Mr. Chalmers H. Goodlin,
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
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
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.