Monday, July 28, 2008

You're a Human Hummingbird!


I came across this amazing bit of our nation's history on the amazing Modern Mechanix blog. A short Googling later, I found that this ill-conceived device was at one time considered by the Army, as the photo below shows.

According to the article I found, "The engine throttle and a few basic instruments were attached to bicycle-type handlebars fixed to a three-foot tall pedestal atop the main platform. The pilot stood to the rear of the pedestal and was secured to it by safety belts, and guided his craft by simply leaning in the desired direction of travel."

Well, thank god the pilot was attached to that tiny platform by safety belts! I'm sure he felt very safe strapped to a pole over two gigantic whirling blades, as he leaned forward or back or side to side in order to steer. How comforting the laws of aerodynamics must have been to the poor sap who volunteered for the maiden flight.

All his boss/commanding officer said was, "Who wants to try out some new equipment?"

And he probably thought, "This will be a good way to get that promotion."

Minutes later, out on the testing range, after getting a good look at the device he was about to be strapped to, the pilot asked, "So, um, this is safe, right?"

"Sure! Of course!" a scientist said. "I guess."

"You guess?"

"Well, we're reasonably sure it's safe. Look, I'll put it this way. We're sure it won't blow up."

"Actually, that possibility hadn't occurred to me. Until now. Now I'm worried about that too."

"Try not to think about that. If I were you, I'd concentrate on your posture. Like, for instance, if you have an itch on your shin or your foot, I'd try to wait until you are safely on the ground to scratch it. You know, when you think about it, riding in this thing isn't much different than just standing on the sidewalk."

"Except for the two sets of whirling blades inches below me."

"Wow! You are a real dark cloud, aren't you?"

"What do you guys call this thing anyway?"

"Oh...well...before I tell you, I want you to know that it's just a nickname. It doesn't really mean anything."

"What is it?"

"It's just a fun word to say, really. We liked the sound of it. It's not based on anything else."

"What is it?"

"Um...we sometimes call it...a...a...chopper?"


"It's just a word. It doesn't mean anything."

"I'm so fucked."

1 comment:

Miss Kat said...

I saw this today and immediately flashed back to your post...

Will we never learn?!?