February 22, 2006
When looking at how aviation has advanced we see how technology has assisted in navigation and operations but not necessarily the way aerial transportation looks. With a few exceptions aircraft still have design carry over from the 1940s. There is still piston engine, propeller driven aircraft rolling off the assembly lines from the top general aviation manufactures today! In the March 2006 issue of Business 2.0 there is an article by Burt Rutan called Why Space Needs You. In the article Rutan mentions the advancement of aviation and how "...it was lone entrepreneurs who succeeded in the important pioneering efforts." Rutan states about the beginning of powered flight, "They quickly followed the solutions for business activities: air shows within six years, barnstorming within 14 years, airmail flights within 15 years, and competitive airline service within 23 years of the Wright brothers first flight." Rutan goes on to tell about where he thinks we will be in just a few short years with the new machines he is building to take the common man into space. In reading an article like this, about the future and about where we are going, I am more interested in where we came from. Yes, the future is exciting... but I like to go back to ANOTHER TIME! New technologies today are preserving and resurrecting the aerial machines of the past. Today lone entrepreneurs are in machine shops remanufacturing just about any aircraft component, even complete engines, because the technology is much less expensive than what it once was. Corroded airframes are rebuilt with equipment that almost any shop can purchase today. What extinct aircraft will we see fly again? Within the last decade we have already seen some of them fly. From small production runs to one off airplanes. Grumman F3F, Hughes Racer, Vickers Vimy... what more will we see? (I'll write more about this in the future) Whether looking at the state of aviation today... or dreaming of flying to space... I dream of seeing aircraft from another time fly again. Check back as I comment on a few projects that are underway.
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