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Q-talk 54 - Nov/Dec 1995 - index

NOV/DEC 1995


DATAPT - The Single Date Point Thinker

by Jim Masal

Our world would be terribly underdeveloped if the discipline of science hadn't come up with the "scientific method" of investigation. We would still be groping along, possibly in ox carts, clinging to myths and speculative behavior, which would serve us poorly in our passage through life. Medicine men would be our healers and chewing various weeds and tree barks would be our prescriptions.

What saved us from that fate was a logical and precise scientific method to investigate a plethora of observed phenomena. This method allowed mankind to separate real truth from suspect myth. For example, say you happened to land on the surface of the moon, you reached down and picked up a rock, which turned out to be a hunk of green cheese. If you then left the moon with only this one sample, this one data point, you might get millions of people to believe that the moon is made of green cheese. After all, you have evidence.

The scientific method would not permit that. Without reviewing the entire semester of Science 101, suffice to say that, among other things, the scientific method requires multiple samples and repeatability ... preferably involving multiple researchers. If, say, 98 of 100 samples taken all around the moon turn up to be green cheese, scientists would then begin to believe in the green cheese theory, but not before.

Now we Americans consider ourselves to be pretty sophisticated, what with mandatory (?) high school, junior and senior colleges, PBS and all, but we still periodically revert to cave man, single data point thinking.

The other day an out-of-the-loop (and maybe loopy) non-QBAer called with a typical story: he'd just bought a Q2 kit in a very good deal and wanted to know if anyone else had tried any or all of his list of "improvements" he intended to make. His list was developed from conversations with the now ex-builder who went on at length about the squirrelly ground control and other assorted maladies of the Quickie types.

Contemplating extensive changes to this design based on a conversation with one individual who had neither finished building nor operated one of these aircraft is single data point thinking at its best. (No mention was made as to whether the ex-builder had 10 years of our data to draw on.) When will these misinformed amateurs cut this crap out?

The point is, don't be goofy. None of you insofar as I have observed is the equal of John Thorpe, Dick Van Grunsven or Burt Rutan. These designers spent thousands of hours talking to other engineers and pilots, consulting textbooks, scribbling on napkins and experimenting with hardware, i.e. collecting thousands of points of data BEFORE formulating their design ideas. It is hare brained for someone to run over at the mouth about massive changes to a proven design with only a thimbleful of general conversation as data. And there are plenty of hare brains out in aviation land. Don't waste my time with your fanciful delusions. Enjoy them in the comfort of your own Lazy-Boy recliner. IF and when you wake up:

For starters, we have over 600 pages of Q-Talk that should be digested. Then a visit to Oshkosh and/or Sun 'n Fun to consult with MANY experienced builders and operators is mandatory. Make sure you have some substantial data that indicate a change is necessary and make sure a change is not just compensating for your poor pilot skills that would be better solved by an investment in training. Let me say that again: don't change the aircraft design because you can't or won't make the effort to improve your pilot skills.

That could be called RULE #1. RULE #2 could be: don't be a hare brain and make a design change based on one or fewer data points.

Y'all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, yuh heah!


Other Articles In This Issue

LETTERS - by Tom Moore
CLASSIFIEDS - by Tom Moore
BONUS ISSUE for 1995 members - by Jim Masal


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