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Dogfight [by the_gneech]

A Day at the FAST Museum

I spent yesterday, which in the south of England was an occasion of glorious sunny weather, at the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum, along with my One Nice Colleague from the six months I spent at D*m*st*c & G*n*r*l, who lives nearby, and Howard, who rode up from Dorset.

There's a nice collection of aircraft and fuselages outside, with a two-seater Lightning trainer taking pride of place at the gate, but the emphasis indoors is on aeronautical science. Cases hold mysterious objects labelled 'TEST FINGER' and 'DO NOT JAR - HANDLE LIKE EGGS'. A vacuum cleaner and a car tyre compressor are used to demonstrate how the altimeter and airspeed indicator in an aircraft work. In the coffee bar, you can watch a DVD of brave pilots engaged in experiments with stall speed, wing design, water rescue, carrier landings and more.

The star of the show, though, is the British Army Aeroplane No 1, with its fifty-foot wingspan, reconstructed from photos of the aircraft in which Sam Cody made the UK's first powered flight in 1908. Here it is (I couldn't resist messing around with iLife's effects panel):

Cody Flyer
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ases hold mysterious objects labelled 'TEST FINGER' and 'DO NOT JAR - HANDLE LIKE EGGS'

Heh! What were these for?

Nice photo, too. It's hard to believe those planes (the originals) were flown literally over a century ago by now, isn't it?
Mindblowing. And if you showed Sam Cody a modern aeroplane, he'd get what it was for :)

I'm not sure the HANDLE LIKE EGGS thing was labelled - nor was the TEST FINGER, which looked, well, like a model finger.
nor was the TEST FINGER, which looked, well, like a model finger.

Curioser and curioser. Assuming it really was a literal test finger (which, at this point, seems a distinct possibility), I'm at a complete loss as to what it might actually be needed for in the context of aviation. :)
I'm not certain, but if you want a guess I think the "Test Finger" is possibly a joke tool.

Some probes, like temperature sensors are sometimes called "finger probes" (presubably because of sticking your finger in something to see if it's hot or not).

I'd guess the "Test Finger" looking like a model finger is therefore a joke tool based on the same sort of idea "Don't stick your finger in there you'll loose it" "It's ok, I'll use the test finger" or something.

Just a guess though.
Oh, that really sounds quite plausible. Engineers WOULD have that kind of sense of humor.
"HANDLE LIKE EGGS" is the usual label on any sort of gyroscopic device, but what was labelled "TEST FINGER"?
Not 100% sure but it looked like a metal or wooden model of a jointed finger. For pressing really dangerous buttons??
Indeed, "HANDLE LIKE EGGS" is traditionally used on gyros. Some of them also had admonitions about not removing them until an hour after power had been removed - it took that long for the spinny-bits to spin down!

Some could also be irretrievably destroyed if the compressed-air feed (used to support the bearings) was lost while the thing was powered up.

[Sometime I could give you chapter-and-verse on Selsyns and other electromechanical resolvers used in aviation applications along with their strange 3-phase-400Hz dietary requirements]
Aha - thank you for that!
Ooo! That does seem to offer some inviting photographic opportunities indeed. =:D (I'm generally really not one for photo "filters", but that's a rare instance where they genuinely work!)

Handle like eggs - what, boil gently and smother in sausage meat?
The outdoor displays were less photogenic than usual due to the difficulty of not getting a car, lamppost, house in shot - unusually, the museum is right on a main road!