Scientists and makers of warplanes have played an ironic joke upon themselves. They have engineered and flown fighter ships which fly so fast they can't fight each other!
Now, imagine, if you will, two jet jobs approaching each other at 600 mph. The effective range of a fighter's armament, 50 caliber machine guns or possibly rockets, would be around a half-mile. by the time these two would-be bandits get within shooting distance of each other, zoom, they are past! They are approaching at the unbelievable speed of 1200 mph. Effective sighting range doesn't last very long at that rate.
Of course, this makes them extremely valuable as interceptors. But even on a mission to intercept bombers, someone else must locate the ships to shoot and guide the jet to them. At a few miles distance another airplane is only a speck in the vastness of the blue. Be easy to not see it at all if you were traveling 600 mph and as modern bombers do, he is flying at 400 mph. Even that comparatively slow speed adds up to 1000 mph.
As these scientific fellows fool around and pull ghastly jokes upon each other, it leaves me with a distant chilly feeling, like the zoo-goer who just discovered the door to the lion's cage was open.
Jets are a wonderful thing, however, and I'm going to do something not usually done in a newspaper. I want to recommend to you a story in the news magazine Time, issue of August 9th. Under the heading "Science," they have the clearest description of a jet engine I've ever read. It is also a beautiful piece of descriptive writing and I think you will enjoy it.
Permit me to shamelessly copy Time's paragraph describing the starting of a jet engine --it's wonderful:
"A tainted breeze blows through the exhaust vent in the tail, followed by a think gray fog of atomized kerosene. Deep in the engine a single sparkplug buzzes. A spot of fire dances in a circle behind the turbine. Next moment, with a hollow whoom, a great yellow flame leaps out. It cuts back to a faint blue cone, a cone that roars like a giant blowtorch. The roar increases to thunder as the turbine gathers speed. Then it diminishes slightly, masked by a strange high snarl that is felt rather than heard. This is "ultrasonic" sound (a frequency too high for the ear to hear). It tickles the deep brain, punches the heart, makes the viscera tremble. Few men like to stay in a test room when a jet is up to speed. The engine now has the fierce beauty of power. Its massive rotor, the principal moving part, is spinning some 13,000 times per minute, (although with only the faintest vibration). The fire raging in its heart would heat 1,000 five-room houses in zero weather, though much of the engine's exterior is cool. From the air intake in its snout, invisible hooks reach out; their suction will clasp a man who comes too close and break his body. The blast roaring out the tail will knock a man down at 150 feet. The reaction of the speeding jet of gas pushes against the test stand with a two-ton thrust. If the engine were pointed upward and left unshackled, it would take off like a rocket, each pound of its weight overbalanced by more than two pounds of thrust!"
Those of you who attended the second air show at Municipal airport saw a jet plane in action. You have now read one of the finest descriptions of one I've ever had the privilege to pass on --Time, August 9th.
Sky Writing has a letter today from Fairbanks, Alaska, from a boy who modestly questions whether we remember him or not. We do. He is G. Wilbur Hoppus, son of Mr. and Mrs. Milo Hoppus, of north of Warsaw. Let him tell it:
"Dear Bill--I really don't know whether you remember me or not, but I was one of the original flying enthusiasts around Warsaw airport in the days of 1939--in fact, I received my last copy of The Daily Times and as usual eagerly looked for the 'Sky Writing' column which happens to be in that particular issue. There is one bit of criticism I have to make about the column, though, and that is that I have never noticed any information on G.C.A. (Ground Controlled Approach). I am at present a G.C.A. final controller and, of course, I am always plugging for old 'Alma Mater.' I believe few pilots realize just how many lives are saved each day in this world of ours by G.C.A. Last night here at Ladd Field we had a very heavy fog on the runway, plus rain showers, which made the weather strictly zero-zero, and yet we landed three aircraft with just as much ease as if they were landing in VFR weather. Some pilots seem to fear using G.C.A. in zero-zero weather, because they feel those ground pounders sitting down there in that nice warm G.C.A. unit might get just a little careless, but I can tell you right now that when we're running a plane it's just as if we were in the plane because practically all G.C.A. operators are former pilots--in fact, in our G.C.A. crew, which consists of three men, we have a combined total of over 8,000 hours as pilots, and I, myself, have a C.A.A. airline transport rating, while the other two men have commercial ratings so we're not lacking in experience. So, come on, fellows, and whenever you get in IFR weather or even VFR weather, give G.C.A. a call and we'll be standing by. If I can be of any help to you concerning G.C.A. I can be reached at the following address--M/S George W. Hoppus, 157th AACS Sq., APO 731, care of Postmaster, Seattle, Wash."
Now, George, or rather Wilbur, which is what we used to call you here, this column goes into the fight hot and heavy when the C.A.A. was arguing whether to install new G.C.A. units or more I.L.S. systems. I'm glad to report that we fought for G.C.A. It was good to hear from you. I feel right now that you are in quite a strategic spot, there in Alaska. Let's have a report for Sky Writing readers now and then--you write them!
On Sunday, August 29th, the Aero club will hold another spot landing contest to see whose name will be engraved next upon the Sky Writing gold trophy. Junius VanCuren has held the cup since last winter, and its high time some of you hot pilots took it away from him--if you can. Club officials have added a very pleasant wrinkle to the affair and are having a carry-in-basket dinner, starting at one o'clock on that fine Sunday afternoon. So bundle up the wife and kiddies, pack a dinner and come Sunday, August 29th. You do not have to be a pilot to attend--just interested. By the way, to add zest to the affair, the cup is up to any Kosciusko county pilot. You do not have to be a member of the Warsaw Aero club. If you guys from Mentone, Syracuse, or from any other of the county towns can take it home with you--come after it!
Did I ever tell you that Harold "Dutch" ford, that progressive tire man from Warsaw, now has a private certificate and can take you along when he flies his very nice blue Stinson? Dutch uses the ship to commute between his several retail stores in northern Indiana.
Warsaw Daily Times August 16, 1948