Skylarking on the Equator
To THE EDITOR: Only last week, while crossing the Equator (W.
26-15), I became aware of a furious and irregular cannonading some fifteen or twenty knots S. 4 E. Descending to the 500 ft. level, I found a party of Transylvanian tourists engaged in exploding scores of the largest pattern atmospheric bombs (A. B. C. standard) and, in the intervals of their pleasing labours, firing bow and stern smoke-ring swivels. This orgie--I can give it no other name--went on for at least two hours, and naturally produced violent electric derangements. My compasses, of course, were thrown out, my bow was struck twice, and I received two brisk shocks from the lower platform-rail. On remonstrating, I was told that these "professors" were engaged in scientific experiments. The extent of their "scientific" knowledge, may be judged by the fact that they expected to produce (I give their own words)" a little blue sky" if "they went on long enough." This in the heart of the Doldrums at 450 feet! I have no objection to any amount of blue sky in its proper place (it can be found at the 4000 level for practically twelve months out of the year), but I submit, with all deference to the educational needs of Transylvania, that "skylarking" in the centre of a main-travelled road where, at the best of times, electricity literally drips off one's stanchions and screw blades, is unnecessary. When my friends had finished, the road was seared, and blown, and pitted with unequal pressure layers, spirals, vortices, and readjustments for at least an hour. I pitched badly twice in an upward rush--solely due to these diabolical throw-downs--that came near to wrecking my propeller. Equatorial work at low levels is trying enough in all conscience without the added terrors of scientific hooliganism in the Doldrums. Rhyl. J. VINCENT MATHEN.
[We entirely sympathize with Professor Mathen's views, but till the Board sees fit to further regulate the Southern areas in which scientific experiments may be conducted, we shall always be exposed to the risk which our correspondent describes. Unfortunately, a chimera bombinating in a vacuum is, nowadays, only too capable of producing secondary causes.- Editor.]
Answers to Correspondents
VIGILANS--The Laws of Auroral Derangements are still imperfectly understood. Any overheated motor may of course "seize" without warning; but so many complaints have reached us of accidents similar to yours while shooting the Aurora that we are inclined to believe with Lavalle that the upper strata of the Aurora Borealis are practically one big electric "leak," and that the paralysis of your engines was due to complete magnetization of all metallic parts. Low-flying planes often "glue up" when near the Magnetic Pole, and there is no reason in science why the same disability should not be experienced at higher levels when the Auroras are "delivering" strongly.
INDIGNANT--On your own showing, you were not under control. That you could not hoist the necessary N. U. C. lights on approaching a traffic-lane because your electrics had short-circuited is a misfortune which might befall any one. The A. B. C., being responsible for the planet's traffic, cannot, however, make allowance for this kind of misfortune. A reference to the Code will show that you were fined on the lower scale.
PLANISTON--(1) The Five Thousand Kilometre (overland) was won last year by L. V. Rautsch; R. M. Rautsch, his brother, in the same week pulling off the Ten Thousand (oversee). R. M.'s average worked out at a fraction over 500 kilometres per hour, thus constituting a record. (2) Theoretically, there is no limit to the lift of a dirigible. For commercial and practical purposes
15,000 tons is accepted as the most manageable.
PATERFAMILIAS--None whatever. He is liable for direct damage both to your chimneys and any collateral damage caused by fall of bricks into garden, etc., etc. Bodily inconvenience and mental anguish may be included, but the average courts are not, as a rule, swayed by sentiment. If you can prove that his grapnel removed any portion of your roof, you had better rest your case on decoverture of domicile (see Parkins v. Duboulay). We sympathize with your position, but the night of the 14th was stormy and confused, and--you may have to anchor on a stranger's chimney yourself some night. Verbum sap!
ALDEBARAN--(1) war, as a paying concern, ceased in 1987. (2) The Convention of London expressly reserves to every nation the right of waging war so long as it does not interfere with the traffic and all that implies. (3) The A. B. C. was constituted in 1949.
L. M. P.--(1) Keep her full head-on at half power, taking advantage of the lulls to speed up and creep into it. She will strain much less this way than in quartering across a gale. (2) Nothing is to be gained by reversing into a following gale, and there is always risk of a turnover. (3) The formulae for stun'sle brakes are uniformly unreliable, and will continue to be so as long as air is compressible.
PEGAMOID- (1) Personally we prefer glass or flux compounds to any other material for winter work nose-caps as being absolutely non-hygroscopic. (2) We cannot recommend any particular make.
PULMONAR--(1) For the symptoms you describe, try the Gobi Desert Sanatoria. The low levels of most of the Saharan Sanatoria are against them except at the outset of the disease. (2) We do not recommend boarding-houses or hotels in this column.
BEGINNER--On still days the air above a large inhabited city being slightly warmer--i.e., thinner--than the atmosphere of the surrounding country, a plane drops a little on entering the rarefied area, precisely as a ship sinks a little in fresh water. Hence the phenomena of "jolt" and your "inexplicable collisions" with factory chimneys. In air, as on earth, it is safest to fly high.
EMERGENCY--There is only one rule of the road in air, earth, and water. Do you want the firmament to yourself?
PICCIOLA--Both Poles have been overdone in Art and Literature. Leave them to Science for the next twenty years. You did not send a stamp with your verses.
NORTH NIGERIA--The Mark Boat was within her right in warning you off the Reserve. The shadow of a low-flying dirigible scares the game. You can buy all the photos you need at Sokoto.
NEW ERA--It is not etiquette to overcross an A. B. C. official's boat without asking permission. He is one of the body responsible for the planet's traffic, and for that reason must not be interfered with. You, presumably, are out on your own business or pleasure, and must leave him alone. For humanity's sake don't try to be "democratic."
EXCORIATED--All inflators chafe sooner or later. You must go on till your skin hardens by practice. Meantime vaseline.Next