2774: Taxiing

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I don't understand why anyone would pay full price for a flatbed truck rental when you can buy 'DETOUR' signs online for like $10.
Title text: I don't understand why anyone would pay full price for a flatbed truck rental when you can buy 'DETOUR' signs online for like $10.


A marshaller marshalling, indicating the airplane should stop. Or possibly a Sith. (From Wikimedia Commons)

In this comic, Cueball is directing an airplane with marshalling wands onto a ramp that leads onto a trailer. The caption reveals he is not an actual aircraft marshal, but is trying to steal the airplane by misleading the real pilot. Randall, as Cueball, says the "glowing wand things" were bought cheaply on the internet, much cheaper than it would have been to buy the plane he is now stealing.

Stealing a very large plane this way does not work, for the simple reason that an Airbus A320's main gear bogies are 7.6 meters apart; and those of a Boeing 737 5.7 meters. No trailer is that wide. Even transporting the fuselage alone (A320: 3.96 meters wide, B737: 3.76 meters) would need a police escort on the road. This problem can be solved though, by the timely acquisition of a police car (donut: $1.50). The plane Cueball is attempting to steal is clearly much smaller than this, as its nose is barely higher than Cueball's head, but is still big enough to almost certainly create loading and/or transportation issues without further advanced planning.

Marshallers stand or walk on aircraft pathways and use marshalling wands to direct planes around while they are taxiing. Another part of the joke is that the apron of an airport, the area where marshallers most often work and where airplanes will typically be parked during trans-loading of passengers and cargo, is also referred to as 'the ramp', mainly in the US, Canada, the Maldives, and the Philippines.

The title text mentions doing a similar thing, but with detour signs rather than glow wands and flatbed trucks rather than planes. Cueball may have used this tactic to obtain the truck he is loading the airplane onto.


[Cueball is waving two orange sticks in the air, one in each hand. They are glowing as indicated with small orange lines all around the orange part. The handle he holds them by is black. Cueball is pointing one stick to the left where, behind him, is a ramp that extends beyond the panel. The other stick is held up in front of his face and he looks up onto the front end of a large plane. Only a small part of the plane is visible, mainly the very tip with just a bit of the window into the cockpit shown. The underside of the tip is gray, the rest is white with the window in black.]
Cueball: ...Keep going...
Cueball: ...Slightly left...
Cueball: ...Okay, good...you're lined up with the ramp...
Cueball: ...Now pull forward slowly up onto the trailer...
[Caption below the panel:]
I don't understand why anyone would pay full price for an airplane when you can buy those glowing wand things online for like $30.

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I don't understand why you would buy Detour signs, when you can often so easily pick them up for free from the side of a road... :P 20:35, 10 May 2023 (UTC)

I don't understand why you'd take detour signs for free, when people can pay you to watch you steal flatbed trucks. 20:37, 10 May 2023 (UTC)

But would an airplane even fit on a truck? Or on a treadmill for that matter? 21:11, 10 May 2023 (UTC)

Depends on whether you want to take the plane complete with wings attached, and on how big the flatbed is, and for that matter on the size of the plane. Thisfox (talk) 04:16, 12 May 2023 (UTC)
Depends on how far you want to take the aircraft. You could just move it to some other part of the airport. There are a few airports that cross national boundaries which could make a relocation more interesting. May be worth mentioning the aircraft tractors at Orly Airport. These had a ramp that the nosewheel rode on, a flatbed could be used the same way. Orly public relations claimed it used these tractors because of unusually large taxi distances at the airport, but it was probably because they were French. 19:10, 12 May 2023 (UTC)
Towbarless Tractors (not all with 'ramps', but may grip and raise the front wheel) are practical for a number of reasons. They dont need to be self-ballasted to be able to push/pull the nosewheel (the plane adds weight enough, to prevent the powerto the wheels just spinning them) and there's no need for a towbar-connector (complicating the dynamics of turns/reversing). Loads of slightly different designs of Pushbacks for airliners, despite some of the more usual common design features, like ultra-low profile (barely more than the necessary height of the wheels, perhaps) to facilitate getting entirely underneath the nose/fuselage of planes. 20:42, 12 May 2023 (UTC)
Here is a X-15 in a truck (wings and stabilizer disassembled): https://www.alamy.com/stock-image-photograph-of-the-x-15-research-aircraft-being-trucked-to-cleveland-162597234.html?imageid=0AC6CC18-40AD-4D4F-8A92-1368529CE832&p=75935&pn=1&searchId=76793ef026a859439e41c5fe56343a84&searchtype=0 In a book I have there is a picture of the plane being trucked from the factory to the base, but I couldn't find it in a quick serach. Rps (talk) 17:07, 15 May 2023 (UTC)

