Friday, January 16, 2009

Flat tire and Airplane Emergency - Birdstrike!

Changed a tire in 19ºF cold. Thankfully hubby was still home and came to ferry the kids to school and then came back and helped me with the lug nuts. My little featherweight self couldn't even loosen them by jumping on the tire iron. I've never had that problem before! But I'm also about 20 pounds lighter than the last time I had to change a tire.

That's really annoying. I've always been able to change my own flat tires. Sigh. Well, at least I already had the jack set up and the temp tire pulled out, and helped put it on and all that too. I just like being independent. I'm a bit stubborn that way.

And then Hibdon Tire center replaced the tire for free as it was under warranty. I had ridden it on low air too long for repair - my fault. They repair any tire for free even it isn't theirs, and they have repaired many tires for me but this one was beyond hope. I only paid a $15 fee to buy the same warranty on a brand new identical tire. I love those guys. We had a downstairs neighbor years ago, back before we had our first kid, that was a manager for them when they had first expanded from Oklahoma City and he and his wife (they were just kids really, about 5 years younger than us!) transferred to Tulsa and he opened one of their first Tulsa stores. That's how we started being customers there, and I've never regretted it for a minute. They owner is very passionate about taking care of people, and passes that on to his employees. Nice folk.

Okay, everyone's talking about the emergency water landing of the airplane yesterday in New York's Hudson River. I was watching the news about it while at the tire shop; that was the first I'd heard of it. That is really amazing. That pilot and his crew did a spectacular job and saved every life aboard.

Now the accident is under investigation and initial speculation is pointing to bird strike as the cause. I decided to go read up on bird strikes and the phrase "bird-ingestion standards" caught my attention. At first I thought they meant how well an engine could chomp up a bird and digest it and spit it out.... I still think that's exactly what they mean, because after all, the definition of ingest is "to take in for or as if for digestion." Well, they are likely more interested in increasing the survivability of the engine rather than its food processing power.

But not just the problem of birds hitting engines, there's also the steadly increasing problem of bird impact with any part of a plane.The impact force of a common Canadian goose at 450 knots (the standard cruising speed of a commercial airliner -source) can be more than 184 thousand pounds (my source on this one is Canadian, but hey, I love our 51st State)! Even at takeoff speeds between 200 to 250 knots, where the likelihood of impact with such a large bird is greater, the lower range of impact force for a 4 pound duck or a 15 pound goose is 24k pounds and 26k pounds, respectively. That is potential for serious damage, even for the smaller bird. It is immediately obvious that the aviation industry has been discussing this in great detail for a very long time, looking for solutions in diverse ways, through aircraft design changes, materials changes, and also prevention techniques by attempting to manage bird populations near airports.

Now I've found my dream job - on page 12 of this document - be a falconer partnered with a gorgeous raptor to patrol and thus deter bird flocks away from the airport (and maybe with a dog partner too). I wonder if he brought down a goose if I'd be allowed to have it for dinner ... ? Kidding, kidding, would probably be way too tough to eat. Plus I know raptors don't usually take on such large birds as they can be hazardous to the raptor himself. But he could definitely drive off starlings and other nuisance flocks. Wouldn't that be cool?

Unfortunately this looks to be one of the most expensive methods of bird flock control out there, so I don't know that it would be very economically viable for airports to hire and retain such bird staff. However, being a natural predator, they do say on that document that a raptor is also the most consistent deterrent to flocking birds as they instinctively recognize the threat, where they can become accustomed to electronic deterrents, reducing their efficacy. So who's to say it's the most expensive? If you factor in the periodic necessary changes to the electronic devices plus the diminishing returns as the birds get used to them, a falconer team might end up being cheaper in the long run....

Dinner tonight is going to either be Amish chicken (a yummy casserole recipe I found online a few years back) or frozen pizza. Haven't decided yet. If I have time I'll do the Amish chicken, and I really want to bake a loaf of bread again in that old cylindrical Pyrex bread pan Mom gave me. It turns out amazing. But the flat tire has put me a little behind schedule.

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