Stumped

Like many, I absolutely cannot stand long flights, but (besides the airport experience) I rather enjoy short flights in the daytime, mainly for the conversation. Last week I sat next to a little girl, Claire. She was eight. She had taken her seat before I got there, and her face was glued to the window from before the plane left the gate till it leveled off at cruising altitude. She then sat back and asked me a question.

“This plane’s wings are as long as its body, and it can fly. My arms are as long as my body, so why can’t I fly?” I explained aerodynamic lift as simply as I could (which was, incidentally, a much harder task than I anticipated). Therein followed a long list of “why” questions that got harder and harder to answer. “But if the size of the wings goes up as the body goes up, why are a bee’s wings so tiny?”

Stumped.

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