22 Mt. Joy Avenue
Scarsdale, New York
January 14, 1964
Mr. Dallas Swan
Hayden Book Companies
116 W. 14 Street
New York, 11, New York
Dear Mr. Swan:
You have asked me to give you my opinions of the Vincent Burnelli lifting fuselage principle
with which I am familiar ever since I conducted some of the early wind-tunnel testing of this
design in the nine-foot wind tunnel (now dismantled) of the Daniel Guggenheim School of
Aeronautics, of the School of Engineering and Science, New York University, with which I am
connected. I am glad to do this, and I should like to indicate that these opinions are my own,
as an individual.
All other things being equal, it is an acknowledged fact that a flying wing would be the most
efficient design for a heavier-than-air craft. Such a design would be an ideal, but by the time
control and stability about the various axes have been considered, as well as the housing of
powerplant, crew and cargo, various compromises with the ideal conception have to be made.
Vincent Burnelli, in his designs solved the problems in excellent fashion.
He tackled the problem of cargo space by devising a thickened mid-portion of the wing to serve
in place of a standard fuselage, so familiar to any one who has ever looked at an airplane.
The thickened portion of the mid-wing is still a reasonably efficient airfoil (whereas the
standard fuselage is not) so that the next best thing to a flying wing is achieved. The widened,
thickened airfoil-sectioned fuselage provides ample, efficient and usable space for cargo and
crew. In addition structural advantages are achieved in distributing the cargo loads to
counteract the lift loads and thereby obtain a lighter structure.
Mr. Burnelli conceived his design long before the modern jet engines were available. The
possible use of such engines in a Burnelli design would make possible an even more efficient
configuration than has been possible with the propeller-engine combination of old. Any number of
locations of the power plant of the jet or turbo-jet type whereas such is not the case with
propeller-radial engine combination.
In the event that lift-increase devices are indicated by certain performance requirements, the
extended width of the fuselage, integrated as it is with the outboard panels of the wings,
provides a relatively simple, and certainly more efficient design of such lift-increase devices
It is to the credit of Mr. Burnelli that his conception of a flying wing has such great
flexibility, and that it is still up-to-date.