Browsing Tag: Planes

Time to tell the second part in our Planes, Trains and Automobiles story!

Time to tell the second part in our Planes, Trains and Automobiles story!

Not long ago, I published the first half my Planes, Trains and Automobiles adventure that I experienced with my wife Brittany. I have been on many types of trains through my years (miniature, Christmas, rollercoaster, light rail, even stepped on a Lego train by accident once), but never on an 18hr overnight trip in my own little suite — I was stoked!

I ended my previous story with a great cliffhanger… our odd, yet interesting, little toilet in the very small roomette. I know that you all have been waiting to hear more about it, so I won’t keep you waiting.


Before booking the train tickets, I read that there was a toilet in the room. I also saw the size of the room. I didn’t know how it would be possible, but those engineers have some talent. The sink you unlock from the wall and it easily folds down. It can be a little weird to use since the bowl fills up, and the water drains from those holes in the back, when you are folding the sink back up. So, if you have too much water in there, and you are on some bumpy track… good times.

Image of our roomette on Amtrak - Image: Amtack

The specifications and lay out of our Amtrak Silverliner Roomette – Image: Amtak

I don’t want to give TMI (Too Much Information), but I feel that I need to tell you a little more about this toilet before moving on. The room has windows to the hallway, and there are thick curtains, with magnets, to give you privacy. Visually at least. I mean, the toilet is along the hallway wall and people are walking by you, so the whole thing is just… well… unique. Doable, but unique. There are also other toilets available (some which offer showers), so there are other options. Okay, I promise that is the last time that I will mention the toilet.

Let’s get back on track (Get it? Track. I get to use train puns instead of airplane ones)…

Drawing of Davinci's Ornithopter

Drawing of Davinci's Ornithopter

Introduction from David: My mom has always loved birds and I have always loved planes. We have talked about the similarities a lot and she loves reminding me how birds were around before planes. I asked if she wanted to put some thoughts down for a blog on the concept of birds, planes and flight and she was more than happy. Here are her thoughts in her own words…

For eons and eons, birds had the skies to themselves. Even though there were insects and bats, birds were the dominant aviators.

Man would look up to the skies from Earth and marvel at the wonder of flight. The shepard with his flock, the fisherman at sea, the Indian on the plains would enviously wish that some day they could soar above the mountains, prairies and oceans.

For thousands of years, Man could only wish for flight, so the birds were free to tease the earth-bound. As the years progressed, humans began to study birds and how they can defy gravity. It probably began in China in about 400BC with the invention of kites.

Wings were obviously important to flight. Many early attempts at flight tried using the flapping of wings like birds. These attempts all failed because the shoulder muscles of birds are so much stronger than humans, plus the fact that birds have hollow bones, making them much lighter.

So Man floundered in his experiments with flight.

The turning point seems to have begun during the Renaissance with a man named Leonardo Da Vinci. Yes, that Da Vinci! He was a scientist and inventor as well as an artist. He was intrigued with flight and believed humans could conquer it. In 1485, Da Vinci wrote, “The bird is a machine that operates according to mathematical law. It lies within the power of man to make this instrument with all its motions”. To try to prove this statement, DaVinci produced a hundred drawings of what he called the ornithopter, and even though there is no proof that he created a model that flew, it is considered the forerunner of the helicopter.

So Man began to realize that perhaps it was possible to break the bounds of gravity and soar like an eagle!

It took another 300 years for the hot air balloon to be invented by the Montgolfier Brothers. Then during 1799-1850, Cayley invented the glider and realized the importance of a tail( birds knew that!) and the need for a power source.

Later in 1891, Lilienthal showed that a glider could fly a person and go long distance. Based on a study of birds and how they fly, he wrote a text. And this text was studied by the Wright Brothers who also through experimentation, created that historical flight at Kitty Hawk. Their first flight traveled 120 feet and lasted 12 seconds!

The rest is history! From the time of the first flight until putting a man on the moon was less than seventy years-one generation. In fact, my grandmother who was born in 1878 and died in 1973 saw during her lifetime the entire evolution of the flight of Man!

So now Man has conquered the skies and now dominates the air. Birds, who once were his inspiration are now a nuisance.

What are we doing so man and birds can coexist? Stay tuned for Part 2 early next week.