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


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


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