Revisited: Another Board Revolution of the 21st Century

See archives: “Cleanlines/newbie, Another Board Revolution of the 21st Century” CALAIS, France – An Austrian extreme sports fanatic… became the first human to fly across the English Channel without an aircraft. Felix Baumgartner made the dive Thursday, jumping from an aircraft above the English port of Dover and landing near Calais six minutes and 22 seconds later with crowds, including journalists from across Europe, on hand to greet him. Clad in a specially designed suit and fitted with carbon-fiber gliding wings, Baumgartner, who calls himself “God of the Skies” covered a distance of 35 kilometers (20 miles) during his flight, reaching speeds of up to 200 kilometers an hour. Jumping from an altitude of 9,000 meters (30,000 feet), close to the height of Mount Everest, he also had to carry oxygen and special breathing apparatus to cope with the thin air. He said cloud cover meant he could not see where he was going and had to follow his two planes across the Channel. “For the last 2,000m I could see the other side and I knew I was going to make it,” he said. Baumgartner after his landing with a parachute near Calais, France. He dubbed his cross-Channel flight Icarus 2 after the mythical figure who came to grief after flying too near the sun, melting the wax holding his wings together. While in the air, Baumgartner had to keep a grip of the wing – with a span of 1.8 meters and made of the same special lightweight carbon composite used in Formula One racing cars – in order to maintain direction. The flight was made in the early morning to avoid air traffic control problems with commercial airliners.

Red Bull will sponsor anything “extreme.” Just kidding. Nice wingtip extensions. World’s Lighest Solid: I like to think that when aerogel can be manufactured cheaply and be made waterproof that we will all be carving foam that is: weightless, almost invisable, and ready to surf within minutes (like Stan’s SUPOB). This is already being used in artic jackets (Burton has one I think) and some skylight windows which probably means they’ve made some infoads into the waterproof issue. This was first manufactured back in the 30’s and I think it’s possible for more inventive types to make small batches at home. Imagine seeing through the board your standing on, a blue haze around your feet as the lip pitches overhead… Rob Olliges

That’s funny. A while back I was trying to put together a list of new developments in materials sceince that could possibly lead somewhere for surfers. Aerogel was one of them, but the biggest drawback was that it was intensely fragile and could easily shatter (, and of course it’s destroyed by contact with liquids. These problems are ameliorated by sealing it under vacuum pak pressure. I hadn’t heard about the Burton jackets.

Another interesting direction is the Electroactive Polymer Actuator–artificial muscle. If the advantages of flex were combined with variable strengths, then surfcraft could start to emulate the best of the swimming creatures. Right now the mechanisms are not very strong, and the electronics would be an issue in the ocean, but they’re advancing pretty quickly and people are working on it all over the world. I’m thinking fins that could vary their shape or orientation during a ride. Or else trimtabs and variable length boards. Or a rail that could tense up to become a hard edge then relax into an egg shape.

This is a now distant subject for me now. The original group of the “Skyplane” took the design to a aero/space in OC and got some attention. They (the group and Co.)decided to trim the fat which included 2 persons from the original 7.Me being the first. From what I hear the project is in full bore and is making some great ground breaking feats. Also,There was a need to pay bills so a third party was into-ed into the mix which created top notch work,but also caused the letting go of 3 more persons of the original 7.Now it’s down to 2 + fab Co.+ $ man.They let go what I think was a key element,my buddy John who is probably one of the greatest skydivers alive. The claim is they kept say 60-70% of my original design and added some other changes to excel the board. What will the "Skyplane"do??? Here’s the claim, to do what the man did across the channel but at 1/2 the drop height,and travel 2 or 3 times the distance,w/o using a chute to land,and to fly it more in the fashion of a plane than a glide(wing overs,etc).Herb

I don’t understand the skyplane idea. Is it about material or about the design of the wing? What is this airo-gel?