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

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

Archive

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