Trivia Testers : Founding Fathers

Figure 3

Founding Fathers
Who was the first person to propose the use of aircraft in the national interest?

  1. the Wright Brothers, in 1905
  2. Glenn Curtiss, in 1910
  3. Thaddeus Lowe, in 1861
  4. Thomas Jefferson, in 1784

Answer: It is true that in 1910, Glenn Curtiss dropped dummy bombs on the buoyed outline of a battleship on a lake in upstate New York. And the fact that the Wright Brothers first approached the military with their design in 1905 is fairly well known. Earlier still, while one can’t presume to apply the term “national” to these efforts, a Union Army Balloon Corps did exist during the Civil War, for which Thaddeus Lowe bore the grand title of “Chief Aeronaut”. However, if you took the subject title seriously, this is a give-away. Thomas Jefferson, third US president and author of the Declaration of Independence, himself presented plans for the use of aviation (balloons, in this case) in the young nation’s interest, quite early on. The idea may have come from someone else in correspondence, or from an acquaintance, or perhaps from elsewhere within the new government. But yes, the answer is choice D. His “Aeronavigation Plan” is laying around somewhere in the Library of Congress, but here are some excerpts from some of Thomas Jefferson’s “Writings”:

To Dr. Philip Turpin
Annapolis, Apr. 28, 1784

DEAR SIR-Supposing you may not have received intelligence to be relied on as to the reality & extent of the late discovery of traversing the air in ballons, & having lately perused a book in which everything is brought together on that subject as low down as Decemb. last, I will give you a detail of it. I will state the several experiments, with the most interesting circumstances attending them, by way of table, which will give you a clearer view & in less compass.

They suppose the minimum of these ballons to be of 6 inches diameter: these are constructed of gold-beaters’ skin & filled with inflammeable air. this air produced from iron-filings, the vitriolic acid & distilled water is, in weight, to Atmospheric air as 7. to 43. on an average of the trials: & when produced from the filings of Zinc, the Marine acid & distilled water, is to the Atmospheric air as 5. to 53. or 1. to 10 1/2. but Montgolfier’s air is half the weight of Atmospheric. this is produced by burning straw & wool. the straw must be dry & open, & the wool shred very fine, so that they may make a clear flame, with as little smoke as possible. 50 lb. of straw & 5 lb. of wool filled the ballons of Oct. 19. & Nov. 21. in five minutes. these ballons contained 60,000 cubic feet. no analysis of this air is given us. Mons’r de Saintford the author of the book, gives us a very great & useless display of Mathematical learning, which certainly has as yet had very little to do with this discovery: & when he comes to the chemical investigations, which are interesting, he sais little. the ballons sometimes were torn by the pressure of the internal air being insufficiently counteracted in the higher regions of the Atmosphere. these rents were of 6. or 7. f. length, yet the machine descended with a gentle equable motion & not with an accelerated one. by the trials at Versailles & Champ de Mars it appears that they will go with a moderate wind 150. leagues in 24 hours. there are yet two principal desiderata. 1. the cheapest & easiest process of making the lightest inflammable air. 2. an envelopment which will be light, strong, impervious to the air & proof against rain. supplies of gas are desireable.

too, without being obliged to carry fire with the machine: for in those in which men ascended there was a store of straw & wool laid in the gallery which surrounded the bottom of the ballon & in which the men stood, & a chaffing dish of 3. feet cube in which they burnt the materials to supply air. it is conjectured that these machines may be guided by oars & raised & depressed by having vessels wherein, by the aid of pumps, they can produce a vacuum or condensation of atmospheric air at will. they are, from some new circumstances, strengthened in the opinion that there are generally opposite or different currents in the atmosphere: & that if the current next the earth is not in the direction which suits you, by ascending higher you may find one that does. between these there is probably a region of eddy where you may be stationary if philosophical experiments be your object. the uses of this discovery are suggested to be 1. transportation of commodities under some circumstances. 2. traversing deserts, countries possessed by an enemy, or ravaged by infectious disorders, pathless & inaccessible mountains. 3. conveying intelligence into a beseiged place, or perhaps enterprising on it, reconnoitring an army &c. 4. throwing new lights on the thermometer, barometer, hygrometer, rain, snow, hail, wind & other phenomena of which the Atmosphere is the theatre. 5. the discovery of the pole which is but one day’s journey in a baloon. from where the ice has hitherto stopped adventurers. 6. raising weights; lightening ships over bars. 7. housebreaking, smuggling &c. some of these objects are ludicrous, others serious, important & probable. I will give you the figures of the baloons on the last page.

