The Burnelli Web Site
Todays 'new concept' was designed over 60 years ago


June 10, 1965

Mr. Chalmers H. Goodlin,
Grosvenor House,
Park Lane,
London, W 1,

Dear Mr. Goodlin:

Re your communication of May 16th, I am pleased to hear that your health is improving.

It would be easy to indulge in criticism of Mr. Cain's statements in "The Aeroplane". He is fond of cylinders. So am I -- for holding grain in silos, or high pressures such as oxygen tanks. But when the main function to be performed is to lift weights off the ground, it should appear obvious that the more surface can be disposed in horizontal air-foil shape, the more efficient will the configuration be. Mr. Northrop and others have realized this but fell short in neglecting stability aspects which Mr. Burnelli took into account by using a conventional system of tail surfaces.

(Incidentally, the caption to the illustration is misleading. It should not read "Burnelli Flying Wing", but rather "Burnelli Lifting Body".)

At any rate, no amount of theory statements can be as appropriate to show the gains acruing to a lifting body as your statement of results in your letter to the editor of May 15th.

The superiority and the necessity for lifting bodies is now generally recognized by the American Air Force, its contractors, and NASA. Economy of surface is being appreciated as shown on recent supersonic designs: B-58, MX-324, SST and SST-2. Bodies are made into wings; wings into bodies -- to house engines, fuel and cargo, and only the small portion of the volume which carry personnel are enclosed in partially cylindrical partitions to carry the pressure required to accommodate life.

In modern aircraft design, of all but the smallest size, the game is to minimize all dimensions and to make all exposed surface pay for its skin friction by providing lift.. Of course, there are huge side benefits if this lifting surface can be combined with slipstream as in the Burnelli design.

Burnelli was first to recognize and apply the above principles, and everybody is now sorry they did not think of them first. He was ahead of his time by more than the legal life of his patents, and now those who did not think, persist in justifying their backwardness by offering the DC-3 as the best airplane we ever had and, therefore, Burnelli was wrong Q.E.D.

Best wishes

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