Nine of the Most Badass Flying Vehicles

    October 28, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Since the turn of the last century, man has conjured up some of his best inventions; air conditioning, German sh*t porn, television, Hot Pockets and of course vehicles that fly. Flying has always been an obsession of man, and in the last 100 years, we’ve seen it manifested in all sorts of shapes, sizes and applications.

    With that in mind, here are Nine Bad Ass Flying Vehicles.

    1. Inspiration I

    Larry Walters showed us it doesn’t take millions of dollars and years of research to fly. Nope. Just buy a lawn chair, a helium tank, 45 weather balloons, a BB gun (to shoot the balloons) and you’ve got yourself a genuine flyin’ machine. Although this aircraft was designed for an altitude of 30 meters, it proved to be capable of 15,000 feet. Much to the surprise of Larry, he was awarded an At-Risk Survivor Darwin Award.

    2. F-14 Tomcat

    Like every other kid growing up in the 80’s, I loved Top Gun. Aside from discovering my passion for all-male, shirtless beach volleyball, I also wanted to take Polaroids of Soviet fighter pilots in an F14 Tomcat…inverted. Originally designed to counter MiGs during the Vietnam era, the F14 became the Navy’s primary fighter until its retirement in 2006. One of its signature features are the F14’s variable sweep wing, which sweep in for high speeds and out for slower speeds. The F14 is now retired, but through the heart of the cold war and into the new millenia, the F14 was our number one fighter jet.

    3. Martin Jetpack

    If you’ve got $85,000 and a death-wish (actually it’s been declared ‘practical’ by the FAA) you could be a potential owner of the Martin Jetpack. Unfortunately, it is not rocket propelled, so you won’t be re-enacting the burger cooking scene in Minority Report. Regardless, it’s still pretty sweet. Using twin fans for lift, the Martin Jetpack can travel to an altitude of 8,000 feet at 60 MPH for around 30 minutes.

    4. Gulfstream G550

    Unless you’re a high-powered business person, a celebrity, a sheik or a hooker, chances are, you’ll never fly on a G550. It’s alright. Aside from being the Rolls Royce of airplanes (it literally has Rolls Royce engines) it comes in twelve floor layouts with countless other luxuries you’ll probably find on Southwest (or not).

    5. The Concorde

    The Concorde was the first supersonic passenger jet ever made. Achieving a cruising speed of Mach 2.0, The Concorde could make cross-Atlantic flights in half the time of other passenger jets. Subsidized by the U.K. and French governments, and with the ever-changing economics of air travel, it never proved profitable, eventually being retired in 2003.

    6. AC-130 Spectre Gunship

    If the AC-130 had a wallet, it would probably read: “Bad Mother F*cker.” Used at night, supporting ground operations, its variable configurations of 25mm mini-guns, 40mm bofors and 105mm canons, make the AC-130 the most heavily armed gunship anywhere it flies. Recently, the AC-130 has become somewhat of a celebrity. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and this YouTube video have showcased to the masses its awesomely destructive power. Able to attack more than one target at a time and equipped with “Airwolf”-like anti-missile flares, this gunship rains down pain on any unlucky target in it’s cross-hairs.

    7. SR-71 Blackbird

    If you’ve never read it, Brian Shul’s story of a mission flying the SR-71 showcases its amazing abilities and its courageous pilots. The SR-71 was developed as a reconnaissance plane during the Cold War to collect photographs and other electronic data behind enemy lines. Flying at altitudes of 85,000 feet and traveling at speeds exceeding Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) meant nearly every aspect of the plane had to be specially designed. Even though it was introduced in the 60’s, the SR-71 still holds several records in altitude and speed. The Blackbird’s main mode of defense against enemy missile attack was to simply speed up. Although much of the information collected is classified, many experts claim the SR-71 was a major contributing factor to winning the Cold War. Well, that and Rocky beating Drago.

    8. Spaceship 2

    We’re still waiting for moving sidewalks and hover boards, but it looks like the wait for civilian space travel is nearly over. Although there are several players in the market, Richard Branson’s endeavor appears to be the most promising. Spaceship 2 uses a mothership to reach an altitude of 50,000 feet before detaching itself for its final ascent to it’s desired altitude. Using a different technique than space shuttles, the Spaceship 2 can re-enter the atmosphere at any angle.

    9. B2 Stealth Bomber

    Whether deployed in real-life or in Modern Warfare 2, the B2 means Game Over for it’s victims. Originally designed to nuke the Soviet Union in the face of war, the B2 can travel long distances in a short period of time carrying up to 40,000 pounds of conventional or nuclear bombs. The shape, materials and color work cohesively with anti-radar technology to make the B2 nearly invisible. Being able to see (and not hear) the B2 in action at an air-show sure made me glad I’m an American.

    1. The B-2 bomber derives from technoogy lineages stretching back to the 1940s. To people who study and work in the aerospace industry, the B-2 is definitely advanced, but not inexplicably so. Every aspect of its design, construction, and operation has some precedent somewhere in the industry, either in working technology or in research.


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