Something Old. Something New. An Aviation Blog by Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Sunday, January 15, 2012

Despite powered flight’s mere century or so of development, it has come an awfully long way in that time. From frail craft of rag and tube to supersonic fighters of savage stealth, the range of creation seems to have only been limited by the imagination.

Yet within this sphere of rapid change and new frontiers, there have also been craft that have created their own legends. Whether in the form the Supermarine Spitfire’s classic lines, or the global reliability of the pioneering Douglas DC-3, certain aircraft have a means to charm their way into history, whilst others do not. Some have burst into the headlines announcing a revolution of sorts, while others have slowly endeared themselves through the years like a dependable friend. Occasionally, a machine will do both; the Boeing 747 is such an aeroplane.

I recently flew on the flight deck of the impressive Boeing 747-8 Freighter; an aircraft that has made a massive stride in extending the longevity of this already venerated aircraft. To add some context, it must be considered that the first Boeing 747 took to the skies on February 9th, 1969 and at the time represented a quantum leap from the already successful Boeing 707. Since that time nearly 1,500 have been built and variants have served in roles as varied as “Air Force One” to the aircraft used to piggy-back the Space Shuttle home. It changed the face of international travel and the bottom line for many of its operators. Yet despite such a tremendous history, it seemed that after 40 years its race may have been run as the Airbus A380 became the modern monolith and mammoth twin-jets began to stretch across many of the routes the 747 had called home. But the 747 still had one more card to play.

The 747-8 boasts a new wing, with both stylish and effective raked wingtips as well as engine and flight deck technology common to its younger stable-mate, the Boeing 787. In addition to the 747-8F freighter, there is the 747-8I ‘Intercontinental’ passenger version with a stretched fuselage and an increased fuel capacity compared to its 747-400 predecessor. The 747-8 is a modern, more efficient model of a proven performer that will see the type flying even further into the 21st Century.

Through the astute, ongoing adaptation of an established aircraft, the Boeing 747 has not only survived, but flourished, while other models have come and gone. In the beginning it was a wide-body revolutionary, with its upper deck and enormous capacity. However, its ability to remain at the top of its field is by every count equally impressive.

While the 747 has proven to be a giant in both name and nature, a team of aerospace engineers have been busily starting their own revolution at the opposing end of the slide rule. Far from a long range mammoth, they have been exploring the possibilities of air travel on a very small scale. However, the project is only small in terms of physical dimensions as its potential has this aircraft fighting well above its weight. This is no “Jumbo Jet”; in fact it is the “Puffin”.

Born from a Doctoral degree by aerospace engineer, Mark Moore, the Puffin is a concept aircraft designed to uplift a sole occupant. On the face of it, that doesn’t sound too special, however, consider that the craft is electrically powered and stands upright on four legs before lifting off vertically and transitioning into level flight with the pilot lying prone. Offering VTOL capability and reasonable horizontal flight performance in a manner reminiscent of the VF22 Osprey, this little bird packs a punch.

The Puffin is a far cry from the novel ‘rocket’ back packs that have emerged from time to time since the Germans first investigated the subject in World War Two. The pilot is enclosed and by virtue of its electric powerplant it is not only efficient, but stealthy. Being low on both noise and thermal signature, potential roles for the Puffin include the rapid deployment of elite troops and the delivery of supplies as an unmanned vehicle. Its quiet noise footprint would also render it desirable in a civil application as a personal transport.

With a basic weight well under 200 kg, including the 45kg battery, the Puffin has the ability to cruise around 140kt and sprint to 280kt. As with all electric vehicles, the battery technology is a limiting factor and gives the Puffin a range of only about 80 kilometres for the moment, but that is bound to improve along with the batteries. This is no longer the stuff of cartoons like ‘The Jetsons’, this is an emerging frontier with the evolving technology to support the concept. The first third scale unmanned Puffin is set to fly shortly and the interest in this project is bound to grow.

Behind the great aerospace advances are the men in the white coats with their vision and their science. In a field of endeavour so often associated with wings, gold bars and epaulettes, these ‘shadow men’ are the unsung heroes of the aerospace industry. They conjure the concepts and breathe life into them through uncompromising calculation. Without them, the 747 could not become a legend and the Puffin could not become reality. As a planet, we would never have heard the words about “one small step for a man...”

