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Spiders as Passengers on WWI Airplane


Spiderwebs Rated for 90 MPH Winds

One hundred years ago on September 27th, Arthur Gould Lee had an uneventful patrol. So uneventful he had time to take note of natural science.

He noticed some spiderwebs attached to his struts trailing in his slipstream, not breaking even at speeds of 90 mph. "They were the very fine kind that float in the air and catch your face when you're walking alongside a hedge." After he landed, he found there were not only spiderwebs, but spiders, tiny red ones, that had gone along for the flight, and were presumably ready to start on the next web.

Never Relax 

Uneventful patrols, though, were tiring, maybe more tiring than a dogfight, as the pilot has to keep twisting around a couple times a minute, to see who might be coming up behind. "Even in a cloudless blue sky you can never relax, you must constantly search every quarter for those distant specks which can so quickly materialise into Huns with flashing guns."

The Front Lines from Above

After the patrol, they took a tour of the front lines: "mile after mile of ruined, deserted country, with thousands of shell-holes, mostly filled with water. Heaps of bricks and rubble mark where villages and farms once stood." But beyond the immediate fighting area, he saw makeshift shelters for those who were already working on leveling and plowing trenches and shell-holes. "The French farmer just won't be beaten."

They also flew over a tank depot, a generation before tanks became a symbol of war in Europe. "Cumbersome beasts they looked too. Heaven preserve me from ever going to war in one of those!"

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