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« Wabi Sabi | Main | A New Head Architect »

September 14, 2006

Photo Find of the Day

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Has there ever been an airplane cooler than the Flying Wing? How did that thing stay aloft?

Here's Wikipedia on the Northrop YB-49.



posted by Michael at September 14, 2006



Posted by: Nigel on September 14, 2006 3:38 PM

Senator Beauregarde Blowhard:

"Get ridda dat dere fuselahg! Dere's too much fuselahgin' goin' on. Awl ya needs ta flah's a wing. So Ah say, get ridda dat dere fuselahg an' staht fundin' wings, 'spec'lly dem deep frahd wings....mmm, mmm, goood!"

Posted by: ricpic on September 14, 2006 4:57 PM

The coolest damn plane of all time is the SR-71 Blackbird. End of story.

Posted by: s on September 14, 2006 9:09 PM

How did that thing stay aloft?

It didn't. Flying wings didn't succeed until the B-2, which probably has computer-enhanced stability.

I once heard a lecture by the famous test pilot Scott Crossfield. Somebody asked him about flying wings, or maybe the B-49 itself, and he disparaged the concept. "A pilot can't get enough tail," he quipped. It was a joke but the point behind it was serious, and I think that that was the consensus before computerized flight controls. There are situations from which an aircraft without tail surfaces cannot easily recover. Nowadays I assume the computer prevents control movements that would take the aircraft into any such danger zone.

Posted by: Jonathan on September 14, 2006 9:11 PM

The flying wing is the way of the future, or perhaps back to the future. It can carry more weight, more quietly, more efficiently than a regular airplane of similiar size. Both Boeing and Airbus have drawings on the board. It is true that they won't fly worth a damn withouth lots of computer assistance... So I hope they don't run Windows ME.

I reckon you'll see them at airports near you within twenty years.

Posted by: Stuart on September 15, 2006 4:58 AM

Good footage of an original flying wing can be found in the awful 1950s giant-insect movie "The Deadly Mantis", where one (well, stock footage of one) is used to drop an atomic bomb on said menace. Does this end its reign of destruction? Don't make me laugh.

Posted by: Derek Lowe on September 15, 2006 8:38 AM

In my favorite movie, The War of the Worlds, they use the flying wing to drop the H-Bomb on the Martians. The FW looks as alien as the Martian machines, almost.

BTW, great site of WWII color photos.

Posted by: Lexington Green on September 15, 2006 8:47 AM

I well remember seeing the picture of that amazing thing on the Revell model airplane box. My brain went up in flames and I had to have it. At the age of eight, though, I was unable to project what a disappointment actually putting it together would be. You slap the two halves together and then it's pretty much decals from there on out. Made you want to linger over the propellers.

Posted by: Sluggo on September 15, 2006 10:54 AM

There are few designs as radical as the flying wing, but one that comes close is the "flying flapjack."

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on September 15, 2006 5:53 PM

Holy crap!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 15, 2006 5:59 PM

Alright, if it's going to come down to insane aircraft concepts, I submit the Stipa-Caproni. That's at a wonderful site, by the way, for old magazine photos and ephemera.

Posted by: Derek Lowe on September 15, 2006 9:27 PM

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