Today, we get a behind the scenes visit of the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, AL to discover the complexity of aircraft systems. In the process, my class of graduate students learn to see aircraft in a different light.
Special thanks to the museum director Dr. Brian Barsanti. My students received a rare treat, a guided tour with both a professor of history and a professor of aerospace engineering.
The museum tour consisted of two parts: 1) the interior museum complex and 2) the outdoor display located on the Birmingham airport.
The interior museum tour proceeded chronologically. An interesting fact of the museum is that all aircraft except one are flightworthy originals or replicas. The non-flight worthy exception is the 1903 Wright Flyer, as might be expected from the underpowered and unstable flight behavior exhibited by the original; a true replica would be difficult to justify from a safety standpoint.
Back on the tour, the class received both a historical and engineering viewpoint on the Fokker D VII, as the only aircraft mentioned in the WWI armistice. The D VII represented a transition to high performance airfoils.
The D VII also had a reliable and powerful inline Mercedes engine. The inline water cooled engine allowed a small frontal area and relatively trim forward fuselage.
More photos and discussion soon.