Mail Delivery By Rockets…..

The history of the postal system is inextricably tied to the history of transport. Advances in transportation technology have not only allowed people to travel farther and explore more territory, it also allowed the postal system to expand their influence over a larger area. As new inventions and discoveries shortened the time of travel, messages and letters began to reach distant recipients in lesser time, and the postal system became more efficient. By the time the first trans-pacific airmail was delivered, the postal service had tried every mode of transport available to man, including rockets.

The cover of a rocket mail delivered in the state of Sikkim, India, on 28 September, 1935. Photo credit:regencystamps.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The earliest type of missile mail was one which you’ve probably seen in historical movies where a parchment is wrapped around the shaft of an arrow and shot through the air into a castle or enemy territory. A more modern version of the idea was presented to an astonished audience by a German poet and dramatist, Heinrich von Kleist, through a newspaper article in 1810. At that time rocketry was still in its infancy. Rockets of that age were gunpowder powered and were primarily used as artillery in battlefields. Kleist amused himself by calculating that a rocket could deliver a letter from Berlin to Breslau, a distance of 180 miles, in half a day or one-tenth of the time required by a horse mounted carrier.

Kleist’s theory was put into practice on the small Polynesian island of Tonga, halfway around the world, by a British inventor, Sir William Congreve, using rockets he designed. But the rockets were so unreliable that the idea of using them in mail delivery was summarily dismissed, and no further thought was put into it until nearly a century later, when Hermann Julius Oberth, a German physicist and engineer and one of the founding fathers of rocketry, revisited the topic in 1927.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hermann Oberth (center, in profile) demonstrates his tiny liquid-fuel rocket engine in Berlin in 1930. Photo credit: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

In June 1928, Professor Oberth delivered a convincing lecture on the occasion of the annual meeting of the Scientific Society of Aeronautics in Danzig, where he proposed the development of small rockets with automatic guidance that could carry urgent mail over distances of 600 to 1,200 miles. Professor Oberth’s lecture generated a great deal of interest throughout the world, and even the American ambassador to Germany took note. But it was a young Austrian engineer that became a pioneer in this field.

Living in the Austrian Alps, the young engineer Friedrich Schmiedl was well aware of the fact that mail delivery was extremely painful between mountain villages. What could be an eight hour walk between two villages could be only two miles apart as the rocket flies. Friedrich Schmiedl was already experimenting with solid-fuel rockets, and in 1928 undertook experiments with stratospheric balloons. After several unsuccessful attempts, Schmiedl launched the first rocket mail in 1931 and delivered 102 letters to a place five kilometers away. The rocket was remotely controlled and landed using a parachute. His second rocket delivered 333 letters.

Schmiedl’s rocket mails inspired several other countries such as Germany, England, the Netherlands, USA, India and Australia to conduct similar experiments with varying degree of success. In 1934, in an attempt to demonstrate to the British the viability of his rocket delivery system, a German businessman named Gerhard Zucker loaded a rocket with 4,800 pieces of mail and launched it from an island in Scotland. Government officials watched as the rocket soared into the sky and exploded, scattering scorched letters all over the beach like confetti. After his failed demonstration, Zucker was deported back to Germany where he was immediately arrested on suspicion of espionage or collaboration with Britain.

Experiments on rocket mail were largely successful in India, where a pioneering aerospace engineer named Stephen Smith perfected the techniques of delivering mail by rocket. Between 1934 and 1944, Smith made 270 launches, at least 80 of which contained mail. Smith created history when he delivered by rocket the first food package containing rice, grains, spices and locally-made cigarettes to the earthquake wracked region of Quetta, now in Pakistan, across a river. Later, Smith tied a cock and a hen together to one of his rockets and launched the frightened birds across another river. Both birds survived the trip and were donated to a private zoo in Calcutta after their ordeal. His next parcel contained a snake and an apple.

Despite his quirky nature and questionable choice of payload, Stephen Smith was wholeheartedly supported by the Maharaja of Sikkim, a British Protectorate in the eastern Himalayas, where he carried most of his rocket experiments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 1934 Indian Rocket Mail. Photo credit: www.stampcircuit.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Indian Rocket Mail from 1934. Photo credit: www.stampcircuit.com

Things didn’t really took off in the US until 1959, when the Post Office Department fired a Regulus cruise missile with its nuclear warhead replaced by two mail containers, towards a Naval Station in Mayport, Florida. The 13,000-pound missile lifted off with 3,000 letters and twenty-two minutes later struck the target at Mayport, 700 miles away. The letters were retrieved, stamped and circulated as usual.

