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Flying.

Postby jakes1487 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:54 am UTC

I've always wanted to fly. It seems other people do too. Do you? Why do you think this is? Any cool personal experiences? Discuss.

Edit: I hope the good number of views but nonexistent number of replies is not an indication that nobody cares, but that I didn't give much material to talk about. So here's some:

I don't know how I know what flying feels like, but I know that I know. When I think about it, it's sometimes so vivid that I can't believe I'm fabricating it entirely. What's more, is the very few times when I was young when I naturally dreamed about flying, it was wonderful; but on those couple of occasions that I've lucid-dreamed and had the presence of mind to remember my agenda and forced myself to fly, it was not very good at all. Even weirder, I can not only imagine what the air rushing across my wings would feel like, but I can imagine myself touching them, and not only do I feel the texture of the feathers in my hand, I can feel the touch of my hand on my wing. From a purely neurological point of view, I know what the details of nerve input would be from nerves I don't have! And it's as realistic as imagining touching my arm, and to me it's clear I'm not just imagining my arm as the wing.


Or how about this:

If the human race hasn't killed itself with global warming or nuclear weapons or whatever else we come up with first, it is likely that someday a person will be genetically engineered to have wings and all the other bodily modifications necessary for flight. This probably wouldn't be the first thing the genetic engineers would try, as I suspect it would be rather complicated. But I think they would probably by that time have figured out how to keep the genes that control our "humanity", our brain and stuff (if that's even how we work), and change the rest almost at will. Anyway, when that day comes we will have to decide: should we make everyone winged? Should we take the genetic future of our species out of the hands of nature in such a big way? In one way, we've already bulldozed Nature's Way for our own purposes in many ways, why should this be any different. On the other hand, it'll be hard for the first few generations to adjust to a world that had been made by earthbound humans. And most importantly, can we keep our humanity if we are so different?


Or maybe a little B-grade fantasy to set the mood?

They climbed to the summit of the mountain. Its tall white cliffs overlooked the sea. Jake looked at Sarah and their eyes met. Together they ran toward the edge, spread their wings, and took the leap. The wind caught their wings and they were lifted on an updraft, soaring. Jake had loved flying, the few times he got to, but this was above and beyond. He seemed to intuitively make the right adjustments to his wings and body to stay aloft easily. They passed over the forest, the meadow, the shore, the sea. The world lay out below them. It seemed perfect for their wishes. The afternoon sun reflected gorgeous patterns off the gently rippling water. Jake took in the feel of the wind rushing across his body, the exhilarating lift, the beautiful landscape below, the limitless sky above...
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Re: Flying

Postby Jorpho » Fri Mar 02, 2012 5:35 am UTC

Go Hang-gliding. Or skydiving.

They're darned expensive, of course, such that I've not attempted them myself, but if you want to do them, they are out there.

'Nuff said.
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Re: Flying

Postby Arrian » Fri Mar 02, 2012 5:57 pm UTC

I always enjoyed flying, but landings scared me so I started getting out half way. I wasn't very good at that (in hindsight, falling off the airplane on my first attempt should have been a hint,) so shortly after bouncing off a house I stopped that. Makes for great stories over beers, though! =)

Learning to skydive and getting your gear is pretty darn expensive, but after that (and depending on your drop zone) it can be pretty reasonable. No worse than golf, and most of the skydivers I knew were not Mr. Moneybags, for what it's worth. (Just make sure you start at a drop zone that is friendly to actual skydivers, not one of the tandem mills that only want to see you long enough to strap you onto an instructor and then sell you the video afterwards.) Hang gliding looks super cool but scary as hell, those things move FAST, and are "pretty responsive to control inputs." If I had the chance, I totally would have gotten into para gliding. Lazily floating over the countryside sitting down is definitely more my speed.
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Re: Flying

Postby Chewbaccawacca » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:09 pm UTC

Dreams about flying are my absolute favorite. Incedentially they are also the dreams I tend to remember most vividly. Though I haven't had any with wings, I'm always soloing it superman style.

