Have you ever watched small children on their first flight in a commercial aircraft? For those who love children, it is a pleasure. One day, I was departing Austin Texas sitting across the aisle from a small family; two children about five and six years old were seated in the two seats next to the far window, their parents spanned the aisle.
As an aerospace engineer, I love to fly. During various phases of taxi, take-off, and landing, I often imagine what is going on in and around the aircraft from nose to tail, and from tip to tip of each wing. In my mind I review some of the laws of physics applied in the amazing flying machine.
As the pilot engaged the thrust levers and the Boeing 737 accelerated, our seats pushed us forward; the mother of the two children anxiously told them to look out the window. “Now,” she said pointing. “Look out there.”
With faces glued to the window, bodies pulling against their seat belts, each child expressed various forms of thrill and amazement. “Whoa!, Wow, Oh!,…”
At just the right speed, I imagined the pilot pulling back on the control column, the elevators rise, the tail lowering, and the aircraft angle of attack increasing against the main wings. As the nose pitched upward and the wing tips flexed, the earth began to fall away from the plane; their exclamations continued. They wore big smiles as they turned occasionally to acknowledge their experience to their parents.
Shortly we penetrated the clouds and emerged under blue sky, a beautiful sunrise and a soft billowy blanket of clouds below. The joy on their faces brought joy to mine.
Yes, I love engineering. And I also love when it makes people smile.