Sunday Sermon: Appreciate the 747

The fact that some people take flying machines for granted sort of surprises me. Take, for example, the Boeing 747-800.

To the uninitiated, it appears to be just another aluminum tube. It’s just another jumbo jet, just another airplane in the sky. Nothing to see here folks. How wrongheaded and sad is this perspective!

To me something like the 747-800 is marvelous. It is a triumph of engineering! Take the wheel trucks. Landing gear seems kind of boring, but it has to withstand the impact of 400,000+ pounds hitting pavement at 140+ knots, and it has to fold up into the fuselage, and the tires can’t explode or melt. Even something as simple as a gear truck is pretty amazing.

Then think of the structural strength, the fuel ducting, the pneumatics, the jet engines. Think of the minor design improvements such as scalloped engine nacelles that improve efficiency and reduce noise pollution. Think of the complex computer systems that read and control every aspect of this humongous machine.

 

 

And then think that, despite it all, there’s still a yoke in the cockpit. Stick goes down, plane goes down. Stick goes up, plane goes up. Somehow all that marvelously engineered complexity conceals simplicity.

 

 

As if THAT weren’t enough to amaze you, just think that one of these can lift more than 975,000 pounds of stuff into the air and carry it halfway across the globe. Such a feat would have been inconceivable 100 years ago.

 

 

Where will we be 100 years from now?

Some people look at this plane and just see an aluminum tube; I see a triumph of engineering and science. It’s all in how you think about it.

 

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