Knee Jerking Against The New


Douglas Adams, the noted author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” was a prolific writer whose creative work encompassed essays, books, screenplays and television. I can’t say I’m a devoted fan, but I think I read Hitchhiker some years ago. After his death in 2001, an unfinished novel called the “Salmon of Doubt” was published by his estate. I saw a quote from it recently in an essay attempting to explain our sometimes knee-jerk response to the remorseless march of progress.  

“I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies,” Adams wrote. “1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. 2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. 3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

Sound at all familiar? Do you see yourself anywhere in the taxonomy of that observation? The quote is quite meme-worthy, but like all memes, it’s a generalization that isn’t universally true if it’s true at all. You almost want to overlay a standard distribution curve on it to see what percentage of which cohort embraces the attitudes described.  I invite you to click on the comments addressed at our video on electric airplane air racing to see examples of what I’m talking about and you can then surmise who hews to the Adams hierarchy. Dismissiveness ahead of rational analysis is a disease every bit as virulent as wide-eyed Pollyannaism.  

I think I see the thing as inverted. Big heavy cars and radial engines were a thing when I was born, but I no longer swoon over a 1956 Chevy; I make an exception for a Merlin, but it predates me. When I was a young newspaper reporter, I rode around on a couple of Triumph Bonnevilles but I tried a vintage one a few years ago and thought it was a pile of crap. I wondered why I ever liked it. (Because there was nothing else.) The computer arrived when I was in my 30s and I remember wondering what took them so long. And I sort of got a career in the field.

Next up, electric airplanes. And racing electric airplanes. I’ve flown a couple of electric airplanes and my attitude is: Show me more. Not as in more speed, more range or more payload, but more progress. In other words, what the heck is coming next? Although as a journalist, I’m supposed to have (and do have) a skeptical eye, I’m generally not reactionary against anything and can’t recall being especially disposed to searching for reasons why an idea won’t work as opposed to waiting to see if it will. Electric airplane racing might be a commercial black hole, but my imagination tells me it will be an interesting—if quiet—spectacle.

Speaking of black holes, I’m working on a video project at the moment that is, in some ways, an exploration of what it takes to make new ideas succeed in the fundamentally conservative world of aviation. Which is to say some people who participate in it say they want new stuff, but are then reluctant to buy it. Or flat out reject it. The video is an exploration of why new powerplant ideas have so often failed against the almost universal attitude that Lycoming and Continental are industrial dinosaurs without half a new idea between them. Maybe, maybe not, but I would submit the Continental IO-550 (and its variants) as exhibit A for the defense. If you’ve got a better engine idea, beat that one and you’ve got a winner.

In fact, it was the IO-550 that rescued Mooney from the PFM fiasco. If airplanes weren’t in your life then, you may not know that Mooney and Porsche teamed up to put the boxer engine into what became the long-body Mooney. Hell of an engine. Six cylinder, DOHC, electronic ignition, fan cooled and single lever control, fer cryin’ out loud. In 1988! Leg warmers and hair so big it needed its own zip code were in fashion. If they tried this today, I would probably have to restrain myself from being cloyingly enthusiastic about the idea. A Porsche engine!

Yet it flopped. Only 41 lonely buyers emerged before Porsche lost interest—who could blame them?—and got sued for lack of support. Eventually, Porsche paid to have the boxer motors replaced by … yes, the IO-550, which has reigned supreme ever since. It probably failed for lack of a business plan that accommodated low volume and a persistent service network to support owners who would surely run into minor teething pains. Mooney couldn’t figure out how to sell it, Porsche got cold feet on service, the engine wasn’t a stellar performer and the country was headed into a minor recession. I’ll detail other examples in the video, but suffice to say that avionics notwithstanding, pilots can be surprisingly loyal to Adams’ Rule 3.    

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  1. Nah–EVERYBODY, regardless of age, wants something better performing, more reliable, environmentally clean, and cheaper–but the reality is that air-cooled piston engines have had relatively few changes as airplane-movers for nearly 80 years.

    I’ve saved all of my aviation magazines since I started flying–over 59 years ago. After a house fire 3 years ago, I’ve refiled and reviewed nearly 8000 of my magazines. It’s fun to review and see what aviation prognosticators heralded as “the next big thing” over the years. The vast majority of them never came to pass. Is it any wonder that most pilots of more than a few years experience have become skeptics? Lots of airframes, avionics, and engines have been heralded and touted as “the next big thing”–but they fell by the wayside. Canard aircraft, diesel power, liquid cooling, auto engines, composites, flying cars–ALL have been proposed–and disappeared–despite being touted by the Aviation Press (with the exception of Aviation Consumer–who accepts no advertising–and thus has been my “go-to” source for objectivity for decades).

    Perhaps we need to look outside of aviation to find why people in the industry are so skeptical. I believe it is because:
    A. People WANT to believe that you can make an airplane that cruises fast and burns a minimum of fuel and sells for under $5000 (BD-5) or
    B. Something worked in another industry and could be adapted for aircraft (Porsche engines).
    C. Some PROCESS worked in another industry and could be adopted in airframes (Eclipse friction-stir welding).
    D. Something was touted by the aviation (and non-aviation press) as “the next big thing” (the “ever green” “flying car” concept.

    It isn’t just engines and airframes. A review of all of these aviation magazines reveal excited ads for every type of avionics–from Superhomers to “crystal controlled”. Point-to-point navigation was projected by everything from Decca to VLF to radial-distance course line computers to approach-certified RNAV systems to VNAV systems to Inertial systems to Loran to early GPSs to the current glass cockpits. All lasted only a few years. Our current GPS system is already threatened by the competing Russian system–adopted by Canada, Mexico, and the rest of the world.

    We’ve seen STOL kits fall in and out of favor, tailwheels replaced by nosewheels (with provisions to convert the other way), and whole-airframe parachutes invented and adopted (but despite the aviation press predicting them as “the NEXT Big Thing”–they have had a limited market. We’ve seen excited predictions of “swarms of Very Light Jets–enough to have the FAA try to come up with a way to “handle all this traffic”–only to have limited success, at best. We’ve seen the “Once Big Time Airframe Manufacturers go out of business, or bought by foreign companies, or melded into airspace giants more interested in the “carriage trade” of business jets than anything else. We’ve seen predictions of “An airplane in every garage”–“Everyman’s Airplane”–and the demise of avgas as “every aircraft will be powered by diesel or Jet-A.” We’ve heard predictions of vertical flight “urban mobility” since the Jetson’s cartoon show of the 1960s. NONE of those predictions has come true. The REALITY (often asked by aviation journalists themselves–people that SHOULD KNOW BETTER) is that we are still flying variants of Cessnas, Pipers, and Beechcrafts that would be recognizable to anybody from the 1950s. Yes, they are better equipped–and more plush, but still recognizable as of that era. Nonetheless, we love them!

