Humans have dreamed of flight for hundreds — if not thousands — of years. And today is no different from centuries ago. Want proof? BBC Culture’s Fiona Macdonald wrote a marvelous story about the making of the book, “Aeronautics in the Backyard.”
“He [Zhang Dousan] retrieved an engine from the wreckage of a light aircraft destroyed in a typhoon, and in 1998, the first plane he built flew continuously for 500 km. It was a light two-seater aircraft with a 6 m-long frame, and Zhang wrote “I’m from Chaozhou. No striving, no win!” on the aerofoil.”
As I sat reading Macdonald’s story — The amazing flying machines of Chinese farmers — I couldn’t help but think I was peering into the workshops of Wright and Curtiss and Poberezny. But these “aeronauts” are alive — and building — today.
As we in the United States fight to keep Santa Monica’s airport open or debate the privatization of ATC, the Zhang Dousan’s of China go about their day assembling aircraft with the dream of flying “only 2 m from the ground.”
What a contrast…