Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More on Essence

[I have been working with the concept of essence, which encompasses all of the forms of energy that go into flying.]

Try not to take a side in this debate: does an airplane’s elevator control speed, or does it control height? Both sides have strong arguments, and neither side will ever be convinced by the other. The end of the argument is the passion of everyone involved.

Now sweep the question aside. Elevator has no effect on essence, at least for a while. By thinking – and thinking is part of essence – the question no longer matters, although the passion should still remain. Elevator can only change our finesse.

Sweep the question aside again. Why do we care about speed and height? We do not; these are surrogates for our true goal. We really aim to follow a certain path. Focus on your goal.

Forethought adds essence to our craft, both in the form of anticipation and in the form of fuel. We believe that we have the essence to complete the mission, and must manage its conversion from chemical or atmospheric energy to the kind of energy – height or speed – that we desire.
Too little dynamic energy – too little height, or too little speed, or too little of both – means taking some chemical or atmospheric energy from our stores. So open the throttle.

Some cars store energy from braking, but we have not figured out how to do this in airplanes. Both slowing down and going down destroy our essence. The rumble when the spoilers or landing gear extend carries essence from the airplane into the passenger’s brain, or even the pilot’s brain, and we have yet to think of a way to use that energy. “Welcome to Santa Monica,” the large sign reads, “Please fly quietly.” Preserve your essence: approach a little high. Now you have too much essence. So close the throttle.

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