The Path to IF and the Last 747

I had switched from aviation science (after getting my ppl) to electronic and computer engineering. And found myself, following an unlikely encounter, engineering spaceflight hardware. But the aviation part of the aviation-space bug still pulled at me during those years where 100% of everything I worked on, left the Earth’s atmosphere (where most of it remains).

Through a tangled series of events I eventually found myself living overseas programming my own flight simulator, somewhat foolishly, in complete isolation (thankfully I had my immediate family around me). It was fully functional for the hardware of the time (functional cockpits, movable control surfaces, 2d cloud layers, runways and buildings, and allowed me to tailor the physics, graphics and aircraft to my personal preference. But the price was very high! I of course questioned why the pull was so strong I’d risk driving myself crazy. I cannot over emphasize how difficult and time consuming this was! It took forever to make any headway, before some reasonable skill momentum was built. I way underestimated the complexity!!

I had to leave my sim development efforts later for reasons I won’t go into. But I was always looking for something that went in the direction of that aviation pull, which I can’t entirely explain. But I needed it to be far less time consuming and draining.

Anyway, at some point IF hit me as being the absolute only answer to that pull. The fit and balance of elements and direction is second to none as far as I’m concerned.

Last 747? As a kid, to deal with my obsession over aviation, my dad gave me a book called “747 Story of the Boeing Super Jet.” Hard bound, full of photos and history, and full of reference to the 747’s chief engineer at Boeing: Joe Sutter. Joe Sutter - Wikipedia I kept re-reading and obsessing over that book (before the internet). So Sutter was firmly in my mind as synonymous with the 707, 727, 737, and 747.

The connection between all this? When I quit my engineering job and we moved overseas, we had to sell our Subaru (descended from an aircraft manufacturer!). Just before moving I delivered our Subaru to the father of a friend of a friend of a friend. I had quite a conversation with him in his home before his daughter arrived.

Coincidentally he had been the chief engineer at TWA working with Howard Hughes. He told me he been appointed by President Reagan to be on the Roger’s commission ( Rogers Commission Report - Wikipedia ), to investigate the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster.

This was an “I can’t process this” steppingstone moment for me between aviation and spaceflight! I had just driven from work where we had been supplying NASA missions since the earliest days of spaceflight. We had been very affected by the Challenger accident, both personally and professionally.

He had worked on the commission with people like Neil Armstong and physicist Richard Feynman (who solved the accident in a dramatic public display with o-rings in ice water).

This Roger’s commission member we delivered our Subaru to, Robert W. Rummel, eventually passed away.

Who wrote the detailed memorial for Rummel? His other Roger’s commission college, Joe Sutter, father of the 747. NAE Website - Mr. Robert W. Rummel

So long 747. Last saw you in the skies last night, along with a sole A380.

But there’s always Infinite Flight.


RIP 747 you will always be the queen of the skys.

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