All 3,000 letters were copies of the same written by the Postmaster General. Each crew member of the submarine that launched the missile received a copy of the letter, so did President Eisenhower and other US leaders as well as postmasters from around the world.

“The great progress being made in guided missilery will be utilized in every practical way in the delivery of the United States mail,” the letter read. “You can be certain that the Post Office Department will continue to cooperate with the Defense Department to achieve this objective.”

The successful delivery of the mails prompted Postmaster Summerfield to enthusiastically declare that “before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles.”

But it was not to be. The cost of rocket mail was too high—that little experiment with the Regulus cruise missile cost the US government $1 million, but generated only $240 in revenue by sale of postage stamps. Neither the Post Office nor the Department of Defense could justify the cost of using missile mail, especially when airplanes were already making mail deliveries across the world in a single night at the fraction of a cost.

And that was the end of the program. No further attempts to deliver mail by rockets have been made since then.

Source….. Kaushik in http://www.amusing planet.com

Natarajan

 

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The Pigeons who took Photos ….

At the turn of the last century, when aviation was still in its infancy, a German named Julius Neubronner submitted a patent for a new invention—a miniature camera that could be strapped to the breast of a pigeon so that the bird could take flight and snap pictures from the air.

Julius Neubronner was an apothecary who employed pigeons to deliver medications to a sanatorium located near his hometown Kronberg, near Frankfurt. An apothecary is one who makes medicines. A pharmacist is a more modern word, but in many German speaking countries, such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland, pharmacies are still called apothecaries.                                                                                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apothecary was Julius Neubronner’s family profession. His father was an apothecary, and so was his grandfather. In those days, homing pigeons were used extensively to carry messages and small supplies. It was Julius’s father’s idea to use pigeons to receive prescriptions from the sanatorium and send out medicinal supplies in a hurry—a practice that continued for more than half a century until the sanatorium closed.

One day, Neubronner let out a pigeon on an urgent errand but it didn’t return. When several days passed and there was still no sign of the bird, Neubronner assumed the pigeon was lost, or it got caught and killed by predators. A month later, the lost messenger showed up unexpectedly at Neubronner’s place. The bird appeared well fed, which got Neubronner into thinking. Where had he gone? Who had fed him?

Neubronner decided that he would start tracking his pigeons’ future travels.

 

Julius Neubronner with one of his pigeons.

Being a passionate do-it-yourself amateur photographer, it didn’t take long for Neubronner to fashion a miniature wooden camera which he fitted to the pigeon’s breast by means of a harness and an aluminum cuirass. A pneumatic system in the camera opened the shutter at predetermined intervals and the roll of film, which moved along with the shutter, took as many as thirty exposures in a single flight. The entire rig weighed no more than 75 grams—the maximum load the pigeons were trained to carry.

The pictures turned out so good that Neubronner started making different models. One system, for instance, was fitted with two lenses pointing in opposite directions. Another one took stereoscopic images. Eventually, Neubronner applied for a patent, but the patent office threw out his application citing that such a device was impossible as they believed a pigeon could not carry the weight of a camera. But when Neubronner presented photographs taken by his pigeons, the patent was granted in 1908.

 

 

 

 

 

Aerial photograph of Frankfurt.

Neubronner exhibited his photographs in several international photographic exhibition gaining him accolades. In one such exhibition in Dresden, spectators watched as the camera-equipped carrier pigeons arrived at the venue, and the photos were immediately developed and turned into postcards which they could purchase.

The technology was soon adapted for use during the First World War, despite the availability of surveillance aircraft then. Pigeons drew less attention, could photograph enemy locations from a lower height, and were visibly indifferent to explosions on a battlefield.

Neubronner’s avian technology saw use in the Second World War too. The German army developed a pigeon camera capable of taking 200 exposures per flight. The French too claimed they had cameras for pigeons and a method to deploy them behind enemy lines by trained dogs. Around this time, Swiss clockmaker Christian Adrian Michel perfected a panoramic camera and an improved mechanism to control the shutter. Pigeon photography was in use as late as the 1970s, when the CIA developed a battery-powered pigeon camera, though the details of the camera’s use are still classified.

Today, aerial photography has been replaced by aircrafts, satellites, and more recently, by affordable drones. But the legacy of Julius Neubronner’s pigeon photography lives on in these images which are among the very early photos taken of Earth from above.

Bonus fact: So what happened to Neubronner’s pigeon who stayed away from the owner for a month and returned fattened up? It had flown away to Wiesbaden, some twenty kilometers away, and was taken care of by a restaurant chef.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source…..Kaushik in http://www.amusingplanet .com

Natarajan

 

 

 

World’s Best Airports for 2018 ….Named by Skytrax …Changi Singapore is No.1 !!!