Congress has determined to adjourn on the 3d of June to meet in November at Trenton. a vessel arrived here yesterday which left London the 25th of March. she brings papers to the 20th of that month. mr. Pitt was still in place, supported by the city of London, the nation in general, & the House of Lords. still however the majority in the H. of commons was against him, tho reduced to 12. it was thought the parliament would be dissolved.

Be so good as to present my dutiful respects to my uncle & aunt & to be assured of the esteem with which I am Dr. Sir

your friend & serv’t

What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Well, what is wrong with this picture?

  1. Answer: This is a photograph of the vertical stabilizer from an Airbus A-300 that was American Airlines Flight 587. It crashed in Jamaica Bay on November 12, 2001. Among the suspected possible causes were severe and sudden side loads imposed by repeated rudder movement, wake turbulence from the JAL 747 that preceded it, bogus parts, structural failure, and engine failure. However, aside from the missing rudder (as well as the rest of the airplane no longer being attached), there is nothing wrong with this picture, and it hasn’t been fooled with. While I do not intend to trivialize the tragedy and loss of life that resulted from this accident, there is something else that you might notice, if you looked closely. Depending upon how much one knows about the proper ways in which the American flag is supposed to be displayed, this could be nothing new, or else a bit startling. The flag really is “backwards”. (Even reversing the photo would of course not change its relative orientation.) On the left side of any vehicle or aircraft displaying the American flag, it is supposed to be depicted with the “canton” or “union” (the blue field with the stars) in its familiar upper-left position. However, on the starboard side, by convention it is always displayed with the stars “facing front”. This is done so that the flag looks as it would if it were blowing in the relative wind created by forward movement. This also applies to flag patches worn on the sleeves of many military uniforms, incidentally. For example, there are two separate patches in the Army inventory: the normal flag replica worn on the left, and what is referred to as the “reversed field” flag patch, which is worn on the right sleeve. However some organizations (for example, the Boy Scouts) do not follow this convention. I don’t know how this might apply to a Harrier hover-taxiing backwards, but the answer is A.nothing
  2. The rudder is missing.
  3. The flag is backwards.
  4. all three

If you saw this on a military aircraft, what would it tell you?

  1. Answer: We’ve all seen something like this on military aircraft, and if you built model airplanes as a kid, you probably remember applying insignia decals to the wings or fuselage. American aircraft have displayed several different national insignia since the days of World War I. The very first one was simply a five-pointed red star, painted on JN-3 “Jenny” biplanes of the U.S. Signal Corps, back in 1916. The US adopted its first official national aircraft insignia in 1917. It was a white star with a central red disc, on a blue circular background. (US aircraft in Europe during WWI also used three concentric circles of white, black, and red, similar to the national insignia of Britain and France and differing only in their color sequence). Several months after Pearl Harbor though, the red disc was removed from the center of the white star to avoid any association with Japan’s “rising sun”. In June of 1943 the US added wing bars, which improved visibility, and in January 1947, horizontal red bars were added to the white rectangles on either side of the circle. Usually displayed on the fuselage, top left wing, and bottom right wing, this remains the standard national symbol for US military aircraft flying today. The answer is C.that you’re looking at either a Navy or Marine Corps aircraft
  2. that it once belonged to the Japanese army
  3. that it’s a very old aircraft
  4. that you’re looking really close, because this is the insignia used on aircraft used for clandestine operations, and it’s only one inch tall