Famed electronics author Forrest Mims was choked by an airline captain


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Captain Ahole might start by apologizing for choking him.


Now imagine the same story if this gentleman were brown. Especially nowadays. Even if it were proved that his intention was to do some readings they’d probably throw some terror threat charges at them. Just look at that kid getting busted for his solar cellphone charger backpack.




You all realize this was almost 20 years ago, right?


Yes, pre-9/11.


Now they’d just shoot you or make sure you never flied other by flapping your arms ever again.


I guess Captain Asshole’s moral hygrometer was about as well-calibrated as Steve Harvey’s moral barometer. I wonder about his altimeter and velocitator…


I wonder what the Captain was told by the other person. Speculation on my part, but I bet the Captain was told something far different than reality.

I had some idiot (pre 9/11) who wouldn’t let me check in EMPTY compressed air tanks, even though I had done it several times on THAT airline. He forced me to Fed ex them next day air to where I was going.

So I go to the Fed Ex building (via taxi, thank god I was 2hr early for my flight) and they were waiting for me, telling me I would have to fill out HAZMAT forms.


I said, “You guys ship hundreds of these a day and NEVER make anyone fill out hazmat forms. It is an EMPTY air bottle!”

“Oh, it’s empty?”


“Oh, just put it in any box, and fill out the address.”


Fun fact: the fault is actually in Steve Harvey’s sphygmometer.


Forrest said as much in the first sentence of the excerpt. But thank you for your alertness. I appreciate your vigilance.


“How can we help you during the flight?”

Well, you can start by turning yourself in for assault.


As an engineer, once the situation turns into getting interest in the gear, I can attest to everything else being quickly forgotten and relegated to the category of a fun story to tell. Sincere interest counts as an apology.

Flights are a nice kind of high altitude laboratories. I did myself some measurements of cosmic rays. But I managed to do it in a concealed way so no confrontation to happen. Should do it again once I get the gamma spectrometer running…

Now, how does the hygrometer work…


the more things change the more people get shot asked questions later.


Stand down, Captain.


Well, folks were demanding vigilante justice, but it seems kind of late for that.


I find your lack of courtesy disturbing…


Yeah, that’d about be my reaction to the situation, as it apparently was the author’s. Not that everyone needs to forgive that easily. But I’d give someone qualified to fly commercial jets a hell of a lot more leeway than the TSA’s incompetent dickwads. In one case you have someone who overreacted to a perceived threat to his plane and everyone aboard it, probably relayed by a moron, and then backed down and helped with the experiment when he got good information. In the other case you have a legion of rejected rent-a-cop gropist perverts with the listening skills and curiosity of vegetables.

I hate to say it, but by today’s standards, this story is more encouraging than sad.


What do you need bottles of air for? Air is everywhere. Well… Almost everywhere.


First find out the two wavelengths for absorption and no absorption of sunlight in the atmosphere…