Tuesday, 21 June 2022


Pioneering parachutist and inventor of the rip-cord, Georgia Ann “Tiny” Broadwick became the first woman to jump from an airplane on this day in 1913 when she performed the stunt over Los Angeles’ Griffith Park with the assistance of aviator Glenn L Martin (of Lockheed Martin) as pilot, having begun her career as an aeronaut jumping from hot air balloons in a travelling troupe. Demonstrating her technique to the US Army the following year, Broadwick’s skill and daring-do convinced the military that the deployment of paratroopers might be executed in a less hazardous manner by untethering the jumpers (the static line) from the aircraft and allow for a few seconds of free-fall. Also in 1914, Broadwick became the first individual to parachute from a seaplane, landing in Lake Michigan. Retiring from her act in 1922 due to problems developed in her ankles, Broadwick had over eleven hundred safe landings.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

lady lindy

After piloting a Lockheed Vega 5B for seventeen hours from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, on this day in 1932 Amelia Earhart lands her airplane near Londonderry. The aviatrix then became the second individual to successfully complete a solo transatlantic flight, touching down five years to the day after Charles Lindbergh had landed in Paris, the press sometimes giving her the above sobriquet, one she probably did not care for.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022


A couple weeks after members of the public queued to purchase postage stamps commemorating the defenders of Snake Island and Roman Hrybov defiantly telling off “Russian Warship,” the Mockva (originally built in 1979 in a Ukrainian shipyard for the Soviet navy as the Slava—Glory), the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet now sunk, Ukrposhta announces it will be issuing a new stamp, from eleven year-old illustrator Sophia Kravchuk, dedicated to the memory of the largest airplane in the world, the Mriya, destroyed by the Russians during the opening salvos of the invasion.

Saturday, 26 March 2022


the hay-bailer, that chain-maker: an assortment of highly satisfying precision industrial machines at work

mars & beyond: a 1957 Disney film narrated by Paul Frees about extraterrestrial life

pelagic zone: the highly specialised eyes of the strawberry squid (see previously)  

nymphรฉas: often dismissed as victim of his own popularity and over-exposure, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series was far from a tame variation on a theme but rather a memorial to lives lost in the Great War  

aerial photo explorer: historic birds-eye-view images of England—see previously—via Things Magazine  

tired vs wired: a Twitter bot that generates aphoristic comparisons between Web 2.0 and the Web 3.0 to come, via Web Curios  

vertical parking: towering garages to remedy congestion

Thursday, 3 March 2022

callsign cossack

Originally designed to transport Buran orbiting vehicles in the mid-1980s, the strategic airlift cargo plane, Antonov AN-225 ‘ะœั€ั–ั’ (Inspiration) was a unique aircraft boasting the greatest weight of any flight-worthy piece of equipment and longest wingspan. Aside from its impressive capacity (the hold at 44 meters in length could contain the first flight of the Wright Brothers at Kittyhawk), there were proposals to retrofit the plane as a mid-air launch pad. The freight vehicle only which saw commercial applications aside from a single test-flight in 1989 with the space shuttle, drawing many spectators to watch its scheduled take-offs and landings, was destroyed in its hangar at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine during the battle for Antonov Airport outside of Hostomel.

Saturday, 5 February 2022


Offering regular long-haul service from London-Gatwick to JFK International in New York, West Berlin’s Tegel, and Hong Kong with routes to the Caribbean, Gran Canaria, Polynesia and so on, Laker Airways—founded in 1966 as a private charter company by Sir Freddie Laker—was one of the world’s first low-cost carrier, a casualty of the economic recession of the early 1980s had its last flight and declared bankruptcy on this day in 1982 with debts in excess of £270 million making it the largest corporate failure in Britain at the time. Second only to the shorter-lived though equally pioneering Loftleiรฐir of Iceland, the story of this entrepeneurial venture is at one and the same time both inspirational and cautionary, ahead of its time and informing later no-frills airlines and last-minute bookings plus democratising exotic travel, while also helping to draw out the worse aspects of the industry with over-capacity, ghost-flights, territorial hubs and the attendant negative impacts on the environment.

