NerdGuy Fridays #4: cargo planes, turkeys ,and more turkeys

Cargo Planes

I seem to be writing a lot about big cargo planes at the moment. Don’t worry, I’ll get over that soon…maybe.

These are fascinating machines. If you ever want to boggle your mind a bit, find the perimeter road of some major runway, then park right under the end of the runway. I’m always awed at our ability to throw massive objects into the sky as if it’s somehow a normal thing to do. A320s, 737s, 767s, Bombardier… It’s just amazing to watch the endless stream of them roaring aloft.

If you’re lucky, you might see a 747-800F (freighter–the biggest production plane flying today) or a rare Antonov AN-124 Ruslan Condor (now #2). If you’re near certain military bases (or can make it to an airshow–I’ll be at the one in New Brunswick, Maine this August if you want to geek out together), you’ll hopefully see the big 3: C-130 Hercules (we’ll meet one in Miranda Chase #3, Condor (which is mostly about the AN-124 Condor), and really get to know it in #4 Ghostrider), the C-17 Globemaster III, or the monster C-5 Galaxy (which is also in #3 but is featured in the Miranda Chase origin story Galaxy–available exclusively in an upcoming collection called Origins of Honor.) By pure chance, both Condor and Origins of Honor release on March 10th, 2020. (Just sayin’ you might want to pre-order them now.)

Anyway, imagine if you will that a plane can take off weighing almost a million pounds (460 tons!). In addition to the plane itself and the fuel it needs, it can carry a pair of 70-ton Abrams M-1 main battle tanks. These are the tanks that are so heavy, President Trump was told he couldn’t have them in his military parade because they would break all of the bridges around DC. And the C-5 can deliver its cargo up to 8,000 miles away, not counting mid-air refueling.

The cargo bay is forty yards long, 13.5′ (1-1/3 stories) high, and as wide as a two-land road. In 1903, the Wright Flyer, with a maximum take-off weight of 745 pounds, flew thirty yards. The whole flight would have fit inside the cargo bay (except the wings were a bit too wide). And even in it greatest flight–in which it reached an altitude of thirty feet–it wouldn’t have cleared a C-5 Galaxy’s fuselage without at least banging on the roof.

Go to an airport, sit at the end of a runway, and witness the amazing things we can do.


So, we have several flocks of wild turkeys who live in our neighborhood. (It’s Massachusetts, so it seems appropriate.) You never knew quite when you’re going to be tooling along down a narrow two-lane, winding through the trees… And slam to a screeching halt because the flock has decided that its time to cross the road.

Sometimes, when my wife and I are out walking, we’ll hear them calling to one another. We’ll peek over a hedge so that we can wave at them. (They probably don’t care but it cheers us up.) One time we heard a very odd turkey call in a wide-open yard–like it was strangling on a grape or something (yes, I’m thinking of that scene from one of my favorite books, The World According to Garp). But there were no turkeys. We kept looking for them, wondering what was going on. We finally spotted a crow, sitting in a tree above our heads, making a turkey call. If we hadn’t seen its beak moving, we wouldn’t have believed it, but its true. (Here’s a poor example, right at 6-8 seconds in if you listen carefully:

Since we’re talking turkeys

And more on that topic, we often wondered where they nested at night as we also have fox and coyote around here.

One evening just a week or so ago, I was out walking in the chill evening…a really lovely time with just amazing light. It’s also a great time to walk alone and brainstorm on a book.

Anyway, I was startled by the sudden movement of a big bird. I looked up and found the answer to my question.

Turkeys in trees
A flock of turkeys roosting 30+ feet up in the trees. (Take that Mr. Coyote.)