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Patrick Lear

Why create when it is stolen from you?

Who is John Galt?  Read Atlas Shrugged or see the movie and find out!
Who is John Galt? Read Atlas Shrugged or see the movie and find out!

Vincent Burnelli lived a productive and creative life.  He created a brilliant new principle of design – the lifting-body principle of design a.k.a Blended Wing Body (BWB) – that is safer and more efficient but did he get rewarded for his genius? No, it was for all intents and purposes stolen from him. Because in large part of an Air Force determination (which remains in effect to this day) he was prevented from commercializing his designs. In what kind of world is a design like Burnelli’s lifting-body principle of design left to rot away at great cost to the inventor and to society? How is this possible?

Ayn Rand’s 1957 book “Atlas Shrugged”, depicted a fictional world where creativity is either stymied or the fruit of one’s labor is plundered by legal means or otherwise. It seems that everyday we are moving closer to the kind of society she depicted so brilliantly in her book fifty-four years ago. The book is well worth reading but now there’s a movie – it’s out today – April 15, 2011 (search for “Atlas Shrugged Movie”). Go see it! And read the book! Then, think about Burnelli – why were Vincent Burnelli and his designs victims? Why aren’t we flying in Burnelli aircraft today?

Finally, if you want to help, after viewing the movie or reading the book, let us know what you would do if you were the Burnelli Company (your responses don’t necessarily have to be drawn from the book / movie, though we expect that these may stimulate your thinking.)

17 Killed in Montana Plane Crash

According to CNN, 17 “children and adults were among the victims of a plane crash Sunday in Butte, Montana, that killed as many as 17 people, according to authorities in Oroville, California, where the aircraft stopped for fuel.” – read the CNN article.

Aircraft crashes are always unfortunate, and all the more sad when so many children are involved.  What was the cause of the accident?  We can rely on the NTSB to provide us with an answer.  What was the cause of the deaths?  This question will remain unanswered, the implication being that it was the accident that caused the deaths.  But is it necessarily so?  People are involved in car accidents but when there are survivors to a car accident, we do not think of it as a miracle.  We do when it’s an airplane crash.  Why?

Cabin intact after cartwheel crash.
Cabin intact after cartwheel crash.

Cars are designed with crashworthiness in mind. Portions of the car will deform to absorb the energy of a crash and the portion of the car where the passengers are is designed to stay intact.  Airplanes are not.  When you see pictures of a plane crash, you often see only a tail, the wheels, maybe an engine or two but the structure that is supposed to protect the passengers is missing, having disintegrated during the crash – it did not protect the passengers.  See the site for more on this subject.  You may want to look here and here to start.  See our SAFETY page to get a quick understanding why the Burnelli principle of design is superior to the conventional aircraft that we all fly in.

Burnelli in the News

Burnelli News Story video posted on Vimeo by Ralph Capobianco.

In November 1999, Fox News 29 in West Palm Beach, Florida did a “Fox Files Report” on Burnelli and interviewed our late Chairman and President, Chalmers H. Goodlin. For those of you who have not seen it, we believe it is an excellent 5 minute introduction to the topic.

Already 10 years has passed and, as far as we know, this is the only TV report done about Burnelli during that time. How do we get more coverage about this safer, more efficient design in the media?  Would you like to see more reports in the news? Write a letter to the editor, write / email your local TV station and ask them to expose Burnelli to others in your area. If you have other ideas on how to do this, please click on “comments” and post your ideas. Thanks!

Relevant questions to ask in relation to plane crashes

Conventional v. Burnelli aircraft comparison
Conventional v. Burnelli aircraft comparison

The position maintained by officialdom, that most accidents are caused by pilot error, may be correct, but it ignores the more fundamental and important question which asks:

“what are most fatalities due to?”

There is ample evidence that:

“most fatalities are caused by the irresponsible common practice of hanging engines and landing gear onto fuel tank supporting structure in combination with excessively high take-off and landing speeds on overstressed tires.“

And when the question regarding the cause of most fatalities is answered, the next question becomes:

“Why do we continue to build and fly aircraft that have such low survivability rates in case of crash, when an alternative exists and has existed for over eight decades?”

Is it because the current large commercial aircraft manufacturers do not want to make an investment in new technology or is it because an alternative (Burnelli Lifting-Body technology) wasn’t invented by them (Not Invented Here syndrome) or is it because Burnelli was blackballed (and continues to be blackballed) by certain elements in this country since many decades?

What do you think?

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“Moving the landing gear inboard and strengthening the fuselage to absorb the shock of landing would eliminate applying stress to the fuel tank supporting structure. This revision of the commonplace has been accomplished in the Burnelli “lifting wing” design. Another feature of this latter type aircraft is the shifting of fuel tanks so that they are not in direct line with the power plants and their exhaust outlets.”

– George H. Tryon, III (Secretary of the National Fire Protection Association, in the Quarterly of the National Fire Protection Association (Vol 40, No. 4) of April 1947 on page 264.

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Relevant links to review:

Crashes Can Be Harmless – Mechanix Illustrated article (1935)

Flight 1549 and the Hudson: survival in an urban environment

On January 15, 2009, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 (A320) ditched into to the Hudson River after having both engines fail due to ingestion of Canadian Geese in both of its engines. All passengers and crew survived. This was a miracle that was in part thanks to excellent piloting skills of Capitain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and the proximity of numerous ships that came to the aid of the slowly sinking aircraft within minutes of crash landing. The air temperature at the time was 20 degrees F (-7 degrees C) and the water temperature was icy cold. Undoubtedly, prolonged exposure to the elements would have caused numerous fatalities.

A similar ditching occured in 1996, when an Ethiopian Boeing 767-200ER had to put down in the Indian Ocean off the island of Comoros. That accident, while it occured in relatively warm waters, close to a tourist resort, cost the lives of 125 of the 175 passengers and crew on board. (see: A short video of the crash is also available on

Burnelli floats in case of water landing
Burnelli floats in case of water landing

Since the 1940s an aircraft design exists that makes aviation crashes more survivable – a Burnelli.

In its December 1946 issue, Mechanix Illustrated, in an article entitled “Something New on the Wing” stated:

“In addition to their hitherto unapproached stability, 80 passenger ships of the new 1946 design, … are designed to descend on the water with complete safety and travel for days under their own power as full-fledged sea-going boats. This feat is the more remarkable in consideration of the fact that they are strictly land planes.

Under any circumstances necessitating a landing at sea, passengers of this type of ultra modern sky hotel lose none of the comfort and luxury that they enjoyed in the air. A specially designed mechanism, which cannot be operated in flight, is used to disengage the wings from the fuselage section once the ship is on the water. Once this is done, even a stormy sea holds no terrors for the occupants of the safety-sealed fuselage with its complete set of navigation instruments and its diesel-driven underwater propeller. In short, a landing at sea is not even an emergency for this newest of passenger aircraft.”

Why do aircraft manufacturers, airlines, the FAA and the NTSB continue to subject passengers and crew to aircraft designs that are inefficient, dangerous (low survivability in case of an accident) and outdated when a superior type of aircraft exists? Why is the Burnelli Company prevented from competing in what is allegedly a free economy?

A complete expose about Burnelli and it’s history is available at


1. Mechanix Illustrated – Dec 1946 – Something New on the Wing.PDF full article.

2. Full-size copy of floating Burnelli seen at top of this page.