As for the idea of genetic manipulation, I doubt that will pan out. I remember reading somewhere that should humans have bird style wings we'd also have to have a 6-foot long chest cavity to contain the muscles required to generate lift for our mass. Not to mention the whole hollow-bone thing we'd probably have to deal with.

Far more likely in my opinion is the idea of bio-manufactured wing-suit style kits. Something you can strap on and take off that allows for flight, basically a more elegant jetpack sort of thing with a organic-malleable wing structure. Only real issue I can think of is how to generate thrust. But that's mere conjecture.
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Re: Flying

Postby JBJ » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:24 pm UTC

Do I want to fly? Hells yeah. Unfortunately, it's just not practical. At least right now. Once the house is paid for, kid is through college, retirement mostly saved for, I will be building or purchasing an ultralight. FAR 103, baby. Ultralights. Flying lawn chairs. Freedom. Well, freedom as long as you stay out of controlled airspace unless you have ATC permission, only fly during daylight hours, and don't fly over populated areas. Under 55 kts, in a vehicle that weighs 254 lbs or less with a max stall speed of 24 knots. On 5 gallons of fuel or less. But FREEDOM!!!!
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Re: Flying

Postby darknut » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:30 pm UTC

ooh ultralights, too many an amatur has met their end thinking "they're smaller and simpler so they should be easier, right?"

Spoiler:
no they are not

ok theres probably not a lot of people actually dying but ultralights do need more skill than your typical gen av airmobile
due to their size they are very suseptable to weather and wind and stalls and pretty much everything
if you buy a kit with the cost of materials and time needed they can easily become more expensive than i you just bought an arrplane

am i being a complete downer. yes, yes i am. dont listen to my discouraging words, ultra light are cool you should totes get one someday
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Re: Flying

Postby Jacque » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:39 pm UTC

Go to your local airport and enquire about flying lessons. Lots of fun!

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Re: Flying

Postby jakes1487 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:08 am UTC

Arrian wrote:I always enjoyed flying, but landings scared me so I started getting out half way.

Why would landing be scarier than skydiving? Also, this is something I've never understood: why isn't skydiving the opposite of flying?

Chewbaccawacca wrote:As for the idea of genetic manipulation, I doubt that will pan out. I remember reading somewhere that should humans have bird style wings we'd also have to have a 6-foot long chest cavity to contain the muscles required to generate lift for our mass. Not to mention the whole hollow-bone thing we'd probably have to deal with.

It would take some substantial editing; we'd have to be significantly smaller and have more efficient metabolism. It might wind up being easier to plug a human brain into a bird than wings onto a person. But that would sort of defeat the purpose of making a human able to fly.

Chewbaccawacca wrote:Far more likely in my opinion is the idea of bio-manufactured wing-suit style kits. Something you can strap on and take off that allows for flight, basically a more elegant jetpack sort of thing with a organic-malleable wing structure. Only real issue I can think of is how to generate thrust. But that's mere conjecture.

Ironically, I had a dream a year or so ago about something like that. Unfortunately I was only watching in the dream. :( But for real, as far as thrust, there's some research in ultraefficient electric motors that run off principles other than electromagnetism, right? And if we also develop flexible photovoltaic material with a decent efficiency, just coat the wings in that material and it won't need a source of stored power. I know this is a little far off at the moment, but maybe in twenty years? (And I don't mean this kind of twenty years.)

JBJ wrote:I will be building or purchasing an ultralight.

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Re: Flying

Postby Jorpho » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:56 am UTC

jakes1487 wrote:Also, this is something I've never understood: why isn't skydiving the opposite of flying?
Why would it be? Either way you're still spending unusually large amounts of time at a height that would easily kill you if you were suddenly in free-fall. The only difference is that flying could actually serve to transport you a significant distance – but then, that would be a poor excuse for wanting to fly.
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Re: Flying

Postby Proginoskes » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:37 am UTC

I don't mind flying. I just don't like the take-off, or the landing. Or being so far up above the ground in between. Or being crammed in between other people. Or when the plane makes a sharp turn. Or standing in long lines before getting on the plane.

Hmmm. I guess the only good thing is how little time it takes.

