06 April 2006

A Smooth Segway.....

I've commented before that one of the neatest things about working in the Aviation industry is the people you get to rub elbows with.

I find people attracted to flying are more likely to be interesting than those that sit at home watching "As The Stomach Turns" on TV.

I also think folks that like helicopters take that thought one step farther.
Helicopter fliers, rightly or wrongly, are perceived to be just a little crazier than fixed-wing folks.

One of my students owns a business here in town, and wanted me to come look at an area where he hopes to land the helicopter once he has his license.
I surveyed his landing area and was surprised at how large it is... normally students seriously underestimate the area they will need to land safely, at least at first, when their skills are still developing.

He invited me into his business to meet his employees, and then we visited his office. Over in the corner of his office it sat...
calling to me...
the "Segway".
I've been fascinated with the Segway since I first saw reports about them. How hard would it be to ride? Would riding it be "instinctive"? How fast would it go?
Here was my chance to find out!

For those not familiar with this machine, here is a picture of one.
(You may remember seeing pictures of President Bush taking a tumble while riding one about two years ago.)

I can report that it wasn't as easy as I thought.
It has two speeds... a slower one for novices, and a "scoot" speed once you get acclimated. On the higher speed, you'd have to run at a pretty good clip to keep up with the Segway.

Basically, you lean forward to move forward... aft to move in reverse.
A twist grip on the left handlebar is twisted forward to turn left, rearward to turn right.
Starting out at the slower speed, I was amazed at how little pressure it took to get it to move.
You don't actually have to lean to put it in motion... simply put pressure on your toes and it will start moving forward. Similar to flying a helicopter, it almost moves just because you thought about moving!
Very slight aft pressure on the handlebars is all that is necessary to slow the Segway to a gentle stop. Panic stops can be accomplished by pulling the handlebars against your body.

I was reasonably comfortable with it after 5 minutes, so my student changed the skill level to the more expert, higher speed setting.
Wow... I immediately realized wearing a helmet would be a great idea on this thing!

Big Boys and expensive toys...
Aviation people are wonderful, and, like the Lamborghini Countach I got to test drive several years ago, frequently they own some pretty neat playthings.

It was great to have the chance to check "riding the Segway" off my list of things I wanted to do!


kit said...

i got to ride a segway one time at disneyland. they had a couple set up in tomorrowland in a track that, now that i think about it, somewhat resembled a small motorcycle training range. wish i could have spent more time on it, cause they are pretty fun :)


The Segway is fascinating, no doubt. If you're not familar with its inventor, you should check him out. Genious. And he flys a helicopter, as well, so I know you'd like him.