Friday 2 May 2008

Trust in a 154,500lb tin can that flies to TO for SMB Nation

For some of us, flying is a marvel ... and for some of us flying is one of the most terrifying things one can do to get from one place to another.

Yes, we can know the physics, the way the shape of the wings work to produce lift, the "thrust" factor for the engines, and so on ... however, knowing all of that for some of us still doesn't put reality into focus: I am about to put my entire life into the hands of a couple of people steering what is essentially an aerodynamic tin can with huge engines pushing it forward ... and a bladder full of very potent gas/kerosene.

Don't get me wrong, I love to fly ... it just scares the *insert expletive here* out of me.

Perhaps that is why I love to fly ... the tension between the exhilaration in the take-off thrust (although only the 4 engined planes seem to come close or exceed that big block quarter mile) ... to the seemingly combat turns some of the pilots in our Western based airline seem to like taking to bring us about ... to the guaranteed roller coaster ride we will experience over Thunder Bay (almost any Western origin to Toronto route) ... and more ... it is always an adventure ... and that helps to allay some of the fear.

And yet, every time I fly, it is a real challenge to trust that things will happen as they are expected to.

So, here I am in Toronto, to spend a couple of days at the SMB Nation event happening at the Microsoft campus in Mississauga.

I am personally looking forward to it. This will be my first full I.T. conference outside of the Calgary or Edmonton events that Microsoft, Intel, and others have put on in the past.

More to come ... and thanks for reading!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.


stryqx said...

Flying in a commercial jet should scare the XXXX out of everyone.

There's about a .25 second period just after rotation where everything has to work just right. This quarter second is where there's not enough lift and the engines are doing all the work. If thrust fails, then the big tin can plows right in, generally resulting in a spectacular fireball.

Oh, and the .25 second window isn't enough time for a pilot to correct any problem if at all possible (no chance on an Airbus, possible on a Boeing) - it's mostly all fly-by-wire or fly-by-light nowadays anyway...

While it's not technically a take-off, this go-around attempt illustrates the lack of lift/lack of thrust problem quite dramatically. (Air France 296 in '88, suspected pilot error, possible fly-by-wire fault - amazingly of the 130-odd passengers only 3 died!)

Hope this doesn't put you off flying...

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


There is a video that got posted on one of the email lists I am on of a jet fighting a huge cross wind while landing and a pilot error causing the left wing to ground out while adjusting the nose via the rudder.

The only reason it got publisized was due to the fact that the video hit the Internet!

I have the link and am planning a post based on it soon.

However, yes, there is always opportunity for pilot error ... for a failure of some subsystem ... and more.

It does not put me off flying. It is still safer for me in that tin can than driving my car from client to client or shop. ;)