Entry 153: Going Nowhere Fast

I really love our new house although, after 152 blog posts, I suppose it doesn’t really qualify as new anymore.

I love it so much, in fact, that I barely ever leave it, by which I mean that it’s been awhile since I’ve had a vacation.

The problem is that it takes too long to get to all the places I’d like to go. Which is why I was very excited to learn that the Air Force is testing a plane that can get from New York to Los Angeles in under an hour. Not that LA is one of the places I want to go, but I assume that California would not be the only place such a plane could travel to.

Imagine getting to JFK from LAX faster than you can get to it from Lex. and 42nd! Tom could hop in just to take Suri to lunch!

According to The Huffington Post, this plane, which is called the WaveRider, can fly at six times the speed of sound or Mach 6, which is three more machs than you get in a Gillette disposable razor.

Now, to be honest, there are still a few kinks to be ironed out. For one thing, this plane does not take off in the usual manner, which is barreling down a runway avoiding other taxiing planes while I keep my eyes closed. No, this plane is attached to the wing of a B-52 bomber and, once that is airborne, the WaveRider is dropped from the wing and falls until its hypersonic engine takes over and it begins riding on its own shockwave. That last sentence contained many words that I prefer not to associate with my air travel, such as “bomber,” “dropped,” “fall,” and “shock.”

Another problem: “…once the fuel is exhausted, it will splash down into the Pacific and be destroyed as planned, in order to cut costs.” I won’t even address the question of how building a new plane for each flight cuts costs; I’m much more concerned with the WaveRider’s landing protocol. I’m nervous enough about flying over water* without being on a plane that intends to end up in the ocean. (“Ladies and gentleman, please stay seated with your seatbelts fastened while the plane sinks to the terminal.”)

And then there’s an issue with range. You see, although the WaveRider can fly fast enough to get from LA to NY in less than an hour, it can only do so for about 300 seconds, which, if I’m doing the math correctly (um, 60 seconds to a minute, carry the 4, divide by…) it would only get about as far as Fresno.  But you’d get there really fast, if you didn’t mind getting off the plane with your cheeks pulled back behind your ears from the g-force. In fact, you’d get there so fast, the flight attendants would not even have time to finish their safety instructions.

And that would be a shame, because the safety instructions could really come in handy, considering that last week they did an unmanned test of the WaveRider, and there was a problem with a faulty control fin which caused a slight glitch, namely that the aircraft immediately broke apart.

It was unclear how fast the individual pieces of the WaveRider were traveling. But if you happen to find some metal laying around near, let us say, Roswell, New Mexico, it is not–I repeat–NOT–part of an advanced alien aircraft. It’s part of a really crappy American one.

Nevertheless, some experts have estimated that hypersonic passenger planes that don’t fall apart (I’m assuming) may be available by about 2050.

Being that we don’t yet have the jetpacks that we were supposed to have at least a decade ago, I figure the wait will be longer. Especially since, once the plane is available for bookings in maybe 2062, your flight will be delayed by a couple of hours because there’s a cloud somewhere over the midwest.

It won’t matter to me, though. If I’m still around by then, the only place I’ll want to go will be the bathroom.

See you soon.

*It’s not the possibility of crashing into the ocean I worry about as much as forgetting how to operate the life vest–it seems so complicated!

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