If you’re like most dog owners, watching your German Shepherd try to build an airplane in the backyard is usually an exercise in embarrassment and frustration.
Like many Germans, he has a fairly high aptitude for engineering problems. Like almost all Germans, however, he is stubborn, defensive, and doesn’t know when to quit.
You watch from the kitchen window and shake your head as he cranks the prop on his Jendrassik Cs-1-inspired monstrosity. “Arschgesicht! Drecksau!” you hear him scream when it doesn’t fire.
Of course it doesn’t fire. The compression ratios are all wrong. You tried to tell him this. You tried to tell him a more modern turboprop – the Daimler-Benz 605, for example – might get him over the fence.
The charred remains of his previous attempts litter the back yard. It’s a wonder he hasn’t killed himself.
You sigh, pour a fresh cup of coffee and cross the lawn to see how he’s doing.
“Hello, Hans,” you say. He rolls from under the engine, his face matted with oil. You notice that he’s growing a mustache. “Guten morgen. Wie gehts.”
It sounds rather cold. He’s not smiling. He’s been working all night.
“You know, if you altered the valve timing and increased the inlet period you’d get some wicked volumetric efficiency.”
“Dies es lieber,” he says.
“It’s such an old design, Hans, that’s all.”
“Dann verliert die ubung ihren sinn,” he says. “Deutschland –“
“Germany lost the war, Hans.”
Now he’s angry. His ears go up and his hair bristles.
“Was hore ich!” he yells, banging a wrench against the engine’s crankcase. “Da so alles uber deine neue stelle! Das perfect German design!”
Just then, from next door, comes the unmistakable sound of a radial piston engine ripping to life. The noise is deafening, like a swarm of angry chainsaws.
A poor replica of the Grumman F6F Hellcat – made from pickle crates and pieces of used Pergo flooring – rolls into view and rumbles across the yard. It lifts into the air, clearing the fence, the trees, the power lines. You look straight up as it passes overhead. A couple of American coon dogs wearing leather flying caps and goggles look down, tongues wagging.
Hans is staring up from the ground, speechless. You can’t bear to look at him. Slowly, softly, he starts to cry: das gibt es uberall.
“Immer und immer wieder, wieder und wieder! Wieder und wieder!”
Now he’s really crying, big dog tears rolling from his eyes. You back away and return to the house for your shotgun. You always wanted a poodle, anyway.