NASA AD-1,

Nancy Anderson
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Over the years, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have produced some rather, er, “exceptional” aircraft in the name of research and development, so much so that ‘technology developed for the space program’ has become -- and remains -- a popular cliche to describe real-world applications of the federally-funded flights of fancy. And yes, they’re almost always hiring, if that’s the sort of engineering career you’re looking for.

Today, Jalopnik, typically an automotive blog, features one of NASA’s experimental airframes, the AD-1 Oblique Wing research aircraft. The AD-1, as seen in the embedded YouTube video below, featured a single pivoting wing, that could change the angle at which the entire wing assembly crosses the fuselage. The design certainly had its advantages, such as dramatically decreasing wave drag at supersonic speeds, and since it could maintain sub-sonic airflow over almost the entire wingspan, subsonic airfoils could be used, instead of the usual, less-efficient supersonic airfoils.

The thread commenters, of course, had their own favorite bizarre and asymmetric aircraft, like the Germans’ BV141, and Burt Rutan’s Boomerang. One has to wonder (and, in the case of commenters on the Jalopnik article and the YouTube video certainly point out) if the oblique wing concept could be revived with the use of modern composites and control systems. It’s something to be considered, certainly, as jet fuels don’t look to be getting any cheaper anytime soon, but no aircraft manufacturer has recently admitted to investigating these odd-looking, asymmetric airframe designs.
 
 
 
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Mike Wrightly is mostly diesel fumes and duct tape; he grew up around heavy equipment, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.

 

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