National Geographic Documentary 2014 – Air Plane

not just two but four mounted on the wings it may seem obvious now but at the time putting four engines on the aircraft was something nobody’s ever done before it was an extraordinary idea Sikorsky planned to fit his four engines either side of the fuse on but early aircraft engines are notoriously unreliable if two engines fail on one side the remaining engines could force the aircraft to spin out control what Sikorsky realized was that the further out on the wings he put the engines the worse the turning force was if two of the engines failed so instead he put the engines as close as possible to the fuselage now if two of the engines fail the turning force and remaining engines is something that the pilot can control and the aircraft can keep on flying but Sikorsky isn’t certain this will stop the plane spinning out of control so he makes one final alteration he fits the completed murim x with a huge rudder and adds two extra blades the pilot uses foot pedals to change the angle of the blades this changes the direction of the plane now if two engines fail the pilots can counteract the uneven frost and steer the aircraft back on track on March the 10th 1915 Russian commanders load amaura Mets with forty-five bombers in a daring raid the pilot drop them all onto a German railway station the target is destroyed the age of the bomber begins the Antonov is 80 times heavier than sikorsky’s Muromets Russian engineer Oleg Antonov designs the plane in 1976 to carry tanks and military supplies for the Soviet Air Force deliberately planned to dwarf anything in the West for the Soviets the Antonov sheer size is a symbol of their supposed superiority getting this giant off the ground when fully loaded takes a huge amount of power there’s only one engine up to the job JUnit capable of launching a fully armed fighter in just 300 meters the jet the principal of the jet engine is simple so simple chemists and Rashid Lo has made one from an office water cooler this is a jet engine it’s a model of the real thing a jet engine works on the principle that a fuel burns inside a combustion chamber and there is only one exit when the fuel burns a huge amount of heat energy is generated this heat energy causes enormous expansion and the gases come shooting out through the exit which we have here will now coop it on to our special apparatus here just like a real jet engine this model contains a liquid fuel that expands explosively when it burns then we shall apply a light to it the principle of the jet engine is that every action there is an equal and opposite reaction as the exhaust gases come out so the engine moves in the opposite direction so we’re lighting the to produce a lot of power jet engines burn a lot of fuel the Antonov needs to fly long distances but without refueling

so it’s engines can’t simply be powerful they must be efficient as well this is not a conventional jet engine it has a large fan at the front of the engine a much smaller fan at the rear and that’s why it’s called a turbofan engine at the heart of each turbofan sits a normal jet engine which generates thrust but the hot air that shoots out of the back of the jet also turns a fine this fan drives a shaft that turns a larger fan in front of the engine the second fan acts like a planes propeller sucking air through as it turns generating expert thrust the turbofan is actually a propeller and a jet engine rolled into one the combination means the turbofan is more fuel-efficient than a conventional jet while still producing an incredible amount of power on takeoff the Antonov generates more thrust than 10 jet fighters even for the train on board the Antonovs turbofan engines are so efficient they can power the plane from Germany to Delhi without refueling back in 1914 sikorsky’s Muromets used extra thrust to lift a pallet of barns but to carry huge quantities of mail and passes designers would need to equip the 21 ton yonkers G 38 with a revolutionary pair of rules in the 1920s Europe begins transporting Post by air airmail is born German aircraft designer Hugo yonkers decides to build a huge new plane to cope with the ever-increasing volume of mail between Berlin and London but building an aircraft of this size is a huge challenge early aircraft like the Muromets are biplanes they have two wings connected together to make one strong structure that’s because at the time engineers can’t build a single wing strong enough to support an entire aircraft science of wing design at this stage was really very crude you can see these wooden struts here are essentially giving the whole structure just some kind of rigidity and holding the two wings together when you look at the cables it’s much more complex this top wing here is now generating a tremendous amount of lift literally in order to get the aircraft off the ground so these cables here go completely rigid in flight but the structures that make up my plane’s wing as strong cause problems for the plane once it’s in the air the struts and wires connecting a biplanes wings have a surprisingly large surface own this creates a large amount of drag as the aircraft moves to carry heavy cargo a plane needs bigger wings these require even more struts and wires which generate more drag the extra drag means big biplanes can’t lift heavy cargo but Hugo yokas has a hunch that a single thick wing will generate more lift and

