Friday, June 15, 2018

Stick and Rudder available online

The book Stick and Rudder, by William Langewiesche, is now out of copyright and available online! Check it out here:

We at Airball are huge fans! [*]

I believe that, if you cannot explain what you do to a smart 6th grader, you probably have no idea what you are doing. This has informed all my work, on the Airball project and elsewhere.

In Stick and Rudder, I believe we have the best application of that ethos to aviation. Mr Langewiesche manages to describe the phenomenon of flight correctly, but with nary an equation or unnecessary fancy term. In Chapter 7, "What the Airplane Wants to Do", starting on page 109, this is particularly evident -- he boils down what engineers model via differential equations into step-by-step explanations, pretending that time is broken up into tiny "slices" and imagining what happens at each slice and how it affects the next slice. This is technically acceptable at all levels -- it also happens to be the finite difference method for solving differential equations on a computer. But you would not see such needless name-dropping in the book. It's all focused on building intuition.

We believe that, if Mr Langewiesche were alive today, and based on illustrations like these in his book, he would be excited about Airball.

[*] -- The book, being a product of the 1940s, is rather condescending towards women pilots. We are most definitely not fans of that aspect of it.

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