Once again the region’s aviation hubs are leading the world when it comes to passenger satisfaction, scooping top prizes in the prestigious annual Skytrax World Airport Awards.
Maintaining its position at the top of that chart for an amazing sixth year in a row is Singapore’s Changi Airport.
The city-state’s gleaming facilities fended off stiff competition from the likes of Doha’s Hamad International and Hong Kong’s International Airport.
“To be voted the World’s Best Airport for the sixth consecutive year is a fabulous achievement for Changi Airport, and this award yet again demonstrates the airport’s popularity with international air travelers,” Edward Plaisted, CEO of UK-based Skytrax, said in a statement.
The annual awards, which were held in Stockholm on Wednesday, are based on millions of airport passenger surveys and have been dubbed “the Oscars of the aviation industry.”

On top of the world

Changi Airport, which celebrated serving 60 million passengers from almost 100 countries across the world in 2017, has 5,000 arrivals and departures a week, connecting customers to over 200 destinations.
Amenities on offer include two 24-hour movie theaters screening the latest blockbusters for free, a rooftop swimming pool and a sunflower garden that features several varieties of sunflowers grown in the airport’s on site nursery.
This is the ninth time it’s received the “world’s best airport” title at the annual awards in the past two decades.
While there were no new entries among the Top 10, Seoul’s Incheon International Airport moved up one place to No. 2, while last year’s second place holder Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) dropped to No. 3, keeping Asia’s stranglehold on the top slots.
Doha’s Hamad International Airport progressed to fifth place after coming in at No. 6 in 2017, while Munich Airport dropped from fourth to sixth place.

Moving up and down the ranks

There were few surprises in the Top 100, however Rome Fiumicino Airport achieved one of the biggest jumps, moving from 158th place to 85th, while Bahrain International Airport saw its ranking fall from 57th place to number 73.
Vancouver was the No.1 airport in North America yet again, although its ranking dropped one place to 14th.
Denver International Airport came out on top in the United States, claiming 29th place, while Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport fell eight spots from 26th to 34th on the list.
Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport ranked number 48, Atlanta Airport at 50, San Francisco International Airport at 51, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport at 56, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 62 and New York’s JFK International Airport at 69.
Skytrax also singled out airports for a variety of more specific awards, with categories such as food, shopping facilities and even cleanliness.
Tokyo International Airport won the vote as “the world’s cleanest airport,” while Incheon International Airport was awarded for its airport staff.
Hong Kong International Airport was voted the “world’s best transit airport” and the “best airport for dining,” but Japan’s Chubu Centrair Nagoya stole the title for “world’s best regional airport.”
For the full list, visit the World Airports Awards website.

2018 Skytrax World Airport Awards

1. Singapore Changi Airport
2. Incheon International Airport (Seoul, South Korea)
3. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)
4. Hong Kong International Airport
5. Hamad International Airport (Doha, Qatar)
6. Munich Airport (Germany)
7. Chubu Centrair Nagoya (Japan)
8. London Heathrow Airport
9. Zurich Airport (Switzerland)
10. Frankfurt Airport (Germany)
Source…….. https://edition.cnn.com/
Natarajan

Death of Padma Scientist at Airport Spurs Son To Demand Medical Aid at All Airports…

In December last year, Prof Lalji Singh, known as the Father of DNA Fingerprinting in India, died after he suffered a major heart attack while at the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Babatpur in Varanasi.

Death is inevitable. But nothing shocks us more than when a death, which could have been prevented or avoided, occurs due to sheer negligence. Human apathy makes death painful and stark, making us question everything – medical advances, the quality of healthcare, laws, regulations, and the value of life in our country.

In December last year, Prof Lalji Singh, known as the Father of DNA Fingerprinting in India, died after he suffered a major heart attack while at the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Babatpur in Varanasi.

The airport was not equipped to handle this medical emergency, and by the time he was taken to the hospital – a good few hours later – he had breathed his last. The doctors who examined him say that had he been provided with oxygen supply during the “Golden Hour”, he could have been saved.

What makes it even harsher is that precious time was lost in getting formalities like an “Exit Pass” organised for him due to security reasons. What good are processes that are supposedly put in place to keep people safe when they end up killing them?

Up until I started my research for this piece I had assumed that all airports across the country would be equipped to handle emergency medical situations and would also have an ambulance on call.

My assumption was wrong.

If they did then perhaps Prof Lalji could have been saved.

