Trivia Testers : X-ray Glasses

Question: If you could see clear air turbulence, what would it look like?

  1. a rotating vertical column of air
  2. a dome of rotating air, with the most extreme movements at the top
  3. a wave
  4. a ‘streak’ offshoot, branching down from an overhead jet stream

Answer C: So-called Kelvin-Helmholtz waves occur in shear layers near thunderstorms and jet streams. When moisture exists at the boundary (a rare occurrence), the moisture acts as a tracer, and cloud forms (sometimes called ‘billow clouds’) take on exactly the same appearance as a series of cresting ocean waves. Known as Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, it results from velocity shears between two media. (They don’t even have to be of different densities.) The most familiar example of this is wind blowing over calm water. Here are actual photographs of this phenomena, the first taken near Washington DC, and another even more striking one below, taken over Laramie, Wyoming (from the Advisory Circular AC-0057, ‘Hazardous Mountain Winds and Their Visual Indicators’)

Question: Which of these locations has the greatest possible amount of sunshine?

  1. The North Pole
  2. The Sahara Desert
  3. The Antarctic
  4. The U.S. Southwest

Answer: B. The Sahara leads the world in sunshine, with more than 4300 hours per year. That’s 98% of the time. Note: 24 hours/day x 365.25 days/year = 8766 hours/year, but you must consider that about half of that is night time. At the approximate latitude of the Sahara, 25 degrees North, there are about 4383 hours of daylight per year. Incidentally, the hottest temperature ever recorded, although it was not official, was about 136 degrees Fahrenheit (in the shade) on September 13, 1922 in Al’ Aziziyah, Libya, which is near Tripoli and the Meditteranean Sea, and is actually further North at about a latitude of 33 deg N. (I hear that hangar space is really cheap there, too.)

Subject: Faith and Begorrah!

Question: On Friday, August 5, 1938, a million ecstatic New Yorkers greeted Douglas Corrigan on lower Broadway with a parade and a ‘tickertape snowstorm.’ (Later on he got a similar reception in Brooklyn.) The headline of the New York Post on that date actually read as follows:

He had just completed the first solo round-trip flight across the AtlanticWhat was the reason for this?

  1. He was supposed to fly to Ireland, but somehow wound up in California.
  2. He was supposed to have flown to California, but because of a backwards compass, he landed in Ireland instead.
  3. Having been denied permission to fly the Atlantic, he did it anyway, with the excuse that he ‘just got mixed up in the clouds’.

Answer: D. Aye, folks do love a good story, and it’s often easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Douglas Groce Corrigan was possibly the last of the early glory-seeking aviators to win the hearts and minds of millions before the world plunged into war. By then, Lindbergh’s flight was eleven years old, and many had already flown the Atlantic, but it was still not something to try in a factory built airplane.

Corrigan’s flying career began in 1925 in Los Angeles, when, for two dollars and fifty cents, he purchased a ten minute sightseeing ride in a Curtiss Jenny owned by B.F. Mahoney and Claude Ryan. Not long after, Charles Lindbergh arrived in San Diego with the dream that Ryan could build an airplane that would fly the Atlantic. Corrigan soloed in March, 1926, and he actually worked as a mechanic for Ryan in San Diego. He obtained his pilot’s license in December 1927, and an air transport license three years later. In his autobiography, ‘That’s My Story’, Corrigan wrote that Ryan’s crew were given 60 days to design and build the airplane, and were in such a rush that they often worked past midnight. (Yes, Corrigan actually worked on Lindbergh’s airplane!) He made wing ribs, assembled the wing, installed gas tanks and lines, sewed, doped and installed fabric and helped install the instrument board. He barnstormed for a few years, and, in 1933, for about $325, he bought a single engine 1929 OX5 Robin. (He did later modify it for long-distance flight.) He worked sporadically in airplane factories in Los Angeles and (for Ryan) in San Diego. Corrigan actually spent three years trying to get permission to fly from New York to Dublin. He had been told that he could fly nonstop from New York to California, but that an ocean crossing was out of the question because his Robin was rather rickety and had no business challenging the Atlantic. (Also, Amelia Earhart had disappeared over the Pacific earlier that year.) Corrigan flew non-stop from California to New York in 1938.

At dawn on the foggy morning of July 17, 1938, he filed a plan for a non-stop return to California and departed New York’s Floyd Bennett Field carrying two chocolate bars, two boxes of fig bars, a quart of water and a U.S. map with the route from New York to California marked out. A few puzzled onlookers watched him do a 180-degree turn and vanish into a cloudbank. About 28 hours later, he stepped out of his plane at Baldonnel Field, near Dublin, saying, ‘I just got in from New York. Where am I?’ Whether or not he claimed that his compasses had failed, or he told officials that he had misread his compass and had meant to fly to Los Angeles, the Irish are much taken with a good yarn (especially when told by a transplant from the sod), and he was given a hero’s welcome. He met the country’s Prime Minister, the U.S. Ambassador to England, as well as Joseph P. Kennedy. Although Corrigan never quite admitted it, his error was surely a ruse to circumvent aviation authorities who had turned down his request to make the trans-Atlantic flight. No one believed Corrigan’s explanation, especially the aviation authorities in both Ireland and America, who suspended his pilot’s license and ordered his aircraft dismantled. Corrigan stuck to his story: He’d got turned around, his compass had malfunctioned, and he’d meant to fly to California. One of the statements that he is said to have made was indeed that ‘When I came down through the clouds I noticed I had been reading the compass needle backward.’ The only people who were fooled by that probably wanted to be.

He was the perfect anti-hero, and Corrigan’s stunt caught the public fancy. By the time that the ship carrying Corrigan and his crated plane got back to New York, the suspension had been lifted, and ‘Wrong-Way’ Corrigan was greeted as a hero. More than a million people lined New York’s Broadway for a ticker-tape parade honoring the man who had flown in the face of authority. (The city gave him a bigger parade than it had given Lindbergh.) Corrigan enjoyed celebrity status for awhile and even played himself in the 1938 movie The Flying Irishman. So, yes, he really did know where the Hell he was going. He was no dope. (Who says Ronald Reagan invented plausible deniability?) Corrigan died in New York on December 9, 1995, at the age of 88. To most people, his name is still synonymous with football players who score goals for the opposition, but in reality, Douglas Corrigan was a beacon of passions and principles that shone above all obstacles to the realization of dreams.