    I mention these shattered dreams NOT as a “downer”–but as a realist–you can’t believe everything you read or hear. I’ve flown electric airplanes as well–motorgliders. They have their place–as mentioned in one of Paul’s earlier columns, it helps to think of their capability in terms of VERTICAL FEET AVAILABLE FOR CLIMB–not in speed or range. The motor gliders are relatively light weight–as is the propulsion system required–and it need not last a long time. It has a lot of wing supporting it. Contrast that with an aircraft that is meant to GO SOMEWHERE–QUICKLY–and TRANSPORT A PAYLOAD. Electrical power as we know it today isn’t a viable option–the powerplant may be up to it, but the immutable fact is that batteries are not–they are simply too heavy and too short-range to fulfill the requirement (with the possible exception of the Harbor Air 20-minute flights in their Beavers–with exchange batteries at the ready). Hybrid powerplants (fueled engines AND an electric engine) are much more likely to succeed–each doing what they do best (fueled engine for speed and range, electric for quiet–with the additional benefit of dual propulsion in the event of an engine or battery failure).

    I’d be an adopter in a minute–but for right now, I can’t get past the failures depicted in those shelves full of failed predictions of the past 59 years (or more). In the meantime, I’m not going to sell my airplane. I can’t wait for the “improvement in battery power” that has long been promised–most of that has already been done. I’m 74 years old–and I probably don’t have more than 20 GOOD YEARS LEFT!

    • Squared! I, too, am the same age and have been around aviation for over half a century. I still vividly recall that Jim Bede was gonna put a BD-5 in every garage when I started … and it went on from there. The current aviation better mousetrap du jour — electric airplanes — doesn’t do a damned thing for me. Like you, I’m a realist on a limited timeline; I don’t have time to worry about saving glaciers. If EVERY GA airplane could somehow magically be made to be electric … the glaciers are still on a limited timeline no matter what. My limited remaining time span keeps me from buying more airplane of ANY kind despite lusting after a few. I’ve owned my C172 for 36 years now and she’s taken care of me all that time … why change. Would I love to go faster, higher, longer with more payload … of course. But not for the bucks required. We agree … that’s “us.” There’s a flip side to all of this nuttiness however.

      If WE are “realists,” Jim, then some of our bretheren are “unrealists” living in an alternative universe where some guy thinks up an eight passenger turboprop class electric airplane that’ll cruise at 320 kts at 35,000 ft for 500 mi w/ 45 min IFR reserves with quad redundant battery packs, draws it on a computer and all the devotees of electrons glom onto it as if it’s real. It ain’t and isn’t likely to be real on our timeline. And if you say something about it, it’s a bit like the current habit of branding everyone with the “R” word if you dissent in politics. There’s a big difference between realism and dissent. The laws of physics on THIS planet are immutable.

      Now then, I hear that the Government is going to make some huge revelation about UFO’s next month. Maybe we’ll find out that there is such a thing as unobtanium? IF so … WE may be in for a big surprise? But I’m not going to hold my breath.

      If Rotax would just make a modern day engine that’d replace my O-320, that in itself would be all I’d need.

    • Well folks, all this talk about electric flying machines, batteries and the like, then ole’ FC (Fuel Cell and Hydrogen) sticks its head in the technology door. Companies like Honda and Toyota would surely like to stir the pot with FC as they know they would please everyone, that is if you had your choice of energy being battery or piston (or maybe even some sort of rotary or jet) too.

      My bucks are on fuel cell for the future as I see that the wait for going anywhere with EV power just makes you sit until it is ready to go and people just do not work that way.

      The race is on!

  2. Yesterday morning I woke with plans to drive my wife to the doctor in my Model 3. I love my Model 3. The only problem was I forgot to plug in my car last night and it was going to take four hours to bring my car up to full charge. I have it set to receive 75 percent of full capacity because that is pretty much all I need plus reserve for my daily travels. I could have driven my wife to the doctor on the charge I had and probably could have had enough charge for a full days activities. However, I was presented with a problem that I didn’t have to deal with in my truck. Had my F250 been at home I would have just run to the gas station and filled up. And therein lies the problem.

    The good thing is my wife didn’t forget to plug in her Model X. There’s is a definite benefit to redundancy. I found that out purely by accident when I started flying a twin. It made a whole lot of sense then, it makes more sense now. Now we have two, microwaves, two refrigerators, two sinks, two garbage disposals, two water heaters, etc. and a 48kw ng backup generator. Life is good as I sit back watching the chaos happening up and down the East coast. The only thing I don’t have two of is a wife. There is no advantage to that as I think most of us can attest to.

    My EV’s are great. I don’t care how much energy it takes to make them, or, run them. All I know is for our way of living they can’t be beat. They are heavy, (200 to 250 real miles require a lot of heavy batteries) performance is outstanding and a heavy vehicle is an advantage in the snow.

    That being said, all of the requirements that make an EV outstanding are exactly what make a purely electric airplane un-feasible at this point in time. Range requires batteries which equals weight. A lot of weight and that’s pretty much a no go for the time being.

    Another issue is recharging. For any kind of long distance travel Tesla has superstations strategically placed throughout the US to get me where I want to go if choose to drive any distance. A 20 to 30 minute charge and off we go. Then again, that’s kind of why I have an airplane. Until there are supercharging stations at airports, even hybrid airplanes are a no go. They still have batteries that have to be charged.

    Storage weight is the gorilla in the room that is not going away and even if you could turn the gorilla into a humming bird, the logistics and cost of charging stations at airports has to be addressed. It’s not going to happen in my lifetime, my kids lifetime and maybe not even in my grandkids lifetime. It is what it is. In the mean time I’m having a riot watching the current admin. screw things up beyond what I even thought was possible. Hopefully I’m prepared for the consequences. Hopefully you are too.

    • Another good point, Tom. BIG difference between electric cars and electric airplanes. The 3-D world has requirements that the 2-D world does not.

