YouTube / Sploid
YouTube / Sploid

The History of Air Refueling

YouTube / Sploid
YouTube / Sploid

Airplanes have a problematic relationship with fuel: The more fuel they take on board, the heavier the plane is (and the less weight capacity it has to carry other things at launch). Eventually there is a point of diminishing returns, where planes are basically burning fuel to carry fuel. Enter air refueling.

As a concept, air refueling is both simple and crazy. It entails figuring out a way to get fuel from one aircraft to another, while both are flying. Early attempts at this method were downright insane, involving wing-walking with a can of fuel. While this actually worked, it was not exactly efficient, though it did help set distance records in the early days of flight.

As the technology advanced, it became clear that a gas can wouldn't carry enough fuel to make the maneuver worthwhile, so various methods using hoses and special attachment points were developed. For decades now, air refueling has been routine for military flights, and is the only way to make certain missions possible, given the range of a given airplane and the limited set of places it could safely land and refuel. Fortunately, we've gotten really good at this.

In this short video, Sploid shows us archival footage of the progress of air refueling. If you ever wondered what it looks like to gas up your jet in midair, behold!

If you're into this stuff, check out Wikipedia's page on air refueling, which includes plenty of cool photographs.

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Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Now Has Its Own ER
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If you thought massage chairs were the height of airport health perks, you’ll probably be impressed by a recent addition to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in Texas. The travel hub has opened what might be the country’s first airport emergency room, as Condé Nast Traveler reports. Located at the south entrance, the 8160-square-foot center has everything you’d expect from an urgent-care location, including an X-ray machine, a CT scanner, and a laboratory.

The ER is intended to serve dual functions. Because DFW is a massive operation, employing 65,000 workers, airport staff will be able to obtain speedy attention for ailments without having to leave the site. And because traffic at the airport is so high—more than 67 million travelers pass through each year—visitors will be able to address symptoms without delay. That’s especially useful if they’re experiencing respiratory-related issues or conditions frequently associated with air travel, like deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in the legs that can migrate to the upper body and cause a pulmonary embolism.

The airport told Condé Nast Traveler that it was only a matter of hours after opening that a passenger came to the ER complaining of chest pain. (He was treated and released.) Because the facility is located outside of security checkpoints, it’s also open to the general public.

The site’s operator, Code 3, previously opened an urgent-care center in the airport’s international terminal, as well as another urgent-care location in Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport. The company eventually hopes to expand its ER practices to other high-profile and highly trafficked airports around the country.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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The Secret to a More Pleasant Flight? Urinals
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Even if you can deal with the lack of legroom, privacy, and decent meal options on airplanes, your patience may start to wear thin when it comes time to pee. Being stuck waiting in long bathroom lines on planes may feel like one of life's unavoidable annoyances, but according to WIRED, there's a way to make the experience more tolerable. The secret involves urinals and a bit of math.

At last month's Crystal Cabin Awards, a competition that recognizes innovation in aircraft interiors, Zodiac Aerospace introduced the Durinal, a two-urinal plane bathroom that takes the place of one toilet. Replacing a bathroom that serves all passengers with one that's made for only half the population may seem like a quick way to make the long-line problem worse, but there's some logic behind the proposed solution.

As Wouter Rogiest, a mathematician at Ghent University in Belgium, tells WIRED, gender-neutral bathroom lines are shortest when men have the option to head straight for a urinal. That's because it's quicker to use a urinal than a stall, and when men opt for the urinal, it frees up stalls for women. When he drew up an equation looking at hypothetical bathroom wait times at a concert, he found that a ratio of 14 toilets to eight urinals produced the most desirable wait times: one minute, 27 seconds for women and slightly under a minute for men. On a commercial plane, this ratio would come out to one or two Durinals per six conventional bathrooms.

Rogiest's concert equation isn't a perfect stand-in for airplane scenarios, so a more specific study would be needed before airlines could consider installing urinals. Unfortunately, if bathrooms with urinals do show up on airplanes, you can expect the spaces to be just as tight as they are now.

[h/t WIRED]

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