Burnelli RB-1

Burnelli RB-1
In his album, this is labeled as the "Burnelli Bomber." In fact, though, it is a much earlier Vincent Burnelli design, probably an RB-1, the first lifting-body aircraft ever built (1921). Burnelli's A-1 Bomber was designed in 1939 but never built. The RB-1 was shown and demonstrated at an airshow at Curtiss Field on Long Island. Since this was about the time Ernie would have been working at Larsen Field, also on Long Island, it is likely that he witnessed the demonstration.

The following was contributed by Carlos Rodriguez, Ernie's grandson:

Burnelli was a pioneer with his unusual lifting-body designs. He makes most of the aviation heritage books, as a result. there is even a fan site disguised as a serious attempt at bringing the concept back. see it at www.burnelli.com.

Burnelli designs for transports have a major, major flaw. If you sit anywhere away from the center of the fuselage, you end up on the outside of the moment arm everytime the wings lift or drop. Truly an uncomfortable roller coaster ride for anybody not sitting in the center of the fuselage. That is why we don't have lifting body airliners or twin-boom fuselage airliners; 3/4 of the passengers would be airsick from a heightened (no pun intended) roller-coaster effect!

But, the Burnelli designs make fine cargo transports, are efficient that way, and can haul a lot more pound for pound.

Also, Burnelli inspired the whole WIG movement (wing-in ground effect) in aviation, culminating in the successful designs of ekranoplans in Russia and other similar ground-effect aircraft.