      I have no problem w/ electric or hybrid cars other than the exorbitant acquisition costs. Discounting that, I might even have a small one for urban day-to-day driving. Just last night, I realized I was low on gas (in FL), went looking for some and found most of the nearby stations out. But that could happen with an electric car if a nefarious someone shut down the grid or some believer in fairy dust built too many windmills and solar panels and it was winter in TX. If the Government REALLY cared about electrification of vehicle transportation, they’d get behind helping manufacturers build something like an electric Volkswagen that doesn’t change body styles and is affordable by the masses. Along with that, same thing with charging them. Unless and until an easy way to top off the charge is available without undue planning, ain’t gonna work.

      On more than one occasion in Oshkosh’s Supercharging station location, I’ve talked to Tesla owners who are sitting there on a cross country drive waiting for their cars to charge up. No thanks! And what’re we to do when these cars get old and their batteries need replaced? I think owners will start humming a different tune at that point when the bills show up?

      • >I have no problem w/ electric or hybrid cars other than the exorbitant acquisition costs.<
        My 2015 ford Fusion Hybrid cost very little more (less than 10% more) than a non-hybrid Fusion. Its MPG are is always in the 40s and I love that car. I agree with what you said about EV cars and charging times.

      • In general, I have no problem with EVs except for the way that the greens want to acquire electricity. From all that I can see massive solar panel and turbine farms are destructive to the environment and no one is talking about the elephant in the room, what do you do with all this stuff after it reaches its shelf life of 3-4 decades? My reading informs me that very little of it is recyclable and I am not even talking about the megatons of spent batteries, just the turbine and panel equipment.

        When modern modular nuclear reactors are used instead of wasteful renewables, then I will become much more of believer in transportation things electric.

    • >Until there are supercharging stations at airports, even hybrid airplanes are a no go. They still have batteries that have to be charged.<
      Not so. the gas engine keeps the electric motor charged. I have a Ford Fusion Hybrid and it has no provision at all for external electric charging.

    • There is one place where E-airplanes might make sense and that is when they are used as commuter craft going from an operational base with chargers, deliver passengers/freight to another airport within a small enough radius to make it back to their operational base where they can be recharged if required before the next flight.

      Going across county in an E-plane would only make sense if you have a huge amount of time on your hands and like hanging out at airport restaurants for 4 hours.

  3. Paul,
    Electric cars were here before you and I were born. Point is that electric propulsion is NOT a new technology, it predates us all.

    The reaction most likely may be one of righteous indignation at being told we’re luddites for having well reasoned skepticism.

    • You’re totally correct. Those cars failed because battery technology wasn’t advanced enough yet. Batteries have improved greatly since then, enough so that electric cars are viable. But physics creates a limit to the energy density of batteries. We’re not there yet- batteries will get better. But there will be diminishing returns, and batteries will NEVER reach the energy density of hydrocarbon fuels.

  4. To become a pilot, one has to heavily invest oneself. Becoming a pilot, including adding additional ratings, requires dedication, a desire to be an overcomer, and determination. Once one does become an FAA sanctioned, legal pilot, to have staying power in this endeavor, one has to become a REALIST, liking the term or not. Realists must face the reality of the current situation, pleasant or unpleasant, and deal with that realism as it changes or morphs because airplanes, no matter how slow or fast they are, cover distances faster than any other mode of transportation, and operate in a vast 3D world. Even a Cub or many ultralights can fly two miles above the earth…with enough dedicated time and effort to get there.

    Aviation is unique above ( forgive my choice of words) any other endeavor because of it’s 3D environment, making flying a somewhat a lonely sport compared to other pursuits. For example, no one can see the beauty of a particular airplane such as a Spitfire or Emeraude in flight unless they see it from…well…another airplane. From the ground, both types look the same. Very uninspiring. I can take a picture, do a video in all the HD definition available, or describe the scene of a sunset from an airplane with words for hours. But at no time, can that experience be replicated outside of being in that airplane at that time, at that location…which is always moving…as accurately, evoking the emotion for that moment as actually being there. Likewise, the challenge of flying through weather and clouds, eventually shooting some instrument approaches to minumums…is isolated to one maybe two people. Flying, by it’s nature is isolating at the same time revealing so much to so relatively few. In my opinion, one who has the tenacity to become a pilot, and then attain the necessary realism dynamics to remain alive and improve as a pilot, enjoying the anonymity and normally lonely experiences requires a certain amount of critically needed skepticism. When it comes to whatever is offered that claims to be an improvement over what has presently evolved and working most of the time, proper vetting by the pilot is a must.

    Having said that, aviation, for all its singularities, realistic performance requirements, and necessary reliability, seems to be filled with some of the most UNREALISTIC promises ever offered to a niche endeavor. As if those who are immersed in aviation enough to become pilots, maybe aircraft owners, including renters, have checked in their REALISTIC brains at the door when it comes to advertised claims of whatever new mousetrap is currently offered. As others have noted, I have boxes of magazines covering aviation from military to GA, from the 30’s to present, that are filled with the most fantastic but unrealistic predictions, technologies, and ideas…that for some reason unique to the art and science of flying that has very little vetting, or seemingly requires no vetting. Yet, in spite of no or little vetting, it is proudly announced that certification and deliveries will start yesterday.

    Aviators have been exposed to this since Wilber and Orville. It comes with the accolades and privilege’s of become a pilot no matter how old or young the pilot is. Who can prove something that has not been yet done? In airplanes, there is eventually a requirement that the claims made, are proven…many times over. We pilots know that. We also know this required proof takes a long time to be evaluated. And because we participate in a 3D world, we are somewhat reluctant to give up what already works well enough to have aided in keeping us alive thus far. The vetting process from a regulatory and rulemaking standpoint is also reluctant in giving up what already works as well.

    Engines are a process of physics. Cams are cams, crankshafts are crankshafts, pistons, rods, rotors, carburetors and fuel injection deliver fuel, all ignited by spark…and all have to follow certain physics to work in harmony. The only thing that can change is how those cranks, cams, pistons, rotors, carbs and fuel injection are actuated. No different than electric power. Electric motors have been in existence even before internal combustion engines. Yet they have to conform to physics to operate. The only thing that can change is how they are actuated. While Tesla and Toyota seem to be the largest of the new kids on the block electric car wise. Studebaker and several others were building electric cars, trucks, and delivery vehicles including some for the military before, during, and after WWI. The same physical foibles had to be dealt with then as now.

