One of the most interesting groups in aviation history must be the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The group invented the concept of JATO, and was instrumental in the development of rocketry in the United States.  Headed by Theodore von Karman (center), a pioneering scientist in fluid dynamics (and a student of Ludwig Prandtl) the group also included figures such as Frank Malina (center-right), who would go on to be a famous artist in his own right. However, the oddest figure is likely Jack Parsons (not pictured) who, after his work in rockets, became involved with Aleister Crowley and L. Ron Hubbard.

Sean D. Tucker, flying the Oracle Challenger III, clips a ribbon (seen right) at Oshkosh 2013. 

  1. Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T2i
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In the early days of World War II, the US Army Air Corps felt that there would be a need for an interceptor type aircraft to provide defense from air attacks on the United States. As many “civilian” companies were being awarded military production contracts during the war, Fisher Body (the body panel manufacturer for General Motors) submitted a proposal known as the P-75 Eagle (pictured.) To facilitate a quick turnaround, the aircraft heavily leaned on developed components, such as the landing gear from the Vought F4U Corsair. As the war progressed, it became apparent that the real need in the Air Corps would be for a long range escort fighter. The design was adapted to fit the new role, but after a number of failures the project was eventually canceled in late 1944.

An idea that keeps popping up over the years is the idea of a cyclocopter or cyclogyro. The basic principle is to rotate a set of wings (or rotor blades) in a cylindrical motion. By varying the angle of attack as the airfoils travel around the circle, one can vector thrust in any direction normal to the rotational axis. The mechanics of such a system are more complex than that of a traditional helicopter. However, the forward flight speed would not be subject to the same limitations as that of a helicopter. In addition a properly working model would theoretically be more maneuverable than a helicopter, as the thrust could be vectored horizontally as well as vertically, rather than simply tilting the blade disc.

Prototypes are being built at the University of Maryland and at the Seoul National University, as seen in the youtube links.

The idea, however, is not new having been patented in 1927.

"The principle is most important, not the detail."
— Theodore von Kármán

Seen in this photo is the Douglas YC-15. The aircraft was designed to take off in less that 1000 feet while carrying a full load. The really cool thing about this aircraft is that engine exhaust is diverted through the wing and diverted downward over the flaps. This blown flap design allows the the flow to remain attached at very high angles of attack, allowing the wing to produce somewhere between three and five times the maximum lift possible compared to a “standard” wing. The idea behind it was understood for some time before the aircraft was built, but was not that feasible until high-bypass engines were common due to the high temperature of gas produced by lower bypass engines.

Photo Credit: Akradecki via Wikipedia

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"If nothing else you don’t want to look stupid in the NTSB report"
— Rick Durden on reasons to err on the side of caution

This was just an old joke, but it’s hard to argue with this refutation. :)



“”If it’s ugly, it’s British; if it’s weird, it’s French; and if it’s ugly and weird, it’s Russian.””

— Anonymous (via fyeahaviation)


sorry what was that?


i can’t hear you


over the engines


of our beautiful






Recently, I have seen a number of PopSci type articles on the generation of lift that claim that Bernoulli’s Theorem is incorrect. For example:

The statement that is called into question is : because the fluid elements travel farther along the top surface of the wing, and must meet with the corresponding fluid element that traveled along the bottom of the airfoil, the fluid along the top travels faster and thus exerts less pressure. This pressure difference is what causes the airfoil to produce lift.

Taken as a whole this statement is incorrect. There is no reason that simply because the fluid elements along the top of the airfoil have traveled farther they must travel more quickly. This is the part of the statement that is incorrect.

However, Bernoulli’s principle which simply states that as fluid particles travel faster, they exert less pressure is correct. Furthermore, the pressure differential caused by the differing speeds does correspond to the amount of lift produced by the airfoil. It is also worth noting that Bernoulli’s Equation as commonly written: [ p + 1/2 rho V^2 = constant ] is valid only for an incompressible, inviscid fluid. It can be proven from basic axiomatic principles of fluid dynamics and has certainly not been refuted since the 60’s as the second link could be interpreted to imply.

Really great blog, love all the quotes.  I wanna reblog them all!

Anonymous Asked
QuestionI just found this blog and I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about yourself and why you set it up, and any aviation background you may have. This is a fantastic blog, I absolutely love it. Answer

Thank you for your kind words.

I set this blog up just as an outlet for some of the better aviation stories and factoids that I have come across.

I am finishing up my PhD in Aerospace Engineering and have logged about 15 hours so far towards my PPL. Unfortunately both the financing and time commitments of these two activities are constantly at odds with one another. This explanation also goes a long way towards explaining the sporadic nature of the posts.

Linear analysis of supersonic wings predicts that increased camber and thickness will provide no benefit in terms of lift, but will only increase drag. While this is not the exact solution, it does provide an insight into supersonic wing design. Namely, that the best performing wings at supersonic speeds tend to basically be flat plates. This phenomenon was known early in the development of high speed aircraft, as evidenced on this photo of the X-1E.

The X-1E was essentially a modified version of the more famous X-1. Changes made include a conventional canopy and an even thinner wing, reaching only 4% thickness.

The exhaust plume of this NASA SR-71 is a beautiful example of shock diamonds (sometimes called Mach disks). This flow phenomena is caused by a mismatch of exhaust pressure to the ambient air. The stream then undergoes a series of alternating Prandtl-Meyer expansions and oblique shocks, causing portions of the flow to be hotter then colder. The hotter sections give off a distinctive glow, leading to the visualization of the shock diamonds.

This famous photograph shoes condensation of the ambient air due to an oblique shock caused by the passing of an F-22 raptor.

Very well put together video, with a number of really interesting clips of the effects of supersonic flow. Also contains commentary.