Michigan enters the NCAA Tournament coming off an up and down and up and down and up and down finish. Will they break the trend this weekend one way or the other?
What do Michigan men’s basketball, the new 2022 Formula 1 cars, and inexperienced pilots have in common? A porpoising problem.
Allow this history major an attempt at an aerodynamics lesson. “Porpoising” is a term for oscillations that mimic the way a swimming porpoise bobs above and below the water line. In airplanes, porpoising most commonly occurs when a pilot approaches the runway with too much speed and tries to force a touchdown when the plane still wants to stay airborne.
This usually happens with student pilots. More experienced fliers know to either carry less speed or go back around — take off again, circle around, and retry the landing — instead of risk getting caught in this loop, which can cause serious damage if the plane slams down nose-first:
The term has had a recent renaissance in Formula 1. The sport’s governing body overhauled the specifications for its cars heading into the 2022 season, which begins next week. While the sleeker vehicles have been a welcome change, most teams are scrambling for solutions to porpoising issues that emerged in preseason testing.
This looks like a deeply uncomfortable ride:
You can see where I’m going with this. Michigan can’t get this dang contraption on the ground, nor have they taken off and tried again:
Michigan’s second-half collapse against Indiana also marked a month since they’ve won (or lost) consecutive games. It hasn’t been a fun way to progress through the end of the season, certainly as a fan and I’m assuming as a player or coach as well. Instead of momentum, there’s neck pain and a sense of impending doom.
Maybe there’s still runway left to take off. Maybe they’ve already smashed the landing gear. We’ll find out soon enough.
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