Apr 062011
Authors: Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer

(The following are current events. Skip to paragraph four for fun facts.)

Six days ago, every airline passengers’ worst nightmare came true (unless you’re Tyler Durden) when Southwest Airlines Flight 812 had to make an emergency landing after a five-foot hole tore open the top of the fuselage at 36,000 feet.

Amazingly, no one was injured, unlike the 1988 Aloha Airlines accident when an 18-foot hole ripped open and a stewardess (that’s what they were called in 1988 before things had to be politically correct) was sucked out of the plane.

Both mishaps occurred on Boeing 737’s, which have been flying since 1967 and are still produced now, though the model is updated.

We decided to do some calculations on Monday afternoon after learning that the plane involved in Friday’s accident had an astounding 39,781 cycles (one takeoff and one landing) in the mere 15 years it has been in service.

That translates into an average 7.3 cycles every day for 15 years! If each flight was an average one hour and 45 minutes, that means this aircraft spent more time in the air than it did on the ground during its 15-year life thus far! Holy wow, as the kids are saying on the Internet these days.

Any haters out there should surely have figured out by now that this topic totally fits our theme because airplanes are obviously the Bieb’s knees when it comes to cool tech. So here are some fun facts about Boeing’s venerable 737, well-known 747 and some of Boeing’s spacecraft.

The paint on a 737 alone weighs 250 pounds.

That’s actually the only interesting thing about 737’s, apart from the fact that they kill people and suck them out into space.

The 747, on the other hand, has an economy class passenger space long enough to accommodate the length of the Wright Brother’s first flight.

There are 6 million parts on a 747, half of which are fasteners.

It took 75,000 engineering drawings to produce the first one. And you engineering majors thought your homework was tough.

The whole fleet has logged over 42 billion nautical miles, equivalent to 101,500 trips to the moon and back.

Ah, the days we live in when we can casually discuss the development of spacecraft over a cup of chai at the Alley Cat.

Boeing is the company that developed the space shuttle, as common a spacecraft that exists to people our age. Though it’s seemingly been around forever to us, the shuttle has only seen 133 launches in its 30-year history. Its final two launches are scheduled for the end of this month (Space Shuttle Endeavour) and the last in June (Space Shuttle Atlantis).

Boeing has also developed many of the systems found on the International Space Station, an orbiting platform that has been continually assembled for the past 13 years.

Boeing is also great at kicking ass, courtesy of billions of dollars yearly from the U.S. Department of Defense.

As of late, the most notable project is YAL-1 or as we like to call it “the shoot stuff outta the air with our giant Rudolf nose lazer” project. It has the potential to more-or-less make our planes invulnerable to missile attack, which is great until people start shooting at our planes with lasers. Pew, pew!

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer thank the gods that Boeing didn’t fund Charlie Sheen’s ‘Torpedo of Truth’ weapon or whatever it was. Comments and questions to verve@collegian.com.

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