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The Joy of flight - forgotten pleasures

If you're anything like me, you've probably spent many boring hours waiting at airports and sitting on planes, just getting to where you're going. I used to travel regularly on business from the UK to Asia, a flight time of 10 - 12 hours or more. The airlines do their best these days to keep you entertained, but there's still no escaping the hours of tedium.

As a result, many of us associate aircraft with boredom. Airbus A320? ZZZzzzz... Boeing 747? ZZZzzzzz..

But it doesn't have to be like that! There was a time when the Aircraft was just as exiting as any destination. When the sheer beauty of an aircraft could excite, and it's scale could thrill.

In my view the postwar years produced some of the most exiting aircraft ever seen, or are likely to see again. Two factors in particular made it happen, and these circumstances are unlikely to occur again.

  • The start of the "cold war" between the Soviet Union and the western world led to an unprecedented need to develop new aircraft with capabilities much greater then had gone before. Before the introduction of ICBM's (Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles) in the 1960's, and Polaris submarine launched missiles later, the challenges of Nuclear weapon delivery led to some amazing designs
  • The introduction of the Jet engine a few years previously offered new levels of speed and power. But with this power came a new set of design challenges - which in turn led to innovative designs. Now that aircraft design and aerodynamics are so well understood, and so much of the design is done by computers, we are unlikely to see such variation in design approach

Who can fail to be exited by the beauty of the sleek Anglo-French Concorde? Impressed by the power of the British Avro Vulcan bomber? Amazed by the American F-117 Nighthawk Stealth fighter? There is so much about these and other classic aircraft to discover and enjoy.

Some will say that these aircraft are only of interest to men of a certain age - and I confess I am a member of that group! It's certainly true that it does seem to be a male interest. But it really is an interest for all age groups.

Last year I took my son (12) to the Airshow at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, and was amazed by the interest and excitement he showed. To my surprise, at the end of the day he was asking me to stay longer while I was more then ready to go home.

So tell your kids about the great aircraft of the past. Take them to an airshow near you this summer, and give them a chance to share the interest and excitement. Many great kit planes are available, so make aircraft models with them - it's a great way to enjoy some time together!

About the Author: My background is in electronic design and software, but more recently I've been working on my website My main interest right now is classic aircraft from "aviations golden age".

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