2452: Aviation Firsts

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Aviation Firsts
Mile High Club membership [✓] [ ] Discovery of parts of Amelia Earhart's skeleton [ ] [ ] Mid-flight incident that results in safe landing on the Hudson River [✓] [ ]
Title text: Mile High Club membership [✓] [ ] Discovery of parts of Amelia Earhart's skeleton [ ] [ ] Mid-flight incident that results in safe landing on the Hudson River [✓] [ ]


This comic reflects the Ingenuity probe's first flight on Mars. Now that Ingenuity has completed its first flight, Mars can be counted among planets with controlled powered flight. The preceding milestones in this list were completed by the first space probes to reach and then land on Mars. Flight, landing and controlled landing were variously achieved by some or all of the prior landers, depending upon your definition of flight, but certainly by the Skycrane element used in landing both Curiosity and Perseverance rovers. These may not have qualified as controlled powered flight as they only used their power to control the landing, before flying off again under power without any more precise control than that needed to intentionally crash elsewhere.

The remaining milestones have only been completed on Earth, if at all, and also grow more bizarre and more specific further down the comic and extending into the title text.

Milestone summary Achieved on Earth? Achieved on Mars? Explanation
Flight Yes Yes All of these milestones were generally necessary for the success of previous exploratory missions on the surface of Mars.
Landing Yes Yes
Controlled landing Yes Yes
Controlled powered flight Yes Yes This comic was released within hours of Ingenuity becoming the first aircraft in human history to take off, fly under its own power, and land, all on a planet other than Earth.
Loop Yes No Although loops are often performed in Earth's atmosphere by planes designed for high-speed aerobatics (such as stunt planes and fighter jets), such aircraft have yet to be deployed on any spacecraft leaving Earth. A loop does not yet seem to be practical or necessary to attempt over Mars.
In-flight meal Yes No Naturally, it would only make sense to serve food on a manned mission to Mars, which has not yet happened.
Planetary circumnavigation Yes No While planetary circumnavigation has been achieved outside of Mars's atmosphere by many Mars orbiters, this is a list of aviation firsts, which would require controlled flight within an atmosphere.
Enormous wooden aircraft built by a reclusive billionaire that flies exactly once Yes No The Hughes H-4 Hercules (the "Spruce Goose") was a prototype wooden airplane, known for being the largest flying boat ever constructed. The Hercules was designed by aviation pioneer (and, latterly, famed recluse) Howard Hughes. The design was intended as a lightweight transoceanic transport for the military, but the prototype, built out of wood because of aluminum shortages during World War II, was not completed until well after the end of the war and flew only a single time in 1947. Since 1991, it has been on permanent display at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, USA.
Hijacking by someone dubbed "D.B. Cooper" who demands money and then jumps out mid-flight to an unknown fate Yes No In 1971, Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 was famously hijacked by an enigmatic man who is best known by the pseudonym D. B. Cooper (although Dan Cooper was the name he actually used to buy his ticket). After being given a $200,000 ransom by the plane's crew, Cooper proceeded to parachute jump out of the plane using the rear airstair and was never confirmed to have been heard from again; many experts agree that the parachute jump was very risky and it's unlikely that Cooper survived. (Cooper was previously mentioned in 1400: D.B. Cooper and 1501: Mysteries.)
Mile High Club membership Yes No The "mile high club" is a slang term for people who have had sexual intercourse while onboard an airplane in flight. Although the notion of sex in space is understood to be severely hampered by the limited life support and the complete lack of natural gravity,[citation needed] it's not certain whether Mars's low gravity (compared to Earth) would make it similarly challenging to have intercourse within the planet's atmosphere.
Discovery of parts of Amelia Earhart's skeleton No No Amelia Earhart was a famous aviator who, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, went missing over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 while attempting a global circumnavigation flight and has never been found. It was previously believed the skeleton of one of them had been found on Nikumaroro island (then called Gardner Island), but this theory is contentious and most scholars reject it today. While there's still a remote possibility that the remains of Earhart and Noonan will eventually be discovered somewhere in the Pacific, the notion of them somehow ending up on the surface of Mars is practically impossible outside the remit of certain conspiracy theories. (Earhart was previously mentioned in 1501: Mysteries, 950: Mystery Solved, and 2197: Game Show.)
Mid-flight incident that results in safe landing on the Hudson River Yes No The Miracle on the Hudson was a 2009 aviation incident in which an A320 operating US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Despite the plane losing all its engine power as a result of the bird strike, Captain Chesley Sullenberger successfully crash-landed in the nearby Hudson River with minimal injuries to the passengers onboard. Of course, it would be highly impractical for a powered flight that encounters a problem in the sky above Mars to then fly all the way to Earth just for an emergency landing in the New York area. It is much more likely that a location on mars would, at some point in the future, be named "The Hudson River" and an aircraft land there safely.[citation needed]
Milestone summary Achieved on Earth? Achieved on Mars? Explanation


[A chart is shown with nine items. To the right of each item there are two check boxes. Above the top row of check boxes are two underlined labels for the two columns. The first four rows have both boxes checked, and the last five have only the first box checked. The last two items are so long that they take up three and four rows of text. The first seven items are written on one line each.]
                                 Earth    Mars
                          Flight  [✓]    [✓]

