Old man Skyler was a solitary but friendly old man who lived in Lander, Wyoming. As a hobbyist, he loved nothing more than making model planes and selling them cheaply to kids at local events. He wasn't a rich man, but lived humbly and generously. Unfortunately, old man Skyler passed away this March from a heart attack.

The people of the community were sad, but as they began to organise his affairs it was discovered that he had arranged for his life insurance to form a trust to help the area. However, the insurance company claims that his insurance has run out, and that they cannot confirm that he died while the policy was still active.

Old man Skyler was last seen alive on Thursday the 5th of March, by the postman who was delivering a package. He'd talked to the postman about the package, which was a new model plane that he was very excited about. He was discovered dead on Friday the 13th. Everything was covered in flock, which he must have knocked over in his last moments. His insurance policy was valid up to and including Monday the 9th.

As an expert puzzler, the Lander community brought you in to help sort things out. His house has been sealed and preserved since the old man was found dead. You go inside and have a brief look around the place, and then settle at the desk, stirring up flock as you sit down. On the desk is the new model plane:

enter image description here

Can you prove (as much as possible), one way or the other, whether or not old man Skyler died before his insurance ran out?


There's more to the image than just the glue label, but nothing you won't have the tools to find.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ just like an insurance company would $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Aug 4, 2015 at 14:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ what is flock? something used in modeling i guess? $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Aug 4, 2015 at 14:40
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure which way this points, but the humidity in Lander, Wyoming never reached 75% between the 9th and the 13th. (wunderground.com/history/airport/KLND/2015/3/13/…) $\endgroup$
    – f''
    Aug 4, 2015 at 15:02
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ And, according to that website, it DID have max humidity of more than 75 in each of the days between the 5th and the 9th. $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2015 at 15:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What the flock is this! $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2015 at 11:21

1 Answer 1


Okay, so a bit of palette-shifting shows there are two colors of flock on the desk:

RGB = [117,164,108] spread everywhere


RGB = [101,173,99] in a few specific areas - the spout and bottom corners of the glue bottle, several foot-print-like blobs leading from glue bottle to plane, on the base the plane is attached to, and the lumpy plane piece with a tab sticking out of it.

enter image description here

If we assume the color change represents flock that attached to glue upon spilling vs. flock which landed on clean desk, then evidently Mr. Skyler had made a gluey mess of things just before he died.

But in doing so, he effectively placed his own time of death to a day between the 5th and 9th: Per the comments from VictorHenry and f, above (also TIL that single-letter user names are allowed), we learn that the humidity was high enough up to the 9th that any glue he spilled would have activated, causing the flock to glue to the table. But from the 9th to the 13th, the humidity was below the 75% threshold necessary to activate the glue (per the note on the glue bottle). If we assume the glue dries within an hour or so, then the flock had to have been spilled shortly after he dripped glue on the table sometime before or on the 9th.

Thus, assuming that he spilled the flock upon his death and not before (which is explicitly stated in the puzzle) his insurance coverage had not yet expired.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ding ding ding! You blew the flock away and, in doing so, blew the case wide open! After a brief attempt at arguing that the glue could have been older, the postal records for the delivery of the flock-ed model seal the deal and the insurance company begrudgingly accepts their defeat. The community awards your bounty and founds the "Sky's the Limit Foundation". Great work, all! $\endgroup$
    – Samthere
    Aug 6, 2015 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ His username is f'' not f. $\endgroup$
    – LeppyR64
    Aug 7, 2015 at 3:49
  • $\begingroup$ @LeppyR64: You are correct. My mistake. $\endgroup$
    – BoboDClown
    Aug 7, 2015 at 18:13

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