Up in the Air

Today’s lunchtime news chum brings together a collection of articles, all related to things that are up in the air:

  • Stopping a Non-Stop. When is a non-stop flight a one-stop. The answer, of course, is when it has to stop to refuel, which is something happening to an increasing number of non-stop flights from Europe. The reason for this is increased headwinds at the flight altitude, which consume more fuel. Now, that wouldn’t be a problem if jumbo-jets were being used, as they carry more fuel (e.g., 767s, 747s), but airlines (especially United) want to save money. They are attempting to utilize 757s whereever possible, and a transatlantic flight is just at the edge of their range. Give them a strong headwind, and — voila — a refueling stop is needed. This is a boon to many small airports, who just love the landing fees.
  • The Roar of the Engine. Those of us who live in the San Fernando Valley remember well the roar of rocket engine testing from Rocketdyne, which is now part of United Technology. Rumors are circulating that Rocketdyne will be sold to another company, such as GenCorp (Aerojet) or ATK. The interesting part of this article, for me, was the information on site development of Rocketdyne sites (as Rocketdyne owns a prime 47-acre site between Canoga and Owensmouth avenues and Vanowen Street and Victory Boulevard – right next to Westfield Topanga mall – in addition to a campus at De Soto and Nordhoff St. The article noted that “Last summer UTC filed plans with the city of Los Angeles to build a 6 million-square-foot community of high-rise buildings, 4,000-plus residential units and a 16-story hotel. Rocketdyne will eventually leave the Canoga site and consolidate operations at its campus at De Soto Avenue and Nordoff Street.”
  • Rescuing a Satellite. Wired had an interesting article on the rescue of the AEHF-1 satellite, along with speculation as to the underlying cause of the problem. The Slashdot article that alerted me to this also included a link to an interesting analysis that highlighted a side effect of younger engineerlings with little experience working with old engineer crows, which (to me) emphasizes the important of passing on the lessons learned to other generations. As I’m starting to enter the “old crow” stage (52 is rapidly coming up), this is a useful reminder, and something all of us need to do.
  • Stick ‘Em Up. Lastly, speaking of old, we have something that is old that forces you to put your hands in the air. Namely: they are still robbing the train after 60 years at Knotts Berry Farm. Now I remember going to Knotts when I was young and seeing this. The one thing not stated in the article is what the “robbers” do with anything park guests give them.

Music: Liege and Lief (Fairport Convention): Tam Lin