The Idle American: Plane Talk about Batteries

While Solar Impulse flew around the world on batteries, it was super light. And it used every ounce of sunlight to recharge these. Photo: upsbatterycenter.com

It’s weird to think that someday, planes’ price tags will include the reminder that batteries are not included, and what if the batteries fail at 30,000 feet?

Jerks and others of assorted intellects were jolted by a recent piece of news that is bound to reach front pages sooner than later.

It’s one thing to consider the Energizer Bunny, hear commercials challenging us to “start something,” and marvel at the growing list of battery-powered mechanisms.

Most of us may have self-inflicted knee-jerk injuries, what with said knees jerking all the way up to our chins. There are bound to be new twists on an old theory, like “If God had intended planes to fly on batteries, He would have created charging stations at 35,000 feet.” And it’s weird to think that someday, planes’ price tags will include the reminder that batteries are not included….

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   Petroleum-peddling companies may “harrumph” at this news, warning about the dangers of battery failure. What if someone leaves cabin lights on overnight? What if mice chow down on the wiring?

“How do they know the amount of remaining power needed to reach the next airport?” wonders my aged Uncle Mort. “With gasoline, they at least know how much remains in the tank.”

He has numerous other questions, such as how much power can be expected from batteries in sub-zero weather and/or how well they’ll hold up in lightning strikes? Further, what if all passengers decide to plug in their phone chargers at the same time?…

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Don Newbury can always find the lighter side of life.

What irony! As Americans grow-uh, ever larger–airlines have proposed making seats even smaller. “They’re going to cram us in like sardines,” one flyer said. “If one passenger gets a shock from a battery-powered engine, everyone on the aircraft will be doomed.”

We’re passing on boatloads of problems for our grandchildren to deal with.

In all of this, keep in mind that several airlines–including United and Alaska–have signed pacts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. These two airlines are cited because of their vows to have “net zero carbon emissions” long-term. Imagine “net zero emissions,” thus ending vapor trails….

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   All the hubbub about serious –nor fatal – shocks resulting from implementation of the proposed new propulsion is likely to increase, since most aviation experts figure we may be a decade away from implementation of batteries.

Current prototypes are the size of buses, weighing several thousand pounds. (And battery power for 777 aircraft isn’t even on the drawing boards yet.)

This points to eventual mandates for Americans to get rid of “personal poundage.” We may be required to go to great lengths to avoid great widths….

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   This discourse about electrical shock brings to mind the story about a woman who finally realized a lifetime ambition. Quite simply, it was to visit San Francisco, highlight of the trip being a ride on the long-popular trolley. She flew to ‘Frisco without event. All went well on her flight. (She is delighted about the smooth, pleasant journey, realizing, though, that it offers little to “beef up” her usual pessimistic view of things.)

Her good fortune continued as she waited only a few minutes for a cab to take her to a trolley stop.

As she approached the trolley, however, her “worst fears” came into play. She feared that if her foot should touch the rail, she might suffer electrocution. She hailed down a young Californian who was about to get on the trolley, asking, “If my foot accidentally touches the rail, could I be electrocuted?” Smiling, he answered, “Ma’am, I don’t think you have a thing to worry about unless you swing your other leg over that wire up there,” pointing to a cable strung a dozen feet overhead….

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   Finally, this yarn: A co-pilot, new to the crew, is strapping himself into harness for the upcoming flight. Next to him is the pilot, already seated, muttering, “Steady, Dave Martin. You can do it, Dave Martin. Our passengers are counting on you, Dave Martin.”

The new guy said, “Captain, I appreciate your suggestions, but my name is NOT Dave Martin.”

“I know that,” the captain responds. “Mine is.”….

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   Dr. Newbury, longtime university president, continues to write weekly and speak throughout Texas. Contact: Phone: 817-447-3872. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Facebook: Don Newbury.

Please click HERE go find Don’s humorous and inspirational memoir, Life by the Seat of the Pants, on Amazon.

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