Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lindbergh, Paper Airplanes, and the "Nakamura Lock"

Yesterday's homeschool group found us learning about Charles Lindbergh's 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. I loved preparing a timeline of the flight and talking about it with the kids, because Lindy (who lived in "my era" as my husband calls it) has long been a subject of interest. I followed some rather extensive reading trails into the Lindberghs' lives a number of years ago. It would be a lot of fun to come up with a whole unit study surrounding aviation during that time period.

A few fun facts about Lindy's flight that the children seemed to enjoy:
~Lindbergh took only five sandwiches and one canteen of water (4 quarts) for the whole flight.
~The flight took 30 hours and 30 minutes.
~ Because of the placement of the fuel tanks, he had no front windshield and could only look out the side windows.
~He kept the windows open, even when it got quite cold, to try to keep himself awake. He struggled particularly in the first half (or more) of the flight with sleeplessness, partly because he'd slept so poorly the day/night before he took off.
~He only cleared the telephone wires by 20 feet when he took off at Roosevelt Field in New York.
~At one point he attempted to yell to passing boats for directions, but no one was on deck.
~Despite navigating with only a compass (no radio) he was only a few miles off course when he finally came in over land again after his long journey over the Atlantic.

Looking for craft ideas, I hit upon the not so novel notion of having the kids make paper airplanes. It struck us moms as somewhat hilarious that we get to encourage our kids to throw paper airplanes in class. The joys of homeschooling!

I've never been a very good paper airplane maker, so I was very happy to find this page on the Exploratorium magazine website, where I learned to fold a paper airplane using the Nakamura Lock. That special little fold is named after the origami artist who created it. In addition to helping the planes fly better than most of the paper airplanes I've tried in my life, it made me feel like I was in a Star Trek episode. Doesn't the Nakamura Lock sound like some sort of test they'd put you through in Starfleet? Like the Kobayashi Maru.

If you've got budding aviation experts at your house, you might also enjoy this pdf file of connect the dot pictures of famous aircraft in history. The Spirit of St. Louis is, of course, included.


Free Range Anglican said...

Hey, thanks for summarizing what I missed when my cell phone rang! :) It was a fun day all around.

Beth said...

It was. :) S. proceeded to make herself a whole fleet of paper airplanes on Saturday.