We were once told that the sky was the limit, but this has been proven not to be the case. As legends continue to fly farther and faster and new birds make their first tentative hops, it is worth considering the legacy of the men, women and machines that have gone before. For aviation, sometimes the way ahead will involve extracting one more dance out of a proven performer, while other tasks will call for an entirely new approach. As with so many aspects of life, the choice may come down simply to something old, something new.

 

Title image from NASA.

Comments
Post has no comments.
Post a Comment




Captcha Image

Trackback Link
http://www.owenzupp.com/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=5920&PostID=266934&A=Trackback
Trackbacks
Post has no trackbacks.

Recent Posts

Tags

dogfight warbirds amazon best seller owen zupp T-6 land an aeroplane aviation consultant 50 tales of fllight buting an aeroplane solo around australia USS Missouri Duxford biplae sport armore airpot Beech King Air Fleet Air Arm Royal Australian Navy QANTAS engineers RAA R-DX Cathay Pacific Cargo speaker jabiru Dash 8 buying an aeroplane the right stuff QANTAS A380 Asiana disney pixar dusty Cessna Chuck Yeager Edwards Air Base 50 More Tales of Flight airbus A350 XWB stick and rudder aircraft accident ATFV cirrus crash Queenstown 9/11 simpler time terrorism Pearl Harbor poppies open day Douglas DC-3 Defence Force Recruiting caribou cricket Bf109 plane crash Caboolture low flying aviation writer Victorian Air Ambulance pilot training aeroplane aviation best seller aviation journalist RAF cumulonimbus Lord of the Rings sailor EFIS Beechcraft commercial pilot license Japanese Zero Milford Sound flight deck Honolulu GenX beyond blue flight ebook Bush Pilot ditching Special Casualty Access Team Air France 447 Rolls Royce Merlin aerobatics Kenneth McGlashan: Hawker Hurricane ambulance Boeing 787 smashwords buying an airplane maiden flight aerospace Brumby Aircraft tom wolfe learning to fly STOL Blackhawk low pass New Zealand: QANTAS QF94 flying schoold ditching an aeroplane airliner missing Shuttleworth Collection aeromedical Australian War Memorial Q400 787 RMS Titanic Ricky Ponting ANZAC 737-400 missing airliner Korean Air War memory Se5a skipper 400 Australia 737NG the Fatal Stall Bundaberg Brumby Evolution J230D airline 5 flying tips Ice Pilots Boeing 777 VH-OJA australian aviation MXS airman B777 popular aviation blog 50 tales of flight CO2 emissions Northwest Orient Vietnam War Chris Sperou deHavilland Mosquito how to land an airplane Facebook amazon aviation jobs keynote speaker Cb Wallaby Airlines Boeing 737-800 Kenneth McGlashan QANTAS half yearly report principles of flight aeroplane blog hijack wings most poular aviation blog Super Hornet G-force September 11th flight training planes Dreamliner aerodynamic stall flying instructor aviaton author Pitts coaxial Super King Air Boeing 747-400 Kingsford Smith Airport Boeing 747-8F bowral Steve Visscher pilot suicide George Hale Costa Concordia MH370 QANTAS Boeing 737 aero club Ernest Gann ditching an airplae A350 aviation consulatant open cockpit flight blog Pump Up the Angels canyoner airplane Strategic Airlines fly at 747-8F ANZAC Day Pearl Harbour tail rotor the sky is not the limit Kitplane administration pilot blog Bombardier Mick Wilson Airbus A380 avspecs airbus A350 RAAF WW2 Ansett Australia Grant McHerron aviation author glass cockpit DX-R biofuel Jetstar landing an aeroplane masters of aviation management aviation eBook firts solo Ansett QANTAS Boeing 747-400 Red Bull baggy green storm cells Paramedic solo flight. australia pilot careers Cessna Caravan coastal flying landing an airplane flying ebook aviation