Airports have become a place to shop and eat. They are all well equipped with restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, every brand that you can think of has a presence here, and liquor outlets thrive – and yet one of the most basic requirements of having a medical room with functional facilities is missing.

We, at the Better India, spoke to Late Prof Lalji’s son, Abhisekh Singh, who is asking some pertinent questions.

Abhishek is asking the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Airport Authority of India to mandate the availability of a doctor, ambulance, minimum medical support, trained medical personnel and standard operating procedures at all civilian airports in India.

You can support his cause by signing the petition here.


On December 10, 2017, Prof Lalji was travelling from Varanasi to Hyderabad on an Indigo flight. Hailing from a village in Varanasi, Prof Lalji started Genome Foundation, a non-profit organisation that aims to diagnose and treat genetic disorders affecting the underprivileged, especially from rural India.

Having reached the airport well in time, Prof Lalji enquired about the wheelchair he had asked for while making his booking. He had nagging knee pain and hence wanted the wheelchair.

Unfortunately, the staff at the airport told him that there was no request and they couldn’t provide him with one. Since he was travelling alone, he went in to the airport and checked in.

Abhisekh says, “Since I was not present there at that time, I have requested the airport to provide me with the CCTV footage from that day. However, so far I have not received it. I can only, therefore, corroborate what I am saying with what people present there have said to me.”

After he checked in, a wheelchair was provided. Abhisekh also mentions that around this time he called his father to check on him.

A little after that Prof Lalji faced some difficulty in breathing and went to the counter to ask for help. He was taken to the medical inspection room where the compounder after checking him insisted on having him taken to a hospital for immediate medical intervention.

“While the airport had a medical intervention room there was no doctor or medical supplies there. Looking back they did not even have an oxygen cylinder in the airport,” says Abhisekh.

An ambulance was asked for but since did not arrive Prof Lalji had to be taken in a private car to the nearest hospital which was also quite a distance away. Given the strict security, once a passenger enters the airport, they are not allowed to leave until an exit pass is shown.

Despite being in great distress, Prof Lalji had to wait to have that pass made and only then was allowed to leave the airport.

The doctor who checked Prof Lalji mentioned how he could have been saved if he had been administered with oxygen during the ‘Golden Hour’. Prof Lalji was alive even after the heart attack, but the delay in getting him medical treatment cost him his life.

Here are some of the questions raised by Abhisekh:

1. While there is a medical intervention room, it is virtually of no use.

What is the point of having a designated room in the airport and calling it medical intervention room if there are no trained medical professionals there? In places like Varanasi where even the nearest hospital is quite a distance away, what happens in cases of medical emergencies?

Are these airports waiting for such incidents to occur to act?

2. Should airports not be equipped with basic medical infrastructure?

Unfortunately for us in India, heart disease is still the leading cause of death.

Knowing this should we not be working towards equipping the airports and railway stations, places that see thousands of people day in and day out, with basic medical infrastructure?

An oxygen cylinder, a defibrillator, an ambulance on call?

3. Is there a standard operating procedure in cases of medical emergencies?

Are our airports equipped to handle medical emergencies? Manuals like the Airports Authority of India, Terminal Management clearly states the need to have a well-equipped first aid box ready. This includes a small oxygen cylinder with delivery accessories and a facemask.

The manual also states that it is desirable that an updated list of Telephone numbers and addresses of the hospitals and nursing homes ( indicating the specialised Treatment rendered) in the vicinity of the Airport should always be available with the Terminal Manager.

If these are guidelines then why were none of them implemented on December 10, 2017? Are these guidelines just printed because they look good on paper? Does the DGCA ever audit the airports to ensure that all the norms are being followed?

So important questions for us all.

Abhishek is asking the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Airport Authority of India to mandate the availability of a doctor, ambulance, minimum medical support, trained medical personnel and standard operating procedures at all civilian airports in India.

You can support his cause by signing the petition here.

(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)

Source……. Vidya Raja  in http://www.the better india .com

Natarajan

Phenomenal domestic growth fuels India’s aircraft demand…

India’s exponential rise in both passenger and freight traffic means the country will need 1,750 new aircraft over the next 20 years, according to estimates from Airbus.

With air traffic growth driven by a fast expanding economy, rising wealth and urbanisation, and government-backed regional connectivity programmes, India will require 1,320 new single-aisle aircraft and 430 widebody aircraft over the next two decades.

That’s according to European aircraft manufacturer Airbus in its latest India Market Forecast. It said the total value of the aircraft would be $255bn.

The report predicted that by 2036, Indians will each make four times as many flights as today. As a result, traffic serving the Indian market is forecast to grow 8.1 percent per year over the next 20 years, almost twice as fast as the world average of 4.4 percent.

