place. Perhaps the term was made popular by the media? Black box certainly has more presence than orange box, so possibly that explains it?

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Well, this makes landing a commercial jet airliner look easy…

Tuesday, 16 February, 2016

I’ve heard that landing a commercial jet airliner is no small ask, should a complete novice, such as a passenger, need to take control in the event that the flight crew becomes incapacitated.

This walk-through of the process, for a Boeing 737, however, makes it seem quite easy, if you could keep your nerves steady that is. Here, the weather conditions are favourable, anything else might present a real challenge though.

Hopefully, you’ll never be in such a situation.

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Hoverboards placed on the no fly list, is that a contradiction or what?

Thursday, 17 December, 2015

Hoverboard, photo by Josh Valcarcel

The hoverboards in question are not the least bit like the devices from the Back to the Future films, but maybe they’re close enough for some people. I’ve seen a few of these around now, and while they look fun, it appears some models have an unfortunate tendency to burst into flames. That’s not much use if Biff Tannen happens to be in hot pursuit.

The problem can apparently be traced to their lithium-ion batteries, and is something that has resulted in a number of US airlines banning passengers from taking them onto flights.

An exploding two-wheeler burned down a house in Louisiana a few weeks ago; another scooter combusted in the same state in the past week. A gyroboard caused significant damage to a home in New York a few days ago. At a mall in Washington this week, a scooterboard caught fire and shoppers were forced to evacuate. The perceived danger is significant enough that major airlines have banned the little vehicles altogether.

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The question again, will travel by airship ever make a return?

Friday, 4 September, 2015

Might airships ever return to the skies, and convey us from one place to another, as an alternative to flying in an aircraft?

In 2013, the Aeros Corporation, based near San Diego, demonstrated a tethered flight of Dragon Dream – an airship measuring 90m (295ft) long and 27m wide. As big as this airship is, it is still only small sized prototype – the final design could be more than 169m long and be able to carry a cargo of 66 tonnes.

It’s something that’s been talked about for a long time though, so I don’t know if anything will actually come of it. That said, airship travel didn’t too bad at all. Take a look at these photos of the passenger decks of the Hindenburg, the dining rooms, lounge areas, and small bedrooms. If that’s not a comfortable way to fly, what is?

Unfortunately though, it was the tragic destruction of the Hindenburg in 1937, that brought the era of airship travel to an end.

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A colourful visualisation of flights in and out of London in a day

Friday, 24 July, 2015

A colourful visualisation of aircraft traffic arriving and departing from the five major airports surrounding London. Apparently just about all of these flights, 99.8% of them, experience no ATC related delays. Not bad for what must be some of the busiest airspace in the world.

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Aircraft cabin air, definitely the sum of its many parts

Monday, 6 July, 2015

Frequent flyers especially may be interested in the air they breathe while cruising at thirty-thousand feet… put it this way, there are all sorts of surprising ingredients, as it were, in the mix. And then this, an explanation of the low humidity environment of many aircraft cabins:

Most airplanes use about 50% recirculated air and about 50% bleed air that comes from the engines. Bleed air isn’t supposed to be dangerous. Outside air is first pulled into the first compartment of the engine, where it’s compressed and then pumped into the aircraft, sometimes through a filter. Then, it’s decompressed and mixed with the recirculated air before being blown out those little eyeball vents above your seat. The air is stagnant, and at about 12-percent humidity, it’s also drier than a desert. However, the air mixture is supposed to be safe.

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