Michel Loup’s Monoplane: Pas de Problème.

In 1853 Michel Loup published a short book “Solution Du Problème De La Locomotion Aérienne” book. In that work Loup proposed this quaint bird-form aircraft design propelled by two winged-shaped propellers. He stated “his plan of gliding through the air on four revolving wings”.

Detail of a drawing taken from Phillip Jarrett’s classic “Pioneer Aircraft: Early Aviation Before 1914”.


Zeppelin “Baby-Killers”: Limelights.

Precious Swedish film poster of the almost forgotten “The Sky Hawk” 1929 movie; one of the first through and through “talkie” motion picture. Among its goodies were the superb use of special effects, unlikely British fighters, chubby Zeppelins and a large-scale London miniature model.

Artist: Eric Rohman.

Boeing EC-135E ARIA: “My nose isn’t big. I just happen to have a very small head”.

The ARIA marries two subjects very dear to me: early space exploration and aircraft “ugliness”. The original Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft were C-135B cargo aircraft modified into EC-135N to provide tracking & telemetry in support of the US space program during those epic the late 1960s/early 1970s. Later renamed “Advanced” instead of “Apollo” at the end of that program the ARIA’s continued to provide service in space/missile related duties until they became redundant in the middle 1990s.
The heart of the ARIA systems was its 7ft diameter two-axis steerable antenna, a “world’s largest”. The antenna was located in this humongous 10ft diameter nose. A nose both hilarious and draggy, its nickname “Jimmy Durante” was well-deserved.

In this photo, “Droop Snoot”, an EC-135E on display at the USAF Museum. The -E was the original -N model re-engined with P&W TF33 turbofans.

Another C-135’s nose proboscis.

Friedel-Ursinus (B.1092/14): In the beginning….

The unusual G.I started the family of Gotha’s heavy bombers, a company name that became (in-)famous in that business. The B.1092/14 was designed by Oskar Ursinus, the founder and editor of the seminal Flugsport magazine, and Major Friedel. The main peculiarity of this biplane design was that its fuselage was attached to the upper wing instead of the usual lower one. Its two engines were placed close together on the lower wing to minimize, it seems, the asymmetrical thrust in case of engine failure.
The Friedel-Ursinus prototype made its maiden flight in early 1915 and its tests showed the need of some improvements. After a few modifications Gotha Waggonfabrik decided to produce a very modest number of them (around 20). Its operational story is obscure, but one thing is certain: they weren’t loved. Gotha chose to follow a more conventional layout for their later “G” bombers.

The bizarre shape of the B 1092/14 flying overhead us. Its utterly German-looking aerodynamically balanced ailerons were one of the improvements applied after the initial tests.

Butler & Edwards Steam Plane: V-ictorian ∆.

James W. Butler and Edmund Edwards registered in 1867 a patent for this sharp, delta-wing aeroplane. Based obviously in the classic “paper aircraft”, its creators even considered the addition of a sort of steam engine to produce a surprisingly modern-looking “jet” design. The patent also included a launching carriage and the description of the control system: shifting the center of gravity through the displacement of the control nacelle.

Valencian sequel(?).

Convair B-58 Hustler: Burn, Baby, Burn.

GIF taken from “Convair B-58 Hustler, Champion of Champions”. This sublime Cold War propaganda film was narrated by the veteran actor and Brig Gen (USAF Reserve) James Stewart.
Our Hustler is practicing a “high speed on the deck” mission in an “Oil Burner” route. That name designated, at that time, the areas authorized in the US to fly low-level training missions. They acquired the “Oil Burner” name because jet engines were very smoky back then.