Monday 23 May 2011

The Whitfield Pteranodon Photographs

These photographs were taken by Brian Wickins who was part of the original team working on the George Whitfield Pteranodon flying model.  The digital images were created from the original stills in 2006 and the copyright is from that time.  My images here are copied in 2011 with permission.
The first photograph shows the Pteranodon model on a rig as a Concorde takes off.  The aircraft in this picture is G-BBDG, Concorde 202 in the initial British Airways livery.  The aircraft first flew at Filton on 13 Feb 1974 and was the fist Concorde to land at Heathrow on 6th July 1974. The initial speedbird livery was replaced in 1977. This gives the photograph a date frame.
The launch was a grand affair with lots of local interest.  In 1974 most flying models were hand launched.  Today it is more likely to see them air launched or launched from a cable tow or a ramp.  This was an exceptionally large model to hand launch as it had a 7m wingspan and this was the first time such a large  representation of a fossil animal had been attempted.
The third picture shows a view of the body cavity which contained the control kit.  Batteries and servers were quite large at the time and imposed weight issues which had to be factored into the design.

Bramwell C. D. and Whitfield G. R., 1970, Flying speed of the largest aerial vertebrate. Nature, Lond.225, 660–661.
Whitfield G. R. and Milford J. R., 1971, An Instrumented Glider for Meteorological ResearchMeteorology volume I, number 4
Bramwell C. D. and Whitfield G. R., 1974, Biomechanics of Pteranodon. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London, B.267, pp.503-581
Bramwell C. D. and Whitfield G. R., 1974, D. M. S. Watson’s notes on pterosaurs. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 267, 587–589.

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