Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Saturday, 3 October 2009

... and now the nuts and bolts

Those familiar with this blog may think the helicopter (previous post) was more of an indulgence for me than for Mrs BB. Not true! She likes taking to the air and even enjoyed a float-plane flight over the mountains of New Zealand. But helicopters are techie and techie is my thing.

The financial side, however, is appalling. Our R44 Raven II (manufactured by the hopelessly mundane Robinson Helicopter Co) cost about £300,000 and demands an insurance premium of – wait for it! - £10,000. Inspections, servicing and hangerage push the flying bill to £200/hour. But it’s fast - 97 knots or, say, a ground speed of 120 mph. At one point Anthony, our pilot, needed to increase our cruising altitude of 1000 ft by half that again. Done in a veritable eye-blink.

But no hovering. It’s too expensive in fuel, I believe, and that’s why we missed our daughter’s village. Nostalgists who respond to quarter-inch plate would have been disappointed by the R44’s fragility. The doors flap like leaves and the joystick (or whatever it’s called) is a mere 10 mm aluminium tube. Weight-saving is apparent wherever you look.

Such a lightweight craft is sensitive to natural forces. We flew through a col in the Malverns where hillwalkers were able to look down on us. The approach was tranquil but the wind beyond the col buffeted our port side. Instrumentation is almost minimal; the top screen above the panel is a humdrum satnav, not much different from the one that guided our car to the Drum and Monkey. Nevertheless, I fear it’s the only way to travel.


The Crow said...

Did either of you (and which one) get to ride up front, or wasn't that allowed?

In your previous post, my favorite photo was the last one, showing the river and the astonishingly beautiful aerial view of the landscape.

What a thoughtful surprise you gave Mrs. BB!


Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: I rode up front but not by choice; it was a matter of ballast and that's something I've got in spades.

Avus said...

Well that settles it - I shall have to save up until next year for one then.

The Crow said...

I would take the unobstructed view. One of the things I liked about my VW bus was that there was nothing in the way of seeing the full road ahead.

Too cool, BB!

Rouchswalwe said...

Front seat or back seat? What a quandry for me ... I would probably make the pilot meshugge asking what each dial indicates, and what that button does, and can I please pull this lever, on and on.
And now it is quite apparent that while randomness may have started the ball rolling, you and Mrs. BB both enjoy the exciting things in life and moreover, engage in the doing of them together. My heart is all warm and fuzzy.

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: You gotta do it. You'll have the Garden of England at your feet.

The Crow: It was my intention that Mrs BB should sit in front. But it all had to do with partially filled fuel tanks; I sat there at the pilot's command.

RW (zS): For someone who understands dark matter, geology and the innermost reaches of Shintoism, you're overdoing the techno-innocent. In fact the few dials were self-explanatory. The randomness is another matter. When one looks back from a forty-nine-year perspective, the chance that brought us together seems a mere hair's-breadth. Had it not happened we would both have been quite different people. You're right about doing exciting (well, different) things together - they're a measure of still being alive.