                         Landing  [✓]    [✓]

              Controlled landing  [✓]    [✓]

       Controlled powered flight  [✓]    [✓]

                            Loop  [✓]    [ ]

                  In-flight meal  [✓]    [ ]

      Planetary circumnavigation  [✓]    [ ]

        Enormous wooden aircraft
built by a reclusive billionaire  [✓]    [ ]
         that flies exactly once

     Hijacking by someone dubbed
       "D.B. Cooper" who demands  [✓]    [ ]
        money and then jumps out
   mid-flight to an unknown fate

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Someone got into editing just as I thought I'd start, so I'll leave it in case there's population of explanation afoot. But I'm waiting for both uncontrolled powered flight (I don't mean retrothrusted landing procedure) and controlled unpowered flight (ditto, not for parachute descents, at least until they make the subsonic ones full parasails). 01:56, 20 April 2021 (UTC)

Uncontrolled powered flight has caused many plane crashes over the years. Controlled unpowered flight is how every glider, including the Space Shuttles when returning from space, "fly" and land. Nutster (talk) 17:24, 23 September 2022 (UTC)

Is there a well-defined distinction between circumnavigation and orbit? 04:13, 20 April 2021 (UTC)

given that the Wikipedia entry for “circumnavigation” includes a section for orbital circumnavigation, and that there exists a book with the title “Round About the Earth: circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit” I think that there is not a well-defined distinction. Intuition is that circumnavigations could be split into two disjoint sets, those done at orbital speed, and those done slower, and that would provide a distinction most could agree with, but I found nothing official to support such a bifurcation. 04:35, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
I'd instinctively suggest that a true circumnavigation would need to be bookended by touching the surface at the same point (or trivially near - different dock of the same port, hard-landed on a companion runway to that taken off from), or beyond and over its starting track before it finishes (like obviously hard to 'navigate' circumnavigating balloons - and not allowed to be too circumpolar). If a future orbit-inserted Mars-flier eventually 'lands' beyond the point it first started to achieve level flight below Mars's equivalent Karmen-line, having travelled all round the planet in the interim, I might accept that as a special case.
So far nothing (but Ingenuity) has taken off from Mars, never mind (ditto) landed again, so all the orbiters clearly cannot be counted by this metric, and no rover has driven far enough to have attempted a surface-bound circumnavigation. A long-endurance rover with an advanced version of Ingy for look-ahead might jointly earn the benchmark as first surface and first (punctuated) flown circumnavigations.
A suborbital semi-ballistic non-stip circumnavigation might be achievable while trying out sample-return technology (though wouldn't be useful, probably only a failure mode of an orbital insertion attempt).
A surface-launched 'Martian weather balloon' might actually be the first success, though. It might be one designed to touch down, at least daily, for opportunistic sampling, but at the the risk of damage due to dragging/snagging. Or a non-stop trip, until it cannot maintain height/bumps into Olympus Mons. The engineering risks of a free-drifting balloon (capable of Martian flight) are probably being looked at by several teams right now for a future lander payload. 12:06, 20 April 2021 (UTC)

where in the comic is the mile high club referenced???? 13:35, 20 April 2021 (UTC)Bumpf

In the title text, along eith Amelia Earhart and the Hudson River. Barmar (talk) 14:19, 20 April 2021 (UTC)

In my new favorite sci-fi series, DB Cooper, who got to know the local bigfoot tribe as a kid, and who is called in adulthood Falls-From-Sky, moves to the planet the sasquatch came from to live with the Starfoot and grow garlic with his grandson Charlie. Jerry Boyd's Bob & Nikki series. And their story is a *subplot*.Seebert (talk) 12:57, 20 April 2021 (UTC)

Flight, Landing and Controlled Landing were variously achieved by some or all of the prior landers, depending upon your definition of flight. I would argue that not all landers achieved a controlled landing. I recall a couple that did not do enough aerobraking and ended up doing too much lithobraking instead and were not functional afterwards. Should that all remain in the sentence? Nutster (talk) 02:06, 21 April 2021 (UTC)

"variously achieved by some or all" means that different landers achieved different subsets. The ones you recall achieved flight (from Earth to Mars) and (crash) landing, but not controlled landing. Barmar (talk) 03:51, 21 April 2021 (UTC)

Hmmm... Reading about how the explanation says "the notion of them [skeletal remains of Amelia Earhart] somehow ending up on the surface of Mars is practically impossible outside the remit of certain conspiracy theories." I immediately had to think on https://what-if.xkcd.com/53/ and https://what-if.xkcd.com/54/ Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 08:33, 21 April 2021 (UTC)

Thinking about Amelia - her remains were supposedly found, dismissed, and lost. So really, there should be a tick on the Earth side there too Baldrickk (talk) 09:41, 22 April 2021 (UTC)

Adding a table to organize everything might be a good idea because right now the description is a bit confusing. -- 13:21, 21 April 2021 (UTC)

What does a "loop" mean in this context? Does it just refer to a satellite orbit? A definition on the page would help, I think. Aepokk (talk) 01:32, 18 May 2021 (UTC)