Theory of Flight!

Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
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Trip End May 16, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Saturday, November 10, 2007

"One of Leonardo's earliest attempts to tackle the problem of flight seems almost laughable by today's standards, but it is nothing less than remarkable that Leonardo was even able to conceive of his now famous flying machine when the invention is put into historical context. It must be considered that the flying machine was not only an impressive feat in terms of design and conception, but also a display of intellectual courage. The Roman Catholic Church was very powerful in Leonardo's day, and even proposing the notion that humans could fly came dangerously close to committing heresy. Yet Leonardo was never one to shrink from danger. Nor was he one to accept defeat lightly. The fact that the flying machine would weigh in excess of 500 pounds if ever constructed did not stop Leonardo from continuing to investigate flight. For Leonardo, every attempt was a learning experience."
 
"For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. "
 -Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 - May 2, 1519)
 

Every generation has the obligation to free men's minds for a look at new worlds, to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation. Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but by what your mind can imagine. . . . Make your life count and the world will be a better place because you tried.

 - Astronaut Ellison Onizuka,   in her graduation address to Konawaena High School, Hawaii, 1980.



Caution: Cape does not enable user to fly.

  - Batman costume warning label, Wal-Mart, 1995.

It is not enough to just ride this earth. You have to aim higher, try to take off, even fly. It is our duty.
  - Jose Yacopi, Argentine Luthier.
 
Pilots track their lives by the number of hours in the air, as if any other kind of time isn't worth noting.
  - Michael Parfit, 'The Corn was Two Feet Below the Wheels', Smithsonian Magazine, May 2000.
 
When old dreams die, new ones come to take their place. God pity a one-dream man.
  - Esther Goddard, reading from her late husband's diary to the AP just prior to the launch of Apollo 11.
 
Don't let the fear of falling keep you from knowing the joy of flight.
  - Lane Wallace, 'Flying' magazine, January 2001.
 
Aviation is proof, that given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.
 - Eddie Rickenbacker
 
When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system.
  - Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist, STS-107, first Indian born woman astronaut, she died when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry.
 
Man's mind and spirit grow with the space in which they are allowed to operate.
- Krafft A. Ehricke, rocket pioneer.
 
Flying is more than a sport and more than a job; flying is pure passion and desire, which fill a lifetime.
 - General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe, 'The First and the Last,' 1954.
 
Flying fosters fantasies of childhood, of omnipotence, rapid shifts of being, miraculous moments; it stirs our capacity for dreaming.
 - Joyce Carol Oates, 1935
 
You can always tell when a man has lost his soul to flying. The poor bastard is hopelessly committed to stopping whatever he is doing long enough to look up and make sure the aircraft purring overhead continues on course and does not suddenly fall out of the sky. It is also his bound duty to watch every aircraft within view take off and land.
  - Ernest K Gann, 'Fate is the Hunter.'
 
The man who flies an airplane ... must believe in the unseen.
- Richard Bach
 
For everyone . . . must see that astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.
 - Plato
 
Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come . . . . Our universe is a sorry little affair unless it has in it something for every age to investigate.
 - Seneca
 
There shall be wings! If the accomplishment be not for me, 'tis for some other. The spirit cannot die; and man, who shall know all and shall have wings . . .
- Leonardo da Vinci
 
Today I went to the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. It is located next to Dulles Airport. This was an hour drive from the campground on busy Interstate. I confirmed another weakness to my GPS. It doesn't take into account roads that are off-limit to civilians. I had noticed the time I went to the Airport in Ottawa that the GPS wanted me to take roads that were restricted to Airport staff. It did the same to me today. The shortest and fastest way to get to the Museum was through the Airport. It didn't  matter to the Security guard how much I pleaded that I had to follow directions from my GPS, he wouldn't let me through. I ended up taking a detour around the airport to arrive at the museum entrance. On the way back to the trailer the GPS wanted me to take the same route it had indicated earlier, but only in reverse.
 
The quotes I've posted here barely scratches the surface of how I feel concerning the history of flight. The very thought that we have been able to design and get an airplane to fly is inspiring. The Museum has a viewing tower where you can see airplanes taking off and landing at Dulles. As we were watching planes depart, a 747 came up for take off. Everyone stopped in awe to watch this plane taxi and fly off. A number of people there seemed to be involved in the aviation industry. Even to them, this was a moment to stop and savor.

Nicholas is an Aerospace Engineering student. Seeing what I saw today makes me envious. When I was young I built models of airplanes. Was this a reaction to growing up watching the Apollo Missions? I believe flight facinates most of us because of the mystery of how such a large and heavy object can end up staying afloat.

  I spent most of the day at the Museum looking at the airplanes you see pictured here, in addition to a hundred or more other. I went back to the campground, rested a while then went out for some supper at the Moose Steakhouse. Then called it a night. 2 days of walking really tired me out.
 
NOTE: For those who check my blog every day, and might not have noticed, I have gone back and added photos in yesterdays blog.
 
NOTE #2: I spent considerable time researching the museum website to find names for all the planes. But as technology would have it, they weren't saved at certain times and did not all come through. At some point in time I will go back and hopefully they will get labelled.
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