Is it the fuel? Not really. Even though giant passenger jets do guzzle down fuel at a ridiculous 0.67 miles per gallon—seriously, they need 1.5 gallons of jet fuel for every mile traveled—there are so many people on an airplane that the fuel cost gets split down to a much more reasonable price: a per-person fuel efficiency of 104.7 miles per gallon. That’s good! So why is flying so expensive? It’s everything else.
Picking your seat on an airplane is all about strategy. An aisle seat may provide the most room, but you have to get up every time someone wants to go to the bathroom. The window seat is a good option for heavy sleepers, but you make both of your row mates get up if you want to get up and stretch your legs. Sitting in the middle, squished between two people doesn’t have any advantages, and airlines are catching on: aisle and window seats are going to start costing more.
One of my earliest memories as a kid on an airplane is poking in to say hi to the pilots while flying. Obviously, that doesn’t happen anymore, so just sit in with them through this video to see what it’s like to be inside the cockpit of an Airbus A320 flying across Europe. The views are stunning and all that flying equipment looks so fun to press and prod.
Video has now emerged showing the terrifying situation on the interior of the Daallo Airlines flight that suffered an explosive decompression mid-air yesterday, with one person sucked from the aircraft and later found dead, and two others injured.
Wow, this is beyond incredible. Here’s footage of an F-16 launching itself 15,000 into the air in less than 45 seconds. It’s basically a vertical straight shot and you get to see how high—the fighter jet looks like its suspended in air for a moment there—the airplane goes and how small the rest of the world looks in what is essentially the aircraft’s rear view. It gets so high that you half expect it to like, fall back to Earth.
You would never want to look out of your window on a flight and see the airplane wing bend like this but it’s nice to know that Airbus stress tests the hell out of their flying tubes to make sure that even if the wing is at such an obscene angle, it won’t snap in half. It’s really cool to see the process of pushing the Airbus A350 “to the brink” but I also love seeing the huge structure that houses the plane and all the cables involved in testing it.
The picture, above, of a metal grid sitting on the head of a dandelion without disturbing a single feathery tuft may look Photoshopped. But it’s not. It’s a real photograph of one of the more interesting developments in recent materials science—a metal “microlattice” that’s 100 times lighter than Styrofoam.