Geared Up Nov. 9th Issue

on a wing

Andriy Predmyrskyy                                                                                                                   Aero Stream D

It is a warm day in September. There are people all around, some near vendors, other in nearby buildings. Walking on asphalt towards a barrier, I hear the sound of engines and yelling. On the runway in front of me is a small red biplane, a pitts special. This one has been modified, however. There is what appears to be a small chair attached to the upper wing near the middle, and on it, a lady. The engine starts up, propeller spinning and humming. We all cheer as both pilot and passenger take off. Flying low over the runway they perform tight turns, and loop the loops. I applaud and wonder, how can she stay on? Is it safe? This is wing walking, an aerobatic performance that has been put on since the 1920s to dazzle, amaze, and frighten onlookers.

What brings someone to wing walk, though? What were the first wing walkers thinking as they took their first steps outside the unprotected cockpit? It’s disputed who first walked alongside their aircraft, but it seems that by 1911, several pilots had become known for performing maintenance on their aircraft during flight. The U.S. Air force even began doing preliminary tests into the use of wing walking as a method to refuel planes in flight, having men with fuel tanks strapped to their backs jumping from one plane to the other [1]. Early long-distance flight records were also broken with this dangerous trick [2]. No harnesses, no skills beyond good balance and sureness in your steps.

Naturally, some pilots began to get cocky about their ability to stare a thousand foot drop in the face as they went about repairs or refueling. One such boastful man was Ormer Locklear, who went from serviceman to entertainer, displaying his wing walking skills publicly. Barnstorming was the modern name for aerobatics, and wing walking considered the most extreme. Ormer was featured in a 1920 film, The Great Air Robbery, but his career was cut short when he died later that year during the filming of Skywayman [1].
Famous wing walker and Ormer’s equal, was Ethal Dare, the first woman to do a mid-air plane transfer. Wing walking quickly gained popularity, and new stunts were made: handstands, hanging from the plane by one arm, and any antics that could be done on a small strip [3]. Perhaps the most famous wing walking image hails from this day; there exists an image of two men playing tennis on top of a flying biplane.


Wing walkers playing tennis on a biplane circa 1925

In the early days, several wing walkers died from accidents. However, flying circuses, as aerobatic troupes were called, still persisted. Until the stock market crashed in 1929, more than ten operated in the United States alone, however, activity understandably almost stopped during the second world war, as resources were diverted to the war effort [2].

Today, acts are much safer than they used to be. Any plane used for wing walking must be equipped with a harness for the walker during takeoff and landing, to ensure safety during the bumpier parts of travel [2]. They are also required to wear and understand how to use a parachute [2]. It stays a pastime for some, and occupation for others. There exist many clubs around the world that can train members to wing walk, and performers travel to air shows all over North America and abroad giving demonstrations [3]. The spirit of wing walking persists, as well. Those who seek the adrenaline of feeling the wind flow around you as you speed through the air, performing stunts and defying gravity, escaping death.

That day, at that airshow, were dreamers and daredevils. Some wanted to be pilots, others astronauts, all loved flight, but none were closer to the air, the raw adrenaline of flight than the wing walker. Sitting alone atop her pitts special, putting all her trust in her pilot, the wind, and her feet, she tempted fate, and gave a show I still can’t forget.


[1], ‘A Brief History of Wing Walking’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 05- Nov- 2015].

[2], ‘Wingwalking History’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 05- Nov- 2015].

[3], ‘Breitling Wingwalkers – HISTORY OF WINGWALKING’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 05- Nov- 2015].

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Mech Talks

Pierce Labarre                                                                                                                                   Mech

Mech Talk’s is an article devoted to the many mechanical-based technologies that are abundant in the past, present, and future. This covers anything from the steam engine to the highest end of modern robotics, by describing the function, history and impact on our society. Today, however, the focus will be on a classic example of mechanical technology, and that is the typewriter.

Brother deluxe typewriter [1]

Brother deluxe typewriter [1]

            When you envision a typewriter, you might think of one of the more popular typewriters like a small Brother De Luxe (see to the right) that you might find nowadays at Value Village, or maybe that massive 35lb Remington Standard office typewriter which you found in your grandparents attic.  However, along the timescale of typewriter history these are both relatively new. In fact, many of the original typewriters look like nothing you will have ever seen. A classic example of this is one of the earlier more commercially successful typewriters, the Hansen writing ball (see below), which was released in 1870, and bears little resemblance to what one would envision today as a typewriter [2].

Hassen Writing Ball Typewriter [2]

Hassen Writing Ball Typewriter [2]

Many typewriters like this were made while engineers and designers were trying to come up with the best way to type that would be both efficient, as well as prevent jamming the keys as a result of a user typing too quickly. Hundreds of different designs were tried, resulting in a wide range of styles and functionalities. However many of these typewriters failed commercially, as they were either too complicated or jammed too easily.

Sholes & Glidden typewriter [3]

Sholes & Glidden typewriter [3]

However, in 1873 the creation of the Sholes & Glidden typewriter started what would be known as the modern typewriter era [3]. This typewriter heavily impacted the modern era, as it was the first to introduce the QWERTY keyboard, which is commonly used throughout North America today [3]. Typewriter manufacturing was a completely different issue, however, as typewriters are precision machines having thousands of parts, even sometimes featuring mechanical clearances as precise as 1/64 inch [4]. It is perhaps not surprising then that in the late 1800’s, companies manufacturing typewriters were sometimes also weapons manufacturers, as the precision and multitude of parts was a challenge these companies were well equipped for. The Sholes & Glidden typewriter, for example, was manufactured by Remington [5].

Blickensderfer No.5 typewriter [6]

Blickensderfer No.5 typewriter [6]

Typewriters remained mostly large and bulky machines until about 1893 when George C Blicksenderfer released the first model of his revolutionary design [7]. Although straying away from the QWERTY keyboard layout, his design had hundreds of parts as opposed to thousands. Due to this, the machines weighed far less and were relatively inexpensive, which kick-started the era of the portable typewriter. Although the Blicksenderfer typewriter was first, larger companies like Underwood and Remington quickly released a line of visible typewriters, and with subsequent industry designs that also successfully featured portability, the Bliksenderfer line ended by 1928 [7].

Remington Portable Typewriter No.3 [8]

Remington Portable Typewriter No.3 [8]

IBM electric typewriter model 01 [9]

IBM electric typewriter model 01 [9]

By this time the biggest names in the typewriter business were: Remington, Underwood, Royal, Imperial and Corona, all of whom were competing in the business of portable typewriters. However, in the mid-1930s the market was about to change again. There is much debate as to who released the first electric typewriter, but in the beginning the IBM electric typewriter model 1 was one of the first mainstream electric typewriters [10].

Type Ball [11]

Type Ball [11]

In 1952, IBM added the type ball standard to all of their typewriters [10]. The type ball was one of the deviations from striking the paper with a key lever and resulted in less jamming. This also gave the typewriter the ability to change fonts, as the type ball could easily be removed and exchanged with a different one.

Smith Corona XD 6500 [13]

Smith Corona XD 6500 [13]

A final era worth noting in the history of typewriters, was the increasing dominance of the electronic typewriter, as witnessed in the 1970s [12]. Not only were the type balls replaced with a disk, but many of these typewriters included: internal and external memories, LCD screens, a dictionary with auto correct, and even the ability to be plugged into a computer and act as a printer. These typewriters however were only around until the late 1980’s, before being completely replaced by the computer and the printer [12].

Although now a technology of the past, typewriters have greatly influenced the technology of today, serving to provide a historical foundation to many services we now take for granted. From something as simple as the QWERTY layout and the shift bar on your keyboard, to the autocorrect function in Microsoft Word, the typewriters of the past revolutionized the writing industry, and was a prime influencer of innovation for many generations.

Special thanks to local Ottawa typewriter restorations hobbyist Adam Basquill, for his advice and factual verification on the contents of the article.


[1], ‘Eclectisaurus | Online Typewriter Museum � Brother Typewriter Page’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 05- Nov- 2015].

[2], ‘A Brief History of Typewriters’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 05- Nov- 2015].

[3], ‘Typewriters’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 05- Nov- 2015].

[4], ‘Typewriter Maintenance – Part 2’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 08- Nov- 2015].

[5], ‘The History Center: Typewriters in Tompkins’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 05- Nov- 2015].

[6]B. Kruk, ‘Typewriters 101 : 1894 Blickensderfer No. 5 Typewriter’,, 2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Nov- 2015].

[7], ‘portable_typewriter_blickensderfer’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Nov- 2015].

[8] – The Classic Typewriter Store, ‘Remington Portable No.3 (c.1928)’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Nov- 2015].

[9], ‘IBM Archives: IBM typewriter milestones’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Nov- 2015].

[10], ‘typewriters / the first electric typewriters’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Nov- 2015].

[11], ‘IBM Selectric Typewriter Resource Page’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Nov- 2015].

[12], ‘Electric Typewriter – Dead Media Archive’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Nov- 2015].

