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But sometimes, with sunrise and sunset, sky and land are aflame with red and golden fire. This love story between an uneducated village girl who comes to visit the hunchback outcast artist in his lighthouse bearing a wounded snow goose for him to heal is so well-known, perhaps because of its fable-like quality, that to reveal that the ending is heartbreaking would not spoil anyone's enjoyment of it.

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Although the story spans nearly seven years — or seven winters — of their cautiously evolving friendship, man and girl speak not much more than a dozen lines to each other. The silence and growing sympathy of the first two-thirds of the novella, broken only by the cries of the wild birds, is in stark contrast to the noisy clamour of the conclusion, related entirely in dialogue between soldiers in the pub and officers in their club, who witnessed the man in his little boat and his heroic attempts to rescue the stranded men from the Dunkirk beaches.

Only 15 years separate this novella from that other slim novel set in the searching beam of a lighthous, but Gallico makes no attempts at Virginia Woolf's interiority: "She paused, and again Rhayader must have thought of the wild water birds caught motionless in that split second of alarm … " The characters and emotions are distilled to almost elemental forces. Where To the Lighthouse was written in the shadows between two wars, Gallico was writing as "the world outside boiled and seethed and rumbled with the eruption that was soon to break forth and come close to marking destruction".

While some of the story, the narrator tells in us good modernist tradition, "comes in the forms of fragments", he harks back to a more mythical form of storytelling: "garnered from many sources and from many people". Gallico's "albatross", the snow goose — who braved a "truly terrible storm, stronger than her great wings, stronger than anything", only to be shot down by a hunter — is so heavy with symbolism it should by rights fall out of the sky, into the waiting sea of wishy-washy sentimentality.

Indeed, one contemporary critic, called it "the most sentimental story" ever to have been published. But Gallico was unrepentant, responding that "in the contest between sentiment and 'slime', 'sentiment' remains so far out in front, as it always has and always will among ordinary humans that the calamity-howlers and porn merchants have to increase the decibles of their lamentations, the hideousness of their violence and the mountainous piles of their filth to keep in the race at all.

YOUR HOME; Fighting Unwelcome Geese

If the novella's place in the affections of generations of "ordinary humans" is anything to go by, he was right. Michael Morpurgo cites it as an influence on his much-loved War Horse it was also, much to Gallico's dismay, the inspiration for a album by the rock band Camel. Somehow, the simplicity of the snow goose's emblematic burden — love, innocence and loyalty — and of the storytelling itself, creates a lightness that allows the story to soar.

Like many, I first read The Snow Goose as a child, and no doubt its unabashed sentimentality was as appealing to me at that time as strawberry-flavoured lip gloss. On rereading I was amazed to discover that poor Philip, of the hunchback and claw-hand, was only 27, and not the ancient "ogre" of my childhood imagination I'm not quite sure how I figured the "love" bit of the "love story", except perhaps as a wartime Beauty and the Beast.

As an adult you can't help but squirm at the heavy-handedness of lines like, "For all the artist's sensitivity and woman's tenderness locked in his barrel breast, he was very much a man", or the Mills-and-Boonishness of "the woman in her bade her take flight from something that she was not yet capable of understanding".

Last month an airliner narrowly avoided hitting a drone near London's tallest skyscraper. Dubai airport has been repeatedly shut down by drone activity , and low-flying drones are increasingly disrupting firefighting aircraft in the western U. Sooner or later, those near-messes are going to become hits.

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So experts from the U. New studies by the FAA and its European counterpart, the EASA , are looking at computer simulations and running physical tests to understand the problem and prevent disaster. What actually happens when an aircraft runs into drone? While some continue to believe drones are no more of a danger than one stray goose, new studies are showing that drones are more like mechanical geese from hell when it comes to commercial and low-altitude helicopters. Drones are more like mechanical geese from hell when it comes to commercial and low-altitude helicopters.

Bayandor's simulations show exactly what happens when drones and birds meet a choppy death by jet engine. An airliner's engine would dice up the smallest commercial drones without much of a problem.


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  5. But as these mechanical birds grow bigger, things get more dangerous. Drones are made of materials much denser and stiffer than soft tissues and muscles of geese and other airborne animals.

    Simulations show that when a bird goes into an engine, it's essentially liquidized by spinning blades, like a macabre episode of " Will It Blend. That can mean immediate damage, leaving an engine blade deformed, broken, or completely fragmented , as shown in the above animation. Even where there is no initial damage, the sheer momentum of a larger drone can cause the engine to become unbalanced.

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    This unbalance can escalate, and the blades may start hitting the casing that contains them. The engine ricochets back and forth inside its casing and the damage grows into a real problem. Luckily, engines are designed to withstand some damage from stray objects, and the high-speed fragments thrown out by such events would likely be contained within the engine. However this protection is not a given.


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    Modern engines are not designed to gobble up drones, and models have already shown some unexpected results, such as the dramatic difference that the location and angle of impact can make. Across the Atlantic at Cranfield University in the U. He leads the Impact and Armor Group , and recently began simulating the aerial battle of drones versus aircraft.

    To test a drone impact with an airliner during take-off or landing—the most likely times for such a disaster, since it's when planes are closest to the ground—Horsfall developed a 4-inch-caliber cannon with a ten-foot barrel, powered by compressed air and capable of firing projectiles at mph. While some other tests fired real dead birds—leading to an aviation urban myth all its own—Horsfall's project used blocks of gelatin as stand-ins, like the ballistic gelatin used to test the effect of gunshots on flesh.

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    To simulate drone impact, Horsfall created a projectile which mimics the physical properties of a drone, with components of the same size and weight as seen in the top GIF. There are four grape-sized steel cylinders instead of motors, nylon blocks standing in for circuit boards, a camera, and drone batteries. These components were then encased in a Styrofoam block to recreate the similar weight and structure of an average commercial drone.

    Tests showed that mock drones won't damage an airliner's windshield. However, the radome, the circular cover over the radar at the aircraft's nose, isn't so lucky.