Friday, 24 December 2021

als ich vom himmel fiel

Miraculously on this day in 1971, en route from Lima to home in-land in Iquitos after graduation ceremonies, seventeen-year-old Juliane (nรฉe Koepcke) Diller not only lived through a catastrophic airplane crash, the cabin broken up by a lightening strike at altitude and tumbling three-thousand metres from the sky still belted into her seat, which took the lives of ninety-one others (her mother included), as sole survivor, she wandered through the rainforests of Peru alone for eleven days before finding civilisation and medical care for her injuries though wholly ambulatory and only sustaining a broken collar bone and a gash to her arm prone to infection. Somewhat of a wild-child, daughter to a pair of biologists, Koepcke was raised in the jungle and had acquired the skills that helped her to persevere. Scouting for filming locations for Aquirre—the Wrath of God, the 1972 historical epic with Klaus Kinski leading a retinue of conquistadores down the Amazon in search of the legendary seven cities of gold, director Werner Herzog would have also taken that flight, had it not been for a change in his itinerary. Subject of a 1988 documentary, Herzog and Koepcke toured the crash site together. Like her parents, Koepcke also studied biology and continued their research in Peru, specialising ultimately in chiroptology, and presently is the chief library for the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich.

Friday, 3 December 2021

your seat cushion will become a flotation device

Via our peripatetic friends at Things Magazine we are treated to a collection of airliner seatback safety cards from dozens of airlines variously fossilised in different eras with different fashions. Having flown for the first time in a long time recently, we can appreciate how such instructional, disaster deconstructions can be surprisingly engaging and demanding of ones attention that these artefacts can be and creative ways that different companies over the years sought to satisfy a regulatory requirement and engender confidence. Much more at the links above.

Thursday, 11 November 2021


Although one might be forgiven that the initial summary conclusion of semiotician—a student of processes and signifiers, like flow-charts and equations—Charles K. Bliss (*1897 - †1895, born Karl Kasiel Blitz in the Austro-Hungarian Empire but migrated to Australia after the war and release from concentration camps via Shanghai) was that the strife in his homeland was caused by the inability to communicate, we suppose that one only need look at his Blissymbols as a precursor (see also) to our extended character-set of emoji. The constructed ideographic writing system first expounded in 1949 and elaborated subsequently, even assigned its own ISO script block. Originally championed as a heuristic for teaching grammar to those with learning challenges, a set of Blissymbols were adapted into the universal suite of directional and informational glyphs found at train terminals, airports, stadia and hotels following the tourist explosion and jet-setting of the 1960s. More to explore at the links above.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021


Reminding us of the escalator that ascends from the valley to the summit of St Moritz and other similar locomotive attractions, we could appreciate this bit of colourful infrastructure to revitalise an older resort hotel on Gran Canaria without completely razing the existing building. Studio Lopezneeiraciaurri was commissioned to renovate the complex and included a yellow funicular to transport guests up and down, turning this relic from the 1970s into the most modern property around and serving to help us realise that experiential and novel people-movers have an established history as tourist draws.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

net promoter score

Incredulously and with much the same hubris and spirit that the American baseball commission calls its big annual play-off the World Series (it’s not) or organisers an international beauty pageant Miss Universe (she’s not), we learn thanks to the always authentic and as-advertised Miss Cellania that unsurprisingly there’s not only no US airline placing in the top ten globally, because America can’t rise to the challenge to compete on the world-wide stage, there’s a separate ranking for North American airlines. The US doesn’t even manage to sweep this category with Air Canada placing third.

Friday, 13 August 2021


Via friend of the blog Nag on the Lake we learn that in anticipation of our promised flying cars and jet-set future in the mid-seventies, Winnebago ambitiously teamed up with a helicopter service (that sourced its craft from army surplus) to offer a flying recreational vehicle that could go anywhere, with a spacious and luxurious cabin fully equipped with all the comforts of home, sleeping six with full kitchen, bath, generator and colour television.
Many more details and specifications at the links above, including footage of the model in flight. Though out of the range of most like its predecessor which also burned through nearly three hundred litres of fuel per hour in flight and required a qualified pilot, we also learned from the comments section that such ostentation is not only relegated to the past but there’s currently for hire an amphibious plane, the Grumman Albatross, with similar accommodations.

