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August 10, 2007

Some Rich 'n' Yummy Geek Fodder

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Do you love airplanes? Do you like data? Are you curious about how things work?

I say Yes to all three questions. And that's why I spent much of yesterday evening engrossed reading Ray Whitford's book Evolution of the Airliner.

The material in the book seems to be based on articles written for a popular aviation magazine, which means that some chapters' most recent data are for the 1990s and not the present decade: but that's a fairly minor quibble, given the slowing pace of airliner product launches.

I'm a visually-oriented guy and like the many pictures and, especially, the many graphs depicting various trends.

Two photo quibbles: (1) there were no photos of the Convair 880/990 jetliners; and (2) no photos of American planes in the chapter on flying boats. (Whitford is British and otherwise plays fair with the modest Yankee contributions to commercial aviation history. But Really! -- none of the various Sikorsky flying boats Pan American few? No Martin model 130? No Boeing 314? Shame!, I say.)

Some graphs I found interesting:

  • NYC-LA flight times for various airliners from the Ford Timotor to the 707.
  • Cruising speed plotted against year of first flight, 1919-1970 (when airliner speeds topped out ).
  • Wing loading plotted against year of service entry, 1936-1993.
  • Fuel efficiency in terms of seat-miles per US gallon against date of service entry, 1953-1993.

And there are diagrams.

One I liked illustrated flying boat metacentric height as formed by the center of gravity and the center of buoyancy.

Another illustrated wing pressure interactions for biplanes, showing inefficiencies compared to monoplane wings.

Wow! If this isn't insanely great (to quote Steve Jobs), then I don't know what is.

Go geeks, go!!



posted by Donald at August 10, 2007


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