careers Yak Formation aviation image aviation photography Lockheed Hudson 1942 boeing 737 formation flying san francisco FA-18 solo flight. asutralia tailwheel Mystery Aircraft Texas iTunes CRT Yak 18T ZA003 solo flight Airbus A330 Brumby High Wing Sydney Airport A350 XWB DH Mosquito warbird Steve Waugh Foundation Mittagong Airfield green technology Glass revolution there and back Nancy Bird Walton flight school QANTAS Airbus A380 NSW Ambulance Service Garmin G1000 writing Boeing 787 Dreamliner Avalon Air Show solo flight australia Yak 52 airshow Boeing 737 Ferry Flight bell X-1 anthony jackson airliners.net C-47 FA-18 Hornet arospace life saving Air Ambulance Winglets Scouts One Six Right raked wing-tip Kenneth Butterworth McGlashan www.owenzupp.com bachelor of aviation airliner Sir Donald Bradman Cathay Pacific blog Plane Crazy Down Under airport security airbus speaking aviation story QF32 Area 51 McGrath Foundation top tips 737-300 Bradman Foundation landing an arplane 38 Squadron RAAF forced landing P-40 Kittyhawk manuscript airline collapse fatal stall VH-OQA Seattle fling Owen Zupp, fly at Battle of Britain plane crash North American Harvard spitfire 944 EADI Matt Hall CA18 Mustang PCDU Sydney Australia CAC Wirraway Ayers Rock pilot academy Scimitar BAE Hawk QANTAS Formula One Grand Prix contra-rotating propeller Flying Wing HUD contrail cost of flying Day of Infamy flying school Flying Fortress Sullenberger 77 Squadron B-17 The Hobbit ICAO QANTAS Commercial pilot licence QANTAS pilots 1940 flying training wings night Jabiru Aircraft memorial 737 classic flying kangaroo RNP flying career the bombing of Darwin National Press Club best aviation blog Around Australia flight Bradman addresses SCAT Temora Aviation Museum aviation blog Malaysia Airlines Nancy Bird USS Arizona Bell 429 helicopter Boeing 767 Kimpo HGS Gen-X engines SNJ Impossible Airport QANTAS QF32 Flying Podcast Spitfire student pilot Boeing 747 Ponting Foundation coaxe Canberra Hawker Hurricane aircraft 737 flying Jatstar Airbus RFC DC-3 Avalon 2013 future Puffin aviator New Zealand CAC Boomerang Hong Kong Trader Australian Aviation magazine Aviation Photography The Pilots Blog solar aviation book Boeing 737NG hars US Airways Flight 1549 Honolulu Airport Flight 6231 Bulldog Pitts Supermarine Spitfire Blue Angels learn to fly aviation degree Korean War UAV choosing a flying school Flight for Control G-ROBT NTSB engine failure Bert Hinkler Dunkirk Tiger Moth kitplanes metal detectors ghost a aviation Down to Earth Gloster Meteor Glenn McGrath Brumby 610 Boeing 747-8i NASA Bell 429 flight The Battle of Britain disney planes how to land an aeroplane deCrespigny P-51 Mustang 2012 Singapore pilot jobs Red Baron short field rescue aviation Australian Army Garmin Steve Waugh Boeing Highlander airplane WW1 pilot de Crespigny International Cricket Hall of Fame US Navy J170 Uluru A320 K.I.A owen zupp author aviation speaker Steve Cooke Planes Premiere Terwilliger Productions most popular aviation blog Queenstown New Zealand air australia Titanic sinking safer flying Piper mosquito September 11 how to land QANTAS Boeing 737-800 careers in aviation MH370 found flying blog coosing a flight school GFC building your own aeroplane p Owen Zupp Brumby Nancy Bird-Bird Walton war Airbus A320 soldier bombing of Darwin D-Day first flight airlines landing a jet QANTAS announcement 723 squadron Pacific Warbirds army hustling hinkler Diamond DA40 P2902 0/11 16R ballooning EFATO Solo Flight Australia.

Archive

© Owen Zupp. All rights Reserved.                                             Admin . Privacy . Disclaimer                                            Website by Shot to Pieces . Powered by Blackroom