Book recommendation: The World's Worst Aircraft

I noticed this book on the bargain shelf of Barnes and Nobel and picked it up--I haven't been able to put it down since. It's a terrific romp through 150 of the worst aircraft designs in history, but what it really is a catalog of all-too-common engineering errors, such as:

  • Solutions looking for problems (such as jetpacks and the Hillar hovering sniper platform)
  • Engineers designing planes with no sense of what pilots wanted
  • Dependencies on exotic fuels that aren't available
  • The "Gillette problem" of adding more wings than the last guy, including some crazy 8-wing things
  • Delivering so late that the need is gone.
It's beautifully illustrated and very funny, thanks to the sparking writing of Jim Winchester. And the stories are hilarious. Here's my favorite passage, about the ME 163 Komet, an experimental German rocket plane:

"The fuels in the Komet were highly corrosive and would dissolve organic material (such as the pilot). To avoid this, the pilots would wear special asbestos-fiber suits"

Kill you now or kill you later ;-)

Highly recommended!


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Comment by Duane Brocious on November 29, 2010 at 5:47am
Do modern pylon racers end in spectacular fatal crashes too? :)

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