Supersonic Skydive
Page 1 of 2

Author:  PeterScott [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Supersonic Skydive

Author:  JamesGifford [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

I'm just impressed that Kittinger is his mentor/coach... and that he's still alive. I remember reading a long account of his dive when I was a wee lad.

Author:  PeterScott [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

Likewise, and I remember reading a more recently penned account also. Some serious testicles on that guy.

Author:  JamesGifford [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

Well, as a guide on a cave tour once said to my group... "Don't worry about being 1,300 feet down. You can't get buried any deeper, any cheaper." It would be much the same from 120,000 feet...

Author:  beamjockey [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

Author:  BillMullins [ Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

Author:  beamjockey [ Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

Author:  BillMullins [ Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

There's nothing wrong with Sparks' article -- it's just that new and better research has overtaken it. He did an admirable job of pulling togethe as much information as he could. So much folk etymology is based on oral histories or other poorly-documented (and verifiable) sources, that it is difficult to be certain of conclusions.

The Stapp story is so internally self-consistent, and it feels right -- I think most of us who have been researching the Law and its origins expected to verify it eventually. It is somewhat surprising that Ed Murphy is probably not "the" Murphy we are looking for (and the real one still hasn't been identified).

Now if we could just solve the "full nine yards" mystery . . . .
(and I say that slightly tongue-in-cheek, as the same group has made much progress on it in the last few years).

Author:  JamesGifford [ Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

Author:  BillMullins [ Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

I was about to spend the time necessary to pull facts, links, etc., to expand on what I said, but the Wikipedia article does a pretty good job of saying what I would have said.

Up until ADS-L members started looking for the origins, the standard folk-etymologies for the expression was that it was either derived from the capacity of a cement mixing truck, or from the length of an ammo belt from some unnamed WW2 plane's machine guns. (There are other explanations, but these are the two most common ones.) The problem with these explanations is that there is no supporting evidence for them. Also, the expression (at that time) hadn't been found in print before the late sixties.

Cement trucks have never been standardized at nine cubic yards, and none of the early print citations have anything to do with the construction industry, so strike that. And the idea that such a common slang expression could have originated in WW2 and stayed unused in print for 20 years is simply not believable – even taboo expressions such as "SNAFU" were used in major newspapers before the war was out. If FNY was commonly used by airmen and pilots in the war, it would have been commonly in print soon after.

ADS-L investigators, over the last five years or so, have moved the earliest print citations successively earlier and earlier, but came to a brick wall in the early 1960s. Nearly all uses had either a military or aerospace/NASA context, leading to the idea that it came from one of those fields (which have substantial overlap).

In recent months, though, Bonnie Taylor-Blake has located two 1950s citations from obscure Kentucky conservation/wildlife magazines. And building on that, Bonnie and Fred Shapiro (a Yale law librarian and editor of the definitive quotation book _The Yale Book of Quotations_) found usage of "the whole six yards", exactly in the same context as we currently use full/whole nine yards, in Kentucky newspapers from 1916 (!), and then even earlier to 1912.

So the current thinking is:
"The Whole Six Yards" started in rural KY around the turn of the century and stayed there, as a localized expression, for 40 years. In the 1950's, it morphed into "full/whole nine yards", and within a few years after that, it jumped to the military/aerospace communities, and from there into common usage.

There is still no explanation of how the figurative expression was formed – did it originally mean six (or nine) literal measurable yards of something? Why was it originally six yards, and why did it change to nine? What was the vector into the mil/aero communities?

Page 1 of 2 All times are UTC - 8 hours
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group