Stan Vernooy, one of the top reviewers on Amazon.com leads his review of this book with “You want your 10-year-old to win a Nobel prize some day?” and he may be only slightly overstating the importance of this book in forming the lives of some of the best of our generation. I often tell the story about how I got kicked out of Sunday School for asking too many questions and showing up armed with a slide rule. This was a long time ago but I remember I was worried that “heaven” would not be large enough to accommodate me. I had done some calculations as to populations (past present and future) and asked something about what the size of heaven might be. I was excused from further attendance which pleased me and didn’t seem to upset my parents very much. More time to work in my home laboratory and read. This book provided the answers to most of my questions and allowed me to move on in my quest for knowledge.
I have a pilots license (private, instrument rating) and because of this I often receive forwards from other pilots relating to aviation. Recently I received this one…
In addition to communicating with the local Air Traffic Control facility, all aircraft in the Persian Gulf AOR are required to give the Iranian Air Defense Radar (military) a ten minute ‘heads up’ if they will be transiting Iranian airspace.
This is a common procedure for commercial aircraft and involves giving them your call sign, transponder code, type aircraft, and points of origin and destination.
I just flew with a guy who overheard this conversation on the VHF Guard (emergency) frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai. It’s too good not to pass along. The conversation went something like this…
“Iranian Air Defense Radar: ‘Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.’
Aircraft: ‘This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.’
Air Defense Radar: ‘You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!’
Aircraft: ‘This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter. Send ‘em up, I’ll wait!’
Air Defense Radar: (no response … total silence)
On the surface this seems to be a variation on the typical school yard bully challenge. But upon reflection, isn’t it about the power of our technological superiority? Or, to put it another way, “our engineers are better than your engineers”.
There are concerns expressed in the electronic engineering trade journals about the future of engineering. Those of us who grew up in the run-up to being the technology leading country in the world recall the days when building radios from kits was a beginning of a life in engineering… or at least an appreciation of how such things are created.
I was fortunate to have been friends with Scott Crossfield while he was flying out of my old hangout, Leesburg Airport (KJYO). We spoke often about the race to technological superiority with the Soviet Union and the role he played in that race. For more insight into this read his book Always Another Dawn (free).
So, if you have a curious child on your list, give them this book. Think of it as investment in America’s future.