Monday, August 30, 2010

Flat heads, flat hat

Merriam-Webster provides some interesting perspective:

The Word of the Day for August 30 is:

flat-hat   \FLAT-hat\   verb
: to fly low in an airplane in a reckless manner : hedgehop

Example sentence:
Unable to resist the temptation to show off, the young pilot decreased altitude and flat-hatted over the county fairground.

Did you know?
Legend has it that the term "flat-hat" originated with an incident back in the days of barnstormers in which a pedestrian's hat was crushed by a low-flying airplane. According to one version of the tale, the reckless pilot was subsequently required to purchase a new hat for the hapless pedestrian. It seems unlikely that such an event actually took place, but we can well imagine how fear of having one's hat smashed flat by a passing airplane might have given rise to such a vivid verb. "Flat-hat" first appeared in English in 1940; another word for flying low to the ground, "hedgehop," debuted 14 years earlier.

So reckless antics in aircraft have been around since the days of the barnstormers - the '20s. Barnstorming itself based on super-cheap government surplus planes ($5000 planes being sold off for as little as $200). Yep. Subsidies and handouts are great - when it's going to 'the right people.'

So, after dodging the draft, rich playboys bought the aircraft that brave young men risked their lives in and played with them... and they haven't changed since.

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