-----------------------------------------

"There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." --- Douglas Adams
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Re: Flying

Postby JBJ » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:33 pm UTC

jakes1487 wrote:
JBJ wrote:I will be building or purchasing an ultralight.

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Powered. 3 axis control. My current favorite is something like the Kolb Firefly or the Moyes Dragonfly.
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Re: Flying

Postby jakes1487 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 3:41 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
jakes1487 wrote:Also, this is something I've never understood: why isn't skydiving the opposite of flying?
Why would it be? Either way you're still spending unusually large amounts of time at a height that would easily kill you if you were suddenly in free-fall. The only difference is that flying could actually serve to transport you a significant distance – but then, that would be a poor excuse for wanting to fly.

Because when skydiving, you're falling; and when flying, you're very much not falling. At least it seems to me that flying is about jumping off and not falling, but being purely borne upward by the wind. Do you feel like you're being supported by the air when skydiving, if you have reached terminal velocity? Or is it more about the height, as you said? Maybe a good question is this: would having no gravity and arbitrary control of your velocity in 3D "count" as the ability to fly?

Proginoskes wrote:I don't mind flying. I just don't like the take-off, or the landing. Or being so far up above the ground in between. Or being crammed in between other people. Or when the plane makes a sharp turn. Or standing in long lines before getting on the plane.

Hmmm. I guess the only good thing is how little time it takes.

Probably few people like long lines and narrow seats! But for me, in my limited experience of only having flown on commercial airplanes twice, it was worth it. Especially for the take-off, but also for the landing and for being so far up above the ground in between. :wink: And for the views. The background picture in my avatar -> is a photo I took on my second flight. But I don't mean to be taking you lightly: it would be just as insensitive for me to think less of someone for disliking flight as it would be if they thought less of me for liking it. I can entirely understand how flying wouldn't be pleasant for many people--and actually I'm trying to understand why some people including myself do find it pleasant, seeing how counter-instinctual it seems.

JBJ wrote:
jakes1487 wrote:
JBJ wrote:I will be building or purchasing an ultralight.

Powered or unpowered?

Powered. 3 axis control. My current favorite is something like the Kolb Firefly or the Moyes Dragonfly.

Why not fly a regular small airplane then?
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Re: Flying

Postby Jorpho » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:29 am UTC

jakes1487 wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
jakes1487 wrote:Also, this is something I've never understood: why isn't skydiving the opposite of flying?
Why would it be? Either way you're still spending unusually large amounts of time at a height that would easily kill you if you were suddenly in free-fall. The only difference is that flying could actually serve to transport you a significant distance – but then, that would be a poor excuse for wanting to fly.
Because when skydiving, you're falling; and when flying, you're very much not falling. At least it seems to me that flying is about jumping off and not falling, but being purely borne upward by the wind. Do you feel like you're being supported by the air when skydiving, if you have reached terminal velocity? Or is it more about the height, as you said?
Eh? "Very much not falling" suggests continual ascent, and that doesn't sound like flying either. I should clarify that skydiving seems to me not entirely about freefalling and in part about the parachute-supported descent.

Maybe a good question is this: would having no gravity and arbitrary control of your velocity in 3D "count" as the ability to fly?
...Would that in some way be undesirable?
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Re: Flying

Postby JBJ » Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:18 pm UTC

jakes1487 wrote:Why not fly a regular small airplane then?

Personal taste. I've flown in both ultralights (powered hang glider) and small planes. And just very recently, as in yesterday, tried skydiving. One of my flights last year in a Cessna 172 was a lesson, where I got to take off and fly for about an hour by myself. The instructor took over on approach back to the airport for landing. My ultralight experience was also technically a lesson, although it's real purpose was as a sightseeing tour. This was back before the Light Sport Aircraft rule went into effect so there were a number of exceptions that allowed pilots to offer tours of this kind. In all small planes I've flown in, I've had stick time on all but one.

I enjoyed the open air feeling of the ultralight. I like going low and slow. I wouldn't mind a small plane too much. In fact I'd rather enjoy it if I ever felt the need to do longer trips, but I'd rather have something small, light, and affordable for pleasure. Operating costs for a small plane can run upwards of $100/hr just to operate. Ultralight cost per hour to operate is closer to $30/hour.

