Paul noticed a For Sale sign in front of Marsha's house in the morning. The sign sat desolately in the middle of her front lawn.
That morning, Ben Rich arranged a meeting with the aerodynamics team. With Paul and Bill, that made twelve men jammed into a medium size conference room. Several men stood in the corners, others sat on the floor.
Bill Schroeder drew a diagram on the blackboard with a piece of light green chalk. "Gentlemen, the overall design we're zeroing in on looks kind of like this." He drew three figuresa side view, a front view, and a top viewwhich he connected, in good draftsmanlike form, with point-for-point lines. This way, each point on one view could be matched with itself in each of the other two views.
"She looks kind of like an arrowhead from the top, see."
Already there were sniggers. Experienced design engineers looked at each other shaking their heads, with mocking smiles.
Bill calmly droned on: "From the front, we have this kind of carapace look. The idea, gentlemen, is never to present a straight line or flat surface that is exactly perpendicular to the radar gain.
"From the side, it's kind of a sleek diamond shape. In fact you'll see that the entire surface will be composed of triangle and diamond shapes."
"What is so damn magical about triangles?" one engineer asked.
"Good point. A triangle is that polygon which contains the least number of sides and coincidentally therefore of points. It contains three points, and any two points contain one side. The problem, gentlemen, is that this is 1975 instead of 2075 and our computers are quite limited. If we could process millions or billions of calculations per second, instead of thousands, then we could incorporate curves. I think the day of the curving wing or even flying wing stealth plane may come in our lifetimes."
"So why are we dropping everything to do this?" asked another engineer. He looked around at his colleagues. "I just want to be sure we aren't losing our minds here."
A majority of the men in the room laughed.
Bill shrugged. "Guys, pry open your heads and listen. I didn't come dragging myself in here in my old age to fool around. We stand the chance to revolutionized warfare forever. Right here. Us. In this room." One could hear a pin drop. "We can achieve reductions in radar image by the thousands, by the tens of thousands."
A gasp went around the table. Disbelief.
"We can make a B-52 look tinier than a door knob."
Laughter swelled around the room. Several men turned away holding their heads. At least one started toward the door, and had to be pulled (laughing) back by his shirt tail.
Ben Rich spoke up. "Guys, here's the deal. I'm not going to commit the company unless I can show you and the management proof of concept with a model. All I ask you to do is have an open mind right now. I believe Paul and Bill are wrapping up Echo I way ahead of schedule and we should be ready to build a model very soon. Then we'll be able to actual testing, and you'll all be invited. For now, rememberkeep on doing your work, but in the backs of your minds, be thinking about how to make a brick fly. Well, now we know it's going to be more like an arrowhead."
That evening, Paul and Pete finished the balsa framing on the model and took it outside for doping. That meant stretching sheets of tissue over every opening, and then repeatedly applying coats of a special glue, letting each coat harden before applying the next. Paul was hurrying the project along as much as he could, even after Pete went to bed. He applied the last coat for the night around ten, threw his clothes in the wash, and took a shower.
Marsha wrinkled her nose later that night in the dark as she crept on top of him and smelled his hair. "Have you been with another woman? You smell like fingernail polish."
He tickled her, and she twisted around to his back, squealing and giggling.
"That's the smell of airplane dope."
"I know, silly. I'm so happy that you're doing this for him."