    However, us aviation participants have, by our unique nature and requirements of wanting to stay alive and continue in our flying, have been privy to over a century of claims, including witnessing either personally or through archived history the claims, predictions, market acceptance, and regulatory requirements of aviation. Flying combined with the history that makes flying unique, still largely misunderstood by the masses, but treasured by those relative few who have transitioned from the curious to becoming the realist have over a century of promises and hopes to realistically evaluate. That history has been littered, heavily littered, with false hopes, outlandish claims, unrealistic expectations, and lack of economy of scale (outside of war requirements) to become another mile marker to the realist that the hoped for outcome will most likely not materialize. It comes with the territory of wanting to pioneer something that has not yet been accomplished within the uniqueness of flying. Who can dispute what has yet been done before it is done outside of violating the physics that have to be adhered to be successful?

    So, I am a realistically optimistically realist pilot who hopes for gee whiz stuff success but tempered through the history of the last century whose technology advances have been witnessed by so many of the few
    ( that being aviation brethren in this case), that no human history as ever witnessed or achieved up to the 19th century or so and today. Plus, I have the documentation of promises made but promised not kept.

    Therefore, there is no category or aviation box we can neatly be placed that explains aviation as compared to some other endeavor. It is a unique place to be able to fly in machines that levitates from the ground and returns back to this blue orb, safely with repeatability. To maintain longevity in this 3D world, realistic skepticism is a requirement not an option. And all claims need to be vetted extremely well to age as a pilot and the industry to thrive and grow. That is all we are doing is vetting the claims in the light of aviation history.

  5. I confess: I love new stuff. Spent 45 years inventing mostly bleeding-edge new stuff. Even spawned a few “breakthroughs.”
    The thing about breakthroughs is, they’re useful only when they’ve already occurred. Will various breakthroughs occur in the future? Some will, and soon. Others will, but later. Some never will occur. Breakthroughs cannot reliably be scheduled. So far, no harm’ no foul.
    But here’s my advice for Will Robinson: RELYING upon a future breakthrough is engineering malpractice.
    Aim for the best; prepare for the worst. Like Hanson, Stencel, and Holdeman, I’m a realist. It’s an occupational hazard.

  6. Way back, when I was in my 30’s, I had the good fortune to fly in the Porsche-Mooney. Being a relatively new pilot, I thought it was way-cool. The ease of starting and the single lever control system looked like something out of science fiction at the time. Plus, there was no other plane around that sounded like a 911 as it accelerated down the runway and soared into flight. Personally I was disappointed when it failed. But it gave me the perspective that even good ideas must have the financial commitment from the companies involved to survive. As Bill Clinton once famously said, “It’s the economy, stupid”. Even good ideas will fail unless there is sufficient financial support to survive their infancy and the inevitable growing pains before it becomes part of the norm. That simple truth is why so many good ideas in aviation wither and die too soon. For example, the Cessna Cardinal is a superior airplane to the 172 it was intended to replace (sorry, Larry). But it cost more to build, so the 172 remains while the 177 is part of history. Economics trumped technology.

    As an engineer, I am always happy to see new ideas come to life. Some are evolutionary and some are revolutionary, but they must all face that economic reality to succeed. Electric airplanes are an example of evolution – from ground-based vehicles to those with wings. While electric motors and control systems are well developed, those pesky batteries are the proverbial millstone around electric aviation’s neck. And, no aircraft company has the manpower and financial reserves to develop the battery technology they need for such a small end market. Instead, they must rely on other deep pocket R&D ventures to do that for them. Unfortunately, those guys have other agendas that may not mesh with what is needed for flight. Ground transportation needs power capacity, and weight is of secondary importance. Aircraft need power AND light weight. To succeed, evolutionary electric flight will need some revolutionary battery technology to succeed. Until then, I remain a hopeful skeptic, regardless of my age.

    • Paul,

      Totally agree with you regarding the M-20L not being a stellar performer and Adams’ Rule #3 re. pilots.

      Regarding Adams’ Rule, pilots were not keen to give up control and Mooney couldn’t convince them to “push to go, pull to slow.”

      No hot starts and digital/analog gauges were just not enough to support the most expensive and slowest Mooney of the day.

      Thirty-eight years flying Mooney aircraft (behind an IO-550 since 1987) has not convinced me re. Rule #3.

      Electric airplanes just might have a future. Six years driving a Tesla S has made me a believer.

      Rae Willis

  7. Sorry to be so down to earth, but lawnmowers are an excellent example. Good old Briggs and Stratton — if I have the history right designed in 1930s, perfected in 1940s as result of US army’s insatiable demand for relatively lightweight electricity generators — made move into lawnmowers and still going strong. Various HPs, by just scaling up or down. Amid great weeping and wailing finally put a cat converter on to stop being banned in California.
    Only serious contender was Honda which used overhead valves, but never caught on in US.
    But now 80% all small lawnmowers sold are all electric, robot ones. And most push ones are battery — good for 20 minutes before it is time to retreat under the tree with a beer while it charges up a bit.
    Could happen in the air too…

    • My electric mower runs for an hour, but its 7.5AH battery is heavy. Things that remain grounded aren’t as concerned about weight…

  8. After reading all the comments I need a tall Intergalactic Gargle Blaster to ease my brain like being hit on the head by a velvet covered brick.

  9. Paul –
    I always enjoy your perspectives, probably because you remind me of, well, me – always a little acerbic and not one who suffers fools gladly. Sometimes, though, I wonder if you take positions you don’t really believe because you need something to put on paper before the deadline.

    Electric propulsion has tremendous advantages that have been beaten to death in the press, not the least of which are quietness and efficiency (Today’s 3-phase motors run in the high ninety-percents.). The problem is that it is very hard to beat gasoline’s energy density, efficiency be damned. Assuming a 15:1 air/fuel ratio by weight, an aircraft – where weight is critical – only has to carry 1/16 of the weight of the reactants that make it go, then it dumps all the exhaust byproducts back overboard. It has its disadvantages, but finding a better system is not trivial, and those who point that out are not backward Luddites; they might just be clear-eyed realists. I was derided as just such a fellow when I pointed out to the Thielert boys that my bulldozer injector pump was 100% mechanical and not subject to the vagaries of electrical controllers. That was just before their double-diesel aereoplane lost its battery juice, dutifully shut down BOTH engines, and went into terrain. No response from them about THAT.

