That’s Interesting

The Ercoupe Celebrates 75 Years and we join in at the College Park Aviation Museum

ErCoupe Advertizement for Aviation Museum Coupe Club DanceI think I have a new favorite musuem. This last weekend, Renee and I visited the College Park Aviation Museum for the ‘Coupe Club Dance, a 40s themed party in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Ercoupe. And before you even ask, no, before this event I had not idea what an ercoupe is. However, after a bit of quick reconnoitering I quickly learned (they had a great scavenger hunt to discover facts about the plane). And of course, I can never resist a good cause, all proceeds from the evening benefit the Field of Firsts Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to support the museum’s educational and exhibit programming.

The Ercoupe is a low-wing monoplane aircraft. The ERCO 310, which included a fully cowled engine, made its first flight in October 1937 at College Park Airport and was soon renamed the “Ercoupe”. The easy-to-fly design included unique design features, including a large glazed canopy for improved visibility. It was designed to be the safest fixed-wing aircraft that aerospace engineering could provide, and something that anyone could fly. It seems the design and advertizing were focused on making it as simple and as ubiquitous as the automobile. To the point that they were even sold at Macys!

And as a bit of itneresting trivia: Jessica Cox, the world’s first licensed armless pilot, got her Sport Pilot Certificate for an ERCO 415-C Ercoupe. She didn’t even need to make any modifications to the plane. The Ercoupe’s design made this the perfect plane for her because it was actually built from the beginning without rudder pedals. Instead, the rudder is interconnected with the ailerons through the yoke. This unique design allows Cox to control the airplane with one foot controlling the yoke while the other foot controls the throttle. Cool, eh?

ErcoupeSalesFloorClose DayandPlane AviationMuseumSimulator AviationMuseumReneeSimulator AviationMuseumRubbing AviationMuseumPropellers

Waiting for @Pontifex with 15,000 other people and one little black dog

Today, Gamma and I were at the White House to welcome His Holiness Pope Francis. Although I have issues with some of his views, I have to admit, I was very excited for this particular Pope. Rather than some of the previous emphasis on what I conidered “petty dogma” he seems to embrace the broader view of Catholicism and of his role as a guide and father.

I came to the Church through an amazing and very forward-thinking nun. As a result, I believe very strongly in the social justice responsibility of the Church. Under Pope Francis, this is the first time I have heard that same commitment from the Vatican – words that ask us to rededicate ourselves to those who are in need, to our planet, and to each other. As such, I was thrilled to be able to attend. 🙂

I’ll admit, when the young man in front of me, who was a part of a group of amputees, stood up and yelled “Viva Papa,” and the crowd cheered, I teared up a little.

And, at the end of the whole ceremony, when another man yelled, “We love you, Pope Francis!” and the crowd roared its approval, I cried.

Pontifex White House Invitation

Pontifex Visit

Crowd on the South Lawn of the White House waiting.

Gamma Pontifex

Gamma waiting

Interior Text:

The ARRIVAL CEREMONY – A Brief History
Today’s arrival ceremony maintains many of its original precepts dating back to the early days of the Republic. Yet the program has evolved along with our Nation. During the Truman administration, the visitng Chiefs of State and Heads of Government would be met at Washington National Airport with an honor guard. The visitor would review the honor guard and President Truman would give remarks of welcome followed by the visitor’s remarks. The President and his guests would then proceed to their vehicles and drive to Washington with a motorcade that would be met with an escort of marching troops and bands.

For President Eisenhower’s administration, the air terminal was changed to Andrews Air Force Base, but the tradition for the parade remained. The ceremony site was the West Grounds of the Washington Monument, and later the Ellipse.

President Kennedy’s administration brought the arrival ceremony to the South Lawn of the White House. The welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn provides a beautiful site for a warm and dignified welcome for the foreign visitor.

Image below is from the Washington Post

Pontifex 1x-1

#Science for #Writers or Why I Want to be an Engineer – #TeslaCoils

Nothing has made me want to be an engineer more than this video.

And then I had to understand how it worked.

Diagram of a Tesla coil.


Text: Named for its inventor, Nikola Tesla, this machine transforms energy into extremely high-voltage charges, creating powerful electrical fields capable of producing spectacular electrical arcs. Besides the lightning-bolt shows they can put on, Tesla coils had very practical applications in wireless radio technology and some medical devices.

A Tesla coil is made of two parts: a primary coil and a secondary coil, each with its own capacitor. The two coils are connected by a spark gap, and the whole system is powered by a high-energy source and transformer. Basically, two circuits are connected by a spark gap.


1. The transformer boosts the voltage.

2. The power source is hooked up to the primary coil. The primary coil’s capacitor acts like a sponge and soaks up the charge.

3. Electric current builds up in the capacitor until it reaches a tipping point. The current streams out of the capacitor into the coil. Once the first capacitor is com-pletely wrung out and has no energy left, the inductor reaches its maximum charge and sends the voltage into the spark gap (basically a gap of air between two electrodes).

4. The huge voltage current flows through the spark gap into the secondary coil. The energy sloshes back and forth between the two coils.

5. The secondary coil has a top-load capacitor that concentrates all the current and can eventually shoot out lightninglike bolts.

The idea is to achieve a phenomenon called resonance between the two coils. Resonance happens when the primary coil shoots the current into the secondary coil at the perfect time that maximizes the energy transferred into the secondary coil. Think of it as timing a push to a swing to make it go as high as possible.