Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


IT WAS 1928 when Major Victor W. Pagé, Air Corps Reserve, U.S.A., wrote Everybody’s Aviation Guide, appearing November 2018 here at SimanaitisSays.

But now, in Parts 1 and 2, today and tomorrow, imagine it’s 1943. Pagé has been promoted to Lt. Col., and he has just written ABC of Aviation: A Simplified Guide to Modern Aircraft. It’s an entirely new book subtitled, “A Complete Exposition of All Types of Aircraft with Authoritative Instructions on their Basic Principles of Construction and Operation, Describing Important Recent Airplanes, Diesel and Gasoline Engines, Airliners, Plastic Planes, Inspection and Trouble Shooting Prior to Flight, Instruments used for Blind Flying, Ordinary and Acrobatic Flying Maneuvers, Radio Aids, and Beacons.”

I received this book as a gift from Nephew Joe. An accompanying note reads, “I found this at an estate sale and thought you may like it! (I’ve already checked it for money.)”

All Main Elements of Stinson Reliant Cabin High Wing Monoplane. This, the following images, and captions from ABC of Aviation: A Simplified Guide to Modern Aircraft.

Long-Distance Travel. “Trans-oceanic airliners are in daily use,” Pagé observed in 1943. “Some new ones projected are to be as large as the early ocean-going surface vessels… multi-engined airplanes of gigantic proportions, some with a capacity of 100 or more passengers now being under construction.”

To put 1943 in perspective, today’s Airbus A-380 typically seats 480–490 passengers. It is the world’s largest passenger liner, certified to accommodate 853 passengers, albeit in a hapless all-economy-class layout.

The Boeing 747, now a classic, first entered fleets in 1970. It has typical accommodation for 416 passengers. According to Wikipedia, “As of July 2018, 462 Boeing 747s are in airline service, with British Airways being the largest operator with 36 747-400s. The last U.S. passenger Boeing 747 was retired from Delta Air Lines in December 2017.”

Flying Fish versus Douglas Commercial Designs. “Flying fish,” Pagé wrote, “are nature’s gliders…. The fins are not ‘flapped’ like a bird’s wings in flight, but are merely supporting planes.”

Above, the flying fish. Below, Pagé observed, “Modern Bimotor Low Wing Monoplane Taking Off. Note Similarity in Outline to Winged Flying Fish.”

Pagé cited an expert’s detailed analysis: “Carl L. Hubbs of the University of Michigan museum of zoology, who has studied the gliding fish, says it shoots to the surface of the sea with fins folded and as it breaks the surface spreads its pectoral fins to lift the forward part of its body clear. The caudal fin is rapidly beating the water to gain speed, and finally the fish rises clear by spreading its pelvic fins, which lift the tail from the water. A half minute is a good glide, but sometimes the fish can prolong its flight by dipping its tail in the crest of a wave.”

Flying fish and flying aircraft, the Lt. Col. had deep and wide interests. Tomorrow in Part 2, we learn about Pagé’s views on automation and his analysis of “the Model T of airplanes,” which, odd though it may seem, leads us to Wagner’s Ring Cycle. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019

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