Take Off Photo and Essay by Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights reserved
The magic moment flight the force of lift transfers the weight from ground to air. The numbers of engineers, the calculations done tables become real an event. Science is about understanding a predictable physical world and repeating it. The theory of scientists applied by engineers made real by workers on assembly line.
The jet engine had come a long way from its debut. The modern jet engine is more a hybird of two concepts. The once abandoned prop has been reborn. It has been married to its replacement and two work together. At its core air is sucked in squeezed to 1/10th or less its orginal area superheating it then with the addition of hydrocarbons jet fuel the air litterally explodes out the back of the engine. As it explodes out of the engine a portion of the phenominal energy is captured to turn a turbine that drives the compressor and the fan. The fan blades diverting most of the airflow have been shaped in wind tunnels they shove massive amounts of air backwards at a slightly lower speed but the massive volume of air is accelerated backwards. The net effect is Newtons laws are enacted and for substantially less fuel then 30 years ago for each pound of thrust the plane is shoved forward down the runway.
What the Wrights had hints at Max Munk made knowable in detail through the mastery of the wind tunnel. The wing form made better from hours of wind tunnel work and greater digitization had created a detailed view of what happened almost down to the molecule. The result was a shape that could be altered through leading and trailing edge devices. The lift started as the nose pointed into the wind near quartering headwind. As the power of the engines pushed the airplane forward along the lines of Newtons laws the air above the wing moving faster then the air below a low pressure area developed and strengthened. As the speed of the airplane increased the weight of the airplane was slowly be transferred from the ground to the air.
The flight crew hardly well paid but the idea of being paid for flying a guy and a gal total professionals if underpaid. The speeds were known the speed they could not stop on the given length of runway had been predicted. The speed at which the nose would be aimed at a point on the bright blue Texas sky and speed at which they could hang in the air and climb at even with an engine failure had been computed. The airspeed indicator was scanned the speeds were called out. At V1 the hands were removed from the throttle. The commitment to takeoff was made the CRJ was going to have to fly. A second or two later Then the nose came skyward. A few more feet of concrete then the plane climbed out the last of three speeds had been hit and with a postive climb rate established the gear handle was moved the airplane now had no need for them for a while. The landing great retraction has long been considered the test of the craft of you best engineers getting something designed to support tons of weight and stop to to fold and go into a small compartment with more reliability of starting and stopping a ground vehicle. It happened mechanically reliabiliyt and CRJ now free of the drag of the big struts and hubs and tires now in neat compartments designed not to induce drag the airplane climbed faster.
The captain and first officer through the professionalism of making this flight safe were happy. The seconds of takeoff always had a thrill. It was like all aspects of flight something to be mastered perfection was the goal. They knew the science they knew the math the wonder was visceral and was in their core. Hours and hours of training had gotten them to the spot. They were flying they made a frequiency change and the autopilot was managing the climb. A plane spotter standing in the bed of white Ford Ranger off the end of 12R had seen the whole takeoff and as the airplane was between VR and V2 snapped a picture. The heat even in Feburary had created a mirage in the drought land. The spotter had been in the cockpit of many airplane of the single engine piston variety still marveled at flight. A young child stared out the window as the tall buildings were dwarfed below him as the large airplane continued to climb. He was going to back to his parents in Chicago after getting to see the Alamo and Mission San Jose. The plane ride was always so cool. In little more then three hours a journey that would have taken many more by train and weeks by horseback was made.
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