|The Mother Load - The Atlantic (November 2005)|
by dmv at 2:53 pm EDT, Jun 14, 2009
nothing is more modern than air travel.
As stimulating adventure, flying nowadays ranks somewhere between appearing in traffic court and going to Blockbuster with the DVD of Shrek 2 that my toddler inserted in the toaster. Thus the maiden flight, on April 27, 2005, of the Airbus A380, the world's largest airliner, did not spark the world's imagination. Or it did—with mental images of a boarding process like going from Manhattan to the Hamptons on a summer Friday, except by foot with carry-on baggage. This to get a seat more uncomfortable than an aluminum beach chair.
What a poor, dull response to a miracle of engineering. The A380 is a Lourdes apparition at the departure ramp. Consider just two of its marvels: Its takeoff weight is 1.235 million pounds. And it takes off. The A380 is the heaviest airplane ever flown—171 tons heavier than the previous record holder, the somewhat less miraculously engineered Soviet Antonov An-124.
|RE: The Mother Load - The Atlantic (November 2005)|
by dmv at 3:08 pm EDT, Jun 14, 2009
P. J. O'Rourke is great. From farther down on the page:
A 302-page promotional Airbus publication titled A New Dimension in Air Travel informed me that "the brake is capable of stopping 45 double-decker buses traveling at 200 mph, simultaneously, in under 25 seconds." It is an ambition of mine to learn enough math to figure out comparisons like that and write them myself. But I'm afraid I'd get carried away with digressions about what kind of engine you'd have to put in a double-decker bus to make it go that fast, where you'd drive it, how you'd find forty-four people to drive the other buses, and what would happen to the bus riders.
I did get carried away thinking about the miracle of engineering. It is not vouchsafed even to the pope to see the very mechanism by which miracles are performed. Would the pope be as confused by his kind of miracle as I was by the Iron Bird? Would this affect the doctrine of papal infallibility?
"Above my pay grade," Peter said.