Monday, 9 August 2021

typically tropical

Best remembered for the 1975 Song of the Summer “Barbados,” reaching its pinnacle of popularity on this day those decades hence, the duo comprised of recording engineers Jess Calvert and Max West, the track was covered by the Vengaboys in 1999 as “We’re Going to Ibiza.” Typically Tropical performed the song on Top of the Pops, rounding out an album called Barbados Sky, and three years later received a song writing credit for the Hot Gossip disco number “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper,” inspired by the Star Wars craze. “…Or are you like a droid—devoid of emotion?”

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

saut de seconde

Introduced for the first time on this day in 1972 and originally delegated to the Bureau International de l’Heure (BIH, the International Time Bureau at the Paris Observatory) to schedule their addition or subtraction, leap seconds (see also) are a way to adjust Universal Coordinated Time and synchronise the invariable atomic clocks that informs most civilian timekeeping with observed solar time, the Earth’s rotation prone to go off-kilter a bit due to geological, climatic changes or meteor impacts. Though implemented as a means to ensure accuracy and uniformity in an increasing interconnected and networked world and announced six months in advance, the irregularity of leap seconds can also reveal flaws in underlying programming, the pictured time-stamp causing Linux-based systems to crash back on that date.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

antonio di padua

Priest and Franciscan friar and Doctor of the Church, Anthony of Lisbon (*1195 - †1231 in the commune west of Venice) is one of the most popular and quickly canonised among the cult of the saints and was acclaimed in his lifetime for giving powerful and persuasive sermons, even keeping a school of fish in rapt attention once and reputation for care for the poor and sick. Invoked in the name of lost things—credited first with the restoration of his own psalter full of notes when Anthony feared it was gone forever—his extensive patronage (see previously) includes things prone to going missing like mail, mariners, shipwrecks, travellers and lost souls, though not all who wander… Anthony in the extended sense is also the protector of the elderly, fisherfolk, amputees, Native Americans, harvests, watermen, horses, travel hosts and counter-revolutionaries.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

santa bona

Early eleventh century Augustinian nun venerated on this day, Bona of Pisa, helped conduct pilgrims on their journeys and is considered the patroness of tour guides, couriers, flight attendants as well as her well-touristed home town. Her father a Crusader in the Holy Land, Bona made no fewer than four sojourns there to visit him and see to his well-being and after being taken hostage by pirates and necessitating a ransom and rescue by her compatriots, redirected her focus to the route of Santiago de Compostela, undertaking the arduous trip ten times and leading others along the way.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

sleeper car

Via the always interesting Maps Mania, we learn more about the happily resurgent phenomenon of night trains (previously) whose network could once again connect the continent and in response to shifting attitudes, expectations and environmental awareness—including legislation to outlaw short-haul flights where alternative and less polluting modes of conveyance are possible. There’s an informative article and even an interactive route-planner to plan one’s future over-nighter and experience waking up in a new city. 



Sunday, 2 May 2021


why are you still here: our houses get sick of us never leaving too—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see here)  

fake id: the unfortunately inevitable rise of counterfeit vaccination credentials  

disaster girl: meme as NFT (previously) nets a half-million dollars at auction 

comically overwrought: an oral history of the Crying Dawson gif  

resident evil village: games company produced a musical, gory puppet show to promote its latest instalment  

sunshine state: Florida will make it illegal for social media to deplatform politicians, with a especial carve-out for Disney—via Slashdot  

euphonium: found poetry in the history of acoustic waves  

web curios: Waxy lets us know that the fine and well-connected newsletter returns after a sabbatical of nine months with the folding of Imperia   

windows on the world: artwork by Liam Cobb that fills one with Wanderlust—via the morning news

Saturday, 24 April 2021


Courtesy of the New Shelton wet/dry, we are directed towards this helpful and thorough-going comparative resource of map projections (see previously here, here and here) from Jason Davies that covers the range of interrupted maps, two-dimensional flatten of the globe focused on choice areas of less interest that go far beyond the Spilhaus or transverse Mercator projection that’s a favourite television news studio wall-hanging to butterfly maps, the Berghaus Star, Foucaut’s Stereographoc equivalency globe, the loxodrome and the pictured geopolitical bounding box with animation and interactive features.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

vss imagine

Expanding its fleet of suborbital space planes with a third vehicle, Virgin Galactic has commenced test flights with its chromed, mirrored craft that’s reminiscent of a space ship from Buck Rogers or Perry Rhodan and has a superb retro-future aesthetic. More at Design Boom at the link above.