Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sharklets, and my other flights of fancy!

Ever since I was a primary schoolboy, stuff to do with aeroplanes and aviation have fascinated me. I lost count of the number of scale model aircraft I had assembled until Secondary 4. Naturally, this ad -- by Malaysian aerospace firm Sepang Aircraft Engineering -- of an Airbus A320 in flight caught my eye (arrow inked in by me):

Sharklets? What a strange name for what aviation buffs identify as winglets on Boeing jetliners, like this B757:

Winglets make sense as they look like little wings. But sharklets? Let's sidetrack with a little quiz. What are baby pigs called? You know that one. Next, what are baby sharks called? You're right... something's fishy there. They're NOT sharklets!

I Googled (not for baby sharks; I knew the answer) and learnt that the company which supplied winglets to Boeing had "choped" (ie patented) the technology for its design and the name Winglet. So Airbus decided to call its design "Sharklet" (but why not "Shark's Fin, which seems more apt?). The Malaysian firm that did the retrofit was obviously a licencee. Here's the story on When is a winglet a sharklet?...


Of course I was still curious and found out that there's another kind of wing add-on called the "wing fence". This design feature has been around for a long time, such as its use in the Cold War-era Soviet fighter, the MiG 17:

 Googling further, I found this interesting article:


Even if you are not an aviation buff, pique your interest; learn more about these eight unusual aeroplanes.

Finally, here's an even stranger-looking "aircraft"...

Yes, this Taylor Aerocar can fly! Here's the story:


Its first certified flight was in 1949. Six were built, with one still operational.

Postscript: Baby sharks are called pups.

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