29 April 2021
Every 6 minutes or so, a plane was landing or taking off. It could sound like a busy airport, at least one before a pernicious and quite annoying virus decided to rear its head last year. But it’s actually a well-functioning airport, despite the pandemic that’s taking hold of the entire planet. That airfield is a mere kilometres from where I live. To be fair, that level of activity exists mostly on weekends. And the planes are but light aircraft.
Surprisingly, it’s possible to watch them land and take off from just 30 metres away, with no fence blocking access to the airstrip. I don’t know if this is common or if it’s because pilots of those flying machines are navigating by sight anyway. I guess I could ask one of my younger brothers who, after a successful career as an entrepreneur, is gradually acquiring various flying licences. His latest pet project is to build... his own plane. That is not a joke – I’ve seen pictures of something that for now looks more like a wooden canoe. It does scare me a little though, especially as he didn’t respond to my genuine questions regarding the certification of such a homemade aircraft. I assume that an expert has to examine it but I’m left wondering how thorough that kind of examination is, how one can make sure there are no critical construction flaws.
Sadly, I’ll never be able to board such non-pressurised aircraft – one pneumothorax (a collapsed lung) and you will be forbidden to do so for life. It’s for the same reason that I will never able to go on a suborbital flight (which got into my head a dozen years ago when I had first heard of Virgin Galactic), or go to planet Mars (that I’m not sure I actually wanted to try out): in this case, my lungs wouldn’t be able to cope with the g-force (about 3 Gs i.e. three times the force of gravity humans are normally exposed to when on Earth). Thinking of it, it should be technically feasible to create appropriate g-suits or g-compartments to mitigate that force.
Despite that airstrip being so close to my home, I had only visited it once, 7 years ago. Well, it’s not as if I need my dose of fresh Colombian powder every day either, I’m “reasonable”. So here’s what I’m going to do as I share my latest photos: I’ll try to enliven them with some observations, as interesting as can be, about their looks and technical details (which I can find thanks to the federal register, a database of the registration ID found on each plane). I’ve also created a full-screen carousel version (best viewed on large landscape-oriented screens: a laptop screen, a monitor, a TV, or a tablet).