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.

Post has no comments.
Post a Comment

Captcha Image

Trackback Link
Post has no trackbacks.

Recent Posts


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


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