Mr. Frank A. Shrontz
Chairman & C.E.O.
THE BOEING COMPANY
P. O. Box 3707
SEATTLE, WA 98124
Dear Mr. Shrontz,
The deplorable situation at the Smithsonian Institution has
compelled me to appeal to you as a member of the Smithsonian Board
of Regents. I enclose copies of exchanges of correspondence between
the Smithsonian and myself referring to the Smithsonian misinformation
about Vincent Justus Burnelli in their AIR & SPACE magazine
and the exclusion of Burnelli's important role in America's aeronautical
heritage from The Smithsonian Book of Flight.
The Harold E. Morehouse Biography of Vincent Justus Burnelli
ends: "Burnelli's noteworthy contributions are legend, and
few men indeed equaled his vision and talents in this field.
His ideas and efforts seem to have been ahead of their time, but
he deserves great credit for his worthy efforts." Burnelli
received the 1944
Fawcett Aviation Award "For Major Contribution to the
Scientific Advancement of Aviation". There can be no doubt
whatsoever that his reduction to practice of the Lifting Body
principle of design and the breakaway leading edge in combination
with high lift flaps, among other inventions, place him in the
Boeing's own engineers have shown favor to the Burnelli Lifting
Body concept starting in the mid 30's (See attached 'Towards the
Ideal'). On October 31, 1963, I had dinner with your Clancy Wilde
at the Miami Springs Villas. He told me that his professor at
the University of Minnesota taught the class that the Burnelli
Lifting Body principle was the epitome of airframe design. Clancy
asked me if he could present to Boeing management a Burnelli licensing
possibility on his upcoming trip to Seattle.
I, of course, acquiesced, but, when Clancy returned to Miami
10 days or so later, he told me that Boeing had rejected his suggestion.
754 figures show outstanding payload and internal volume superiority,
when the Burnelli configuration is optimized for freight transport.
It is most regrettable that Boeing did not take a license from
Burnelli and proceed with the 754 project, for it would probably
be flying today as the USAF C-17.
The letters from your retired Senior V. P., Kenneth Luplow,
to his Cornell classmate, Pete
Gifford, and to Geoffrey
von Meiss, former Swissair Technical Director, are complimentary
to the Burnelli design (copies enclosed).
It is a matter of fact that aircraft, like the F-14,
and the still classified Mach 6 AURORA
all have their origins in the Burnelli fighters which were offered
to the Pentagon in the late 40's and early 50's. The Russians
have made excellent use of the Burnelli principle in their MIG-29/31/35
and the SU-27/35 series.
In 1983 at Hamburg, Dr. Klug, chief designer at Deutsche Airbus,
told me personally that "every aircraft flying today is obsolete,
and that the only way to make a meaningful improvement in aircraft
safety and economy is the implementation of the lifting body design".
In 1990, the USAF announced the NASP: "Lifting Body Design
is Key to Single-Stage-to-Orbit". At the 1993 Paris Air
Show, Tupolev's chief designer, Yuri V. Vorobjov, stated: "We
found the conventional fuselage posed almost insuperable problems,
and, when we began to look at a lifting body, we found there were
significant advantages. With such an aircraft, we now think we
have the optimum configuration." Recently, the Japanese
rejected American offerings for their FSX fighter and announced
their own design, based upon early Burnelli fighter design principles.
As the father of Lifting Body design, all the above is testimony
to Burnelli's visionary brilliance and justifies him being giving
a prominent place in all American aeronautical heritage publications.
The October-November 1989 AIR & SPACE Burnelli article, "The
Burnelli Controversy", is sleaze and denigration. The July
1990 AIR & SPACE article, "Things and Wings", implies
that Boeing invented the breakaway leading edge in combination
with the high lift trailing edge flaps. In fact, Burnelli invented
this principle in 1927 and reduced it to practice
with his GX-3
in 1929 (see the attached patent No. 1,917,428). Furthermore,
the discriminatory exclusion of the name Burnelli from the Smithsonian
BOOK OF FLIGHT represents a total breakdown of ethics and morality
and signifies the abrogation of the Smithsonian's mandated responsibilities.
I hope you will agree that this behavior is unconscionable and
deserves urgent, corrective action by the Smithsonian Board of
Thank you very much.
With best wishes, I look forward to your response.
CHALMERS H. GOODLIN
Chairman & President