Jet Travel in “The Great Acceleration”

When you look up into the sky and you see a jet flying overhead, what do you think?  I guess it depends on your state of mind, your imagination, or even your view on the environment.  Our conceptions of the little glimmering tube floating silently across the sky at 33,000 feet may vary, but anyone studying environmental sustainability cannot help but to notice the soft white streak trailing behind it, and the implications that that streak has on our environment.  Although it is a clear fact that air travel has an immense carbon footprint, and that most of the developed world has some degree of access to it, most aircraft flying today have modern engines that are significantly cleaner than their older counterparts.  As I would assume nearly everyone in our class is under the age of 40, I wonder how this jet travel looked like 50 years ago during the great acceleration….  Spoiler alert: It was bad…

If you fast forward past the shirtless ground crew and the long preparation process to about 5:50 in the video below, you will see what was once a common sight in the skies of America in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, enter the Convair CV-880.  A flintstone era jetliner made for the likes of the American military complex, Delta, TWA, and Elvis Pressley (He had his own Convair).  The 4 high-output engines of its era poured out an immense exhaust trail which would seriously concern any modern passenger, whether environmentalist or not.  As someone who enjoys mechanics and old technology, I cannot say that I enjoy watching the Convair  taking flight in any regard, but the following scene puts into context the amount of apathy American industry had to it environmental impacts during this era.  The video below takes place in the early 1990’s as the aircraft was cleared to fly east to a scrapyard thousands of miles away.  You can hear spectators commenting on the ground that they had to get a special permit in order to make this single flight to the scrapyard.  It is both amazing and sad that although these aircraft are now long gone, their effects and even the effects of their cleaner counterparts still remain

One thought on “Jet Travel in “The Great Acceleration”

  1. Wow, this is so intense! It makes me want to investigate the airplane industry even more and the changes they have made over the years. Thanks for sharing, Nick!

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