Aereality: Essays on the World from Above by William L. Fox

By William L. Fox

Photographs AND A STORY

PART 1: Out West
1 Targeting
2 Earthworks
3 The Pit . . .
4 . . . and the Stack
5 The Horizontal City
6 The Angels of Mulholland Drive
7 Surveillance

FLYING WEST TO EAST

PART 2: again East
8 Time Flies By
9 The September 11 Trail
10 The Vertical City
11 floor Truth

FLYING NORTH TO SOUTH

PART three: Down Under
12 Mount Kosciuszko: 2,228 Meters (7,310 Feet)
13 Pennyroyal
14 Lake Eyre: forty nine ft lower than Sea Level
15 Lake Eyre: 4,500 toes Above Sea Level
16 Alice Springs
17 Over Canberra . . . and l. a.

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Qx6 22 O U T 1/13/09 12:58 PM Page 22 W E S T The World War II bombers that flew out of Wendover included the largest, heaviest, and most expensive war machine ever made at the time, the B-29 Superfortress. Its wings were as long as a football field and it weighed in at more than 100,000 pounds. Mike’s brand-new “CTSW” made by Flight Design of Germany is as far down the size scale as you can go and still be classified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an airplane. Flight Design started out in the 1980s as a builder of ultralights, which I always think of as model airplanes barely large enough to carry a single person.

He had staked out the land for the curving and slightly ascending earthen ramp, a partial circle 140 feet in diameter that was planned to rise up to fifteen feet and be surrounded by a shallow reservoir behind a small dam built for that impoundment. Late in the afternoon he climbed into an airplane with a photographer to document the site, and shortly after takeoff the plane crashed, killing all aboard. Today the red earth ramp is slowly washing away, and despite efforts by the owner’s ranchhands to keep the mesquite cleared from the piece, it’s a losing battle.

When you’re walking across the salt flats, you can see how they organize into larger sets of the same kinds of polygons the size of a tabletop. qx6 24 O U T 1/13/09 12:58 PM Page 24 W E S T aggregate into still more massive figures. It’s a fractal phenomenon because it is self-similar at all scales, and it reinforces the cracking of the earth’s skin as a metaphor of time winding down in an entropic heatdeath. We follow the raceway straight for Floating Island until the plane’s Global Positioning System (GPS) map shows we’re about to hit the border of a Military Operations Area, or MOA.

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