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I love to fly, but I very rarely enjoy reading books about flying, especially while in an airplane: all too often they tend involve words like “plummet”, “screaming”, “disaster” and “splatted”. Nothing like reading a sentence that combines all four and then spending a few tense hours at several thousand feet listening to every change in engine pitch and staring out the windows trying to work out if the wing normally wobbles that much.
Books that should never appear in airport booksellers (that I have actually see stocked) include all the various “air crash investigations” series, any of the 4 books I have seen with “air disaster” in their title and – of course - Alive, the infamous story of 16 blokes crashed in the Andes eating the unthinkable, which will not only put you off flying but right off your inflight meal.
But as near-disaster stories go, it’s a very reassuring one, and this is down in no small measure to the calm and clear explanations of what does happen onboard when things start to go badly wrong. And Richard should know. He was the captain on what should have been a routine long-haul flight from Singapore to Sydney, piloting one of Qantas’s new A380 aircraft. It should have been a routine flight but shortly after leaving Changi Airport, an explosion shattered engine 2, sending hundreds of pieces of shrapnel ripping through the wing and fuselage, and creating chaos as vital flight systems and back-ups were damaged or destroyed.
The flight, with nearly 500 people on board, had the potential to be one of history’s worst aviation disasters. Some advance reports even stated that the plane had crashed but the experienced flight crew, led by De Crespigny, managed to land and safely disembark their passengers after hours of nerve-wracking effort.
The book doesn’t just shed light on what happened on that flight. It follows Richard’s life and career, from his time with the RAAF through over 20 years and Qantas, and explains the skills and training of a top-level airline pilot. Richard clearly loves to fly and is confident in the air, but he’s sympathetic to those of us who aren’t, as he explained in an interview with Escape’s Doc Holiday.
I have and will always be sympathetic to nervous flyers; this is why the QF32 crew behaved the way they did, informing and debriefing the passengers. I can’t emphasise enough that the crew have extraordinary skills and are trained to look after you in the case of an emergency. Whatever the emergency, the pilots and crew in the good airlines have been trained for every contingency and you are in the best hands! They know what they are doing. They have been trained, they are knowledgeable and they will not panic.
Cole had a secret.. he could fly with the help of balloons. Where will he go? What will he see? Adventures lay beyond his little street. This is my submission for IF.. haven't participated in a loooong time. I'm working on the painting now and hopefully will be finished before Friday! Happy Illustrating!
If I were to ask you who was the inventor of human flight, how would you answer? Would you rack your brain for school memories and then come up with the Wright brothers? Would you be surprised and interested if you then found out that perhaps it wasn’t the Wright brothers after all, but someone else entirely?
Alberto Santos-Dumont, inspired by a childhood passion for Jules Vernes, was crazy about inventing flying machines. He was famous across Paris for his preferred mode of city transport – his own private airship, a dirigible, which he used like an airborne taxi to take him to cafes and shops around town. But like many inventors Santos-Dumont didn’t sit still; he was knew “even the best inventions can be improved” and so he set about designing an airplane.
One chilly morning in November 1906, on the outskirts of Paris, Santos-Dumont promised to make the world’s first public airplane flight. Things didn’t get off to a good start when a rival would-be pilot turned up with his own airplane. But when this plane failed to make it off the ground, it was Santos-Dumont’s turn….
And he was off! Although he flew for barely more than 20 seconds, Santos-Dumont became the first person to lift off and land a completely self-propelled plane. Santos-Dumont was of course delighted: “these machines will mean the end of all wars. Once people are able to fly to different countries, they will see how much we have in common. We will all be friends.”
Victoria Griffith must have been jumping with delight as she gradually learned about Alberto Santos-Dumont; what better hero for a story could there be? He was a larger-than-life gentleman (he gave away most of the money he earned for his inventions), an eccentric, he played an important role in a world changing invention and he left a lasting legacy that you may well have heard of, even if you didn’t associate it with Alberto or had never knowingly heard his name before (there’s a clue in the picture below, but I’ll leave it for you to read the book to enjoy the story associated with it!)
Now it’s one thing to unearth a great story waiting to be told, but it’s quite another to weave it all together to create a narrative that grabs you from the outset, captures your imagination and makes you want to know more about the facts in question. Griffith does all of this perfectly, showing us a very important scientific truth along the way – that facts are often far more complicated than the received wisdom about them.
The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is transportation. If you could travel any way you wanted, what mode of transportation would you choose? I’d pick something fun, like flying by paper airplane, if it were possible.
Paper Airplane Night Flight
Jumping out of the airplane might be fun too …
… as long as your parachute opens! Eep! Maybe I should stick to something closer to the ground, like skateboarding.
Then again, since I don’t have a skateboard anymore and I’m not a chicken, I’ll pick something I do on a regular basis.
Fun While Grocery Shopping
But only until they invent paper airplanes that you can fly in. What kind of transportation would you choose, if you could choose anything? Have you ever had grocery cart races? (I have!)
The prompt for this month on the CBIG blog is, Happy. I recently finished this piece for my new portfolio. It’s from a sketch I did last year of a witch girl and her puppy. They’re both happy because it’s the puppy’s first broom ride. Not only is he managing to hold on, he’s also loving every minute of the ride. It’s even better than being in the car because he doesn’t have to stick his head out a window to get air.