Thursday, September 23, 2010

Parachuting Sheep..and Ultrarunning

I love me some Boing Boing, a website devoted to, I guess, tech culture, for lack of a better term.  If you like oddball stories relating to technology, this is the site for you.  On Monday they posted an article about parachuting sheep in the early days of WWII:

When the Italian army invaded East Africa in the mid-1930s, pre-packaged ration technology had not yet reached a point where one could carry a lot of food into a desert and expect it to say edible.

The fascists solved that problem using a little ingenuity, some sheep, and a bunch of little parachutes.

Now moving on to the original article in The Atlantic (also for photo credits):

When the Italian army advanced across the Danakil Desert in north-eastern Ethiopia during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, it was crucial that they travel with as little as possible. The desert, named by National Geographic as "The Cruelest Place on Earth," is pockmarked with volcanoes and known for its oppressive heat. With 120 miles of nothingness ahead of them, the troops had to move fast.

Enter the flying supply column, a new idea in warfare at the time, but one that would be used again in future conflicts. Twenty-five planes carried water, ammunition and rations for the Italians as they advanced on Emperor Haile Selassie's Army of the Ethiopian Empire. As they supposedly refused to eat the standard pre-packaged processed food that accompanied most armies and because fresh meat would spoil in the extreme temperatures of Danakil, the supply planes dropped living animals for the troops to butcher and cook. By the time the army had finished their trek, seventy-two sheep and two bulls had been pushed from planes, parachutes strapped to their backs.

Maybe we could adapt this technology for long solo runs--either parachute some animals to predesignated locations along the trail, or perhaps a runner could do a mini-sheep drive and take food along on the hoof.


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