Flutterby™! : Paul MacCready dead

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Paul MacCready dead

2007-09-03 16:16:09.051355+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

[ related topics: Aviation Current Events ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-04 13:35:21.698696+00 by: petronius

I once met MacCready, at a convention sponsored by the Sleptical Inquirer people. He talked about the Gossamer Condor, Icarus, and solar car projects, and his solid, no-nonsense approach to engineering. he was perhaps the clearest thinking person I've ever met, the same sort of guy who built the Transcontinental Railroad, the Panama Canal, and the atomic bomb. If he had been running the space program we'd be selling condos on Phobos by now. He will be missed.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-04 15:17:59.413697+00 by: Dan Lyke

MacCready (via the Gossamer Condor and Gossamer Albatross) was responsible for my learning a bunch about wing sections and airfoil performance back in my early teens, when a discussion with a friend lead to my trying to figure out (with the limited tools I had at my disposal as a sixth grader) just how possible it might be to build a human powered helicopter, and it seems like his engineering prowess was at least matched by his ability to inspire people. Clearly the the engineering that made the accomplishments that he's credited with wasn't all his, but he managed to focus teams on some pretty spectacular goals, and I hope that the next few decades see the technology around lightweight solar and super-efficient aircraft progress enough to take some of the ideas he pioneered into ubiquitous use.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-04 16:31:05.868668+00 by: jeff

Here is something interesting concerning energy storage. Hard to know at this point how viable it could become, but it's on my radar screen.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-04 16:55:41.430998+00 by: petronius

Re Dan's post: during the lecture by MacCready I saw, he mentioned the teenagers he had hanging around his projects, doing things like duct-taping the wings of the Condor, etc. He had one great picture of a distance race where the kids wore angled bits of cardboard on their hats (imagine a big morterboard tIlted forward). As they walked forward the wave of air from the panel kept a small paper airplane aloft, but you have to adjust your speed and angle constantly. he said that it was far more useful than television. A summer with Paul would have been like a year at Rennsaler.