FLYING TOO HIGH WITH SOME GUY IN THE SKY
It had been about five years since Wilbur and Orville Wright made history with their airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. During the following years, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft, the Wright Flyer. And in 1908, Orville took the Flyer to Fort Myer, Virginia, to demonstrate it for the US Army Signal Corps division.
Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge arranged to be a passenger on the demonstration flight while Orville piloted the craft. Selfridge might be considered one of the first frequent flyers. Selfridge took his first flight in 1907, a flight that took him 168 feet in the air above Bras d’Or Lake in Nova Scotia, Canada. He also piloted a Canadian craft that flew three feet off the ground for about 100 feet. He next took to the air in Hammondsport, New York, traveling 100 feet on his first attempt and 200 feet on his second. The next day he added another 800 yards to his mileage credit. A successful flight with Orville would no doubt have given him an upgrade if not a free flight.
On September 17, 1908, Selfridge and Orville circled Fort Myer in the Wright Flyer 4½ times at 150 feet. Halfway through the fifth go-round, the right propeller broke, losing thrust. A nasty vibration ensued, causing the split propeller to hit a guy wire bracing the rear vertical rudder. Luggage flew out of the overhead storage compartments; the wire tore out of its fastening and shattered the propeller; the rudder swiveled and sent the Flyer into a nose-dive. Orville ordered Selfridge to return to his seat and fasten his seat belt. Then he shut off the engine and managed to glide to about 75 feet, but the Flyer hit the ground nose first — not a smooth landing.
Orville was bruised and quite embarrassed. His passenger was unfortunately dead, the first ever airplane fatality. If Selfridge had been wearing a helmet of some sort, he most likely would have survived the crash. The fatality also saddled the fledgling flying industry with a pretty poor safety track record – one death per 2,500 passenger-feet, just slightly better than traveling on the back of a hungry lion.
Dinner with Pearl and Barney
Last night for dinner our cats, Vinny and Pearl, had Red Snapper and Ocean Whitefish in a Delicate Sauce. We had Hamburger Surprise. For breakfast they had White Meat Chicken and Egg Soufflé with Garden Greens. We had cereal. Their cat food cans rival the menu at any Michelin five-star restaurant: New England Crab Cakes Entrée, Filet Mignon with Meaty Juices, Tender Turkey Tuscany in a Savory Sauce with Long Grain Rice and Greens, Red Tuna Topped with Shrimp, White Meat Chicken Primavera with Garden Veggies and Greens. I’m not making these up.
Of course, Pearl and Barney are unimpressed by the haute cuisine we so lovingly provide for them. You see, the marketing minds who work overtime to create these fanciful foods are not targeting the ultimate consumer, i.e., Pearl and Barney. Pearl and Barney don’t see this stuff advertised on TV, then come running to us, whining that every other cat in the neighborhood gets this food every day because they live with people who love them.
No, Pearl and Barney don’t shop; they send us to the supermarket to do their dirty work for them. Those marketing minds are targeting us, rightly surmising that we would never buy what Pearl and Barney really want – Purina Mouse Parts, Fancy Feast Dead Birds. Friskies Mole Chunks in Muddy Water. Instead the marketers parade before us:
Succulent Tidbits from the Seven Seas, dainty morsels of exotic seafood species personally prepared by steel-jawed fishermen whose yellow slickers hide hearts of gold.
Pate pour le Chat Celebre, power food for important cats, cats who do lunch.
Lite and Healthy Wholesome Feline Fare, a delicious but dietetic, low-fat, low-cholesterol, high-fiber entrée that will demonstrate your concern for their well-being.
Sure, go ahead and buy these feel-good cat foods. But just be aware that unless they smell truly evil, your cat won’t touch them.