Entries by Cayley

Dunne Tailless Aeroplane

In the early years of the 20th century British army officer Lieutenant John William Dunne developed a theoretical interest in aircraft stability, which led him to design the first practical tailless aeroplane. His machines achieved stability through the shaping of their wings. These were sharply swept hack and incorporated “washout” a change, from root to tip. of the angle at which the wings […]

MAcCready Gossamer Albatross

The Grossamer Albatross captured headlines in 1979 when it made the first human-powered fligh across the English Channel. Designed hy American engineer Dr Paul MacCready, the aircraft used pedal-power to drive its large, two-bladed propeller. Appropriately, it was piloted by an amateur cyclist, Bryan Allen, who made the 22 miles and 453 yards crossing in two hours and 49 minutes, at a […]

Boeing 314

The Boeing 314 “Clipper” flying boat was probably the most luxurious passenger aeroplane ever built, This stately giant was created for Pan American, who wanted an aircraft to carry wealthy passengers in comfort and style on transoceanic routes. Boeing married the wings and tailplane of their prototype XB-15 long-range bomber with a massive whale-shaped hull to make a flying boat of breathtaking […]

Paulhan-Tatin Aero-Torpille

One of the more conspicuous machines at the French military aeroplane trials in October 1911 was the Paulhan-Tatin Aero- Torpille (acro-torpedo). It was designed by veteran flight experimenter Victor Tatin, and built by Louis Paulhan, then France’s most famous young aviator. This happy collaboration of youth and age produced a sleek, streamlined monoplane that was in some ways ahead of its time. […]

Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe

The shark-like Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe was the world’s first operational jet fighter. Powered by two Junkers Jumo engines mounted under its slightly swept-back wings, it was at least 70mph faster than any World War II piston-engine aircraft. German pilot, Adolf Galland, described the exhilarating experience of flying the jet as like being “pushed by angels”. Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe, the development […]

Bristol Brabazon

The Bristol Brabazon airliner was a gian of an aircraft larger even than a Boeing 747. It was also in many ways a strikingly advanced design for its day. Yet, commercially, this huge piston-engine airliner was a total failure for the British aircraft industry. The aircraft was named after Lord Brabazon of Tara, who headed a committee that produced a government report on […]

Pilcher Triplane

Fllight pioneer Percy Pilcher is one of Britain’s unsung heroes. But for a fatal accident it is possible that he, rather than the celebrated Wright brothers, might have solved the riddle of powered, controlled, heavier-than -air flight. Inspired by Lilienthal, Pilcher built four gliders in 1895, the last of which, the Hawk, was the most successful. In 1897, working with engineer Walter Wilson, he […]

Vought F4U Corsair

The American F4U Corsair is widely acknowledged as the outstanding carrier-borne fighter of World War II. Its most distinctive feature was the inverted-gull wing. This was ingeniously designed to allow the undercarriage, fitted at the lowest point of the wing, to be short and sturdy and thus ideal for carrier landing – while still providing adequate ground clearance for the large-diameter propeller. […]

Lee-Richards Annular Monoplane

Although never mainstream, the notion of making an aeroplane with a circular wing has merit and has intermittently attracted serious flight innovators. British experimenters, Cedric Lee and George Tilghman Richards, designed their first powered annular-winged aeroplane in 1913. The aircraft was built amid great secrecy at Shoreham Aerodrome in Sussex, by Gordon England. Based on two concentric steel-tube hoops, the wing was braced to […]