How & Why Wonder Books were… wonderful!

Collage of covers from How & Why Wonder Books from 1960 through to the 1970sI’m currently writing an essay to explain what I mean by “middle class values”, but I’ve been sidetracked into childhood memories about cows (don’t ask!) and rediscovering one truly wond’rous part of my childhood: the How & Why Wonder Book series.

If you can point to one thing that made me the geek I am today, it’s this series of books.

Each one was just 48 pages long, and the illustrations were usually paintings — pretty corny by today’s standards. But they really did create a sense of wonder for the Science and Technology which was unfolding in The Space Age. The first one was issued in 1960 and they ran well into the 1970s.

Looking through the lists put together by collectors intabits and Joe Roberts, I reckon I had at least 23 of the titles.

My favourites were The How & Why Wonder Book of Planets and Interplanetary Travel (insanely optimistic, in hindsight), Rockets and Missiles, Atomic Energy (no nuclear waste here, just atomic trains!) and The How & Why Wonder Book of Robots and Electronic Brains — man, there’s a whole essay in that last title alone, eh?

I bet my mother still has them stashed away in a cupboard somewhere.

Gimli Glider’s last flight

Photograph of the Boeing 767 Gimli Glider after its crash

A milestone in aviation history this week. The Gimli Glider (pictured) made its final flight on Thursday 24 January.

I mentioned this amazing story a few months back. In brief, in 1983 an Air Canada Boeing 767 ran out of fuel at 28,000 feet over Ottawa and the pilots glided it safely to the ground — landing at an old airport which, unbeknownst to the pilot, was not a motor racing circuit. A very, very fine piece of flying indeed.

The aircraft was returned to normal service — there’s nothing a bit of panel-beating can’t fix! — and for the last 24 years has had a normal career.

Hat-tip (and the full story) thanks to Telstar Logistics.

Soap Glamour Pussy

OK, I had dinner with Snarky Platypus earlier tonight, and on the beer coaster in my pocket it says: soap glamour pussy. Apparently this was very important. Explanations please.