less drag than a pair of biplane whales he sets out to prove his theory by now you guys had access to a wind tunnel and he was able to show that a single much thicker wing was still better than having two smaller wings effectively what Yonkers was able to do was to merge these two wings together into one and put all the necessary supporting structure inside it Yonkers covers his one thick ring with an aluminium skin despite being over two meters thick the wings streamline shape cuts through the air producing very little drag a plenty of leg this enabled the aircraft to carry six tons of mail yokas plane named the g 38 lifts off for the first time in 1929 the wings are so thick this actually room inside for passenger seating with forward-facing windows Yonkers was a remarkably visionary man and many of his ideas were way ahead of his time his concept of using the space inside a thick wing to carry passengers or cargo is exactly the idea that’s being explored by the most advanced designers of today the Antonov one-to-four is enroute to Delhi with the Metro train safely secured in its cargo with the wingspan of over 70 meters eight double-decker buses could park end-to-end across the antonov swings with room to spare making such big wings strong enough to support the fully loaded Antonov is a huge engineering challenge and that’s because they’re made of aluminium when metalworkers for Jabbar available they must make sure it cooks evenly otherwise internal stresses make the metal weak but it’s difficult to maintain even along a lengthy bar so before the antonov metal manufacturers only produced short aluminium girders these have to be bolted together to give wings strength but this means lots of joints and where there’s a joint there’s a weakness the antonov wings can’t be made from short sections so Soviet engineers built an aluminium plant where for the first time the cooling process is controlled by computer the plant can forge huge 8 meter long aluminium girders and cool them evenly keeping them strong engineers now only need four longer to stretch the entire length of the antonov swings with fewer joints the wings are now strong enough to lift the heaviest loads back in 1929 you go yonkers proof that single winged aircraft have left enormous loads but soon new challenges emerged to convince passengers to cross the Atlantic in the 38 tonne Boeing Clipper Engineers would have to make their aircraft much safer in 1930s America airlines are becoming big business commercial planes flying a mixture of passengers and Mail are turning a tidy profit but commercial aircraft have yet to conquer the most important route of all the flight across the Atlantic linking America and Europe Pan American Airlines are determined to operate the first transatlantic flights but the challenge isn’t just about building a plane that can fly the distance the transatlantic operation was an enormous leap prestigious exercise for Pan Am their problem was that aviation at that time was very much less safe than it is now in particular the reliability of engines was was really very poor by today’s standards so if

they were ever going to make this group work they needed to persuade people not only that it would be a very enjoyable experience but that in the reasonably likely event that something did go wrong they would still be safe in 1936 Pan Am rights to all the major aircraft manufacturers in America issuing them a challenge they offer a cash reward for an aircraft design that meets a stringent set of specifications if the plane should be able to carry four and a half tonnes of cargo and 70 passengers it must fly at 240 kilometres an hour against a 50 kilometer allow a headwind it must have the range to make the 3100 kilometer Atlantic crossing without stopping and in case the passengers are afraid of flying over nothing but see it must be the safest aircraft in the sky the brief is so ambitious that several companies simply don’t submit designs but engineers at the Boeing Airplane Company take an unconventional approach to the design of Pan Am’s aircraft they think of it as a boat they make the cabins the last word in luxury giving them air-conditioning and a separate bar below decks designers fit 11 watertight compartments sandwiched between two homes even if the outer hull springs a leak the water won’t penetrate the inner hull and sink the boat they equip their craft with an anchor and life rafts but they also fit it with wings these are the original drawings that Boeing sent to Panama in response to their requests and although they’re very basic I think something about the impressive lines of this aircraft does come over straight away and you can see how it would have captured Pan Am’s imagination as it happens it’s a matter of record that they took just three days to select Boeing for the contract once they saw these drawings with the Boeing clipper Pan Am launched the first commercial passenger and cargo service across the Atlantic but in 1947 the Clippers claimed as the safest flame in the skies is truly testing halfway across the Atlantic a clipper discovers that it doesn’t have enough fuel to make it to dry that the sudden horrifying realization that this is now going to happen to you were just a second ago you’ve been having a drink or having a meal or something must have been truly terrifying of course as they then approached the water looking out of the window at it and realizing just how bad the conditions were out there you can only imagine the kind of terror that they must have experienced the Clipper survives a heavy crash landing but must now cook with gale force winds and ten meter high waves the hull is severely damaged a passenger captures the entire episode on camera this one is a pretty horrific experience they’re going through they’re just dressed in whatever coats they had in the in the aeroplane with them that they stood at risk of falling into the sea it’s a clearly an extremely dangerous situation the Clippers stays afloat for the next 24 hours the US Coast Guard rescue all on board it’s really a great tribute to Boeing the design that this aircraft which was intended to to float on the ocean if need be did in fact stay afloat all the way through the night and into the next day and as a result of what he was saved back in 1939 the Boeing clipper was able to safely cross even the widest ocean but the Clipper could

