WILL HE KILL HIMSELF? Aeronaut poster

He Jumps From the Clouds!


  1. I like that he’s a professor. These days you’d probably have some grad student or adjunct doing it.

    In other news, meteors fall to earth at 12 mph.

    1. Typo… you missed a zero? If you’re talking terminal velocity, Mr. Meteor would be falling around 120mph, or more than 10,000 feet per minute in the units of the poster. So averaging his free-fall and float, the poster is probably accurate.

      1. I assumed what he meant was… the poster says the professor falls at 1000 feet per minute. It also said he drops like a meteor. Which meant, by that logic, a meteor falls at 1000 feet per minute.

        When it don’t.

        So either meteors are moving at 12 miles per hour (which I think is the average running speed for an adult) or he’s really not dropping like a meteor.

        1. Average (median) running speed for an adult human is about 15 MPH (~24 KPH).


          Given the constants of an ideal (unperturbed) atmosphere with a logarithmic pressure gradient from 0 to 1 atmospheres over 8.5 kilometers, with an ideal gravitic constant of 9.81 m/s^2 extending from the Earth in all directions for a distance of 300 kilometers (to simplify this math), at what speed must a 1-meter diameter ideal pure iron sphere be travelling when it reaches 8.5 kilometers from the surface if it is impinging upon the 8.5 kilometer boundary at a 45-degree angle, in order to reach a velocity of 12 MPH immediately before Earth surface impact? Use quadratic drag and the standard ideal thermal inertia of iron, and include an ideal ablation from thermally-induced melt / sublimation (if any) without axial tumble. Show all work.

          1. “Average (median) running speed for an adult human is about 15 MPH (~24 KPH).”

            Over what distance? 15 mph is a 4 minute mile, a feat that wasn’t accomplished until 1954. While most adults in reasonable running shape might be able to handle 15 mph over short distances, a 4 minute mile still achieves bragging rights.

            And btw, average != median.

      2. Yeah, I was going by 1,000 ft/min, which is roughly a mile per five minutes, so 12 mph. Not exactly meteoric in my book, but hey, it was the olden days, so maybe meteors were a lot slower then.

        I’ll give him credit for coming up with a clever trick on the units, though. 1,000 ft/min sounds fast but not sneaky. If he’d said “720,000 inches per hour!” you’d have known something was up right away.

    2. Absolutely!

      “Just jump, Higgins, I promise you’ll be featured prominently on a slide in my talk”
      “But sir!”
      “Ok, ok, you can be 23rd name in on the abstract, if you do a good job”
      “But what if I don’t make it”
      “Well, there;d be no point in putting you on the abstract then, but you can be first in the acknowledgments.”

    3. “In other news, meteors fall to earth at 12(0) mph”

      Fox News, which practices fair and balanced reporting, sez that there was a “Boy Hit by Meteorite Traveling at 30,000 MPH”


      either that boy was made of titanium or fox news was wrong
      (or possibly he was wearing a diamond ring and that’s what the meteor hit)

      in any case, sir and/or madam, the interweb disagrees with you

  2. “He Lives Years in a Moment”? I don’t think that’s how relativistic time dilation works.

  3. Twenty five cents! Why, its highway robbery.
    I would have stood just outside the fence to see if he killed himself or not.

    1. Would you have had access to the tons of fine refreshments and women showing off their ankles? I THINK NOT!

      Spring for real admission and be a part of society, pal!

      1. Feminine ankles you say? Ahem… harrumph. Egad man, one might have to reconsider this small price of admission.

  4. Ah, the real showmanship of a bygone era! Take that, Lady Gaga! Back in those days, it took more than a funny wig to shock American audiences.

    I’d pay more than a quarter to see it … don’t forget, “Millard and Thyle’s Military Band will be in attendance.” Somebody’s got to pay the marching band.

    Gossamer is, what — spider silk? How does that help him “shoot” to the Earth at a constant rate? Perhaps 1,000 ft/min is an average velocity.

    Prof. T.S. Baldwin is my new hero. According to a bio on this page he was buried in Arlington Cemetery in 1923 after a life filled with adventures and “epic flights” — but I can’t really tell exactly what were the circumstances of his death.

    Still, fly on, Professor Baldwin! Our hats are off to you in this more timid age.

  5. Gossamer is, what — spider silk? How does that help him “shoot” to the Earth at a constant rate? Perhaps 1,000 ft/min is an average velocity.

    What was a gossamer silk balloon on the way up becomes a gossamer silk parachute on the way down.

  6. from his bio:

    “First recorded B-Flight 1869 from Chillicothe, OH (at age 15) in self-made balloon”

    Dude was a maker at a young age, bravo!

    These days, we’d totally have a YouTube video of that. *sigh*

    He lived to be 69, disproving the old saying, “There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.” This dude qualified, for sure.

    1. These days he’d be fined by the FAA for impinging on commercial airspace and failing to file a flight plan.

      1. Well, you’re not actually required to file a flight plan (though it’s a damned good idea, especially if you’re flying over remote areas). But yeah, they’d get him for something, probably the TSA for not going through a porno-scanner first.

    2. Chuck Yeager is also still alive. He was pretty bold, breaking the sound barrier with two broken ribs :)

  7. I think he dropped EXACTLY like a meteor, assuming said meteor was attached to a gossamer balloon. Did you guys forget about the balloon, for pete’s sake? It is GOSSAMER !

  8. Pretty gutsy to plan this in advance and put up posters. Minneapolis in May could certainly have been very windy. The assembled crowd could have witnessed his ascent, then had to hike miles to find out if he survived.

  9. OK, all you engineers need a little educashum regarding language, I guess. When one thing is said to be like another it can be like it in many different ways. Analogy works by mapping some property or properties of the analog to the target. The more properties mapped the stronger the analogy is considered to be, but you can’t map all properties across. Otherwise the one thing would BE the other instead of providing some help by being like it.

