And I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 5:13am
by David Mantey, Editor, PD&D

Knowing the implications such a device would have on my life expectancy, I will be the first in line to propel into the night on one of Rossy’s custom-made jet-propelled wingsuits.

On the road again. The travel distance was greater than a five-hour drive, which means that I allowed myself to succumb to the will of the airlines. I draw the line at five hours because it’s the sanity-tipping glass ceiling I’ve implemented for personal time behind the wheel. The trip may not be as bad with a navigator in the passenger seat, but after more than five hours inside my mind I put in a call to reserve my room at Arkham.

The slim confines of an airplane affords an opportunity to witness the luxuries that innovation has provided, as well as reap the fear-bending frenzy when an ill-advised overuse is put into practice. As the gracious plane maiden lifts the moratorium on electronics, Apple backlights emit a warm bright white hue from each seat.

Typically, I’m seated next to a smug expression boasting the iPad’s convenient glory while my caveman fingers with pen-stained knuckles fiddle with paper pages. The gadget has eclipsed the paperback, at least in my nonscientific survey of frequent fliers.

While the beholder of aforementioned expressive smugness reads a few virtual pages from his iPad — held within what must be the leather confines of the ZooGue Smart Case — I realize that such use is nothing more than an exercise in the further attention-span-shortening of our nation.

As I worked through Levitt and Dubner’s Freakonomic follow-up, I watched the man next to me bounce from app to app with the care and attention of a grade-school child gripped with a post-trick-or-treat sugar high.

I had thought that the airplane and the bathroom were the last two bastions of concentrated deliberation — now family members are posting status updates on such ill-advised occasions. Any notion that the me-first, reality-TV generation hadn’t seeped between the bones of culture has officially been debunked.

As the plane gracefully landed, my fellow passengers and I let out a collective sigh, and everybody scurried for their communicative devices to see if the loved one offered safe travel expressions, the coworker got it sold, and/or the ride home from the airport decided to bail in favor of a more lucrative proposition (date, free meal, etc.).

All of a sudden the nuclear reactor went off, and my fellow passengers and I retracted our collective sigh with a collective panic gasp. Of all the ringtones available to the consumer, I ask why the frequent flyer in row 21 opted for the nuclear meltdown alarm at full volume. I also question whether or not said alarm was a prank as he was slow to the draw. My cohorts in row 22 offered little more than a distasteful glare until the man exited the plane — it was then that the snide comments rang out without possible retaliation. How I do enjoy middle-age cowardice. 

I’m in favor of the complete abolishment of any and all tones emitted from a personal device — including the unnecessarily loud vibrate setting.  

As a member of the business-traveling class, I’m often confronted with the obstacle course that has become the airport. From the parking structure to the terminal, the airport is second only to the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino when it comes to confusing and trapping its mousy patrons in a maze of impediments.    

Enough is enough, and it’s time for a change — one we all can believe in. Nothing against Terrafugia and its Transition roadable light sport aircraft (the flying car that looks like a vetoed Transformer character pitch), but Yves Rossy holds the answer to the airport. Knowing the implications such a device would have on my life expectancy, I will be the first in line to propel into the night on one of Rossy’s custom-made jet-propelled wingsuits.

The Swiss adventurer recently jumped from a hot-air balloon to complete two aerial loops in his wingsuit. Spare me the theatrics and daredeviltry, can it get me into Boston without two delays, a 10-minute sprint across the entire Detroit airport, and a jet bridge attendant who decided to walk off the job as my plane was landing? I know that I have boasted tube transport in the past, but watch the video of Rossy firing off into the clouds and you’ll salivate for your own set of wings.

Aerospace has a new hero in the private sector, and it couldn’t have come at a better time as acclaimed aviation designer Burt Rutan announced his impending 2011 retirement. Take a moment and thank the man who designed the first privately financed manned craft to reach space, the SpaceShipOne prototype.

Want to be a rocket man? Think about it. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich you pack in your pocket would be better than any pretzel pouch the airlines have to offer. File grievances at As always, thank you for reading.


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