There's nothing inherently better or worse about different types of flying. They all have their pros and cons, and you have to work out which style is best suited to what you want to do. For what I want, an ultralight would suit me best. I prefer the control of the stick to the weight shift controls of hang gliders and parachutes. If my desire was to due some cross country flying, then I'd go for a small plane. I just like to buzz around at 1000 feet or less.
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Re: Flying

Postby jakes1487 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:31 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
jakes1487 wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
jakes1487 wrote:Also, this is something I've never understood: why isn't skydiving the opposite of flying?
Why would it be? Either way you're still spending unusually large amounts of time at a height that would easily kill you if you were suddenly in free-fall. The only difference is that flying could actually serve to transport you a significant distance – but then, that would be a poor excuse for wanting to fly.
Because when skydiving, you're falling; and when flying, you're very much not falling. At least it seems to me that flying is about jumping off and not falling, but being purely borne upward by the wind. Do you feel like you're being supported by the air when skydiving, if you have reached terminal velocity? Or is it more about the height, as you said?
Eh? "Very much not falling" suggests continual ascent, and that doesn't sound like flying either.

You're right--I meant "moving forward, and very clearly not falling". Though ascent would also be nice; at some point I want to soar.

I should clarify that skydiving seems to me not entirely about freefalling and in part about the parachute-supported descent.

So the parachute is more than just a necessity? I didn't realize that. Could you say more?

Maybe a good question is this: would having no gravity and arbitrary control of your velocity in 3D "count" as the ability to fly?
...Would that in some way be undesirable?

Of course not. :wink: But I think I want the feeling of being supported by the air and transcending gravity, rather than just not being affected by it. Though I'd settle for this too. :)

JBJ wrote:I've flown in both ultralights (powered hang glider) and small planes. ... In all small planes I've flown in, I've had stick time on all but one.

You're lucky to have had so many opportunities! I probably won't get to do anything along these lines for a few years, at least until I graduate college and have a decent-paying job. I have a friend who's a pilot, so maybe I'll get to go along with him sometime.

And just very recently, as in yesterday, tried skydiving.

Good timing of this conversation, I guess! How was it?

There's nothing inherently better or worse about different types of flying. They all have their pros and cons, and you have to work out which style is best suited to what you want to do.

Do you have any suggestions for how I would decide, other than trying a bunch of things? And asking questions on the xkcd forums? :wink:
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Re: Flying

Postby Jorpho » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:44 am UTC

jakes1487 wrote:You're right--I meant "moving forward, and very clearly not falling". Though ascent would also be nice; at some point I want to soar.

I should clarify that skydiving seems to me not entirely about freefalling and in part about the parachute-supported descent.

So the parachute is more than just a necessity? I didn't realize that. Could you say more?
Well – you're moving forward (at least a little) and, although falling, are falling slowly enough to at least permit the illusion of not falling, however temporarily. But we are mired in semantics now.

Do you have any suggestions for how I would decide, other than trying a bunch of things? And asking questions on the xkcd forums? :wink:
They're all tremendously expensive. I see one local club proposes $650 per lesson, including "instruction, equipment, and insurance".

I hear hot air ballooning is rather nice, although that's only modestly cheaper.
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Re: Flying

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:06 am UTC

Can't believe there's a thread about human flight without mentioning the Jet-man hisownself Yves Rossy.

Short of some techno-fantasy, that's how I want to fly
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Re: Flying

Postby jakes1487 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:13 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:But we are mired in semantics now.

Sorry. :(

EdgarJPublius wrote:Can't believe there's a thread about human flight without mentioning the Jet-man hisownself Yves Rossy.

Short of some techno-fantasy, that's how I want to fly

Yeah, he's amazing. I hadn't seen his TED talk before--it was good. Thanks for putting up the link.

