Sunday, December 04, 2005

Two Reviews

I'll now provide two reviews concerning items mentioned in the Breakfast Flight post immediately below.

First, the new Harry Potter movie:

Best Potter movie yet! Back when we were reading the books the day they came out, there was a discernable difference in tone when the fourth book came out. In fact, one of the more amusing memories of it was when a former neighbor came to our door to warn us that it was much darker than the previous three, and as one of the Hogwart's students gets killed, we might not want to let Co-pilot Egg read it. I found that amusing since Co-pilot Egg has always had an extremely good ability to separate reality from fiction, and had in fact already seen Scar through Mufasa over a cliff to his death countless times without any obvious damage to her psyche.

The movie follows the book pretty faithfully, particularly in that even down to the lighting, sets, and overall tone, Hogwarts is no longer a fun, joyful place. War clouds are looming, and the kids are dealing with ever greater and more dangerous events, including dealing with the opposite sex. In tone, this movie is more like the Lord of the Ring movies than the previous Potter movies. The special effects are, ase usual, spectacular. Nothing makes me want a flying broom more than watching a Harry Potter movie does!

I also wanted to mention how well the heater worked in the RV yesterday. It was 20 degrees or below at altitude, and 24 on the ground. Because an airplane engine is typically air-cooled, it doesn't have the hot radiator water coming through the firewall and into a heater coil like you have in a car. Rather, it has a cuff strapped onto an exhaust pipe, and provides heat by blowing air across the exhaust pipe and into the cockpit. This makes two very large differences between a car heater and the airplane heater.

First, since you're pushing air across the exhaust and from there straight into the cockpit, you have to be very sure that you don't have any exhaust leaks. If you did, there would be a very real chance of filling the cabin with carbon monoxide. That's a bad thing. I mitigate that risk through periodic inspection of the exhaust pipe, and the installation of a throw-away CO detector.

The hose on the right is incoming air, and the one on the left delivers toasty warm, albeit possibly toxic, air to the cockpit. At least that's the way I remember the hoses being configured - I'm going to take a closer look next time the cowls are off.

The second difference is, and I'm going to invent a phrase here, is in the thermal inertia. The dry air heat from the exhaust is much "lighter" than the heated water type of heater in that it warms up far more quickly, but cools off equally fast. As you can imagine, the exhaust pipe gets warm almost immediately after starting the engine, and the faster the engine is running, the hotter it gets. As you pull the throttle back for descent, though, the pipe cools quickly and the heat drops off. Still, there was plenty of heat and I don't think I'll wear the big, bulky bomber jacket next time. Probably the best thing to wear to get a good compromise between thermal protection while prepping the plane for flight and not being too bulky in the cockpit would be my Carhartt-clone overalls that I use for snow removal jobs and letting Hogarth's inner Husky enjoy romping in the snow.

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