    We all want clean air, clean water, Mom, apple pie, hot dogs, and Chevrolets, but if you want to see the results of wishful Pollyanna politicking, take a look at all the “clean energy” devices that China is selling to our own congressional baristas, while pursuing coal and nuclear power for themselves. On my last trip to Oshkosh from Virginia, I may have seen 5% of the windmills I encountered actually spinning and making juice. Hope is not a strategy.

    All best.

  10. There is a reason why electric airplanes will remain a novelty. Burning dinosaur blood in flight will be in fashion for a long time. Hydrocarbon-powered aircraft burn off a significant fraction of their gross weight in flight leading to lower landing speed and shorter landing distance. No matter how light batteries get they still weigh the same at the end of the trip. Liquid hydrogen, with all its issues, is considered an alternative.

  11. Then there’s the annoyance factor. Harbingers of FutureTech in front of their screens vowing “You dinosaurs WILL go Electric if you want to continue participating bla bla bla…” then attempting to belittle the questioners when asked if the solution they are fawning over is really less complex, easier to manage, cheaper, and supportable. Yes it’s pretty easy to push back against new ideas when they arrive with an unwelcome and unwanted attitude. Just because some may worship it doesn’t mean it will work for all. And when it fails, I’ll be very glad I resisted being recruited into somebody else’s misery. As has been said many times – Keep The Change.

  12. Nonsense!

    Most of the negative reaction to electric airplanes is actually to collectivist force pushing ‘alternative energy’ in the scam that humans are causing runaway warming of earth’s climate – which is not happening, and cannot happen. (Because of the ‘saturation effect’ of overlap absorption/emission spectra of greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and dihydrogen monoxide. That limits possible temperature rise from increased CO2 to a small amount most of which has already been realized.)

    Electric motors have advantages, including torque (a big advantage in road vehicles as they have to accelerate from stop to street speed often) and small size (batteries can be located in more optimal locations). But they are not a panacea.

    Adoption of personal computers by many old people is one of many examples that put the lie to the theory that Paul regurgitates.

    As for what took computers so long, Bertorelli ignores reliability and size and cost – including notably invention of transistors. Cost was illustrated by the time it took for fax machines to be everywhere instead of just in communication centres of enterprises.

    • And there are serious questions about accuracy of claims by eco-activists, regarding costs.

      They rarely quote ‘all-in’ over total product stream and life cycle. (Battery life being one problem.)

      Their claim of amount of electricity generated by solar and wind often is installed capacity not actual production. And they often ignore cost of storage capacity to cover times when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing, or cost of (gasp) quick start backup in the form of natural gas fueled turbines.

      • It’s more than ignore, it’s plain ignorance. I have had greens tell me that solar and wind are free.

  13. Unfortunately, the storage density of batteries does not scale, and those Tesla batteries in the model 3 weigh about 1054#. The energy stored in them is about 75kWh, and give the car a range that is stated at 322 miles (without considering a need for cabin heat in a cold environment). Even if we consider the inefficiency of a diesel engine which is capable of 45% thermal efficiency. State-of-the-art passenger car diesels can manage 600 miles carrying 97# of diesel. Physics sometimes ruins the party in the school of wishful thinking. What’s even more disheartening is that the battery has not, and likely will not enhance its energy density without a serious change in chemistry (Gibbs free energy) and will be limited by packaging and method of storage (bomb). If you care to understand why, read:
    Or continue in your “beliefs” and “virtue signaling” without bothering to educate yourself. Remember in marketing perception trumps reality, but engineering is another matter entirely. There’s not a more lonely place than a blank computer screen without a viable solution.

    • Steven … THANK YOU for that link. VERY informative. That’s a primary reason that I come here … to learn things and you’ve done it with this one. We’ve all known the problem with running an electric airplane on pure battery energy anecdotally but the Ragone plot shows the problem of “gravimetric energy density” graphically … once and for all. Your link takes it a step further.

      I’d urge all here with an interest to read it but before doing so, visit: . Then read Steven’s link.

  14. I’m going with Yars’ comment “RELYING upon a future breakthrough is engineering malpractice” as the reasoning underlying the vast majority of what many may consider knee-jerk opposition to the electric airplane concept. Given the laws of physics, it’s difficult to envision a breakthrough in battery technology that would bring pure-electric airplanes out of their niche(s).

  15. Thanks for your article, Paul.

    I love to see the opinions on electric airplanes. I applaud anyone who pushes the envelope in aviation. Improvements are a good thing. Improvements come with a string of failures, but that goes with the process. Just look at SpaceX. Right now I see an opportunity for electric airplanes to be those simple, basic aircraft that can be used for 30 minutes to an hour of bouncing around the traffic pattern and introducing a new generation to aviation. But that said, when is the last time you saw an Aeronca Champ, C-150, or similar “simple” airplane being used for just such things? The local airport is the lifeblood of general aviation. We need people coming to our local airports and flying simple airplanes to boost the pilot ranks and expand GA once again. These new electric airplanes will be six-figure investments. That will not solve the immediate problem of a shrinking general aviation market. Speaking as “The RenegadeAV8R” I believe we are seeing the last generation of aviators as aircraft become easier to fly, more automated and more expensive.

    • Tom … as a very long term AOPA member, I take exception to your comment. Nevertheless, I went back to your article and re-read it to remind myself of what you wrote and to appropriately respond. I thought perhaps Rotax had built an STC’ed engine for my C172 and I just didn’t know about it. Then I find your article was written three years ago … lots of time for someone to have come up with something (sic).

      For starters, let’s examine the possibilities you mentioned:
      Engineered Power Systems: I don’t see a website on google?? It’s gone?
      Further research yields a August 12, 2020 Article in AOPA by Jim Moore talking about that Company being in bankruptcy court. Perhaps you should read AOPA yourself ?? But … maybe YOU have one of those alternative diesel engines in your Bonanza and are practicing what you’re preaching ?

      Bye Aerospace hasn’t certificated it’s first airplane and is already on to an eight passenger turboprop equivalent airplane … none of which exist.

      See the problem here? It’s ALL Vaporware. Show me one alternative engine — gas or electric — that I can put into my C172. Bye Aerospace was gonna build an electric QEC for the C172, as well. Where is it?

