Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Colony: Skiffs

I've referenced Skiffs heavily in my early notes on Creating the Colony. So I decided to log into Second Life and make a crude model of a one-man skiff. The screenshot above is of my Second Life avatar, Aireanna Nishi, at Abbott's Aerodrome with the crude skiff. I may eventually make it into a working aircraft and add a flight script to it, but most likely not. Linden Scripting Language gives me a headache.

Skiffs are the standard long-distance crafts in The Colony. They employ Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) technology in order to lift off and land on space restricted landing areas. Once in flight, the lift fans rotate 90-degrees in order to provide forward propulsion for the aircraft. This provided a great boost in airspeed over rotor driven aircraft, enabling faster travel. This is a great benefit because the Seek were able to build skyports with a very tight aircraft recovery area, launch rescue efforts quickly and land expeditions in the most remote locations.

Beginning in C303 skiffs were built with a Shimmerwood frame and skin. Catherine Li, a botanist that arrived with the Sixth Expedition, developed a molding technique for Shimmerwood that allowed it to be hardened in shaped forms. This was a major development in production for The Colony. in C500, nearly every vehicle produced uses the technology she developed. The technology has been adapted into manufacturing techniques across The Colony.

A skiff is actually the common term referring to a range of small boats. Initially, the Seek called them Aero-lifts, but the term Skiff replaced that name in the popular lexicon around C88.

Up until about C200 Skiffs were restricted to rescue operations. However, with the arrival of the fourth expedition, the Seek had cannibalized enough navigation and guidance parts from Expedition Transports that they were able to construct a small fleet of skiffs with 1, 2 and 4 seat models. The majority of the 4-seat models were eventually converted to 1-seat cargo skiffs to supply research centers and outposts.

From C287-351, the Seek constructed more than 400 skiffs. Of those domestic models, 183 were lost on Seek expeditions. More advanced skiffs arrived with the Seventh Expedition in C350 and the domestically produced skiffs were sold to the general public.

Many bands of Seek also recovered numerous domestic skiffs lost by earlier expeditions. The Skiffs were used for transport to the site the expedition would launch. Many expeditions never returned and the skiff were never recovered.

Pax has recovered seven skiffs and Madelyn recovered another three during her exploration of the Fractured Dismals and Sierra Hackles. The two of them have access to the largest private fleet of skiffs in The Colony. Madelyn's mechanical skills ensured that the skiffs are kept in good mechanical working order and Pax' connections have enabled them to upgrade the skiff's electronics with the latest technology from the Ninth Expedition. Obtaining the electronics from two Expedition Transports from the Tenth Expedition is a major objective for Pax' band of Seek in C500.

Many civilians are involved in the development of recreation model skiffs. These skiffs are based on Ultralight technology from Earth and are fixed-wing, cloth aircraft with a single turbine to provide lift and propulsion.


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