Domestic Indian traffic is expected to grow five-and-half times over by 2036, reaching the same level as US domestic traffic today.

According to figures from OAG Schedules, domestic air capacity in India rose from 74.2 million available seats in 2008 to 143.2 million in 2017. In the last calendar year alone, domestic capacity increased by 13.8 percent after adding more than 17 million available seats.

The domestic growth comes as India’s government pushes its regional connectivity scheme (RCS), also known as UDAN, which aims to make air travel affordable and widespread.

The programme seeks to develop new and enhance the existing regional airports, as well as connecting more than 100 underserved and unserved airports in smaller towns.

Source…..David Casey in https://www.routesonline.com

Natarajan

Is the car in space giving the man on Earth any benefit? Mathrubootham wants to know…!!!

I fail to understand. How did doing stupid things like this become some kind of achievement of all mankind?

Respected Sir/ Madam,

Many years ago I was invited for a wedding in New Delhi. As soon as invitation card came itself Mrs. Mathrubootham began jumping up and down like Nadia Comăneci. Stupid woman, you drank my Old Spice or what, I said. We go to one thousand weddings every year, what you are acting as if first time we are going for function.

Of course sir/ madam, you know what she said immediately. Exactly. You shut up, old man. First of all it is in Delhi. Which means there will be some change from the usual functions like appalam breaking, Kashi going, turmeric application etcetera. Some music and mono-act will be there. And second of all for the first time somebody rich is inviting us for a posh wedding. What and all will take place who knows. If you want you sit quietly in one corner Mr. Mathrubotham, let me enjoy, she said.

Ok fine Kamalam, but if dancing is there only solo and group dance allowed. Duet dance totally prohibited, have some shame you have grandchildren who are about to start Brilliant Tutorials.

The wedding invitation was from one old neighbour when we used to live in our old flat in Chromepet. In those days he used to have one small electrical shop with bulb and ceiling fans and mixie items. And then he went to Delhi and just five years later became multi-millionaire industrial magnate. Am I jealous? Never, not even one second.

Whether he can sleep peacefully at night after doing all criminal activities and black market and tax chicanery? Never never thousand times never. As for myself I sleep with 100% peace of mind of honest citizen. Once I got on a Coimbatore bus and woke up in Palakkad Bus Depot because of too much peaceful sleep. This is why I am always suspicious of people who wake up exactly on time in the morning. Something is fishy.

Sir/ madam I am telling you this story about posh Delhi wedding because of what happened earlier today. After having breakfast, I proceeded to the living room to relax with a Robert Ludlum novel and a cup of tea. Suddenly my son came into the room and peace of mind went out of the room at the same time. Appa have you seen the news? I said my dear son due to the blessings of many generations of god-fearing ancestors in the Mathrubootham family so far today I have not had the misfortune of watching any TV news channel. Immediately the unemployed scoundrel switched on the TV and said look appa what do you see on the TV?

It looks like a car. Ok, very good, but where is the car? I looked at the TV carefully. I don’t know, I said, but why is a statue driving the car? He said appa, the car is in space, one robot is sitting in the driver seat, it is historic achievement by some American millionaire.

Sir/ madam, excuse me just one second but I fail to understand. How did doing stupid things like this become some kind of achievement of all mankind? Some rich fellow somewhere will spend money in some stupid way and people all around the world are celebrating as if he has discovered zero-calorie rose milk recipe. Car is going around Mars it seems. Please tell me if it is doing even a single millimetre of benefit to a single person on this earth?

Immediately I was reminded of wedding in Delhi. After two or three days of non-stop breakfast and lunch and dinner, on the final day we went to one stadium type place for reception. After some time I asked Mrs. Mathrubootham, hello where is bride and groom, I want to quickly give blessings and go back to hotel. She made some enquiries and came back. Mr. Mathrubootham, she said, are you ready for the greatest excitement? Bride and groom are arriving in a helicopter in one hour. Isn’t it amazing?

I said why is it amazing? Anybody can hire a helicopter. What is there? She said, old man, for you nothing is exciting, at least these people have some imagination. What nonsense, I said. For real achievement maybe bride and groom should run 10 kilometre and come to the reception. Or give free food to 1000 poor people. That is achievement.

Sir/madam, when did spending money like an idiot become some Guinness Book of World Records type achievement? Am I jealous of all these rich people? No chance. To be frank I am jealous of only one thing, the robot in the car. He is enjoying himself far away from all these fools. Lucky chap.

Yours in exasperation,

J. Mathrubootham

Source….www.thehindu.com

Natarajan