I think that's the most like the way we dream about/imagine flying, and I love the idea of controlling it with your body. But as far as actually doing it I think a wing like that would be too fast for me, though, and not stable enough. I suppose there has to be a correlation between the amount of machine and the amount the machine can control your motion. But I guess the ultimate goal would be a machine that is stable and reliable enough to be safe and yet makes the experience as pure as possible.
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Re: Flying

Postby Chewbaccawacca » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:05 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:falling slowly


You mean like this?


Heh, you know what would be cool? A super-light that turned into a motorcycle once you'd landed. That's what I want.
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Re: Flying

Postby JBJ » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:49 pm UTC

Would you settle for a dune buggy?
Actually, the closest to what you're asking for is the PAL-V, but that's just a concept for now. The dune buggy above has already flown.
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Re: Flying

Postby jakes1487 » Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:28 am UTC

After seeing some ads for Microsoft Flight and thinking it might be a good thing to try, I looked into it and found the rather superior open-source alternative FlightGear. Two particulars to mention: first, Jetman is one of the available aircraft. ;) Second, some of the graphical effects people on their forums manage to mod into the software are so impressive that I couldn't tell a couple of their screenshots from actual photos. I wonder if I could turn it into a screen saver...

JBJ wrote:Would you settle for a dune buggy?

I don't mean to be asking for everything from a first prototype, but it looks like you can't go directly from driving to flying with it. Part of the magic of a flying car would be that moment when you're stuck in traffic and you just take off vertically and fly right over the traffic jam. 8)
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Re: Flying

Postby Chewbaccawacca » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:13 pm UTC

JBJ wrote:Would you settle for a dune buggy?


Heh, that's pretty close to what I was thinking, but after looking around a bit, this is what is teh awesome.
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Re: Flying.

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:03 pm UTC

Posted without further comment

Edit:
Jamie Hyneman's thoughts on the above video. He is somewhat more credulous than myself. Maybe this will turn up in a future episode of Mythbusters though, that would be awesome.
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Re: Flying.

Postby jakes1487 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:32 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:Posted without further comment

I thought I read that flapping wings for human flight was "proven" impossible. I would not believe this except that I can't think of a cost-effective way to fake the video, whether doing it in an animation program or having the guy suspended on wires from a crane. I guess it's not impossible given sufficient technology, and we must have just crossed that threshold.
Jamie Hyneman's thoughts on the above video.

I would like to see a detailed analysis of the machine, whether from the people who made it or some third party like Mythbusters. As well as more flight footage. :)
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Re: Flying.

Postby EdgarJPublius » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:48 am UTC

I haven't been able to find any information outside the videos. It would probably be possible to replicate a lot of their work from that though.
There's currently only one other video of a test-flight that I am aware of, the video immediately preceding the one linked which shows a pretty believable test flight consisting of a few short hops.

As far as whether the flight shown in the video is 'possible' or not: as far as I know, only human powered flapping wings for flight has been shown to be impossible, whereas in this design, very little (if any) of the power is from the guy flapping his arms. (Almost) All the power comes from electric motors, sidestepping that particular issue.
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Re: Flying.

Postby JBJ » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:09 pm UTC

F-f-f-f-f-f-aaaaaaaaake!

Seriously, between Jamie Hyneman, a Wired video analysis, and others, I'm beginning to question people's ability to notice obvious fakery.

Spoiler:
Busted.png
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Re: Flying.

Postby jakes1487 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:33 am UTC

JBJ wrote:F-f-f-f-f-f-aaaaaaaaake! [...] I'm beginning to question people's ability to notice obvious fakery.

It is fake, but it took the CGI experts at ILM and Weta to prove it to me. The shadow of the wings disappearing might be plausible since the ground is uneven, but the sliding shadow of the guy on the right projected onto the wing clinches it. Though I thought it was fishy from the start, the thing that kept me from believing it was faked is the budget it would take to pull it off and the motive for doing so (it's not directly financial--they do not have ads enabled on any of their videos, so they aren't making a cent). This article points to an answer to both: it's likely an advertisement for a visual effects company.
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Re: Flying.

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:47 pm UTC

Roosevelt wrote:
I wrote:Does Space Teddy Roosevelt wrestle Space Bears and fight the Space Spanish-American War with his band of Space-volunteers the Space Rough Riders?

Yes.

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