[13], ‘typewriter: electronic typewriter –�Kids Encyclopedia | Children’s Homework Help | Kids Online Dictionary | Britannica’, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06- Nov- 2015].

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From the Ground Up – Carleton Students Who Fly

Erfan KhademAgha                                                                                                                     Aero Stream A

Why did you decide to become a PILOT?


Erfan KhademAgha

What a good question. The first thing you probably predict to hear from me is that I have or had loved ones, family or friends who are pilots and that I want to be like them in the future.  However, that is not my case. As far as I know, I have nobody in my family who is as crazy as I am in aviation. So when I wanted to answer this question, at first I thought it was going to be easy. I could just start with some cliché answers like “flying is the most fantastic feeling I have ever had”. Although this is honestly true, it is not enough to say this is my whole story.

It’s not enough, because the duration of that pure feeling of joy and passion cannot be enough to sustain. It could be just a general feeling of flight that all humans have. But now, after working more than 8 years in the aviation field and dealing with the vast majority of aspects of the aeronautics industries, I am incredibly proud and certain to put all my passion and feeling about being a pilot and expertise in aviation in these few words:

How can you not fly when you live in a time in history when you can fly? When I fly, the airplane stands for freedom, for joy, for the power to understand, and to demonstrate that understanding. Those things are indestructible.

It is definitely tough and there are lots of difficulties in order to achieve one’s dream, but giving up on my dream of becoming a pilot would only mean giving up the happiness in my life, and giving up on myself. This is my only life dream and I wanted this to be achieved and not only to be hoped for. There are times when the going gets tough; hope seems to be shattered and dreams seems to be getting far away, but I do believe, I do have faith as I know that with great determination comes great success. It has been my ambition ever since I was 9 and as I go through difficulties in life, I would only see myself getting closer to becoming what I really want to be. The competition is strong and tough, but I will not give up on what I promised myself. There are lots of people out there fighting for their lives daily, so who am I to choose not to fight for my dream and to give up? I have faith, I have courage, and I am determined. I am prepared to go beyond whatever it takes to BE A PILOT. I will not sit and wait, but I will take the chance!

Now, I think I can start to answer this question directly. I don’t remember or even don’t know when this crazy enormous passion about airplanes and aviation emerged in me, but I do know exactly when I stepped into this long and mysterious adventure of my life; a life dream that has been with me since 8 years ago.


I entered to aviation world by getting my certificate of designing and building radio controlled (R.C.) airplanes at 2007. I started to design and build dozens of R.C airplanes. Even though I would achieve two invention patents in 2008 and 2009, those didn’t satisfy my excitement of flight. I was asking myself why somebody else would do the test flight of the airplane that I made. This led me to get my unmanned aerial vehicle pilot license in 2009, a license that gave me a feeling of controlling a flying object.  This achievement not only thought me all the theories of flight and principals of physics and aerodynamics I know, but it also gave me the ability to become a pilot of large-sized unmanned aircraft and drones. Nevertheless, I still didn’t want to stop there, I knew that I have a big goal in my life and will not stop proceeding forward until I attain it.


After gaining 5 years of experience flying a vast number of R.C airplanes and helicopters, U.A.Vs, and multi-rotors, I stepped into the biggest and most serious stage of my life. I got into Carleton University as an aerospace engineering student while trying to pursue getting my Private Pilot License parallel to my studies at Carleton. This is exactly when that I started to dream myself in the cockpit of an Airbus A380. I was and I still am incredibly certain that I will never stop fighting for my future until the day that I say:

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, from the flight deck this is your captain speaking…”

Erfan with his Cessna 172

Erfan with his Cessna 172

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gaelan's title

Gaelan Kirby                                                                                                                                           Cive

Normally after the first year of university concludes, after being away from home for the first time, many students return home for summer break and get a part time job. I was planning to do this as well, but I ended up with a paid summer internship foreshadowing a tenure professor and assisting them with their research.

Gaelan Kirby, recipient of NSERC USRA

Gaelan Kirby

Over this time, I was able to develop my problem solving skills and had the opportunity to apply what I had learned in my first year of engineering to various problems. This position introduced me to the world of research, and has opened up further opportunities for me to work on exciting research projects in the future.

Now, how do you get involved with something like this?

If you’re an undergraduate student in engineering, you’ll have to apply for an NSERC USRA (National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Award *out of breath*). Last year, students with a high CGPA were sent an email with details and information on how to apply.

The application process depends on you finding a professor to do research with, and on your grades. It’s a competitive process, to my knowledge ~24 students are selected by the faculty each year to participate in the research.

So if you work hard and keep your grades up, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to have an awesome summer!


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