      OH … SILLY ME … now I see what was going on … your article was dated April 1, 2018 … April Fools’ Day. Nevertheless, one would think that in three years time SOMEONE woulda built something. NOW do you see why all of we “realists” are SO pessimistic?

    • Wow Tom…”especially about how pilots clamor for new solutions and then aren’t willing to buy them and are first to dismiss them”???

      I am not clamoring for new solutions. I will buy new solutions as they are approved and certified. Apparently, many other aircraft owners are doing like wise. The only new offerings approved and available are coming from the avionics industry. Have you checked the sales numbers from the GA avionics industry? Even Covid-19 failed to stop avionics upgrades by GA.

      I am not clamoring for new solutions and not buying them when they are approved, certified, and finally being manufactured. I am weary of ridiculous claims of approval, certification, and equally ridiculously optimistic predicted in-service dates of products that in many cases, does not have a flying prototype.

      As has been carefully pointed out by others, manufactures of products like the diesel V8 offered by EPS, do not financially survive the certification process, ending up in bankruptcy. Epic, ICON, Cirrus, Diamond, Theilert, Mooney…gee whiz…give me an example of any GA engine or airframe manufacturer who DID NOT require major financial restructuring including massive overseas funding/ownership to bring into the market a new product. Pipistrel is the closest to not going bankrupt in getting the Panthera certified in the US but still in the Experimental category today. And they are still trying to figure out if there is a market for another $750,000 to one Million dollar, avgas burning, Lycoming IO-540 powered, composite, 4 place piston single (try finding 94 octane unleaded, non-ethanol fuel in the US). And their prototype flew many years ago.

      And you made your decision to overhaul the IO-550 in your A-36 instead of installing an EPS or SMA diesel alternative which are both available as certified engines (oh yeah, I forgot that maybe they are not yet approved for an A-36). Or, you could have talked to Toyota about installing their LS400, FAA approved and certified V8 ( certification done in the middle 90’s). However, for a variety of good, valid, and proven reasons, you opted to continue flying behind a very old Lycoming.

  16. It depends on the mission. I think that basic trainers and shorter-haul commuter aircraft will be the first to go electric and the reason is purely economic. The new electric trainers cost about 1/5 as much per hour as a good old C172. Bye Aerospace is protecting that the seat mile cost of their new 8-place plane with a 500 mile range not including the IFR reserve is 1/10 that of a comparable turbo-prop. There are big gains being made in batteries and faster charging lithium-sulfur looks to be the next big thing.

  17. Companies like Bye lose credibility by making unfounded claims, when they haven’t even flown a prototype.

    They further erode their credibility when they project certification dates and availability that even experienced aerospace companies with conventional propulsion cannot achieve–look at the slippage of Cessna’s single and twin-engine “new generation” turboprops.

    That said, the “True Believers” DO have the option of backing these claims by placing a future order. IF the claims turn out to be true, they will make a fortune on their investment.

    On the other hand, aviation is replete with examples of those who lost their money–big time. They can join the ranks of investors in Bede, Windecker, Eclipse, JetCruzer, Adam Aircraft, and those aircraft that never even made it to the Public Offering stage. I’m actually trying to think of any “new offering” that HAS made it to certification, production, and financial success within the stated time period–I can’t think of ANY. Even Cirrus was late to the certification and development party, and went through their own financial woes.

    I’ll forego the pleasure of being an “early adopter”–but wish them well. I’ll also go back to my initial point–aviation publications lose credibility by becoming “cheerleaders” for these naive (and also nearly universally failed) claims. Popular Mechanics did that with their breathless reporting that “An airplane in every garage” and “flying cars” were “just around the corner”–and lost all credibility. The light aircraft industry is already in financial trouble–we don’t need any more failed promises to further compromise credibility.

  18. Thanks so much Paul and people for the editorial and these responses. Reading through this all has been a great start to my weekend. I reckon Douglas Adams would consider the avweb community to be a righteous bunch of hoopy froods.

  19. Here is an excellent article on the subject. It answers most of the questions that were raised,
    and it dispels all of the objections lodged against electric aircraft. The author (Michael Coren)
    is well qualified to discuss the subject, given his background and expertise. A link to his c.v.
    is attached, as well. I will merely add that “the laws of physics” are not immutable; indeed,
    they have changed considerably in the last century–so much so, that the term ‘law’ is itself
    obsolete, as is Newtonian mechanics, though its everyday utility is still immense. When the
    going gets tough, the tough-minded do not resort to sterile clichés (“hope is not a strategy”),
    false analogies, or a priori denunciations of “wishful thinking.” Electric aircraft will soon be
    commonplace, and play an important role in both private and commercial aviation. They’re
    here to stay. Whereas, our prejudices, dogmas, and mistaken assumptions will have to go.

  20. So Douglas Adams’ third rule (“anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things”, to save you scrolling all the way back to the top) would include “climate change” for anyone over say, 55ish. A hundred to one there’s a big demographic overlap here. The mind is a like an umbrella; it functions best when open. Enough said?

    A couple of relevant links:
    Avweb, Bye eFlyer 2 report, from two years ago. Yes, like climate change, it’s real (and has been for some time).

    New aviation battery tech from Oxis Energy. It’s happening. Just a question of how fast.

  21. I agree that there needs to be a breakthrough in order for electric aircraft to become a reality or we need to invent a new energy storage/transfer device. One of the biggest challenges to new technology adoption seems to me to be limited to the Certified world. I drive a Comanche and envy the experimental world in all they can do with their birds. There are many engine options in the experimental space. It seems to me the experimental space is driving all the technology whether we’re talking engines or avionics and the certified world catches up 5-10 years later for 2X the cost. The biggest challenge I see to GA is over regulation which prices everyone out but the zealots.

  22. This morning I was mowing my lawn and thinking about John Patson’s comment about elawnmowers. MY need on a steeply inclined hill and large yard would NEVER work. At my 2nd location, the yard is just too big … I need a riding mower. Still, if a lawn was small enough, I suppose having a second backup battery would work … and that got me to thinking … we can’t have a second battery in flight but why couldn’t we do what the USAF and USN does with aerial refueling. Sounds crazy but we “dismissive” luddites probably poo-poo’ed the KB-50 and KC-97 when the idea was first proposed, too. Around Edwards AFB, a tanker is usually aloft ready to offload some go juice to any of the test airplanes running short; why couldn’t some enterprising entity come up with a design to provide electrons for the eGA fleet ? It could be the aerial equivalent of the charging stations for Tesla’s.

