Mediocrity Strikes!

Mediocre History of Pioneering Aviation
July 10, 2008, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

From Icarus and his wings of wax and feathers to the Wright Brothers Flyer of 1903, the illustrious history of aviation pioneering is choc-full of awful misjudgment, spectacular failures and general arse-over-head mediocrity.

The following is an abridged history of mediocre aviation pioneering…

The Legend of Icarus
Along with the legend of Oedipus, the original motherfucker, the legend of Icarus is one of the most referenced stories from Greek mythology.
According to legend, Icarus had to escape from a prison in Crete, along with his father, Daedalus, who was jailed for lewd conduct in the labyrinth with George Michael.

To escape Crete, Daedalus naturally went with the tried-and-true method of fashioning wings made of wax and feathers for him and son to use as wings.
Apparently the birth of aviation coincided neatly with the birth of idiocy.

Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun, but Icarus, distracted by the icy cold breeze blowing through his loincloth, failed to notice his proximity to the Sun [which apparently in ancient Greece hovered somewhere between 100-200 metres from the ground], he flew too close, his wings melted, and Icarus fell quickly to his death [conveniently, in the Icarian sea, near Icaria].
Presumably his father survives and spends the rest of his life explaining to people why he and his son didn’t simply use a boat to escape Crete.

Abbas Ibn Firnas
As well as designing the world’s first parachute in AD852, a 65 year old Firnas in AD875 went on to make the first attempt at flight using a glider.
Before his maiden voyage off the edge of the Mount of the Bride near Córdoba, Spain, Firnas, looking ridiculous in a suit of feathers, stated rather egotistically:

“Presently, I shall take leave of you. By guiding these wings up and down, I should ascend like the birds. If all goes well, after soaring for a time I should be able to return safely to your side.”

After the fall and subsequent debilitating back injury, Firnas resigned himself to the fact that he would never fly, and instead took up more fitting pursuits for a 65 year old man, such as gardening and complaining about things to ambivalent strangers.

Diego Marín Aguilera
Although his flying machine was never going to travel far, Diego Aguilera [by all accounts just as skanky as Christina] and his mechanical glider managed to travel around 360 metres at an altitude of 5 to 6 metres. Aguilera crashed, but was uninjured.

Just a humble farmer with no scientific knowledge, Aguilera studied the movement, weight and dimensions of birds, and spent six years painstakingly building his machine using the vast knowledge he had acquired. Truly remarkable considering the limitations placed on him by society at the time.

So for all his hard work and relative success, what did he receive?

Well, naturally the townsfolk believed him to be a crazy heretic fraud and they burned his creation to the ground, leaving Aguilera, a broken man, alone and penniless, to die 6 years later at the age of 44.
But it’s okay cos they built a monument for him 210 years later next to a shitty decrepit castle in Spain.

Jean-Marie Le Bris
In 1856, Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris made the first flight higher than his point of departure.
Although, this feat was only achieved by the craft having wheels the size of small houses.

In 1889, Pichancourt [one name, like Cher] developed the L’Oiseau Mechanique, which, imitating the flapping wings of a bird, was designed to fly majestically through the air.
It didn’t.

Horatio Frederick Phillips
Decided the best way to achieve powered flight was to fuck off the whole idea of one or two sets of wings, which was standard practice at the time, and instead worked on machines with up to fifty lift surfaces [or sustainers, as he called them], amounting to a creation that looked more like a giant retarded abicus than any aircraft created before or since.

Phillips’ theories weren’t based on any real research, and his designs weren’t aimed at achieving any realistic possibilities.

No, Phillips just liked to fit pieces of wood together and stick wheels on them.
Funnily enough, Phillips called his creations ‘Flying Machines’.
Odd, since not one of his creations ever left the ground.
At all.

And as an epilogue…
I was on a plane once and the flight attendant promised I’d get to go in the cockpit.
I got to my seat, thinking I’d be in the cockpit in no time.
I waited and waited.
And waited some more.
Every time she walked down the aisle I looked her in the eyes, pleading, hoping she’d notice me and totally remember I was meant to go in the cockpit and see all the cool buttons and shit.
We got to our destination in no time, and all of a sudden, the flight attendant was ushering me from my seat to the exit.
And I never got to ride in the freakin cockpit!
I was sad and cried all night, nothing could console me.

In all fairness I was twenty years old at the time… but a promise is a promise, flight attendant.

I hate that bitch.

Up yours, kid.


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