|A few months back
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).
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
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
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.
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.
at 25 ...
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).
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
Snake Oil Skimmed Here. Still a useful place to come for first and
second opinions on care and feeding of aircraft and
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.
Wonderful insight in selected discussions, but we really need some
kick-butt registered neutri-cynics to shake-up the "Oh yeah? Chappaquiddick,
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.
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.
Feel free to look for help on practically anything in these sections,
as always. The depth of non-aviation knowledge on AVSIG
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
- 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.
State of the Sig Our
Contentious Little Secret What
We've Learned so Far