The Creatures of Star Wars

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying. Last night, I was watching Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace and got to thinking about the whole wide world of Star Wars (or should I say, the whole galaxy).

I couldn’t stop thinking about all the different types of creatures throughout the Star Wars galaxy and wondering who exactly created them. Well, I did a little research and found the amazing Terryl Whitlatch. Terryl Whitlatch was the principal creature designer for The Phantom Menace, in charge of creating almost all of the creatures and alien characters — she even designed Jar Jar Binks!

Whitlatch also designed Sebulba, the pod racers, and the creatures of Naboo. Working alongside Star Wars creator George Lucas, Terryl Whitlatch also helped redesign beloved and imfameous characters and creatures including Jabba the Hutt and the dewbacks.

She has written some amazing books about her creature design (my favorites are The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field GuidePrinciples of Creature Design: Creating Imaginary Animals, and Science of Creature Design: Understanding Animal Anatomy). In all of her books, the illustrations are unbelievably beautiful and just crazy cool! It is also pretty amazing to read about how Whitlatch gets inspired and how she does all the research to make her creatures seem so real!

I can’t wait to try and design some of my own creatures tonight! I’ll see you next time…in a galaxy far far away!

~ Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my latest book Max Teller’s Amazing Adventure! Now available in paperback at your favorite booksellers. Ask for it by name!

Spaceship Design and Isaac Arthur

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying. This week, I want to talk design…spaceship design that is.

I was cruising down a YouTube black hole when I found this gem: Spaceship Design with Isaac Arthur. Arthur discusses the basic tenants of what makes real spaceship designs work AND how future spacecraft might be built! Because, unfortunately, a spaceship can’t just look cool; it also must account for crew needs, gravity, mass, power sources, protection and shielding from debris and radiation, speed, and, of course, the crushing pressure of space. He also talks about how realistic fantasy and science fiction spacecraft actually are and how they can be used to inspire innovative design!

If you don’t have a half-hour to check out the full video, here are some cool stills showing expansive ideas for spaceship design!

I really liked the way that he imagined farming in space and the importance of having trees within people’s yards. Imagine developments of houses and not just living quarters as we have seen on Star Trek within spaceships…The best thing was the dog inside the spacesuit; I assume you still have to walk the dog but in space! How cool is that! I bet there would be problems playing fetch though.

I can’t stay long today — Isaac Arthur has a ton of amazing playlists I need to get through!

See you next time!

~ Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my latest book Max Teller’s Amazing Adventure! Now available in paperback at your favorite booksellers. Ask for it by name!

The Maximum Ride

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! Well, I was playing around in my local library when the flash of a wing on one of the book spines caught my eye. Of course, I picked it right up — wings, duh — and I fell into the amazing world of Maximum Ride!

The Maximum Ride series by James Patterson follows the life of one Maximum “Max” Ride (a great name, Max) and the fellow members of her Flock: Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel. Max and the other members of the Flock all have, get this, massive wings and can fly! They all got their wings (and other powers) through some crazy scientific experiments done at The School, an evil laboratory. I don’t want to give too much away, but I think if you like science fiction, fantasy, and flying anywhere near as much as me, you should check these out!

If reading isn’t your thing, there are also AMAZING manga renditions illustrated by NaRae Lee!

Until next time,

~ Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book on Amazon.com! Now available in paperback at your favorite booksellers. Ask for it by name!

Umm…Murder Hornets?

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! These Murder Hornets sound like science fiction but unfortunately are all too real! And likely headed to a place near you!

The Asian Giant Hornet, not-so-affectionately dubbed the Murder Hornet, is a really big hornet (in fact, the world’s largest!) that does not get along well with honeybees. Or beetles. Or really anything that it can eat. And these 2-3 inch hornets are moving around the world — though no one really knows how or why.

 

Though not as fast as dragonflies, these bad boys of the bug world aren’t slowpokes — they can fly as fast as 25 miles per hour. 

Luckily though, these hornets don’t seem to partially bother people (as long as you aren’t wearing a honeybee costume). And if you are stung, if you aren’t allergic to stings, you will probably be okay. Asian Giant Hornets are only really murderous when it comes to finding their next meal.

