Aviation Marvels

Right now there are over 60,000 people overhead. /

When God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens” (Gen. 1:20, ESV), he probably knew these soaring creatures would inspire imitation. It took a few centuries, but now flight seems as common and mundane as crossing the street.

It may be common, but it is hardly mundane. Aviation is a human creation that suggests the glory of man, that creature made a little less than the angels (Ps. 8:5). Yes, a little less: angels are said to be able to fly with their own wings; humans have to use specially-built craft.

Today those craft are a wonder of technology. A Boeing 747 is made up of 6 million parts. The engines alone weigh 4.5 tons each—and yet they only account for 5 percent of the weight of a fully loaded plane on takeoff. To withstand the landing weight of a fully-laden jumbo jet, airport runways have to be between 2 and 4 feet thick.

This massive piece of steel can not only get off the ground, but also reach a top speed of almost 600 mph. How powerful do these engines have to be? Let’s just say that in May 2000, a chartered jet carrying the New York Knicks basketball team taxied out too close to a line of cars parked on the tarmac; the blast from the taxiing jet flipped head coach Jeff Van Gundy's car into the air and over three other cars, completely demolishing it.

Such power does not come without cost. The 747 burns about 12 gallons of fuel per minute when cruising. Seems like a huge waste. And yet most of today’s aircraft are 70 percent more fuel efficient than jets of the 1960s.

When it comes to computer technology, the 747 is a dinosaur compared to the 777. The former has only 400,000 ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 5 / September 18, 2014
  1. Editors’ Note
  2. In the Beginning Was Laughter

    What does joy look like, and from where does it come? /

  3. Ultimate Hide-and-Seek

    Why is God so elusive sometimes? /

  4. High Praise

    What’s a bird doing flying above Mt. Everest? /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Links to amazing stuff

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