    Since there are SO many C172’s around, we could modify them with a hard trailing boom. The receiving airplane could just fly up, plug in and loiter for a bit to extend its range. We could rename the Skyhawk’s so modified as KC172’s. Since Elon has probably patented the name Supercharging, maybe we could call the process SuperDuperReCharging ?

    Now let’s take this idea a step further. With all the companies developing UAS, UAV and drones for just about everything — I just saw a driverless pizza delivery truckster on TV — why couldn’t we make the KC172 pilotless? The Navy tested the X-47B as a drone refueler. Recharging KC172 drones and eAirplanes would revolutionize aviation and the problem with battery energy density would be solved. And oh by the way … we’d be saving the planet, too. We could call these KC172’s GreenHawks.

    And just last night, I saw where some outfit in Colorado Springs is developing an aluminum V8 engine conversion for the C172. It’s specific fuel consumption and performance will be greatly enhanced so between that and no pilot aboard, the KC172’s would be able to stay aloft all day providing electrons to all those that need some.

    And if you think THIS idea is nutty, I just saw a mattress commercial on TV that claims it’s “green.” By buying one, you can save the planet. Superb !!

    One sentence in your article hits it on the head for me … “Dismissiveness ahead of rational analysis is a disease every bit as virulent as wide-eyed Pollyannaism.” AMEN.

    • Yeah – I eagerly look forward to maintaining “on charge” for an hour or so, in bumpy air, at night. 😉

    • “I just saw a mattress commercial on TV that claims it’s “green.”

      ROFL, ‘greenwashing’ it’s called.

      Typical of eco-activists and marketing types (few marketing people are truly pros, I’ve worked with some, most stumble along, and of course there is the pool of poison at the bottom of the category).

      • I heard that the glaciers were melting, the sea was rising and Florida was going under water, too, Keith. Since I actually live on a salt water canal, I ran right out to see if my dock was under water yet and — guess what — SO much water was gone that I could see the bottom. What gives? Is that idea bravo sierra, too? Me thinks so.

  23. There is a small vulture in the room; it is starting into a growth spurt.
    The vulture is called electrification, and it will eat your gasoline supply.

    Vehicles are moving to electric, all over the world; there is an end date for combustion vehicles in many countries, and that end date is moving inexorably closer.
    The result will be a diminishing of gasoline supplies as the market for land vehicle gasoline dries up.
    In ten years, there will be notably fewer gas stations; in twenty years, you will need an app to find one.
    Aviation uses a tiny fraction of present gasoline supplies; aviation will not support wide availability of gasoline, so leaded, or unleaded, aviation gasoline will be an expensive boutique product or completely unavailable.
    Long range aviation will move to sustainable jet fuel; that trend is starting already.
    SO; if you want to fly a piston airplane, you need an engine that runs on jet fuel, not gasoline.
    Continental has a nice certified 300 horsepower diesel that will replace big bore gasoline engines.
    They have engines from 150 horsepower up that run on diesel/jet fuel.

    What experimental aviation needs to do is focus on engines that will run on future available fuels.
    Ford uses a 210 horsepower twin turbo diesel in several trucks, including the large Transit.
    Those engines run at high power settings on the highway; seem like a good choice to base an aircraft engine on, much as Continental and Austro based their small aircraft diesels on a Mercedes car engine.
    Who’s going to step up, build the reduction drive for this and similar ground based diesels, so we have engines for our airplanes in the future?
    Please; dual alternators, redundant engine controls and single lever power, just like the present Continentals and Austro engines.
    Electric airplanes will work for training, and short haul airlines, that is inevitable.
    Put solar panels on your hangar roof, and never buy fuel again if the available endurance suits you!

    • Brian,
      SMA, Continental, and EPS all have FAA certified diesel engines available for purchase and installation today. However, getting them available for the variety of airframe manufacturers is the next hurdle. SMA has direct drive, air-cooled, single lever full FADEC, turbo charged diesels available for C182’s manufactured since 1996. You want one for your straight tail? Not available. Why? Certification costs. SMA has had these engines available for several years now. Cessna agreed to installing them on production C182’s. For several reasons, the hoped for option did not mature, including low US customer interest.

      Several PRSU’s available for auto/truck applications for air craft conversions. Many with long term reliable pedigrees. No economy of scale to manufacture…unless you, the aviation consumer wants to pay as much for the reduction drive as you would for the engine. Then, who is going to train, work on, all of these conventional FAA certified engine alternatives and PSRU’s? If you have a Rotax on an LSA, you cannot just fly over to the local A&P for service, unless you want to pay shop rates for his or her training including sending them to an approved Rotax school.

      I am not worried about my 1953 Bonanza’s fuel availability. If and when Walmart runs out of 91 octane, non-ethanol auto fuel, which they are offering to an ever EXPANDING dealer network, I will decide the value of other far more costly alternatives.

      RC aircraft electric technology has come down considerably because of the economy of scale. Millions of batteries, ESC, and engines are sold annually. Most of the full scale electric airplane technology used today is the result of reliability and battery technology developed for the hobby market. But when it comes down to certifying followed with manufacturing full size airplane electric technology, that is when the manufacturer has to decide if they can actually make money selling to a very small market compared to annual Ford F-150 sales. So far, a few hundred aircraft sales per year is not considered “economy of scale”.

  24. I love the idea of an electric plane. Doesn’t seem feasible for long distance travel though. Like with the Tesla, I don’t want to have to sit around for a few hours waiting for my batteries to charge to go the next few hundred miles. It destroys the purpose of air travel being a fast and efficient way to get to your destination without driving.
    Would be nice as a toy… buy toy plane companies don’t last long in the industry.

  25. Greetings: A quick comment. You are right about the old Triumphs! They were great because there was nothing better out there! And Steve McQueen escaping the NAZIs on one was the epitome of cool! The new Triumphs deserve your attention! I am super impressed and have actually been considering a home built powered by their 955 Triple engine. Just My $.02.


