Saturday, May 26, 2012

Martial Arts and Lift

Regular readers (if there be any) know of my long term project trying to analyze all of the problems of flying in terms of two less-common parameters, finesse (essentially, glide ratio) and essence (the total of all of the energies, chemical, potential, kinetic, and emotional).  This project has led me into some obscure corners of aviation, places where the relationship between flying and all of our other endeavors almost becomes visible.

Here is another excerpt.

Without the air there is no finesse.  The falling craft strikes each of many molecules, and reacts.  Nitrogen hits hard, and oxygen hits harder; water, like cement when ditching, hardly dents the craft.  Water is an enemy of finesse.

In principle, shooting figs at the wing would hold the craft aloft.

But finesse is more than violence.  The karate fist alone  does not suffice. The flow of Tai Chi Ch'uan, the air like a liquid, softer, also affects the craft.

The fluid form of finesse comes directly from essence: consider the speed of the fluid, the essence of motion, and at the same time consider its pressure, the essence of potential.  Essence being conserved,  higher speed means lower pressure.

Even finesse is a form of essence.

People choose favorites in the martial art of lift.  In this corner, Newton, violent, punching, punching, punching, blindly, wildly.  In that corner, Bernoulli, conserving essence, waiting for the instant when the fatal blow may be struck.

The need to choose varies with speed.  At low speed, Newton's angular attack lifts the craft from the ground, but is
merely drag on a faster craft.  The Tai Chi artist, moving slowly, barely moves the air, but with blinding speed his conserved essence is unleashed.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Unlikely Squared

Unlikely is not never, nor even is unlikely squared.

Ask the pilot whose vacuum and electrical systems failed all at once.

Serial improbabilities confuse us even more.

An instructor watches a student fly past the glide slope.  How can this be?  The needle clearly shows the glide slope well below.

But only on the instructor's side.  One alternator's failure made the pilot's needle stick.  Reason enough to devote essence to the cross-check, the mental game that the marker should be crossed at just this height, the descent rate this multiple of the ground speed, this many minutes and seconds to the ground.

Two pilots cross-check each other, one calling "glideslope!" the other expected to call "correcting?"  When the other's reply is "What do you mean, the needle hasn't moved," both know it is time to go around.

One pilot must have the essence to think the thoughts of two.

The other alternator fails, unlikely squared has occured.  Now all the needles come to rest.

Preflight essence spent on warnings and procedures now gets burned.  One flies, one tries to get the electrons to flow again.  Failing that, one flies, one tries to lower the wheels.

Perhaps the tower is called from a mobile phone.  The only charged battery aboard.

Perhaps, in the end, nothing happens.