Until next time,

~ Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book on Amazon.com! Now available in paperback at your favorite booksellers. Ask for it by name!

ISS Docking Simulator is SO COOL!!!!

Can you dock the Dragon?

 

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! Later this month they will be sending regular people to the International Space Station on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. Well, rich regular people…  Before then you can learn to fly the Crew Dragon! On the SpaceX website they have this cool flight simulator in which you have controls on your left to manipulate the Crew Dragon’s translation: its movements forward, backward, up, down, and side to side. Then the controls on the right manipulate the vehicle’s pitching, yawing, and rolling.

You need patience, because the ship moves reallllll slowwww.

I wonder if you do well in the game, if they will make you a pilot in real life as in The Last Starfighter? I am hoping they hire me!

Try it yourself!

~Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book on Amazon.com! Now available in paperback at your favorite booksellers. Ask for it by name!

 

Hammond Castle

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! One of the places I floated over was Hammond Castle in the Magnolia section of Gloucester.

It was built by John Hays Hammond in 1926 to serve both as his home and as a backdrop for his collection of Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance artifacts. The castle was constructed as a wedding present for his wife Irene Fenton Hammond to prove how much he cared for her.  In addition, the building housed the Hammond Research Corporation, from which Dr. Hammond produced over 400 patents and the ideas for over 800 inventions.  Second, only to Thomas Alva Edison in the number of patents, John Hammond was one of America’s premier inventors.  Edison and Bell had become personal friends and mentors to him. His most important work was the development of remote control via radio waves, which earned him the title, “The Father of Remote Control.” The truth of the matter, it was one of many inventions Nikola Tesla who met his father through Mark Twain gave him which he was not going to pursue. He used to sail a ghost boat in the harbor by remote control scaring the natives. He also was the inventor of the guided missile.

Traveling troops of actors who were putting plays on in Boston frequented here throughout the 20’s and 30’s. His wife was also popular in the spiritualist circuit. I think that is with the people who believed ghosts of your dead relatives could raise your table and make gunk foam out of your mouth? The castle is still fun during Halloween. There is this acting troop who will scare you or pretend to be Robin Hood and his Merry Men or the Knights of the Round Table at various fairs throughout the year. There is even a psychic fair held there once a year.

It is haunted. It is said that Hammond has frequently returned after his death as a black cat. During his life, someone stole his dogs, but he loved his cats even more. So he built them an outdoor pen and placed broken glass cemented into the top of the wall keep out cat burglars… I know that was bad. As a black cat, he would always go to his favorite chair and sit.

He sure did love his cats. Whenever one of his beloved cats passed away, he would place the cat in a jar of formaldehyde and drive from his castle all throughout Gloucester in a one-car funeral procession, tying up traffic along the way. Hammond was buried on the property, with three of his Siamese cats, still preserved in jars, in a mausoleum on a nearby section of land but his body was removed in 2008 and reburied in the outdoor courtyard of the castle after several vandals broke into the mausoleum in the 1980s and stole the cats. People are strange, but it is cool to sit on top of his mausoleum built into the side of the red rock cliff overlooking the ocean. It has some great rock jumping there. Almost as good as Rafe’s Chasm. Which is not far away.

Hammond also added some unique features to the structure such as an indoor pool that can be drained with a flip of a switch and filled with sea water, rooms with hidden doors, secret passageways, a library with a whispering ceiling and an inner courtyard that was once outfitted with special overhead pipes and wiring to simulate rain or twinkling stars. It could have been the inspiration for Hogwarts Grand Hall with the stars on the ceiling (I read the book first…) Another feature of the castle is Hammond’s large pipe organ that his friend, famed organist Virgil Fox, used to play during visits. Fox held many recording sessions at the castle in the 40s and 50s.

 

 

 

Next to the Castle is a wizard tower he had built for his father. The Moonies own it now. I still want to sneak in there…

It truly is a really cool place! Even better when you can float over it.
~Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book on Amazon.com! Now available in paperback at your favorite booksellers. Ask for it by name!

