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by Ron Cruger
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        Last week I wrote about “The Oasis of the Seas,” the newly launched ship that’s five times larger than the “Titanic.” Some readers expressed their cynicism about the value of going on a cruise ship larger than some of the counties in which they live.
        Others wondered if “The Oasis of the Seas” carried enough lifeboats to save all passengers and crew if a disaster struck (yes it does).
        One reader commented that all “The Oasis of the Seas” needed to be named an official city was a 7-11 store, a gas station and a Costco.
        But wait, we have another pretender to the growing list of behemoths. Now we have flying above our heads the new Airbus A380, the world’s largest airliner.
        For those of you whose memories of puberty have long since faded you may remember the first time you saw a Boeing 747 flying overhead and wondered how anything that large could stay floating in the air above you. Now, along comes this Airbus A380 which will once again test your powers of belief in physics.
        To begin, the Airbus A 380 takes something less than forty seconds to begin and end its takeoff procedure and gain access to blue skies. Once free of land it can soar to 43,000 feet and fly at 560 miles per hour. Airborne the massive plane can fly non-stop for 8,000 miles.
        This, the world’s largest airliner, can accommodate 853 passengers, sardine-style, but airlines such as Air France want to offer comfort to its passengers, so it limits the head count to 538 travelers. Next time you’re at your local Costco store count 538 people and picture them sitting shoulder to shoulder (in coach). If you really want to stir your imagination picture the 538 passengers all wanting to be fed at the same time. Furthermore, picture the 538 souls all wanting the same relief from the bottle of beer, water or soda they’ve just consumed. Air France will have to install traffic signals to avoid gridlock in the aisles.
        The design of the Airbus A380 began in 1994. It’s taken Airbus fourteen years to get this colossal machine off the ground – literally.
        Many airports, at which the new plane will land, have had to enlarge their runways and rebuild their baggage and passenger facilities. After all, having five or six hundred passengers deplane and all wanting their luggage immediately was a problem to be solved before the Airbus A380 lifted its wheels off the tarmac.
        There are beds in first class, bars and a stairway for first class passengers. There are six bars onboard and passengers are invited to mingle as long as they stay in their own stratum. As a touch of class flat screen TV’s show previews of the New York City and Paris cultural scenes. Future plans include installing casinos, double beds, gyms, shower spas and a Duty Free Shop. One wise guy asked if they plan on putting in a couple of bowling alleys!
        Up front it will only take a two pilot flight crew to steer the ship, plus a large contingent of stewards and attendants.
        The Airbus A380 is seventy nine feet high, its length is 238 feet, 8 inches. It’s wing span is 261 feet, 10 inches.
        If you’re not an aeronautical engineer and one day you find yourself staring skyward at an Airbus A380 flying above you, ponder this…empty, the plane weighs 610, 700 pounds. Loaded with baggage, food, drink and human beings the Airbus A380 tips the scales at 1,234,600 pounds.
        Picture the equivalent of a 500 ton office building with wings flying seven or eight miles above your head.
        So, next time you stick your head out your front door to check the weather and you see the skies darken, don’t run for your raincoat and galoshes, it just may be an Airbus A380 flying overhead.