Looking up at an aeroplane in the sky, have you ever wondered where it originally came from- and where it will end its life? We take a fascinating look at the secret life of aeroplanes.
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As with most vehicles, aeroplane copulation involves the male mounting the female from above (or in some cases behind). When a male aeroplane is interested in mounting a female, he waggles his wings and activate his foglights. If the female is receptive, she will either extend her drogue, sometimes called a basket, or in the case of many inland aeroplanes species, the male will extend his boom. Once coupled, the aircraft will exchange vital liquids that contain the blueprint for a new aircraft. If fertilisation is successful, the female aircraft will gestate for between ten and twenty years.
Birth traditionally took place at 25,000 feet, but modern birthing techniques can be as low as 500 or as high as 30,000 feet. The process takes place at great speeds to avoid Predators or other Unmanned Air Vehicles. Litters vary in size, this F-111 is giving birth to four young (young F-111s are known as piglets). Note that the young have yet to develop full-size wings.
As can be seen in this photograph of a young Bell X-1, young aeroplanes seldom stray far from their protective mothers. Note that the mother has four visible engines, whereas the X-1 has none. Engines are developed during puberty. A young aircraft often has neither the software, weapons integration or spare parts to make it in the world by itself.
After sexual maturation aeroplanes are forced to leave their family nests. Badly tempered- and highly hormonal male aeroplanes often form gangs (as seen above).
5. Sexual orientation
Though these terms are now highly contentious, traditionally three types of aeroplane sexual orientation were understood:
A monocoque aircraft relationship involves at least one mailplane in a monogamous relationship.
Biplanes are more versatile than monocoque aircraft, but some (especially in the monocoque community) have expressed doubt on their existence.
Very popular in the hedonistic 1910s, especially in German aristocratic circles – today there are few self-designated ‘triplanes’. Triplanes were famous for their flamboyant ‘drag culture’ – later replaced by the Lift-to-Drag culture.
6. Finding a job
Though originally it was considered enough that aeroplanes could fly -today they are forced to earn their keep. Some are employed by budget airlines to act as prisons for humans, the hapless detainees are not allowed to leave until they have bought a thirty Euro teddy bear and a four-Euro Coke. Other aircraft are forced to perform in circuses flying unnaturally low or to fight to the death for the entertainment of national leaders.
7. Middle Age
During middle-age, aircraft become more emotionally maintenance heavy. Aware that they are half way through their service life many, like this German Tornado ECR, start to wear gaudy costumes in an attempt to recapture the ghost of their youth.
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8. Old Age
The average aeroplane lives to around 7,000 flight hours. By 6,500, the aeroplane will be suffering from embarrassing coolant leaks, a general feeling of fatigue and appalling unreliability. Belts, hoses and gaskets — and anything else that rubs against something else — will need frequent attention. On the positive side, most elderly aeroplanes are thoroughly loved by both humans and other ‘planes. Particularly charismatic geriatrics may even become stars, performing before millions of spectators.
One day an aeroplane will die. Its turbines or pistons will splutter and give up, and it will be hauled away, melted down and turned into sporks. Many aeroplanes, as Zoroastrians, request an open ground-level burial. A ‘tower of silence’ is built – where the bodies are left exposed so their aluminium can be picked from their bones by Vulture UAVs.
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Those wishing to get into arguments with sexually frustrated people they’ve never met, can enjoy the many pleasures of online aviation forums. Here you can enjoy the thrill of illiterate nationalism, faked insider knowledge and the tiresome raw data-sharing of people who, to put it kindly, could be described as ‘left-brain dominant’.
It’s good to share your interests. Though when you talk to people merely because of a shared interest you are opening the floodgates to some pretty interesting specimens.*
Here are some of the archetypes to watch out for in the sweaty corners of the internet infected with aviation forums. Award yourself 5 points for each one you encounter:
Articulate, big-hearted and avuncular, this is the best kind of animal you can encounter on an aviation forum; he simply wants to chat and to share his interests. This lonely voice of maturity can be found trying to quell the petty disputes of adolescences and lonely drunk men in over-heated hotel rooms.
The real pilot/navigator/groundcrew
The real pilot is often informal, relaxed and uninterested in pissing contests (in this context anyway!). He’ll frequently refer to the group he was in (No. 54 Sqn in the 1970s, Qantas in the 1980s etc). The use of jargon feels right and the emphasis is often on aerodynamics and the unreliability of systems rather the ‘catalogue talk’ of those educated by the PR departments of Lockheed Martin and Sukhoi etc.
Rather like the BFG collecting dreams in jars, the DC hoards data. Aircraft registrations, serial numbers, crash dates. To say it’s pointless would be unfair (which hobby isn’t?), but it does seem rather abstract. Variations on this theme, include the ‘Horribly bitter data-collator’ the ‘Gentle librarian data-collator’ and the ‘Christ-he’s-so-boring-I-want-to-pull-my-eyes-out-one-by-one data-collator’.
Mad nonsense from guys who allegedly flew ‘Foxbat’s from Irish aircraft carriers in the 1950s. Well, at least they are showing some creativity.
The bully expert
Gosh this guy knows his onions, but he also could do with growing some fucking humility. Watch him beat down feckless individuals who have the cheek not to have been born with ten copies of Jane’s nailed to their heads. Having said that, this guy will give you the odd scoop and some interesting and often well-expressed views.
The ranting nationalist
This is the worst. To this character, the particular aeroplane type he loves symbolises his nation and their superiority as well as his own sense of self-worth. If the aircraft type he loves is criticised he will descend into either an ill-informed one-sided defence of his aircraft or else racism disguised as opinions about planes (sometimes this is just bare-faced racism).
‘Can anyone help me… I’m writing a book on the sex-lives of Fairey Gannet pilots in the mid-1960s?’.