Today: Mary Moore: Mongolia
September 3rd: Barbara Stevens: Her choice of subject
October 1st: Jean Haynes: On being a bailiff
October 15th: Ladies Lunch: Coulsdon Manor
November 5th: Neil Saddler: Canals
There were 34 members present in July including our guest speaker. The Chairman’s Charity collection raised £33.11 donated this month to the Vulcan appeal to keep it in the air. The raffle raised £31. An increase in luncheon cost to £16 per month was announced to cover falling membership. We’re still looking for a Vice Chairman – don’t be shy, please step forward. Phil Munson was made an honorary member and presented with a garden token. For the time being, he will continue to arrange our monthly speakers – any volunteers for the future?
We were pleased to welcome back Reg Baker – amazing recovery. Lionel Downton is still unwell and Eric Jenkinson is nearly recovered from a bad infection following his transplant.
Please advise news of members to almoner, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 01737 202243. Attendance: please notify Andrew Kellard, tel: 01737 554055.
Outings and Events
Maidstone: Thursday 10th September – Cancelled (lack of numbers). Ladies Lunch: 15th October at Coulsdon Manor – please complete the reservation form with your choice of lunch as soon as possible. Need a new form? – please contact email@example.com, tel: 01737 555974. Last Night of the Proms: Fairfield 26th September (own transport). Contact Hugh Roberts tel: 01737 202243, email: firstname.lastname@example.org Annual Quiz: 19th November – please diarise. Contact: Dennis Evans.
July Speaker: Squadron Leader Jim Barnes – Vulcan Bomber
50 tons plus 50 tons of fuel (35 years’ worth for a normal car); 18 railway engines of power; 100? components; 400 rivets. 134 were made; flies up to 64,000 ft; 0.97 Mach (500 mph at 40,000 ft); very manoeuvrable. Take-off – SOUND/VISION. That’s the VULCAN.
WWII 1945 American B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. To be able to work in collaboration with the Americans we had to prove independent nuclear capability. The
RAF had the Halifax, Lancaster then Lincoln bombers but they couldn’t fly high enough, fast enough (to get away after the drop) nor carry the necessary load. Various companies competed on a new design.
Vickers built the Valiant, Handly Page built the Victor which was used to drop the first UK atomic bomb on Christmas Island. Then came Hawker Siddeley’s Vulcan – the first prototype flew 1st August 1952 – it had no ejector seat! It was the first delta wing plane made at Chadderton near Manchester, taken by road and assembled at Woodford. V was for ‘Victory’, not the German Vergeltung (Vengeance).
Jim took us through a mass of technical details for the Vulcan including electrical supply, flying controls, oxygen supply. Jim flew in 1965 – there were five in the crew – despite the huge size and wing span, the cabin was too cramped to swing a cat – very claustrophobic. The plane used radar navigation which required a fixed point to be identified. Accuracy was to 1⁄4 mile but this is good enough for an atomic bomb! Only the pilots had an ejector seat – the rear crew had swivel seats for a quick escape. They wore an immersion suit – a tube rolled out for the necessary!
The nuclear bombers were for mutual assured destruction – the closest we got to it was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The crew were practised in quick reaction alert – a matter of minutes from alert to scramble. Arming the missile required a ground safety switch and no one man could fire. There was much more about fuelling, navigation, exciting descriptions of what it was like in action and a couple of emergencies.
In 1982, the Vulcan went to the Falklands. It needed 18 Victor tankers to enable in-flight fuelling from The Ascensions to Port Stanley. The cold war ended in 1989 and the Vulcan was retired but then a 50th birthday appeal raised enough funds to keep a Vulcan in the air as a display craft. But we’ve finally come to the end – 2015 will be the last flying season, unless. . . .
Editorial – Ian Payne
I’ve always enjoyed astronomy, so this month, as Pluto is in the news, I’ve written a piece on what we used to call the ninth planet but is now demoted to a dwarf planet. I’m sure you all have hobbies you could convert into an article so here is my Editor’s Challenge:
Can you write a piece for Probus based on your hobby be it science, literature, adventure or the arts. But if writing isn’t your thing, throw me a topic and my challenge is to research it and produce an article.
Old Coulsdon Fair Saturday 4th July 2015: The Probus Stall
Chairman’s Outing Thursday 9th July 2015: Horse drawn canal cruise on the Kennet and Avon
Pluto is not a planet – Ian Payne
I’m sure you will have heard of the New Horizons space probe last month reaching the dwarf planet Pluto (diameter 1480 miles) [Earth 8000]. But have you heard of Eris, Makemake, Haumea, Quaoar and Sedna (1450, 900, 890, 670, 620)? If Pluto were still the
ninth planet, then Eris and the others would be the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th planets – not to mention the 120 other Kuiper Belt objects over 200 miles in diameter discovered so far and thousands of smaller ones.
At school we learned about the large planets and the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter formed of thousands of small objects that had never (due to the tidal forces of Jupiter, we now know) formed into a planet. The largest asteroid, Ceres, has a diameter of 585 miles, large enough for gravity to have turned it into a sphere rather than a lump of rock. In the 1990s it was realised that there is another ‘asteroid like’ but much larger belt of small objects orbiting beyond Neptune. It was named the Kuiper Belt. Unlike the asteroids which are made of rock and metal, the Kuiper objects are made of water, methane, ammonia and nitrogen ices – all solids because of the low temperatures so far from the sun.
The Kuiper objects have been hitting each other so many times, that their orbits are highly eccentric (not circular) and many, like Pluto are far from the ecliptic plane. The ecliptic plane is an imaginary disc in which all the major planets orbit the sun – much like the rings of Saturn are in a disc. Pluto’s orbit is nearly 50 times that of the Earth’s at its aphelion and 30 times at its perihelion. Its angle to the ecliptic is 17.1°
whereas the planets are at 0° (Earth) to 3.39° (Venus) with Mercury being at outlier at 7.01°.
The compositions of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, the inner planets, are rocky with metal cores. The Moon, Mercury and Mars are heavily cratered and so would be Venus and Earth were it not for their corrosive atmospheres and plate tectonics. The outer gas giants are banded (Jupiter and Saturn) or bland (Uranus and Neptune).
So what a surprise when we reached Pluto to find a differentiated sphere with craterless planes, mountains and moving glaciers. The mountains are made of water ice with the summits poking through a layer of methane ice and, at the edge of the ‘sea’ (Sputnik Plain), flowing glaciers of nitrogen ice. So Pluto is very different from the major planets but very similar to many Kuiper Belt objects and correctly re-named a dwarf planet.