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The State of the Sig
AVSIG at 25

AVSIG History

Notes on JBG

The State of the Sig

Our Contentious Little Secret

What We've Learned so Far



A few months back one of our long-time members posted a "will it fly" question that's been flying (or not) around other internet forums lately.  The question asks whether an airplane can take off and fly if it is accelerating on a treadmill whose belt can exactly match the airplane's speed at any given time.  He no doubt posted the message because he was certain AVSIG would get to the bottom of it quickly and elegantly.  

Well, 664 messages later, it seems we flunked the "quickly" part of that test.

Luckily, "elegant," in depth, detail, and presentation ... right up very almost until the exhausting two-hold-out-laden end  ... remained.  A number of the Sig's brightest took several hours out of their lives to patiently explain how the "treadmill" in the problem is a red herring (the plane will fly because its wheels can be spun-up to a zillion miles per hour by the "treadmill" with zippo effect on the airplane's lift-creating speed through the air) while a smaller number devoted a scale-equal number of hours to explaining that the treadmill will in-fact cancel forward progress (and the plane won't fly). 

(So who's right?  Neither camp, because we tried it right in the AVSIG Skunkworks.   Our test article took off -- in stinging rebuke to the "no fly" faction -- but immediately struck the grab-handle structure at the end of the treadmill and flipped over -- proving that even the best engineers on AVSIG often fail to see the forest for the trees).

The plane-on-a-treadmill exercise in the meantime spawned a large number of "Oh yeah, if you guys are so smart, solve this" problems in our Hangar Flying section, such as:

If a train leaves Boston at 12 p.m. heading east, but the railroad tracks are actually part of a treadmill device that exactly matches the speed of the train's wheels, will the train stay in Boston or plunge into Boston Harbor in 20 minutes?

and ...

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood and if the atmosphere around it acted as a multi-dimensional treadmill which could ...

Well, you get the picture.  Suffice it to say, AVSIG Hangar Flying was looking like a great big dandy-pants Mensa orgy there for awhile, and we were expecting the feds to raid us anytime.

That plane-on-a-treadmill thread and others like it make today's AVSIG look lots like AVSIG back-when, but in many ways our 2004 move to the web has made our Same Old Sig Not the Same Old Sig.

On the down side, it's much harder to navigate and search messages compared to CompuServe's wonderful-but-now-defunct forum software.  No web forum software today even comes close to what CompuServe was running in 1999, though it's certainly easier to log-in.

On the up side, something magical happened when we moved to the web.   The faces of AVSIG appeared on avatars.  Then the airplanes, avionics stacks, and dogs and cats and sons and daughters of AVSIG appeared in message bodies.   As wide-open and web-integrated as AVSIG now is, it's a much more graphic and personal place compared to our text-only decades.

Elsewhere at 25 ...

AVSIG People & Places
Get-together gigs still get together ... but thanks to those avatars there's less guessing in hotel lobbies and more hook-up.  (Siggers looking for other Siggers who use Snoopy, Fred Flintstone, Superman et al. avatars have thrown some gig-togethers into minor chaos, usually cleared by a brief explanation and a breathalyzer test).

Training & Proficiency
Our "first stop for new aviators ... first stop for old" section is always ripe for new aviators.  We know you're out there, so please do check-in, and then please feel free to jump right in.  The number one reason new members on any online forum are intimidated about posting messages is the fear of looking stupid, or of getting some snippy "This question has been asked a thousand times ... why don't you do a forum search first" reply instead of a helpful answer.  After a quarter century, AVSIG members have almost universally reached the point of knowing "go look it up" is awfully bad form, and new members should at least expect a link to a helpful thread if one exists.  If you're a student or otherwise twenty-bucks-a-year too pinched to pop for our annual membership fee, please ask for a free year's membership courtesy of AVSIG's generous longtime contributors.

Maintenance
Snake Oil Skimmed Here. Still a useful place to come for first and second opinions on care and feeding of aircraft and powerplants. 

Aviation History
A new, semantics-reduced dimension for this discussion thanks to graphic file attachments and other extra-textrestrial links.  At least one regular denizen has multi-mediaized the place with musical downloads from way back when found who knows where.

Hot Section
Wonderful insight in selected discussions, but we really need some kick-butt registered neutri-cynics to shake-up the "Oh yeah?
Chappaquiddick, Barbra Streisand, say-is-that-mayonnaise-on-your-blue-dress?" versus the "Oh yeah?  Your guy wants to put food on your family, tried to exit a briefing room through a locked door, plus his dad threw-up all over the prime minister of Japan" crowd.  The section that everyone loves to hate recently survived its first formal "keep it or ditch it" poll after even a few regular participants said they just didn't like themselves in the morning anymore.

Accidents & Incidents
Post-accident discussions take off quickly now that everyone is a taskbar window-away from every information source on the planet.  Once upon a time it took 30 messages to establish just what had or hadn't been said in a breaking news report; now two or three outside links get things going just like that.   A much better Lessons Learned database is also readily at-hand thanks to the extensive archive of reports maintained by the National Transportation Safety Board.  Bottom line: Much less time to data = much less time to insight = much more opportunity to jump to conclusions = as always ... be careful out there.

Avionics/Gadgets/Toys ... Hardware/Software
Feel free to look for help on practically anything in these sections, as always.  The depth of non-aviation knowledge on AVSIG remains peerless.

AVSIG's Next 25 Years ...

  • AVSIG's average participant age will be 104.
  • There will be fish pun threads, but not on the same scale as the AVSIG fish pun threads of the 1990s.
  • Another suspected bug in the forum software will be reported.
  • A bug pun thread will be started in the above thread by someone who claims to abhor thread drift, but no AVSIG bug pun thread will have the legs to match even the last floundering gasps of an AVSIG fish pun thread.
  • Some 104-year-old guy will start an argument with another 104-year-old guy over whether it's "flounder" or "founder."
  • A 104-year-old engineer will point-out that the "founder" vs. "flounder" discussion is in fact a red herring: that it's all about airspeed.
  • There will be affordable and practical flying cars for everyone: You'll read it here first.

--MO                  1/1/2006                                                                                                     Next

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AVSIG History  Notes on JBG  The State of the Sig  Our Contentious Little Secret What We've Learned so Far

sig25ths.jpg (8758 bytes)