Last week there was an email from a tech site about yet another use for Sikorsky’s Black Hawk helicopters, and what a lovely bonus it will be to Sikorsky’s new owner, Lockheed Martin, as the implications are huge for this famous plane. I let my imagination carry me away.
I like helicopters. I have a calendar entitled Sikorsky ’84, acquired while living in London, with beautiful photographs of helicopters (including some similar to those flying overhead day and night during the Libyan Embassy Siege in St. James’s Square, around the corner from my 5th floor flat on Duke Street. I didn’t like helicopters much then, having a small child and needing sleep.) The Black Hawk UH-60A is represented in three months of the calendar; no surprise.
Yesterday I read that the Black Hawk UH-60 had succeeded in tests as a pilotless drone, running on a computer program to make it self-flying, self-navigating around obstacles, lifting and carrying an ATV over some distance, then setting it gently down. Sikorsky calls it MURAL, for Manned/Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter.
I couldn’t help myself. I fell in love with the name expanded from the acronym, and like a person in love, the daydreams around the love object were triggered. It’s not a drone or a robot like those things Amazon, UPS and some retailers want to use to deliver packages to our doors. No, no, no. It’s an unmanned resupply aerial lifter.
Imagine: you’re mixing a cake on one side of your kitchen. You need the salt, baking powder and vanilla on the other side of the kitchen and you’d have to walk all the way around a table to get it. Instead, you activate the unmanned aerial lifter. After all, every package has readable bar code already. Say, “Sonny, get salt,” and your little chopper flies off its home on top the microwave across the table, lifts the salt container, flies back across the table, gently sets the salt down on the counter beside you, then blinks twice to ask if you want further service. Say, “Baking powder.” Check. “Vanilla.” Check. Zoom, zoom, zoom. All the while you’re scraping the creamed butter and sugar and egg down the sides of your mixing bowl.
No reply? Sonny returns to his Regional Operations Support Establishment, aka his battery and home. (I thought it deserved a sophisticated name, too, so I borrowed one that I heard or read somewhere, maybe Navy vernacular, maybe if we did not want to use the term “base” for a base the foreign government didn’t want to acknowledge. Politics. Nevermind, it’s a name that could be made great again if it’s not in use somewhere.)
Imagine: a very modern dinner party for 12, guests seated at an elegantly set table and not a single technophobe in the lot. When the lights are dimmed for the first course and the kitchen door is opened, there is no sign of a server. Instead, there is a hum of a convoy of 12 kitchen drone helicopters as they each flew to and landed the plated Lemon Dover Sole in front of their assigned guest, then buzzed out straightaway. No one is surprised at such efficiency, nor when the choppers also clear the dishes between courses.
No one is surprised by the fact that “chopper” had been given a whole new meaning in their hostess’s kitchen.
No one cares who cleans up the kitchen.
Drone Black Hawks, oh boy. One more for the road. One more for wingnuts, too. Dream on.
End note: To my disappointment, there are no photo credits on any page of the Sikorsky ’84 calendar. Beautiful photographs, no credit to the photographer. The back page was clearly an advertisement by United Technologies of its Sikorsky line of helicopters and bears the company logo. This is fair use of the photographs.