Wright or Wrong: Would the World be a Better Place without the Aeroplane?

As far as I can see, they have caused more problems than they have solved. Opinions?

Can you specify why this one piece of technology is singled out? Without any specifics, I think you could make the same argument about any technolgical advance.

As far as I’m concerned STONE TOOLS have caused more probelems then they have solved. Opinions?


This is not a scientific survey, it’s just a . . . good-natured debate. I’m balancing the convenience of being able to get to Paris in six hours against the wholesale slaughter and destruction planes have made so much easier over the last 100 years.

P.S. We got along perfectly well for thousands of years without airplanes; the same cannot be said of stone tools.

I think you’re wrong.

Simple questions deserve simple answers.

Oh, you want something better? John Mace touched on this, but unfortunately, you can’t fight progress. If it hadn’t been the Wright brothers in North Carolina in 1903, it would have been someone else. Probably the Germans or British.

On preview: “Wholesale slaughter and destruction”?

That just gets a :rolleyes:

Jesus, is it possible to post even a light, what-if kind of GD thread without people setting their panties on Perma-Bunch? I give up. I’m goin’ back to Cafe Society, where people can have pleasant tete-a-tetes without getting all hissy and defensive . . .

It helps if you give us something that is actually substantial to debate Eve, you aren’t going to find many here who will dismiss the benefits of progress out of hand.

Airplane-lovin’ freaks . . .

Perhaps you can convince the Board to open a Forum called Silly Debates. Are you really surprised that people come here for serious discussion? You’ve got over 8,000 posts to your name since 1999. Hey I love the light hearted stuff that goes on in the other forums. People joke here a lot too, but that is always secondary to the debate. At least in my limitted experience for the last few months.

Wouldn’t explosives be a better candidate for the blame?
Or, wouldn’t the people who used them be better candidates for the blame?

Without airplanes, I’m sure I would have never travelled to Europe on my two weeks of vacation a year. And I would’ve spent much more time on trains. Both of those are major pro’s on the aeorplane side.

Hey, Eve, it’s a worthwhile topic for a debate, but I learned the hard way that in Great Debates, you’ve got to provide some arguments for people to either agree with or tear to shreads with razor-sharp double-edged cites. If you just post your opinion, then that’s what people usually post in response.

(Plus, maybe people are just on edge today, what with the threat of war and all.)

So, in the spirit of debate, or St. Louis, or whatever:

The Airplane (aeroplane) is, first off, an almost-inevitable result of progress. People wanted to fly for a long time, and even before the airplane, they succeded- the Mongolfières and their balloons, Otto Lilienthal and his gliders, and so on. And once you’ve got a glider, all you need is a Chevy engine and a couple of rails and you’re the world’s most famous bicycle repairman.

Bad effects of the airplane:
It’s a tool of war. First they surveyed the enemy trenches, then they dropped bricks on them. Then they started shooting at each other in the air, and it wasn’t long before they were dropping thousands of pounds of bombs on Berlin, and Frankfurt, and Hiroshima and Vietnam. Without the airplane, there would have been no Battle of Britain, little risk of a German invasion of England, and a lot fewer dead German civilians.

But, without the airplane, there would still have been Nazi Germany to defeat, by conventional means. And the atomic bombs might not have been droppable- the Americans didn’t have much of a misslie program at the time (this could be a good thing, or it could have necessitated a long and bloody invasion of Japan- another debate in itself). And there would have still been Zeppelins (WWI) and V-1 & V-2 rockets (WWII) sending deadly payloads to London, and elsewhere. What could have been done to stop them?
Of course, the whole course of 20th-Century history would have been different… The Nazis might never have been able to invade Poland so effectively… the war might have started differently.

Good effects of the airplane:
We can do MEDEVAC- the ‘air ambulance’ that in at least my part of the world, saves lives regularly.
We can do aerial research of remote caribou herds. And fly researchers into places like that station at the south pole. And move members of a legislature from their far-flung constituencies to the capital rapidly.

We can get supplies and essential services to remote towns in the Arctic, in the middle of African deserts, to most anywhere they need to go. Without this, the people who live in, say, Iqaluit, would be isolated except those short periods of the year when the sea lanes to Baffin Island are navigable. Those people would have very different lives, possibly without proper medical services, and with scurvy and lack of nutrition.

Airplanes also are just plain fun. (But I’m biased- I spend my summers and weekends teaching youth to fly.)

So… um, what’s wrong with airplanes? That they can be used for bad as well as good, just like everything else? I guess there’s smuggling, and drug-running and stuff, in additon to the bombing.

I like 'em. I say, keep 'em.

Anybody here ever read H.G. Wells’ 1908 novel The War in the Air?

Very interesting prognostication…that in using airships to attack and subjugate New York City, the German Army would be reduced to impotence, as they would be unable to actually occupy the city or have any close contact with the conquered populace.

They had to just sorta hang around in the sky, and every once in a while a bunch of toughs from Delancey Street or Flatbush Avenue would overpower the cops and U.S. soldiers and commandeer an anti-aircraft gun and bring one of the Zeppelins down, and then the Germans would have to retaliate by dropping bombs on some civilian-populated neighborhood. Then the whole thing would start over again.

There’s something. SmakFu has now seen, and now appreciates and understands, things (s)he never could have before. It’s one thing to read about Serbia in a book- it’s another to actually meet Serbs and see how they live and such.

The Airplane: Promoting trade, communication, and understanding between far-flung peoples since 1903

WWI was about as bloody as it gets, and neither side used planes to the extent that we do today. In fact, I would argue that airpower has minimized the blood and destruciton, now we can bomb a single building or factory, instead of simply bombarding the entire city with artillery. Even if you don’t buy that, it is still hard to say that the military impact has overshadowed the civilian benefits.

Did rockets pre-date aircraft? If so, I think we’d just kill people with rockets instead of bombs, which wouldn’t help anyone.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that were ruling out all forms of slef-propelled heavier than air craft - ie no planes, helicopters, missiles, rockets, etc. No idea how this would happen, so let’s just assume the whole idea pisses off Zeus and he blows them out of the sky with thunderbolts. Now that we’ve established the premise, would the world be a better or worse place?

My offhand opinion is that the overall answer is “better”. Warfare is worse because of planes and missiles; they allow nations to directly target the civilian populations of their enemies, which historically was not the case.

The rapid transit offered by air travel is nice and I enjoy it myself. But there has been a price; from the trivial but frightening ones like the increased internationalism of crime and terrorism to the less flashy but more serious ones like the way air travel has disrupted historical ecological and disease patterns.