Tuesday, 9 September 2008

A Long Way Down

Today, Class, we're going begin with some geography. Chris can skip the next paragraph if he likes, but for my leftpondian readers, you're getting a short lesson on the English Channel.


This is the sea that separates us from Europe, and which means that although we are part of the European Union, we are not Europeans. It also separates us from a hostile nuclear power (the French), though unfortunately it is alarmingly narrow in places - only 21 miles. A few years ago some clown thought it was a good idea to build a tunnel ("The Chunnel") there, thus driving a tgv through our moat.

Anyway, people have been crossing the Channel in a variety of different ways, since Julius Caesar did it in 55BC. In 1875 an Englishman swam to France. Of course, nowadays if you want to go abroad but don't have a lot of money there are budget airlines.

1875 was also the first year that someone flew across. In a balloon. In 1909 Louis Bleriot did it in a powered aircraft.


Now it's the turn of a Swiss pilot, Yves Rossy to make a pioneering flight. He's going to strap two rocket powered wings to his back. The only way to steer is to move his body in different ways. If he gets cramp, or develops a nervous twitch, he's toast. Live on TV in 120 countries.

Now, I've often said that people who fly in balloons, or hand-gliders are mad, and that I only ever want to go on a powered flight. I've now got to qualify this statement. I only ever want to go on a powered flight where I'm sitting in a seat, and there is steering equipment. Not where a thoughtless movement of your head leads to a sharp left turn and Spain.

Luckily, Monsieur Rossy has been practising. As a pilot, he says that safety is paramount. Though on the Emilia Show last night he also described the feeling of exhilaration when you're hurtling towards the ground and suddenly arch your back and turn, seconds before impact. I sort of know what he means - I went on the Pepsi Max at Blackpool Pleasure Beach once.



Though that's only a 200-foot drop, rather than 7,000 ft, and none of the videos I could find do the rollercoaster experience justice. I hope that Rocket Man takes a camera with him, as it's the only way most of us will get close to experiencing his flight.

I also hope he makes it, but my bet is that it'll be rained off. It is the English Channel, after all.

26 comments:

for a different kind of girl said...

This is the first I'm hearing of this man's plans...

...technically, I think this also makes me FIRST!!!!...

...but I do think you're right. I predict this will be a foiled plan. It's also a wee bit insane. People with insane ideas and money get to be the pioneers, I guess.

Brian o vretanos said...

People with insane ideas might end up splatted on the White Cliffs of Dover. It's a lot easier just to take the train...

Jean Knee said...

maybe the rocket will take off without him like that dude's balloon did. if it hits something it might start a war or skirmish or crying

Chris Wood said...

I'm all in favour of looney pilots doing something incredibly dangerous, silly and pointless all for the sake of the wanton hell of it. Good job for highlighting the matter!

Brian o vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

That would be interesting. I'd forgotten about the embarrassing balloon incident.

Chris:

The amount of time that a species has to do things that are not related to survival and reproduction is clearly an indication of how advanced they are, so stunts like this are to be welcomed.

Bee said...

:o(
I'm firing my feeds!

Bee said...

"The only way to steer is to move his body in different ways."

Ha ha! I can picture the guy doing cartwheels in the sky!

I hope he has better luck than that priest who tried flying while holdig 1,000 balloons.

Now I have the song "Rocket Man" in my head.

Brian o vretanos said...

Bee:

It's annoying when the feeds let you down - it's happened to me before, as well.

This guy has practised, and his kit does seem to be a lot better designed. Apparently he has already managed to go 22 miles, and done a 360 degree roll "to impress the girls". I hope you'll be suitably impressed by him...

Yes, I've had that song in my head all day ;-)

Bee said...

BWAHAHAHA! Oh yeah, very impressed!

I'm going to delete them all and re-subscribe because none of them have been showing me a new post. If I hit refresh sometimes one or two will pop up but not all of them.


I'm talking about the feeds...

Anonymous said...

If I hit refresh sometimes one or two will pop up but not all of them



that's what she said

Brian o vretanos said...

Is that you, Jean Knee?

Bee said...

No fair Brian! You were Eleventh!

It kinda sounds like jean knee but shorter.

Brian o vretanos said...

Shit, eleventh? The shame. I blame it on that short anonymous person. I hope it was no-one I know...

Bee said...

Maybe it was jean knee's cock?

Brian o vretanos said...

Who wouldn't like to be described as short.

Bee said...

Hey man, I just calls 'em as I sees 'em!

Bee said...

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Chris Wood said...

Jean Knee's cock's been posting, eh?

The evening's getting weirder!

Brian o vretanos said...

Chris:

That cock pops up all over the place. It's the first time he's come here, though, I think.

Anndi said...

Strapping two rockets to one's back and expecting the outcome to be good... right.

Brian o vretanos said...

Anndi:

No, it takes a special kind of person to even imagine that it might be a good idea...

Dan said...

For some reason this made me think of JFK JR.
Might be because he died in a plane.

Bee said...

I laughed at "That cock pops up all over the place. It's the first time he's come here, though, I think." for about an hour.

I'm assuming Wordy Wednesday will be after Emilia??

Brian o vretanos said...

Bee:

Yes, it'll have to wait - They're just having a short advert break right now.

Tracy said...

Brian, where exactly are you in that picture? Are you in England or Greece? All this time I've talked about coming over "there" so that you could nanny my kids but now I realize that maybe I had no idea where I was going.

Brian o vretanos said...

Tracy:

In that picture, I'm about a centimetre or two up and to the left of London. Greece is quite a long way beyond the bottom.