National Geographic : 1940 Dec
Aviation in Commerce and Defense ro ograpin ruim v uee AIrrul With Rear Gunner at the Alert, an Attack Bomber Speeds on Its Mission The gunner has pushed back the sliding cockpit cover and has his machine gun trained upward and to the rear, for this is the direction from which pursuit planes usually dive on bombers. For the same reason, casualties among rear gunners of bombers in the European War have been high. transport planes, so meals must be kept hot from one to three hours before being served, without seeming to be "warmed over." "We can't offer choices on the menu yet, so we have to serve meals that will satisfy the varying tastes of 21 people," an air line chef explained (page 694). "Most passengers, we've found, like plain American-style foods best, such as steaks, chops, chicken, or meat pies. About one-fourth of our passengers observe a religious diet on Fridays and during Lent. One line even asks people whether they prefer fish or meat when they buy a ticket for a Friday flight! "Rolls and cakes need extra shortening, as they dry out at high altitudes. Sponge cake falls unless specially well-mixed. Some coffees that have a fine aroma at sea level taste infe rior at 8,000 feet, and vice versa. Even ciga rettes burn more slowly and taste different at altitude. Some passengers, not knowing this, complain about the cigarettes we give them! "Meals are cooked on the ground and kept hot in individual casseroles in electrically heated boxes. Usually they're purposely a little underdone and finish cooking in the heater on the plane. We can even do this with scrambled eggs and they keep perfectly for hours. Soups, coffee, and tea are kept hot in thermos jugs, but they mustn't be too hot, for liquids boil at a lower temperature at 8,000 feet than at sea level. "Some people are so particular about food they call several different air lines before mak ing reservations to see what their menus will be that day! "Since weight is important, our dishes are made of light-weight plastic that is hard to chip or break, and one air line even has knives with hollow handles. On big planes it takes 40 or 50 pounds of wire to bring electric current to the buffet to keep food hot, so in future we'll save this weight by substituting a new type of self-contained heater.