Thursday, May 17, 2012

A bucket of what?

kw: birds, aircraft

I learned a new word today.

Snarge (noun), the remains of a bird that has collided with an airplane. Collisions with the fuselage or a wing just leave a smear, but when a jet engine snarfs up a bird, the result is sometimes quite a lot of snarge. It also can stop the engine. When it is necessary to determine what kind of bird was "eaten" by the engine, the sample is sent to a feather lab such as the one at the Smithsonian Institution. Sometimes the detective work is a bit convoluted.

One story I read stated that the initial conclusion was that the engine had consumed a deer at 15,000 feet altitude. Microscopic study of hair, and DNA analysis, confirmed deer. Then a couple of bits of feather were found, and the real story came out. The airplane had hit a vulture, which had recently dined on venison. It seems that the occasional bucket of snarge constitutes a large fraction of the work of feather labs around the country. Who'd a thought?

No comments: