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Austintxflight

Where did the phrase, "perfectly good airplane" originate?

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I am just wondering if anyone knows where or when the phrase, "jumping from a perfectly good airplane" came from. I'm sure its hard to track down and pinpoint, but it is so widespread, it is always usually repeated verbatim, just wondering if it comes from a film or book or is it just a turn of phrase that caught on.

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I am just wondering if anyone knows where or when the phrase, "jumping from a perfectly good airplane" came from. I'm sure its hard to track down and pinpoint, but it is so widespread, it is always usually repeated verbatim, just wondering if it comes from a film or book or is it just a turn of phrase that caught on.



Some WWII Air Corps pilots who dropped Paratroopers.
They needed some nifty catch phrase after doing a testicle check and realized they didn't have a pair.
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

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A perfectly good question, although best for History &Trivia.

The short answer:

It goes back to at least 1918 when discussing parachuting from said airplane. And at least 1910 when using earlier names for airplanes, although probably not with reference to parachutes.

The long answer:

One question is how unique it is as a complete phrase, because "perfectly good" is sometimes used with other things. But to what degree?

Sometimes there is an originating point for a phrase -- like how it looks like BSBD could have been inspired by a specific movie tagline from 1971, and then just happened to fit with the skydiving culture of the era. Even if it isn't known exactly who said the phrase first.

Online searches certainly show the "Perfectly good airplane" phrase to be in common use, not just by people talking about skydiving. For example, an MIT aerospace engineering professor used it when discussing a recent airline accident.

Plain web searches tend to get stuff written in the past 20 years for obvious reasons. So I went Google Books search, where I was surprised to see some really old uses of the term. Such as in Boys Life Magazine in 1930, or a story in Popular Science in 1928, or in the American Garage & Auto Dealer magazine of 1921. But none of those references applied to parachuting.

It was used in reference to skydiving in New Yorker or Esquire magazine (I don't recall which) in 1968, so the idea was in circulation among a non-aviation audience.

But the best I could find for talking about parachuting, is from the United States Naval Institute proceedings, Volume 44, Issue 2 in 1918, where they had a quote from someone writing in Scientific American (in 1918 or possibly the year before):

Quote

Another objection which may arise is that the aviator might use the parachute and let a perfectly good airplane be wrecked.



Only a snippet is available to view. A full paragraph can be seen in my attachment. The writer suggests that giving military aviators parachutes is a good thing, that they are responsible enough not to abandon perfectly good airplanes.


But do you really want to limit yourself to today's terminolgy? What about a "perfectly good flying machine"?

In that case, that was mentioned in Practical Aeronautics in 1912 and Scientific American in 1910. The scanned text resolution in the latter case was unfortunately too low to figure out the context.


If someone can find an earlier reference, be my guest:)

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I guess people don't have a problem jumping out of planes that are on fire or whatever.:S



When I started jumping my dad said that when they issued him a parachute as a bomber crewman he thought to himself with a chuckle, "they don't really think I'm going to use this!". He said they used the rigs and anything else they could find as extra protection from flak, etc. by placing them next to their positions in the plane. During one mission all 4 bombers in their element were jumped and hit by Me262 jets. After watching 2 of the planes go down, the one next to them going down in flames, and then realizing that they, too were on fire he said he quickly changed his mind about jumping. (Fortunately, the radio operator was able to get the fire under control by tossing a burning oxygen bottle out the newly made hole in the side of their plane ...good for a silver star. They were able to limp back to England and land at a place called "High Halden") He told me he couldn't believe that folks actually made a sport of parachuting.

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I guess people don't have a problem jumping out of planes that are on fire or whatever.:S



When I started jumping my dad said that when they issued him a parachute as a bomber crewman he thought to himself with a chuckle, "they don't really think I'm going to use this!". He said they used the rigs and anything else they could find as extra protection from flak, etc. by placing them next to their positions in the plane. During one mission all 4 bombers in their element were jumped and hit by Me262 jets. After watching 2 of the planes go down, the one next to them going down in flames, and then realizing that they, too were on fire he said he quickly changed his mind about jumping. (Fortunately, the radio operator was able to get the fire under control by tossing a burning oxygen bottle out the newly made hole in the side of their plane ...good for a silver star. They were able to limp back to England and land at a place called "High Halden") He told me he couldn't believe that folks actually made a sport of parachuting.


If a skydiver had been on that plane, he would have strapped the burning oxygen bottle to his leg and jumped!
It's all been said before, no sense repeating it here.

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I'm pretty sure there were no skydivers on that plane. :D



I bet there was. They just didn't know it because the fire got put out.
:D:D:P



You just may be right! :D I'd bet there were a lot of guys that didn't know they were skydivers until they found themselves watching their ride (maybe with some of their crewmates) spinning in flames below them.

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Great story. Except that oxygen bottles don't burn. Artistic license and all though. :P



Well, yes. The bottle itself wasn't burning but it was causing everything around it to light up. After the bottle was removed from it's mount by the radio operator and thrown out the fire was more easily managed and finally extinguished. I'll try to be more specific next time. Radioman was severely injured and burned and was sent home.

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Didn't mean to detract from the story, it really is a great one. A lot of people think oxygen burns though. Pretty incredible thing to do, grabbing an O2 bottle from an inferno in a shot-up airplane and tossing it out through a hole in the plane. Heroic.
Sometimes you eat the bear..............

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Great story. Except that oxygen bottles don't burn. Artistic license and all though. :P



....................................................................

Maybe pure oxygen does not burn, but it does do realllllllly exciting things with the least hint of grease!
As a young airman, I once watched a leaky oxygen hose start a fire that burnt through the side of a T-33!

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Great story. Except that oxygen bottles don't burn. Artistic license and all though. :P



....................................................................

Maybe pure oxygen does not burn, but it does do realllllllly exciting things with the least hint of grease!
As a young airman, I once watched a leaky oxygen hose start a fire that burnt through the side of a T-33!



Here's the radio operator. I really should try contact his family to get the text of the citation. I think a son lives in Deland.

When/where were you around t-birds?

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All I ever heard it was from Wuffo's at air shows. They must have gotten their glasses at the days equivalent of "Big Lots" Optometry Department. I always liked "Why do you guys jump out of parachutes"? Another doozie was My brother in law jumped 'Airborne in 1961 alot 12 times I think and knows all about. But he never had one of thise flying mattress things.

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