The Burnelli Conspiracy is but the tip of the Iceberg

Crashes CAN Be Harmless (continued)

Movie stunt men could tell the airplane engineers some interesting things about safety too. Most designers don't expect the pilots of their planes to dive into the ground deliberately or to try to crash in as spectacular a manner as possible. The movie boys do it, though. And what's more, they seldom get hurt doing it. The method is just about the same as the one that saved the day for Reichers and Murray when the big Burnelli crashed.

They reinforce the cabin or cockpit, as the case may be. Then, no matter what happens to the rest of the ship, the part they're sitting in holds up.

In the days of wooden fuselage construction these daredevils added wooden reinforcements to the longerons and crossmembers around the cockpit. The entire cockpit structure was then heavily taped prevent slivers of wood from impaling the pi in the event of an unexpected fracture. Modern crackup artists reinforce with steel tubing.

1934--prototype UB=14 January 13, 1935, Newark Airport, crash of the Burnelli UB-14. The interior remained intact.
It might be wise if designers didn't get one-track minds. Passenger planes go fast enough for the time being. Let's see if we can build them to withstand crashes a trifle better There's little use trying to prevent crashes altogether, so why not try to make them less fearful.

The war should turn up a few tricks along this line that even the Hollywood stunt men haven't been using for years. But even if it doesn't, there are still examples to profit from. Planes should be designed so they can take a good crash. Research departments can easily boast that they have developed instruments and gadgets that make crashes entirely avoidable. They can add these things to the pilots' compartment until the walls are cluttered up with them from top to bottom. They can evolve all manner of flapping, fluttering doo-dads that pop out of tails and wings and accomplish some purpose or other. For the most part, these things work quite well, but most of them need considerable attention from the pilot. When something unforeseen happens you can't blame the poor pilot for making a little error.

If you sat for hours in that wild array of levers handles, buttons gauges, and lights you'd probably make a little error now and then too. More gadgets won't prevent accidents. The speed hasn't stopped automobile accidents. Steel bodies, however, have reduced the injuries.

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