Oshkosh 2002 Civil Aircraft

To commemorate the centenary of flight in 2003, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) built and flew a replica of the "Spirit of St Louis" in which Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic ocean non-stop from New York to Paris.   However, the EAA couldn't resist improving on Lindbergh's plane slightly, by adding windows at the front!   The original aircraft was designed primarily around the need to carry large amounts of fuel, which forced Lindbergh to use a periscope to land his plane.

replica of Charles Lindbergh's 'Spirit of St Louis'

The joke about the Ford Trimotor was that it "takes off at 90 miles an hour, flies at 90 miles an hour and lands at 90 miles an hour", which is pretty accurate.   However, it was a very successful airliner in the 1920s and 1930s and the presence of three motors gave it a margin of security in an age when aero engines weren't always very reliable.

Ford Trimotor   (click here to open a new page with this photo in computer wallpaper format)

Here's what people thought the history of air transport was going to be - regular Joes driving Aerocars which were equally adept at flying and driving.

aerocar   (click here to open a new page with this photo in computer wallpaper format)

And here's an updated take on the future of air transport - or should I say space transport?   The company XCOR is building experimental rocket engines with the hope of using them on civilian space transports.   This is their EZ-Rocket, based on a Long-EZ kitset aircraft designed by Burt Rutan, arguably the world's greatest designer of experimental civilian aircraft.   Burt became world famous in 1986 when his brother Dick flew the Voyager aircraft around the world in 9 days without refuelling.   Although Burt isn't involved with XCOR's project, Dick was flying this particular aircraft as a testbed to gain experience with rocket engines.   At AirVenture 2002 he took off on a conventional runway using rocket power, turned the engine off in flight, landed, re-ignited it and repeated the cycle.   And if you want to see what his kid brother Burt is up to, you can check it out on this page which describes SpaceShipOne's First Flight into Space.

rocket-powered Long-EZ   (click here to open a new page with this photo in computer wallpaper format)