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From: "Michael A. Pilla" <>
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.rotorcraft
Subject: Re: How the things were found out (was: To BWB - a puzzle to solve)
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 09:36:07 -0400

I replied directly to Doug.  I made a quick search of the still packed
cartons of books and the boomerang books were not there.  Any further
searching would have me in deep trouble on the home front (we're building
a house and my wife is trying to keep things bottled up fairly tight to
save repacking, etc. :-)

There was no dihedral; placing the flat bottoms on a flat surface
resulted in no rocking.

The throwing 'rangs had a rather large inner angle, but I was informed
that it was a characteristic of the particular types that I had

The arms are pretty much the same length (hand made variances, I would

When I get the books finally unpacked, I'll see if I can find the
reference books.  At one time I had a rather extensive library on 'rangs
since I had been interested in competition (only one contest, and did not
finish last :-).

One other funny incident that I just recalled.  My middle son (who is now
an Aeronautical Engineer at a well known aerospace company) learned how
to make cardboard 'rangs about two or so inches across (think of a plus
sign with twist in each leg).  In highschool, he used to launch them by
flicking one with his finger while the tiny 'rang was at rest on the
pages of his text book held at some appropriate angle.  The 'rang would
just barely clear the nose of the student in front of him, zipping right
back to my son who would catch it and "palm" it.  He told me it flew by
so fast that it was sort of a blur and the target would look all around
trying to figure out if some pesky fly was buzzing around him.  How my
son got away with it without a teacher finding out is beyond me.

Michael Pilla

Doug Marker wrote:

> Hi Michael,
> Good story :-) - I guess the VP was a 'good sport' - it sure takes an
> effort to learn to throw them and to choose the right thowing position
> (angle wind etc:).
> I am interested in the comments that looking at the 'rangs' was not
> enough to judge the flying capabilities.
> A couple of Qs ...
> Did you apply any level amount of dihedral ?  - what effect did varying
> it have ?
> Are the non-returning rangs you own, longer in one arm than the other ?
> Cheers
> Doug
> "Michael A. Pilla" wrote:
> > Well, Let me relate a funny story about that.  I still have a bunch of
> > 'rangs; all the sport/return kind, but vastly different shapes.  IIRC,
> > the aborigines deliberately had two kinds; the hunting/goes straight
> > kind and the sport/return kind.  I have a book with pictures of a
> > contest where they were throwing their 'rangs at "rooster weather/wind
> > vanes"; quite funny.
> > 
> > I was at a company picnic and showing folks how to throw (so many
> > variables to get it just right).  At any rate, my VP shows up with the
> > usual toadies in tow.  I explain how to throw it, but didn't explain
> > how to catch it if it returned because no one was getting it right.
> > Well, he makes a perfect toss, the 'rang goes out about 25 yards and
> > comes straight back, smacking him right in the middle of the forehead.
> > He fell unconscious to the ground and there was a large "egg" on his
> > forehead.  Of course the toadies were all beside themselves and I
> > figured I was out of a job.  Shortly, he regains consciousness and
> > gets up ROTFLHAO.  Instead of being pissed, he was ecstatic at having
> > made a perfect throw.  Go figure.
> > 
> > IIRC, there are 'rangs that were buried in the tombs of various
> > pharaohs that illustrated that they understood the principle of
> > angular momentum.  There was gold wrapped around the center and tips
> > of the 'rangs; just the thing to do to increase the angular momentum
> > without making the total weight go up too much.
> > 
> > Also, IIRC, even experts claim that they cannot determine, by visual
> > inspection, which 'rangs are hunting/straight vs. sport/return types.
> > It is more than just the twist as indicated in a previous post.  For
> > hunting, the sticks were used to throw straight down a narrow pathway.
> > The 'rang stunned the animal giving the hunter sufficient time to
> > catch up to it and kill it with their knife; i.e., the 'rang wasn't
> > the killing weapon.  I have seen examples of both straight and return
> > types and it is difficult to differentiate them.  The books I have
> > indicated that one could only be certain by actually throwing them.
> > 
> > I have the sources for this post packed up in a moving carton,
> > unfortunately, so I cannot dig out the books without rummaging through
> > all the unpacked cartons.  I suspect my wife would kill me if I
> > started it.  :-) However, down in Monroe Louisiana, there is "The
> > Boomerang Man"; he has lots of 'rangs, books, etc.  For years, he was
> > a major player in the annual dawn contest to thrown 'rangs around the
> > base of the Washington Monument.  I always wanted to participate in
> > that one, but never got around to it.
> >
> > Michael Pilla

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