only take off and land on water engineers building the hulking 43-ton Messerschmitt G Gant would have to find a way for it to touch down on land in 1941 World War two is raging Germany is fighting on two fronts the deserts of Africa trade stats in Russia they desperately need a big cargo plane that can deliver heavy equipment to their frontline troops the biggest plane in the German air force is the Emmy three two one a huge cargo carrying glider on takeoff the three two one rests on the detachable trolley three fighter aircraft then tow it down the runway but even these don’t have the power to get it off the ground so engineers fit detachable rockets to provide extra thrust the aircraft is so heavy that instead of wheels it lands using two pairs of skids to spread the load over a large area but the glider has a fatal flaw once on the ground about its trolley and a toe from another plane the three to one continent it’s stranded each me3 to one was expected to make a single one-way trip in an invasion and in fact the pilots were equipped with explosives to destroy the aircraft as soon as it landed as a glider what it could never do was make repeated cargo carrying flights to convert this glider into a useful cargo plane German engineers don’t just have to fit it with engines they must also replace the skids with permanent wheels but a plane this heavy needs some serious suspension normal Springs absorb the energy of an impact then release the energy again by springing back the last thing an aircraft wants to do is to hit the ground then bounce back into the air like a pogo stick German designers find the solution from an unexpected source the buffers on the front of trains when a train hits the buffers it doesn’t bounce back to a gradual stop the energy of the impact is absorbed by a special device called a friction spray it’s made from a series of metal rings with angled edges on impact these rings grind over one generating friction this turns the energy of a sudden impact into heat which armless lead disappears into the air it’s the perfect spring to soften the landing of a 40-ton cargo plane without bouncing it back into the air the plane fitted with engines as well as its new landing gear first flies in 1941 German troops simply call it G Gant the German word for giant it’s hard not to be impressed by the ingenuity of the German designers they produce an aircraft which were turned out to be the biggest land-based aircraft of the entire war the Antonov one-to-four is on its final approach to Delhi with a metro train on board it can’t afford a rough landing such a gentle touchdown is made possible

