Iowa State University Alumni Association

Explore Archive


Kari (’82 leisure studies) and Colin (’82 ag mechanization) Dirks (L) had always wanted to go to Alaska. So when they saw the ISU Alumni Association brochure for a small-group experience to Alaska in 2012, they jumped at the chance.

“Everything was great about that trip,” Kari said. “We were on a 36-passenger ship, and it was first class. We were treated like royalty. We were so spoiled!”

The couple kayaked among glaciers, hiked in Glacier Bay, relaxed in quiet coves, and spotted moose, whales, and dolphins. It was, they said, one of the best trips they’d ever taken. So when it came time to splurge on travel again, they immediately thought of the Alumni Association. Their 2014 trip was to the Canadian Rockies. And the next year? They were signed up to travel with the Traveling Cyclones to Australia and New Zealand. When a health problem forced them to cancel at the last minute, they were disappointed but said they were very glad they’d taken out travel insurance.

“We have a friend who told us that we could probably do that trip cheaper if we went through someone else, but I don’t want to go with anyone else,” Colin said. “Iowa State has taken care of us. And you get what you pay for.”


If you are one of those people who loves the window seat, then you have probably noticed the tiny hole at the bottom of the airplane window.

The hole—tiny as it may be—helps keep passengers safe. It all comes down to pressure: the higher the altitude, the lower the oxygen, which can leave people feeling ill and short of breath. At a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, the air pressure is so low that anyone would pass out if he or she was exposed to it, so a plane's cabin must be pressurized to be much greater than the outside air. Good for passengers, yes -- but not so great for the plane, which needs a way to release some of the strain this puts on the aircraft. Enter the tiny "bleed" or "breather" holes, which do just that.

Look closely at your window, and you'll see that it's not just made up of one durable pane, but three. According to Mark Vanhoenacker, a British Airways pilot who writes for Slate, the innermost pane is mostly to protect the second and third panes, which are "designed to contain this difference in pressure between the cabin and the sky." The bleed hole, then, allows pressure to be balanced out between the cabin and gap between panes. Another function of the airplane window hole? To release moisture and minimize the frost or condensation blocking your view. And that's good news for any pictures you may take, because, let’s face it: We have all snapped a shot through that little window a time or two.

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