The romance of flight is often associated with the dramatic landscape of tarmac and runways, where planes prepare for take-off. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman say their last words to each other in a weird foggy glow on the taxiway in the closing minutes of Casablanca. A Lockheed 12 aircraft looms behind them, promising adventure. This is a threshold of escape — a point of departure for the characters, an apt space of closure for the film. Woody Allen paid homage to this scene — if also making it the subject of postmodern pastiche — in his 1972 film Play It Again, Sam, recast with Diane Keaton and Woody Allen, and a modern San Francisco International Airport standing in for the exotic airfield of Casablanca.
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[…] A bird strike — sometimes also called a Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard, or BASH — remains a rare but destructive phenomenon. Which makes it one of those ironies that speak to the frailty of human technology: All the knowledge embedded in an aircraft — all the physical prowess, all the digital nuance — can still be thwarted by a coincidental collusion with birds. To the extent, per one estimate, that our feathered friends can cause more than a billion — billion, with a b — dollars’ worth of damage to aircraft in a single year.
But that could be changing: Bird strikes could soon become a thing of the past. Researchers in South Korea have developed a mobile device that uses a combination of tracking software, microphones, and lasers — yes, lasers — to detect birds and then scare them away from airport runways.
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