A few years ago, a Royal Air Force wing commander visited the British aeronautics engineer Nigel Gifford, to discuss the idea of dropping aid from the sky to besieged civilians in Syria. Airdrops are extremely rare in urban environments; beyond the political obstacles, there are the logistical difficulties of landing giant pallets in small areas of a city. Even successful drops can endanger civilians. “While unpacking one and a half metric tons of food, you make yourself a very nice sniper target,” Gifford, a seventy-one-year-old former soldier, told me. “So I said to the commander, ‘I wouldn’t do it like that. I would build the aircraft out of food.’ ”
Now he has done so. The Pouncer, a hundred-and-forty-five-pound edible glider, with a ten-foot wingspan, is designed to be released from a cargo plane as far as sixty miles from its target. The fuselage is packed with grains; the Pouncer’s entire menu …
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