Monday, September 06, 2010

Flying Boats


I've had a bit of a thing about flying boats for some time. It was one of the topics I did some serious research into preparatory to writing an article on it, when I first began writing for publication, back in 1988 or thereabouts. I eventually published an article online on the topic, many years after I couldn't find a home for the original piece.

I actually went on a flying boat - or rather, it was called a 'float plane' - last year while I was on holiday in Taupo. Once it's up in the air, of course, it's no different to any other kind of plane (though the original flying boats certainly were different) but it's the getting off the water and landing (if that's the word) again that's the interesting part.

And talking about research (see paragraph one) I came across this note in the Te Ara Enclyclopedia today while looking up information on Orakei: The first flying boat to be flown in the southern hemisphere took off from Bastion Point on New Year’s Day, 1915. It was designed and built by pioneering aviators Leonard and Vivian Walsh, with the help of their sisters and an engineer. Later in the year the Walsh brothers opened a flying school on the Mission Bay foreshore, training 100 pilots for the war in Europe. Flying boats were an important part of the Waitemata scene until 1989.

Until 1989! Flying boats were barely visible after the 1950s, according to some sources.

On another topic altogether (typical of the style of this blog) I've just been looking at a site that's advertising itself as one of a number of online Elementary schools. The site in the link will take you to a kind of overview of online schools, which is okay, but they also feature on this page something called 'infographics.' These are kind of like those posters they used to have up on classroom walls so that the kids could absorb the information day by day (especially at those times when the teacher was being excessively boring).

However, what slightly amazed me were some of the topics. For instance: 16 Things about Hugh Hefner; Stats on Prostitution; A Gun for Everyone; The Brief Guide to Boogers; A Passion for Beards; Striptease....

To be fair, the infographic on prostitution is not salacious: it shows concern for the fact that huge numbers of women are forced into prostitution everywhere in the world, and that many suffer badly as a result. It also discusses trafficking. The Gun poster is subtlely critical of the excessive number of guns in the US.

But the Hugh Hefner one is something I wouldn't want on the wall of any classroom where my kids were studying, and the striptease one is no better. Neither of these take any sort of moral stance; they're written as though Hugh Hefner's lifestyle was in some way admirable, and equally, the striptease one comes across as though it (and its variants, such as poledancing) were a pretty okay thing. (Have you noticed how many programmes on TV now feature a scene in a club where poledancing is going on, often right up beside the characters who are discussing the latest bit of the plot.)

I wonder why anyone thinks this is somehow educational? Think I'll go back to flying boats - at least there are no moral issues with them....

Photo of RNZAF PBY-5 Catalina XX-T - taken about 1945 - place on Flickr.com by 'Adelaide Archivist.'
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