Burnelli - Smithsonian Correspondence

The Burnelli Web Site
Evidence of Suppression and Official denial is overwhelming
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All emphasis below is added


March 1, 1991

Mr. R. Martin Johnson
3815 Weeburn Drive
Dallas, TX 75229

Dear Mr. Johnson:

Thank you for your letter. Vincent Burnelli is fortunate to have attracted such loyal adherents.

I think Burnelli himself may have been sincere when he came to the belief that he originated so many diverse ideas. We are equally sincere in our belief that the material we publish reflects accurately the judgments of history and of the best minds that can be brought to bear.

Deriving lift from a flow field around a body of rotation predates Burnelli by a considerable period--at least as far back as the zeppelins, which are wingless and which produced dynamic lift. Airships today are able to fly "heavy"--in conditions of negative buoyancy--by performing rolling takeoffs. The envelope's positive angle of attack creates the additional lift needed to fly. And the Deltoid Pumpkin Seed--the hybrid aircraft prototype described best in the book of the same name by John McPhee--was flown successfully without any buoyant gas at all. The pilot was John Olcott, currently the editor of BUSINESS & COMMERCIAL AVIATION Magazine.

Burnelli adherents have also appropriated the term "lifting body" to describe Burnelli fuselage shapes and aircraft in general. I can understand why you may want to do this, but it is wrong.

The term "lifting body," as it emerged from a series of experiments conducted by the Air Force and NASA with wingless craft designed for hypersonic transatmospheric flight, derives from a series of shapes that were simple modifications to missile "nosecones," or re-entry vehicles. By modifying the cone, a shape could be generated that allowed addition of control surfaces and flight to a subsonic controlled landing on runways. That development is clearly unrelated to any of Vincent Burnelli's work, and continuing insistence that it is only reflects badly on the proponents.

It is my understanding that the current Burnelli Company is pursuing various claims through the office of the President of the United States. I feel confident that any remaining issues will be resolved through that effort. You may wish to join in it.



George C. Larson


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