• Message from James Clarke

    "South Africa's Best Humour Columnist"

    - SA's Comedy Awards September 2008

    “South Africa’s funniest columnist.”

    - Financial Mail


    The name is Clarke. James Clarke. I have been told by people who know their way around the electronic world with its iPads, USBs, processors, modems, 500 gb hard drives, Blackberries and microwave ovens, that as a writer I have to have a blogsite. Otherwise, I am told, it is like passing oneself off as a CEO and you haven’t a leather chair that tilts back.

    Yet after four years of having a blogsite I still don’t really understand what it is or how it helps sell my books which is my major concern in life apart from not stepping on cracks when walking on the pavement.

    I am also told that on a blogsite it is customary to refer to oneself in the third person. This enables one to grossly exaggerate ones attainments without appearing to have done so personally.

    Not being one to buck the system...

    London-born James Clarke is your average tall, dark, handsome fellow who writes books – fiction and non-fiction. As a humorist he has been compared with PG Wodehouse and James Thurber. (The Daily Bugle in Des Moines said “compared with the works of PG Wodehouse and James Thurber, Clarke’s writing isn’t worth a row of beans”.)

    He long ago settled in South Africa where he became a mover and a shaker in the world of the environmental sciences. As a youth, being a mover and a shaker, had made it impossible for him to follow in his father’s footsteps as a bottler in a nitro-glycerine plant. Hence he turned to journalism.

    But around the time he retired a few years ago he found a new pursuit as a humorist. He wrote a daily humour column in the Johannesburg Star (now syndicated) and began turning out books of humour in the UK and South Africa.

    Clarke very recently moved boldly into the electronic publishing world. It was, he said afterwards, like a non-swimmer diving into a pool without first testing its depth.

    In November 2011 he re-issued his latest book of humour, “Blazing Saddles”, as an Amazon Kindle e-book under the title “Blazing Bicycle Saddles”. For a mere US$4.99 you can download a copy of this seminal cycling book in a matter of seconds by clicking here ....


    He did this with the full realisation that he is totally at sea in the electronic world with its telephones that take movies and receive faxes and sports results.

    The original edition of “Blazing Saddles”, published by Jonathan Ball, has been out of print for two years. It reveals the true story of how six retired men – five of them journalists – year after year set out (intrepidly) from the African continent on a series of exploratory expeditions cycling into “Darkest Europe” to bring back to the people of Africa tales of its funny natives.

    Clarke will also shortly be publishing, via Amazon.com, another of his action-packed autobiographical books – this time an account of his Second World War exploits as L*E*A*D*E*R of the Yellow Six Patrol of the 1st Streetly Boy Scouts in the English Midlands. He recounts the patrol’s ceaseless campaign to defeat Adolf Hitler’s plan to invade England.

    You can read about “The Yellow Six” within this blogsite.

    Clarke, apart from moving and shaking, is a travel writer and proud father of two highly successful daughters – one a biologist and the other an environmental impact analyst. He and his wife, Lenka, live north of Johannesburg.

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Can a Jumbo loop the loop?

The question arose out of the blue and for no discernible reason: Can a Jumbo jet loop the loop?
For the benefit of those who aren’t flyers or don’t drive Johannesburg taxis and therefore might not know what looping-the-loop is, let me explain.
Looping the loop describes how an aircraft suddenly climbs steeply and performs a backward somersault before diving and resuming level flight.
The question was picked up from the Internet by a friend who was for years involved in space flight and aviation. He says it was originally posed to Cecil Adams who runs a questions and answers website called The Straight Dope.
The full question was: “Is it possible to roll or loop a 747 or DC-10 (airliner) loaded or empty?”
Adams replied, “No one has ever tried to get fancy with one of the Big Birds, but there once was a Boeing test pilot who, in a moment of frivolity, took it into his head to execute a barrel roll in a (Boeing) 707.”
The consensus at Boeing’s factory, says Adams, was that a 747 would probably survive a barrel roll but to try it would be, and he quotes, “an extremely foolish action.”
A barrel roll is when the aircraft rolls over on its back and continues the roll through 360 degrees, spiralling along a horizontal path hopefully through the air.
The problem, says Adams, is not so much with the strength of the wings, which are designed to stand much greater pressures. It has to do with the skill of the pilot.
“Enough forward speed must be maintained during the roll to compensate for the loss of lift that occurs when, in effect, the wings cease to function. That happens when the wings are in the vertical position and can no longer hold the plane up.
“In a small plane, the problem is minimal: the wings spin out of the vertical position in a split second. But in a larger plane it takes longer to roll and the margin for error is increased, and the fatal moment could be stretched out enough to pull the plane down.
“Looping a 747 or a DC-10 would be trickier still.”
I sent the comments to Geoff Quick, an ex Royal Air Force pilot who is a fellow member of the RAF Officers’ Club in Johannesburg.
Geoff is originally from Cornwall where, he says, people still point excitedly at the sky when aeroplanes pass overhead.
Geoff has seen both the Trident (a De Haviland airliner) and the F28 airliner (some versions carried 85 passengers) barrel rolled at the Farnborough Air Show in Britain. And he says the VC10 – a serious four-engined jet airliner in the 1960s – has looped-the-loop .
“Most business jets have barrel rolled from time to time. Executed properly the manoeu
vre puts little stress on an airframe or its occupants,” says Geoff. “Most aircraft, including many helicopters, can theoretically do it.”
I was shown a U-Tube video of a pilot balancing a cup of coffee on top of the instrument panel where it remains steady while the plane rolled through 360 degrees. Then he poured a cup during another roll and spilled not a drop.
Trick photography? No says Karl Jensen, perhaps South Africa’s best-known airline pilot (now retired). Karl knows the fellow who did it.
It’s all very sad. There’s just no respect for the law these days – not even the law of gravity.

2 Responses

  1. I think it can be done, i also dont think that all the pilots are to chicken to try it. The main reason, i believe, is that the owners of the aircraft have forbidden it as they will not be insured in case something goes wrong, and to avoid all the lawsuits that are sure to follow. We will probably never know!

    • thanks David – my friedns in the RAFOC agree, =- Box 876 Lone Hill. S Africa 2062 Fax: 27 11 465 4564 Blogsite: https://stoeptalk.wordpress.com Website: http://www.jamesclarke.co.za For a free sample of my latest e-book click below: This book is a true and hilarious adventure involving six retired journalists living in Africa who embark on a series of exploratory expeditions into “Darkest Europe” and bring back to Africa tales of the strange natives there. Their first expedition involved a 1000 kilometre cycle ride down the…

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