  26. Cost. That’s more of an issue than potential benefits or drawbacks of a new technology in GA. Today, the middle class is pretty much entirely out of the market when it comes to new certified airplanes other than LSAs, which are strictly a toy for a hobbyist and have zero practical use as a form of transportation. They’re a jet ski for the sky. That’s a problem; the middle class is the bulk of consumers, and when they’re priced out you lose economy of scale. That’s why there were many more new GA planes being developed 70ish years ago and basically none now. Middle class people could afford them, and GA was booming because of it. You’d be hard pressed to make a commercially successful and technologically advanced GA airplane today, it would cost over a million dollars. Look at the Cirrus lineup, incredibly expensive, the better part of a million for a single engine, fixed gear, 4 seat airplane that is reasonably fast. That Cirrus is arguably still practically an antique from a technological perspective. Cirrus owners may take exception to that, considering it borderline offensive, and people in my market space say a Cirrus is on another level compared to the 70 year old designs we’re flying, but it’s true. A Cirrus still has ancient tech with somewhat modern tech attached to it under the cowl, and its construction is only advanced by the standards of 30 years ago, you’d be pushing it to call it advanced today. It’s only modern because a new tricked out Archer or 182 is the light aircraft equivalent of a factory offered restomod job on a Chevy 210. Ancient craft with a taste of the new under the hood and on the panel. The LS under the hood of that hypothetical car is arguably more advanced in comparison to a cast iron smallblock than today’s fuel injected lycoming is relative to the engines the first 182s came with. The cost issue has me convinced that it’s more likely that we will watch GA slowly die off and disappear than see technologically impressive GA airplanes hit the market at even replacement levels, modern GA airplanes contributing to the growth of GA in general would be a miracle. It would be a lot easier to convince GA pilots that new tech is promising if buying it wasn’t a larger expense than a new house. Let’s not even get into the fact that electric has a long way to go since we all know battery energy density is laughable in comparison to fuel, it’s fine for a consumer car, but a tesla doesn’t fly.

    • Your comment made me wonder. There are lots of experimental planes built from plans that use non aviation engines. Are there are any in the class of a 172? What does it cost to build one of these today?

      That would be rather telling.

    • You’ve hit it squarely on the head, Tyler. And … there are two other allied issues … the AGE of the potential market for anything new and the replacement PILOTS who will follow us as we fall off the far end of the curve. Thanks to an intransigent FAA trying to make recreational private flying 110% medically safe, many of our timelines are being artificially shortened, as well. If you can drive a giant RV down I-95, you ought to be able to fly a very low end GA airplane, too. LSA’s and people using Basic Med aren’t falling out of the sky … the only place medical incapacitation is an issue is in the minds of a small number of FAA aeromedical people.

      If you go to ANY airshow … what do you see. Middle aged people and older, mostly men. Sure there are some kids around but most are not pilots and unlikely to be. They lust to fly but most will never even achieve a private certificate. Cost is the primary impediment but there are others. So the primary market for anything new are aging pilots who are discriminating enough to know what they’d like but now even most of them can’t afford it. So what do they do … they update the panels in their old airplanes. I’d be a good example. I’d love to own a new 182 but can’t justify the fuel requirements and my mission doesn’t really need it. I own a 172 with a relatively new engine so … I soldier on with it. Would I love to own a new C172 … sure … but not for $400K. It’s the same damn airframe! And I’m likely on the top of the food chain since I never had any kids so my overhead is near nil. I can’t justify the expendature.

      As wonderful a job as the aviation high school in Lakeland is doing, that’s not enough. It’s an outlier. The larger generic market has to be there … but isn’t, as you’ve said. So the slow decline and ultimate death of GA unless someone at 800 Independence Ave gets off their high horse (aka butts) and does something is assured. If EAA could force something positive with its MOSAIC idea, that’d sure help a lot and I plant to challenge Jack Pelton at the EAA Annual Membership meeting in July over it. He’s not a magician but he could push harder, I’d think. Frankly, I think killing GA IS a hidden FAA mission statement. Dragging their legs is part of it. A lot of people here think electic power is THE future … tell me how many are certified. See the problem?

      Just think of what would happen to GA is the MGTOW of an LSA compliant airplane were raised to — say — a nice round 2500 pounds. Now add the idea that was floated to establish another category of “Special” airworthiness certificate called “Primary” which would turn any certificated airplane into a pseudo E-AB airplane able to be relicensed via a condition inspection by an A&P. Just those two things would make older airplanes worth more and probably invigorate the Light Sport manufacturers to build more useful LSA’s than the kites that they now hawk for way too much money.

      As for the idea that electric airplanes will be anything but a niche market … I’ve got a sawbuck that says that’ll never happen in my remaining lifetime. Just last nite on TV, a guy who KNOWS a lot about the electric grid says it’s antiquated, isn’t being updated and is highly vulnerable to sabotage. Yeah … I’ll be sure and put all MY aviation ‘eggs’ in an electric grid refueling basket. Not !

  27. While all electric is a good goal for trainers/weekend warriors, true hybrid systems where a gas generator is running regular gasoline to power an electric motor should be the goal for traveling machines.

  28. Most of the comments so far rather prove Adams Rule #3, but are consistent with “don’t be a sucker” in discussion primarily battery electric propulsion. (A brief consideration of Li-Ion energy density of 200 Wh/kg vs gasoline at ~60,000 Wh/kg should suffice to emphasize that, excepting a few specialized applications, battery-electric is not ready for prime time.) Yet I am quite confident that there’s a magenta line somewhere in the cockpit of responding over-35s that did not exist when they were under 35. Why? First, GPS navigators make life easier. Second, they were relatively cheap to try; failure cost a few hundred bucks, not thousands or, in the case of a new airframe, hundreds of thousands.

    This second point is vital: few of us at the low end of the GA scale can afford to gamble on an expensive new technology and lose if/when it proves to be a bad or unsupportable idea. This is true even when the existing technology, Lycoming/Continental engines for example, is pretty terrible. The main argument for them is, in reality, an argument against them. On average, Ly-Cons fail every 3,200 hours. A P&W PT-6 fails every 650,000 hours.

    Regardless of one’s opinion on change, it’s coming. The present status quo of using and re-using 60 year old airplanes cannot continue. In addition to all other factors, pilots wreck them faster than new ones are produced. Either new solutions are adopted or GA as we now know it, is doomed.

  29. All I can offer are the word of Teddy Roosevelt:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

    We should hope to God that serious people don’t stop trying to create better aircraft engines. Especially since we now cede the freedom of flight to an onerous government and Chinese aircraft engine manufacturer Continental Aerospace.