Aircraft comparisons

It is hardly surprising that comparisons have been made between the California condor and large aircraft. Here are some examples.

David Carle described California condors flying as “straight and stable” as Stratocruisers. The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser was an airliner that went into service in 1947. This plane had two passenger decks, just like the modern Boeing 747:
01 Stratocruiser - San Diego Air & Space Museum

Andrew Hamilton considered condors to be the “B-36’s of the animal kingdom”. The B-36 was an enormous bomber flown by the U.S. Air Force during the 1950s:
02 B-36 - US Air Force

Allan Parachini wrote that the California condor

… is the Boeing 747 of natural aviation and has such a commanding presence in the sky that it can be spotted five miles away ….

The German airline Condor (almost certainly named with the Andean condor in mind) flies 747s, as can be seen on this postcard:
03 747 - postcard - front03 747 - postcard - reverse

Writing decades ago, Michael Parfit offers a wonderful description of a condor in flight and a powerful analogy for the condor’s predicament:

I have seen only one condor, but I consider myself luckier than most. It was floating above a ridge, milking the updraft for lift with its rectangular plank wings and long feather fingers …. As it vanished I had an image of a lonely Liberator bomber. Its four radial engines obsolete past the point of repair, venturing, dazed, into a modern battle, with the air full of Sidewinder missiles ….

The B-24 Liberator was a World War II-era bomber noted for its speed, range, and bomb capacity:
04 Liberator - US Air Force

Many others have imagined the California condor as an out-of-date bird in a hostile modern world. But Parfit has a subtle take on this:

There is nothing gentle about the Santa Barbara back country, least of all about the bird that is its symbol …. And yet even here is a paradox. This bird, the largest in North America, … that looks powerful enough to wrestle a live deer to the ground, is the most fragile thing in the wilderness.

Finally, I appreciate how John Kricher turned the aircraft comparison on its head with this:

I look up and see B55 only 20 feet above me. B55 is not a bomber; it’s a juvenile female condor with “55” printed on two black, plastic wing tags.

In a future post I will note models of aircraft that have been named “condor” (and “vulture”).

Carle, David. Introduction to air in California. University of California Press. 2006.

Hamilton, Andrew. Can the condor come back? Science Digest. February 1952.

Parachini, Allan. Watch for the California condor turns sober. Los Angeles Times. 5 August 1985.

Parfit, Michael. The back country. In Red tiles, blue skies: more tales of Santa Barbara from adobe days to present days. Edited by Steven Gilbar. John Daniel. 1996.

Kricher, John. Rediscovering condors. Birder’s World. February 1999.

(My source of information about the aircraft was Wikipedia.)