Boeing concept jet could be Prius of the skies

Publication:   Date: May 2, 2012   View Article

In 2050, flying commercial may still mean crammed overhead bins and crummy food, but the engine could be powered by liquefied natural gas or electricity, according to an ongoing study on the future of flight.

Such planes might also be constructed with lighter materials, sport high-span truss-based wings, and be routed with improved air-traffic control systems, according to Marty Bradley, a technical fellow with Boeing Research and Technology who is the leading the NASA-funded study.

An electric plane you can (almost) buy

Publication:   Date: July 29, 2011   View Article

A single-passenger electric airplane that you can (almost) buy is waiting for its day in the sun at an air show in Wisconsin where it hopes to showcase the future of zero-emissions aviation.

Torrential rains at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh earlier this week has created a backlog of flights, delaying a demonstration of the Elektra One, officials said.

Seven deep mysteries of history

Publication:   Date: August 24, 2010   View Article

What happened to Amelia Earhart?

Amelia Earhart raised the spirits of Depression-era America as she soared into the aviation record books with feats of altitude, distance and endurance. The mood took a gloomy turn, however, when she and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, during a much-heralded attempt to fly around the world. Their fate remains one of aviation’s greatest unsolved mysteries.

Theories abound: They ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. They were captured by the Japanese and executed. They survived, and Earhart lived out her life as a housewife in New Jersey.

A prominent theory with tantalizing clues holds that they survived the crash landing and but perished as castaways on Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island in the republic of Kiribati. An expedition to the island in 2010 recovered pieces of a pocket knife and a glass jar that may have belonged to the castaways. If DNA analyses on these and other items match Earhart’s, the mystery may finally be resolved.

Check out six more stories of historical mysteries.

Future Tech May Reduce Bird-Plane Collisions

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 7, 2009   View Article

To protect future flights, scientists are hard at work on ways to keep birds away from planes.

Most of today’s anti-bird-strike efforts are ground-based, focusing on making airports less inviting to birds by removing ponds, exterminating the bugs birds eat, firing noise cannons, installing artificial owls, and so on.

But the next frontier in bird-strike prevention is the sky.

Bird-disturbing radar, pulsing lights, and reflective coatings may someday make aircraft more visible to birds, so they have time to dodge oncoming planes.

Week in Photos: Lion Rides Horse, Knife in Head, More

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 2, 2008   View Article

Captions for photos of events in the news. Shots include National Day celebrations in China, the last combat mission of the MH 53 Pave Low helicopters, the end of Ramadan, an x-ray of a 16-year-old with a knife stuck in his head, spacewalking Chinese astronauts, Brazilian stock traders in a tanking market, and opening ceremonies on the Megyeri Bridge in Hungary.

“Smart Plane” Technology Could Help Damaged Craft Fly Right

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 23, 2007   View Article

Airplane technology under development at NASA could bring a whole new meaning to the term “autopilot.”

Called the Intelligent Flight Control System, the futuristic software is meant to help keep damaged planes flying right even in the face of catastrophic failure.

U.S. Developing Jets That Fly Five Times the Speed of Sound

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 14, 2007   View Article

The U.S. Air Force is preparing to test a new vehicle that could make missiles—and someday, jets—travel ten times faster than those flown today, military officials say.

The research vehicle, known as the X-51A, will be able reach hypersonic speeds when it is tested in 2009.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach