Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or Drones) to the rest of us, are something that we all kind of know is growing (8.5% of US Air Force as of this article) but somehow we think that we won’t be around when the sky is darkened by them or our next airline flight is done with no one up front. For now we’ve accepted that they handle most surveillance and virtually all of the dark stuff that the military might want to try without putting an actual person in harm’s way. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are relevant since they highlight just how integrated our lives are becoming with automation, technology and the omnipresence of the eye in the sky.
Glamor fades. Whether it is the sun, radiation, or just the sum total of alcohol consumed by pilots, the trend is that we are on our way out. And many of us don’t like such talk. But this article on Sully and the Miracle on the Hudson really brought it home for me. Learning years ago was harder since you had to do more of it yourself. With a pen. Or pencil. And an E6B maybe. Oh, and a watch.
The best quote from the article might have been: “Twenty-five years ago, we were a step below astronauts,” says one veteran pilot. “Now we’re a step above bus drivers. And the bus drivers have a better pension.” Continue reading Staying Relevant as an Astronaut or Bus Driver
Revolution is tough without that disruptive nugget. Not having that nugget has led Surfair to retreat into the conventional operation of what could have been a novel membership based system. I’ve followed them since their birth since I’m no stranger to the concept of moving Pilatus PC-12s around with people in them whilst attempting to make money. What was great about Surfair, is that they validated our own Grabajet aspirations that I had designed with my business partner.
As a big fan of simplicity, biomimicry and a few other big words that designers and engineers throw around, I like to think of the reality of our current design paradigm as stuck. Stuck with convention, regulation and conformity. Leaving the herd makes it hard for us to imagine how things should move through the air if the herd weren’t so dogmatic about how an aircraft should look. But there’s good news. Looking at what Boeing and NASA have done in the pure research realm of the X-48, you’ll notice a trend. The cutting edge stuff (stealth bomber, etc.) is trending towards our friends the birds.