Re: Galileo Day

Michael Lorrey (
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 03:00:47 -0500

Ian Goddard wrote:

> If horizontal velocity translates into vertical
> velocity such that it will allow an object to fall
> faster than an object dropped in a vacuum, as some
> here suggest, then why did the wing from PAN AM 103
> (which didn't shoot upwards and thus fell with all
> its horizontal velocity) not fall faster than the
> rate of fall from zero velocity in a vacuum?
> The wing from PAN AM 103 fell from 31,000 to 0
> in around 46.5 seconds, yet an object dropped
> from 31,000 would fall 34,750 feet in that
> same time period in a vacuum. What gives?
> Why didn't the much-touted translation work?
> See:
> The wing has the most aerodynamically favorable shape
> of just about any part of the plane, so it had every-
> thing in its favor. So, why didn't it fall faster?
> This nulls the argument against my initial post,
> for there's no reason to believe Galileoian
> law would be bypassed by horizontal velocity.

if you were as discerning in researching the possible arguments that would null your own statements....

As your own citation shows, there was thought to be the possibility that the wing could itself (as separated from the rest of the aircraft structure, and thus posessing a different center of gravity than a plane with just its nose section missing) have flown AS MUCH AS ONE MILE from the point of separation, and back, before impacting.

There is no such thing as "most aerodynamically favorable" since different aerodynamic effects are useful for different purposes. In the case of PAN AM 103, the wing section was not loaded down by the whole fuselage anymore, so with a very small wing loading was able to remain in the air longer than normally possible, especially considering that since it no longer had loads on it but its own, it was well balanced for developing a decent unguided glide slope. In the case of the TWA 800 situation, the wing was heavily loaded in the rear, which caused its initial pitch up and eventual stallout at 17000 feet. The stallout would have flamed out any engines that remained running at that point, and the wreck would have pitched over into a steep dive, accellerating to the point of exceeding the wing loading specs as displayed in the CIA video, whereupon the final explosion took place.

If I were you. I would focus much more on what actually caused the initial explosion that separated the nose from the aircraft. The kapton wire insulation theory seems completely plausible to me (I had the opportunity to witness several incidents of kapton insulated wire harnesses blowing up like thermite, when it was used on the landing gear lighting systen on the F-15 Eagle). If kapton was in fact used in the fuel tank wiring as alleged, then the case is all but solved in my mind. If I were you, I'd get extremely agitated toward the FAA and ask them why they continued to insist that kapton insulation was safe for use in commercial airliners after at least ten years of the military branches concluding that it was unsafe for flying and who gradually phased that type of wiring out of use over a couple years. Airliners get far more use in flight hours than military planes. It is a complete wonder that there aren't MORE TWA 800 type disasters than there are.

Even today the FAA insists that kapton insulation is safe.....

   Michael Lorrey, President
                        Lorrey Systems
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