Re: DARPA - we have a problem ... but not a fatal one

Message posted by Mark Lincoln on August 13, 2011 at 22:45:55 PST:

I have always thought that dying was a great lesson to miss.

There was a time when a famous (at the time) American test pilot, Jimmy Collins, who was also a newspaper columnist, wrote his own obituary.

It was the last chapter in his book 'Test Pilot'. (Test Pilot by Jimmy Collins, Published by The Sun Dial Press, Garden City, New York, in 1935.)

The chapter is titled 'I Am Dead.' It starts with a editor's postscript that notes 'The body of jimmy Collins was found Friday in Pinelawn Cemetery near Farmingdale, L.I., beneath the wreckage of the Grumman ship he had tested for the Navy. That the body was broken, mangled twisted, in a 10,000 foot crash."

Collin's own words started "I am dead. how can I say that?" "It is by the written word I can say to you, "I am dead." "But there is not only the spoken and the written word. There is also the formless, unbreathed word of mood and dream and passion. This is the word that must have been the spirit of God that brooded over the face of the deep in the beginning. It is the word of life and death.
It is the world of my life and my death. The dream word that breathed life into my nostrils and the breath of life and destroyed me too.
Dreams. And life. And Death.
I had a dream. I Always had a dream. I cannot tell you what that dream was. I can only tell you that flying was always one of its symbols.. . .

The ship was beautiful. Its silvered wings glistened in the sun. its motor was a strong song that lifted it to high heights.
And then . . .
Down out of the blue heights we hurled. Straight down. Faster. Faster. and faster. Testing our strength by diving.
Yes, I had grown older. But grim fear now. The fear of daring and courage. But tempered too with some of the strong power of the old dream now too.
A roar of flashing steel and a streak of glinting. . . oh yes, oh yes, now . . . breaking of wings. Too frail . . . the wings . . . the dream . . . the evil days.

The cold but vibrant fuselage was the last thing to feel my warm and living flesh. The long loud diving roar of the motor, rising to the awful crashing crescendo of it's impact with the earth, was my death song.
I am dead now."
- Jimmy Collins

Thankfully we have become far more competent in design and test.

Jimmy Collins, Test Pilot, was able to write his obituary before it was necessary because it was almost a forgone conclusion.

That he died testing the progenitor of all of the Grumman Ironworks fighters which dominated the Navy's flight decks for half a century is now lost in the mists of history.

Nor now do Communists make Great American Heros and Jimmy Collins was a communist. He was far more a Test Pilot.

I am glad the days when death was a necessary evil of test flying have passed. It is always present as a possibility, but as a probability it is gone.

Just as no test pilot today lives a life which would bring the celebrity of national news columnist, no test pilot today lives with the idea that his final column will be titled 'I Am Dead."

Thank God.

In Reply to: Re: DARPA - we have a problem ... posted by greatguess on August 13, 2011 at 12:58:07 PST:


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