A Ticklish Affair

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! Today I talk about a movie where a kid had a similar adventure. After I got down to safety, my mother forced me to watch this old dumb movie called A Ticklish Affair. The funny thing was I loved it…

It had a kid about my age who floated away on a bunch of balloons. In the movie, they had to call out the Navy to follow him as he floated out to sea. Boy, was his mother scared…I guess my mother was too!

I won’t tell you anymore. You will just have to watch the movie to find out what happens to him!

~Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book on Amazon.com!

Lawn Chair Larry Walters

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! After I took my amazing flight, my friend told me about Lawn Chair Larry. He said he floated around with a bunch of balloons, a BB gun, a lawn chair, and a cooler. My friend also told me he got a honorable mention in the Darwin Awards on the account that he did not die.

Walters had always dreamed of flying but was unable to become a pilot in the United States Air Force because of his poor eyesight. He was my age when he got this idea. His intention was to attach a few helium-filled weather balloons to his lawn chair, cut the anchor, and then float above his backyard at a height of about 30 feet (9.1 m) for several hours. He planned to use a pellet gun to burst balloons to float gently to the ground.

Things Go Wrong

In 1982, Walters purchased 45 eight-foot weather balloons and obtained some helium tanks. He used a forged requisition from his employer, FilmFair Studios, saying the balloons were for a TV commercial. Walters attached the balloons to his lawn chair, filled them, put on a parachute, and strapped himself into the chair in the backyard of a home at 1633 W. 7th St. in San Pedro. He took his pellet gun, a CB radio, sandwiches, cold beer, and a camera. His friends cut the cord that tied his lawn chair to his Jeep and he zoomed to about 15,000 feet. At first, he did not dare shoot any balloons, fearing that he might unbalance the load and cause himself to spill out. He slowly drifted over Long Beach and crossed the primary approach corridor of Long Beach Airport. I had the same problem over Logan Airport outside of Boston…

He was in contact with REACT, a Citizen band radio monitoring organization, who recorded their conversation:

REACT: What information do you wish me to tell [the airport] at this time as to your location and your difficulty?
Larry: Ah, the difficulty is, ah, this was an unauthorized balloon launch, and, uh, I know I’m in a federal airspace, and, uh, I’m sure my ground crew has alerted the proper authority. But, uh, just call them and tell them I’m okay.

Things Get Worse

After 45 minutes in the sky, he shot several balloons, and then accidentally dropped his pellet gun overboard. He descended slowly until the balloons’ dangling cables got caught in a power line, causing a 20-minute blackout in a Long Beach neighborhood. Walters was able to climb to the ground.

I always had dreams in which I could fly by waving my feet. I would float up and slowly glide down. At times I would be afraid that I might hit the power lines, so I would flap my feet some more and hope I did it in time to raise over them. Oh boy, Larry actually hit them and lived…

In my amazing adventure, I have seen Larry flying above Beverly on his second flight. It was cool seeing him up there with the Hood Balloon above him. Something no one will ever see again, and I was there!

~Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book on Amazon.com!

12 of My Favorite Rocket Ships from the Movies

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! Here are my 15 favorite ships from TV and big screen sci-fi movies of all time! Some were my father’s favorites too.

USS Kelvin from Star Trek Reboot
Romulan Bird of Prey

Fifth Element Junk

Black Hole ship
Gunship Last Starfighter
Eagle from Space 1999
Cylon ship from Battle Star Galactica
War Hawk from Buck Rogers
Phoenix from Battle of the Planets
Yamato from Star Blazers
Mark II Viper from Battlestar Gallactica
Starfighter from Buck Rogers and the 21st Century
Now weren’t they cool! Hey, post your favorites below!
~Max
To find out about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book on Amazon.com

My Favorite Plane

F4U Corsair in the Movie Planes!

Welcome back to my blog about balloons, rocket ships, airplanes, space travel, Star Wars, sci-fi, and everything about flying! Today is only a shout out though. Just thought it was cool that Skipper who trains the young crop duster to become a racing plane was my favorite airplane, a Voight FU4 Corsair!!!

~Max

To find out more about me visit Salem House Press and buy my book on Amazon.com!