by some very special landing gear it’s made up of 24 wheels that sit on massive shock absorbing Pistons called struts the amount of pressure on these struts is enormous the aircraft can land with a weight of up to 330 tons and that 330 tons is initially borne by the ten straps fitted to the main landing gear that equates to around 33 average-sized cars being placed on one of these struts alone a single piston connects each pair of wheels to the bottom plane inside each piste is a layer of air and a layer of oil and a metal barrier this holy as the plane lands the piston forces the oil through the hole this compresses the air which absorbs the impact of the landing like a spring once the plane has landed the compressed air expands forcing the piston back up this forces the oil back through the hole which slows the Pistons movement preventing it from rebounding quickly this keeps the antonov’s cargo from bouncing around even in a heavy landing back in 1941 special Springs allowed super heavy aircraft like the Messerschmitt G Gant to land safely but engineer is designing the 349 ton c5 galaxy would face a more unusual challenge they must find a way to unload that cargo whilst Apple in the early 1960s the Cold War is in danger of turning hot the US Air Force needs a plane that can carry vast quantities of military equipment to war zones far but as well as lifting heavy karma this blame must be able to unload in even the most hostile territory and that means dropping cargo by air but opening a large cargo door mid-flight is inherently dangerous structural engineer at McCann explains why in front of me here I have a cardboard tube with sealed ends and I you need to imagine this is a plane in flight subject to buffeting wind loads and big vertical forces where the wings attached to the plane and where the tail assembly attaches to the plane if I put some blocks on here edie loads the tube with bricks to simulate the stress an aircraft fuselage might experience during flight now this this one doing here is generating the sort of forces that you get on the rear of the plane due to the tail assembly and on the normal plane of course it’s all sealed up at the back there’s no hold and we can see there that that’s pretty okay is a small deflection in the tube there but that’s basically sound a sealed cylinder is capable of taking very large loads but if the cylinder isn’t sealed the situation is very different now if I take the end piece off let’s watch what happens and we can immediately see that it doesn’t work very well and it’s amazing actually the effect that this has what this means for your plane in fly of course is that opening the back door is a very very dangerous thing to do to solve this problem engineers strengthen the body of the aircraft by adding a second sealed fuselage on top of the first this creates a rigid backbone for the entire plane doors in the lower fuselage can now open safely even in mid-flight on the 7th of June 1989 the plane christened the galaxy siii 5 sets off from Fort Bragg in North Carolina to

test its airdrop capability to the limit when its rear cargo doors open for Sheridan tanks and 73 combat-ready troops parachute safely to the ground it’s the heaviest single airdrop ever recorded the Galaxy has been a huge success story not only was it an immensely capable aeroplane in terms of its own Ormus payload then it’s a very long range it’s never been replaced in service and in fact a program is underway now to modernize all its systems so that it will go on serving for many years into the future in Delhi engineers are about to unload the Antonov one-to-four like the galaxy the Antonov can airdrop cargo from its enormous rear doors but the owners of this brand-new metro train won’t be very happy if it’s dropped from a thousand meters half even on the ground unloading a long item like a train from such a big plane isn’t easy 28 mark was designed by the Soviet Union to transport very heavy rolling stocks vehicles like tanks very heavy armored personnel carriers and so on you would not have easily been able to drive one of these up on to the ramp with a sill height of approximately 2.2 meters which is what you have now the angle that you would have to take this vehicle out would have been considerable and of course you then have a risk of grounding of the vehicle as it goes over the apex antonov’s designers had to find a way to lower the floor of the cargo hold to allow long vehicles easy access so incredibly they engineer a way for the Antonov to kneel first of all two extendable legs nicknamed elephant feet descend from the nerves then the front landing gear folks fours in this kneeling position the cargo floor is low enough for long vehicles to unload down around unloading the metro train in Delhi would be almost impossible without the Antonovs ability to kneel as it is unloading is still a delicate procedure precision is everything one mistake could spell disaster mechanics slowly lower the train down the ramp along specially built rail tracks just two winches stop the train from running away the entire process takes seven long hours the biggest relief for us is always that point where the Train whatever cargo it is we’ve carry is being lifted off from our ramp by the crane and we’re then able to dismantle our equipment start it all over again for somebody else a train within a plane from Germany to Delhi in just ten hours yet another extraordinary feat by the Antonov one two three 1968 the galaxy could airdrop massive loads without having to land but some cargo is too big even for the galaxy to carry the huge Russian spaceship designers would have to modify the 392 ton Antonov one to four and make it even bigger at the height of the space race the Soviet government decides to develop their own version of the space shuttle called the Buran the only high-tech factories able to

manufacture the Buran are in Moscow but the launch site is the Baikonur Space Center in a remote desert area of Kazakhstan so engineers must find a way of transporting the Space Shuttle 2,000 kilometers it’s not really possible to move that type of aircraft by land and the reason is that it is absolutely enormous you could get it under bridges you couldn’t get it down the the smaller roads you also have to do it very slowly and it would take an enormous ly long time there’s only one transport the shuttle