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Todays 'new concept' was designed over 60 years ago
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Resurrecting The Burnelli Wing
First Class Magazine, No. 2. 1983, pages 16-21
by Jerome Greer Chandler

1964-'Vince' Burnelli
Half a century ago, Vincent Burnelli designed a safety conscious "ugly- duckling" aircraft that soared like a political albatross. Today, a new international school of aerodynamic engineers consider its revival.
Half a century ago, Vincent Burnelli designed a safety conscious "ugly-duckling" aircraft that soared like a political albatross. Today, a new international school of aerodynamic engineers consider its revival.

What may have been the last of its breed is cloistered in a Connecticut museum, the victim--some contend-- of a process of unnatural selection. The specimen isn't a dinosaur, but an airplane; one whose offspring could revolutionize aviation and--just maybe save your life.

The CBY-3 was the last creation of Vincent Justus Burnelli, a maverick aeronautical engineer from Texas. His wide, squat-looking airplane isn't pretty. Yet it's precisely its ugly-duckling appearance which makes the design so safe and efficient. Part of the reason has to do with "lift", the aerodynamic principle which enables us to defy gravity. The more wing surface, the greater the lift. Burnelli's genius lay in designing an airplane whose fuselage itself contributes to flight: a "lifting body."

Conventional aircraft, especially today's jet transports, have long cigar-shaped fuselages. They sacrifice lift for speed. Their cylindrical designs produce something called "parasite drag," a phenomenon constantly at war with lift.

Vincent Burnelli died in 1964. For some 18 years his plans gathered dust. Then last spring, two men resurrected the company. They envision an imaginative new passenger jet with radical design.


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