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Full Bird

Should supersonic commercial flight return?

How to Build a Better Plane

Retired Marine Colonel Sebastian “Bastion” Hills stood on the tarmac in Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware. The gleaming aircraft possessed wings that jutted out like fingers. The fuselage was an electronic cigarette and the nose looked normal. No drop nose here. It was unlike any previous supersonic jet or any conventional airplane ever. This day marked the first launch.

“Do you remember what they said about the last one? Sparks, fire, smoke. That’s all that they said,” chief inspector Glen Clemmons remarked.

“Relax, relax. This is about the launch,” Colonel Hills said.

“You were a full-bird. You could have easily gone the general route. You went to work for the Chair Farce. You could have gone into defense rather than the passenger airline construction racket. You could’ve just stayed a pilot.”

“But I didn’t.”

Clemmons didn’t say anything for a long time after that. The two men watched the plane taxi onto the runway. And then–

“But what about the environ––”

“Damn them all. This is not about them, either. I spent twelve years making this bird. I could go back to piloting any day. Those ecologists don’t get it. This is the ablest aircraft going. It will safely carry two hundred passengers from here to Los Angeles in a half hour.”

Colonel Hills cut the ribbon signaling the lift-off of the virgin voyage of the Full Bird. The plane prepared its ascent. The engine sounded like a whoosh and the aircraft journeyed around the tarmac. It came to a stop at the proper place of departure. It zipped down the line with full speed and confidence. It took to the sky like a balloon lifting from a child’s hands.

“If this plane does not land in Los Angeles with every crew and passenger with smiling faces, you can kiss your dream job goodbye,” Clemmons said.

“I’ll consider only the positive. I know the facts. It could go down, malfunction, or some other calamity could occur. I’m not worried about that. Now, excuse me. I have to take questions.”

A woman in a grey suit raised her hand. “Colonel Hills, won’t this project mean more pollution to the environment? How are you prepared to contend with the global warming patterns that will be accelerated by the use of this aircraft?”

Colonel Hills looked down and then up again. “If you say that there is climate change, then that is evident. It’s been that way for the past four billion years on this planet. If you say that it’s man-made, then it has to be regarded by what specific degree by which humans have affected the climate. The fuel that my jet uses actually gives off no pollution whatever. It runs on cold fusion.”

A man in a blue suit wished to ask a question. “We are currently tracking the flight of the Full Bird. It is hovering somewhere over Chicago as we speak.”

Applause broke out amongst the members of the press.

A slender man stood up from his chair. “The speed approaches Mach 3. How can you ensure the safety and functionality of this aircraft?”

“I’ve had the best engineers tinker away at this plane for the past few years. I know where every nut and bolt is on it and I have complete trust in the minds of those who aided in its construction.”

“And the sonic boom?” A man with a blue and white tie asked.

“Is that a question?”

“What are you to do about the sonic boom?”

“It will occur over land and be completely safe and every time that sound is made it will be a reminder of the ingenuity which went into making the plane.”

“The plane has reached Los Angeles.”

Large screens of the jetliner touching down showcased the arrival. Smartphones and devices all displayed the jubilant news.

“Are there any other questions?” Colonel Hills asked.

A short woman with a blue top and red skirt leaped to her feet. “Just one. When can I get a plane ticket?”