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Buch "Warum sie oben bleiben"

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Why they stay up

Original-title: Warum sie oben bleiben

(Vorwort, deutschsprachig  -- bitte hier entlang)

Foreword

Consider a simple piece of mechanical design, a table fork. It would not break, or even bend, if it was used to pick up a piece of meat far to big to put in the mouth. But, if an aeroplane was as overdesigned as a fork it could not even taxi to the runway, much less take off and fly. Perhaps a better comparison would be to a delicate champagne glass; use it with its design limits and it will function well.
Now, I am a dedicated technologist, but this does not prevent me from having an emotional feeling for this huge, yet sensitive structure. I have worked for many years as a flightengineer on jumbo jets which are so big that the passengers are at a greater altitude during taxi-ing than the Wright brothers were during their early flights; and even though I have a thorough technical understanding of the principles that explain lift, I still retain doubts about whether this giant will really be able to take off. It never fails to fill me with wonder every time the big bird gets airborne. It is probably as well that I do not think of it as a cylinder 71m long holding 400 people, 30t of freight and 200,000l of fuel, but rather, for take-off, as a collection of switching elements that serve its systems, otherwise I would be unable to do my job properly.
Over the years I have met many passengers on the flightdeck and the range of their questions showed their interest in various aspects of aviation. This triggered the thought of writing about it, using the sort of language the visitor to the flightdeck will understand, concentrating on essentials with a minimum of graphics, using basic concepts when explaining complex systems, comparing the terms of high technology with those of simple engineering, and steadfastly resisting the impulse to use specialist terminology in the interests of ensuring understanding.
So, in this book I invite you to accompany me on two flights. In the first, the short flight from Frankfurt to Brussels, I will describe it from the passengers`point of view. From the time of entering the terminal building until the touch-down of the aeroplane I will detail all the visible and invisible things that take place in the course of the flight. On the second, longer, trip from Atlanta to Frankfurt you will accompany me as a flightengineer in the cockpit. In this way, you will, I hope, learn enough to remove the element of the miraculous from your feelings about flying. And perhaps this introduction to the transportation device called an aeroplane will serve to eliminate some of the causes of the fear of flying. After all, in aviation, we also cook with water, just at a different temperature!

(translated by Dr. Ian Smyth)

Jürgen Heermann


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