    When our professor says his fall is like a meteor he is referring to a free fall through the atmosphere to the ground. The speed is not a necessary part of the analogy. There is no error or prevarication involved.

    If the reader mistakenly assumes he means at a fantastically fast rate of descent . . . well, Professor Baldwin can hardly be held to account for the illiteracy of his audience.

    1. When our professor says his fall is like a meteor he is referring to a free fall through the atmosphere to the ground. The speed is not a necessary part of the analogy. There is no error or prevarication involved.

      So would it be correct to say that my arthritic 13-year-old Golden Retriever runs like a cheetah? I mean, the mechanics are pretty much the same, and they’re both yellow. Nah–cheetahs go fast; that’s their connotative thing, with respect to a discussion of their motion. Likewise with meteors. The Professor’s not even moving fast for a typical human who’s falling through the atmosphere!

      I’m just yanking your chain, but this is what people do with puffed-up ad speech: we let some of the air out. It has to be pretty absurd before it’s any fun at all to do that, but the 12 mph meteor qualifies. Besides, it’s really the Professor’s fault for giving us an accurate measure of his speed so that we can see just how bad the analogy is.

  10. Everyone’s talking about the gossamer but I can’t believe nobody’s mentiond the mammoth silk!

    How did they even collect that?

  11. ADMISSION………..25 CENTS

    This guy is risking his life for quarters. I’m going to pretend he’s an avid pinball player.

  12. There is an airport named after Baldwin in the city of Quincy, IL.

    It’s a a small regional airport, but it was at one time the site of the World Free Fall Convention up until 200, I think.

  13. I was going to make a comment about the Quincy, Ill connection. Thanks for doing that Adam!

    1. That whole page is amazing! An exploding airman! A burning kennel! A mortgage holder bombing! 106 years ago was crazy!

    2. I like the “Wife’s shriek Wakes Crowd” headline. Because what, they were all asleep during the show?

  14. @rumblefish: “is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.”

    “buried” or “cratered”? Oh, nevermind..

    @snon “when the multiple sticks of dynamite blew up his balloon before he got out” – the link says:

    “DYNAMITE IN AIRSHIP KILLS AN AERONAUT; J.E. Baldwin and Balloon, 1,500 Feet Up, Vanish in Smoke…. John E. Baldwin, an airship navigator, was blown to atoms”

    So who or what is buried in Arlington?

  15. Oh my goodness, that is AMAZING. The poster itself is such a cool piece of history and art.

  16. YEAH! Way to stick it to turn of the century advertising – or as I like to call it – lies. I bet he’ll think twice before making that claim again.

    Now maybe you can take on Dr. Hollingworth, whose miracle elixir, which has cured neither my goiter nor my hemorrhoids, despite the claims on the bottle.

  17. I’m thinking “like a meteor” is a decent analogy for a time when there were very few things that would free fall from two miles up…

  18. While recent experiments with arrested-fall towers have demonstrated that human ability to perceive the passage of time does *not* improve as a human’s level of fear increases, they have shown that the *density* of memories laid down in the brain during an emotionally-heightened experience is greater — which, upon recall of the event, makes it seem as though it lasted longer.

    The curious consequence of this is that one literally can live more in less time: By doing emotionally arousing things (pleasure-arousing, fear-arousing, excitement-arousing — doesn’t matter), one can boost the intensity of memories one acquires, and thus the amount of time it feels like one has lived.

    Thus: Old, bold, or otherwise, one imagines the intrepid Prof. Baldwin, in comparison to say, a contemporary file clerk, really *did* live years in moments.

  19. “blown to atoms”
    what a wonderful phrase, I aspire to be blown to atoms one day. Or just blown.

  20. I’m so disappointed that no one attempted a solution to bardfinn’s math problem… but not so disappointed as to attempt it myself!

  21. 25 cents’ admission is a bargain — only half of what you’d have to pay to watch the elephant jump over the fence.

  22. As long as we’re talking about falling, we should mention Col. Joeseph Kittenger, the man who took “The Longest Step.” In 1960, as part of the Air Force’s Project Excelsior, he parachuted from a high altittude ballon at 102,000 ft. (31,ooo meters) while wearing a space suit. He free-fell for more than 4 minutes, reaching in the rarefied atmosphere a velocity of 614 MPH. He opened his main chute at 18,000 ft. Kittenger went on to be shot down in Vietnam and spent 11 months in a North Vietnamese prison camp. He si still alive, and even in retirement continues his interests in aviation. More data here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kittinger

  23. I would guess that when they say “The Ballpark” they would mean Nicollet Park, home of the defunct Minneapolis Millers. It was the first place Wheaties was advertised.

    There’s just a plaque and a Wells Fargo bank there now. :( Oh, well, it’s not like it would still have been structurally sound, and the Millers are long gone. Still, Ted Williams and Willie Mays played minor league games there with the Millers.

  24. Love it — been a Skydiver for 38 years a Beatles Fan for 49 years been to the World Free Fall Convention in Quincy when It Was called The Freak Bros Convention run By Roger Nelson 5,000 skydivers regestered — Im Freak Bro 1735 — Met Joe Kittenger last summer in Orlando FL– got his book and an autograph 50 years after his jump –record still un broken ! Avg Speed at term in FF is 115 mph most say 120 too many variables — for a human –like bod position — On your head in a no lift –I think the record is over 250 mph below 15,000 ft — Joe almost hit the speed of sound from 102,800 no resistance that high! 25 cents –we do it for free for the Benifit of Mr Kite Still have not had the pleasure of meeting Chuck Yeager — but have friends who have — Two delightful people

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