On TV, you don't even need detour signs. Just hack their GPS for free. Jordan Brown (talk) 22:51, 10 May 2023 (UTC)

I would have expected Black Hat to be doing something like that, not Cueball. 23:15, 10 May 2023 (UTC)

That was my first thought, too. Or even Beret Guy. 00:30, 11 May 2023 (UTC)Pat
Black hat would be sending the airplane into a recycling facility (see bottom lines of text), and Beret Guy would be raiding it for scones. Or turning it into scones. 03:48, 11 May 2023 (UTC)

As a pilot, i would not follow these glowsticks onto a trailer due to safety restrictions on how far away the wheels should be. That's why airports are so big. 06:36, 11 May 2023 (UTC)

Sometimes, one could see an airplane on a flatbed truck. Some flatbed trucks (or rather trailers) are HUGE. However, presumably the plane had not taxied onto the trailer under pilot control and its own power, but had been lowered by a crane, which had a completely different set of "marshalls" -- 08:26, 11 May 2023 (UTC)

Weird. Almost back to back "Did you know you can just BUY...?" comics. 08:36, 11 May 2023 (UTC)

Nothing to say about the comic itself, but I just wanted to express how funny this explanation is, between the proposed solution for the police car requirement and the description for the added image. I never knew we could add images in this way to make explanations clearer! 12:17, 12 May 2023 (UTC)

Is this a comment(ary) on the people online who say "I don't know why people pay so much for (xx) software when you can just buy a licence online for $15"? (talk) 11:25, 15 May 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Probably more a general 'life hack' thing, rather than that example. Buying software online, physical for delivery or licence-only with download, is often subject to many deals that can outcompete the bricks'n'mortar stores, but that's true for just about anything. But "buy this <handy kitchen gadget> and you'll never have to buy pre-<whatevered> <foodstuff> ever again" seems to be more the kind of current vogue it's building off of. 16:13, 15 May 2023 (UTC)

It might be worth adding to the explanation that there are _multiple_ people involved in parking a plane, both on the ground and elsewhere. The pilots, for example, would surely not follow commands to do anything but park where the tower told him to. (This adds to the one-person-misleads-sheeple funniness, methinks.) Dúthomhas (talk) 22:03, 15 May 2023 (UTC)

That ramp looks rather steep. How steep a slope can an aircraft climb under its own power? (Assuming v. low speed, not flying speed or even ground effect speed) 09:41, 13 June 2023 (UTC)

Given that a plane can point into the air and rapidly gain altitude (e.g. when rotating off the runway at take-off, I expect there's plenty of engine power in most aircraft. At low speed there's less air-resistance (which normally needs punching through, even on level flight), but here you're swapping over to rolling resistance (plus rotational inertia as the front gear neess to be forced up, rather than the pitch of the body changed by aerodynamic forces by flight-speed winds upon the elevators/other surfaces) and whilst a plane can build up level speed and temporarily sacrifice that for height (beyond that gained by the "level lift" of horizontal wings), if there's not much 'run up' then you don't get that here (and if there is, then the front wheel assembly (and its connection with and through the fuselage spine) needs to be rugged to survive the 'bump'). You only need to nudge the wheel up a few feet,vthough, and then it's on the level truck-back (plane inclined but moving horizontally), with the positioning of the rear gear dictating whether the rear needs pursuading to hoist itself up by the same amount or not. (Beyond the immediate scope of the comic; presumably Cueball is prepared for whatever is necessary, at least as much as he is for dealing with the necessary wingspan clearance once the truck drives off, however-so-loaded.)
But while I'd say that probably not all planes could go up a vertical ramp (those not designed as tail-sitters, certainly), there's probably quite a decent slope that most such craft could power-taxi up, even if they had to totally throttle up like they normally would for take-off and the resulting climb to altitude. The pilot (and possibly the engine management computers) would probably notice this as very unusual under ground-movement conditions, but the force of personality that the glowy-stick-things convey seem already enough to have convinced the pilot to approach the trailer, so..? 10:12, 13 June 2023 (UTC)