Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blue Side Up???

As I read over my initial post, I remembered that my intended audience includes a lot of people with limited access to flying and thus limited understanding of the vocabulary and illustrations that are bandied about among those who fly. As such, you probably scratched your head at the sign-off of "keep the blue side up."'s what it means: all airliners (and most small planes) have an attitude indicator. This instrument is connected to a gyroscope of some kind that allows the display of the attitude of the plane, even when you can't see the ground. By "attitude," I don't mean cranky, happy, sad, or melancholy...but rather the relationship between the nose of the plane and the wings of the plane to the horizon. You can see where the nose is pointed relative to the horizon and you can see the bank angle of the wings. This allows you to know the attitude of your plane in the weather and at night. Without it, you cannot ascertain the attitude because your normal senses lie to you. This can have disastrous consequences...just as JFK, Jr learned too late; he had the instrument, but didn't know how to use it properly.

Anyway, typically the "sky" portion of the instrument is colored blue and the "ground" portion of the instrument is colored brown. Thus, if the brown side is "up"...then you are upside down! That's not a bad thing in a plane designed for aerobatics and it's done intentionally; but it's really not a good thing in an airliner! So we endeavor at all times to keep the blue side up. That makes for happy passengers and fewer lawsuits! "keep the blue side up" means to "keep things aright."

Keep the blue side up!!!

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