WBEZ | aviation http://www.wbez.org/tags/aviation Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Death of a pioneer http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/death-pioneer-106831 <p><p>As a black woman, pioneer aviator Elizabeth&nbsp;Coleman&nbsp;overcame two career obstacles before dying in a flying accidentt on April 30, 1926.</p><p>Coleman&mdash;always known as Bessie&mdash;was born into a large family of Texas cotton farmers in 1892.&nbsp;She joined the great migration north in 1915, settling in Chicago.&nbsp;Her first job was as a manicurist.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4-30--Bessie%20Coleman%20%28NASA%20photo%29.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 350px; float: right;" title="Bessie Coleman (NASA photo)" /></div><p>Coleman was intrigued by stories of combat flying during World War I. Yet when the war ended, no American flight school would accept her.&nbsp;She had to go abroad to achieve her dream.</p><p>She learned French, saved her money, and got financial help from&nbsp;<em>Defender</em> publisher Robert S. Abbott and other businessmen.&nbsp;She went to France and earned her pilot&rsquo;s license.&nbsp;Finally, in 1921, Bessie&nbsp;Coleman returned to the U.S. as the country&rsquo;s first female African-American flier.</p><p>Commercial aviation was in its infancy. Coleman could become either a mail pilot or a stunt flier. Both were dangerous jobs, but stunt flying paid better.</p><p>Coleman was young, attractive, and extroverted. Performing appealed to her.&nbsp;She joined the circuit of air thrill shows.&nbsp;Now her gender and race worked to her advantage, giving her added publicity value.&nbsp;Back in Chicago, her friends at the <em>Defender</em> printed detailed accounts of her many triumphs.</p><p>On April 30, 1926, Coleman was in Jacksonville, Florida.&nbsp;An air show was scheduled for the next day.&nbsp;With her mechanic at the controls of her open plane, Coleman took off to scout out the area.&nbsp;Coleman wasn&rsquo;t strapped in. She wanted more freedom to see over the edge of the plane.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04-30--Defender%2C%205-8-1926.jpg" style="width: 265px; height: 216px; float: left;" title="'Chicago Defender' national edition--May 8, 1926" /></div><p>About ten minutes into the flight, the plane suddenly went into a spin.&nbsp;Coleman was thrown from the cockpit and fell to her death.&nbsp;The plane crashed, killing the mechanic. As it turned out, the cause of the&nbsp;accident was dreadfully simple&ndash;a loose wrench had fallen into the gears and jammed them.</p><p>The air show was cancelled.&nbsp;Coleman&rsquo;s body was returned to Chicago, where more than 10,000 people filed past her coffin in Pilgrim Baptist Church.&nbsp;She was buried at Lincoln Cemetery in Alsip.&nbsp;For many years afterward, African-American pilots performed an annual fly-over of her grave.</p><p>In 1995 the U.S. postal service honored&nbsp;Chicago&rsquo;s aviation pioneer&nbsp;with a Black Heritage commemorative stamp.&nbsp;And today one of the streets at O&rsquo;Hare Airport is named Bessie Coleman Drive.</p></p> Tue, 30 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/death-pioneer-106831 Astrophysicist shows why it takes so long to board a plane http://www.wbez.org/story/astrophysicist-shows-why-it-takes-so-long-board-plane-91161 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-28/This vs That.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483670-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-august/2011-08-29/airplane110829gs.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>Inviting passengers to board a plane all at once would likely fill it faster than the methods most airlines use. If that sounds counterintuitive, consider that it took an astrophysicist to figure it out.</p><p>Jason Steffen experienced a problem many of us have run into: when it’s finally time to board the plan, someone (or several people) holds up the whole operation trying to cram an oversized suitcase into the overhead bid. But unlike most of us, Steffen happens to be a Fermilab physicist, with a knack for computer models. So he ran one testing different methods of boarding.</p><p>He tested methods where people board from back to front, or window seats followed by middle and aisle. He also tested the time-honored process of boarding in blocks of rows, as passengers have been doing for years. Steffen’s model predicted letting passengers board at random would be quicker than the back-to-front or block boarding models, meaning his calculations show those methods actually slow things down.</p><p>Now he’s <a href="http://arxiv.org/abs/1108.5211">publishing results from an experiment, </a>which confirm it. He and a producer from the online video show <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/thisvsthatshow">“This vs That”</a> recruited 72 people to act as passengers. They went to a replica airplane that matched the real deal in dimensions and seat layout, housed on a Hollywood soundstage. There, the passengers tried out the five different methods.</p><p>In this one trial, anyway, the random boarding was more efficient than filling the plane in blocks or front-to-back. The window-seat-first method took second place. The fastest method is one of Steffen’s own design: boarding alternating rows at the same time, starting with the window seats. The secret, he says, is that it leaves passengers elbow room to stow their luggage at the same time.</p><p>Steffen published his predictions three years ago, but got no inquiries from the airlines. He wonders if now, with his experimental results, they might start paying attention.</p><p>“Before they could have said, look, this guy’s a crackpot. So what if he wrote some software? We want real data with real passengers,” Steffen said. “Now that we have that, I guess we’ll see.”</p><p>The results are published in the science collection, <a href="http://arxiv.org/">arXiv</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/o9-XjEI8VmA" width="420" frameborder="0" height="345"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 29 Aug 2011 04:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/astrophysicist-shows-why-it-takes-so-long-board-plane-91161 Protests of full-body scans could slow holiday travelers http://www.wbez.org/story/aclu/protests-full-body-scans-could-slow-holiday-travelers <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/scanner.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Loosely organized, internet boycotts of airport body scans could slow down travelers over the Thanksgiving holiday.<br /><br />The National Opt-Out Day protest is scheduled for Wednesday, which is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year. At issue are full-body scans that show a traveler's physical contours on a computer.<br /><br />The American Civil Liberties Union is not involved with the protests. But local ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka said neither the scans nor the optional pat-downs actually make flights more secure. &quot;We're getting the worst of both worlds. We're not advancing our security interests, while at the same time Americans who are flying at the holiday season are having to make the ugly choice between these embarrassing naked scans or having themselves groped by strangers,&quot; Yohnka said.<br /><br />Body scans take as little as 10 seconds, but people who decline the process must submit to a full pat-down, which takes much longer. Even if only a small percentage of passengers opt-out of the body scan, experts say it could mean longer lines, bigger delays and hotter tempers.<br /><br />Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride said the airports plan to bring in extra workers for the holiday.</p></p> Tue, 23 Nov 2010 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/aclu/protests-full-body-scans-could-slow-holiday-travelers