back to article Brits send Star Wars X-wing fighter to the stratosphere

A couple of Brits have made a cheeky pitch for tickets to the premiere of forthcoming Star Wars flick The Force Awakens by sending a model X-wing fighter into the stratosphere. Essex boys Matt Kingsnorth and Phil St. Pier, of Project Helium Tears (motto "For Essex, for Earth, for all mankind") hit 36,190m with their …

  1. eJ2095

    Even better

    Send the entire cast of that essex program that appears on tv on channel 4/5 up there

  2. adam payne Silver badge

    That was cool. Hope they get their tickets.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      J.J Abrams recruited some amateur but skilled members of an R2D2 club to create props for the new film, so there is chance these guys will get something.

  3. Amorous Cowherder
    Happy

    Certainly better than the usual LEGO mini-figs in space stuff, clone out the strings and that looks pretty damn good!

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      clone out the strings

      We can do without any mention of the word 'clone' in a Star Wars context.

      1. MrDamage
        Facepalm

        They wont get the free tickets

        Not enough lens flare. You can still see the actual model.

        edit: meant to reply to the post above this one. Oops.

      2. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Must be a disgruntled survivor, of order 66.

  4. Alan Bourke

    Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

    Given adequate funds, would it be possible to build a jet-engined full-size X-Wing that could fly like a normal aircraft? In other words with s-foils in attack position, is it an aerodynamically viable proposition?

    1. Extra spicey vindaloo

      Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

      I think the center of gravity is all wrong for it to fly,

      I think it's Kerbal time.

    2. Triggerfish

      Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

      I think you'd have to modify the wing shape.

    3. Roger Lipscombe

      Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

      As the saying (originally about the F-4 Phantom, I believe) goes, "with enough thrust, you can get a brick to fly".

      1. Bob Wheeler

        Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

        I think the same was said about the Vulcan as well.

        1. Mint Sauce
          Happy

          Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

          I think the same was said about the Vulcan as well.

          Ah, but that beauty sometimes appears to hang in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.

          :-)

          1. Bob Wheeler

            Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

            At one air show I went to (late 70's) a Vulcan flew down the runway at 200/300 ft then the pilot pulled the stick back so far that it looks like it was standing on it's tail. The afterburners were lit up and the ground shook as the Vulcan went up veritcally.

            God it was a beautiful sight and sound!!!!!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

              "The afterburners were lit up and the ground shook as the Vulcan went up veritcally."

              Is that so?

              Perhaps this really isn't the sort of place to claim that Vulcans had afterburners (ignoring flying testbed configurations), as half of us are anoraks who know better. I doubt the airframe would have been strong enough for 50% more thrust from the engines.

              1. Mint Sauce

                Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

                Perhaps this really isn't the sort of place to claim that Vulcans had afterburners (ignoring flying testbed configurations), as half of us are anoraks who know better. I doubt the airframe would have been strong enough for 50% more thrust from the engines.

                I sincerely hope that when XH558 finally runs out of engine cycles, the pilots on the final display are allowed to give it absolutely flat-sticks over the airfield as a final goodbye.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

                "Perhaps this really isn't the sort of place to claim that Vulcans had afterburners (ignoring flying testbed configurations), as half of us are anoraks who know better."

                This is the sort of place where we'd fit afterburners to a Vulcan just to make it howl louder. And thrust vectoring. And a shark tank for DEW capability. And then organise a trip to Machynlleth Loop to see* what happens.

                (and enquiring minds want to know if the Vulcans ever flew the mach loop, and if there's any film..)

                *and feel. Part of the Vulcan's awsomeness was feeling it's howl when it did it's missed approach and other crowd pleasers. We're short on strategic bombers, perhaps we should resurrect it?

                1. Paul 77

                  Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

                  Maybe they should get permission for it to fly the loop just one time - that would be an awesome sight!

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

                  In theory it wouldn't be that difficult to fit afterburners to a Vulcan, the engines are similar to Concorde's (which do have afterburners) so you'd think a set of those would fit in OK with a bit of frame altering etc (ok, a lot).

                  Practically, maybe not, the Vulcan has long jet tailpipes iirc which might melt under the heat, and also it's unstable in pitch beyond something like 0.92 Mach so you'd have to turn them off pdq. Would be one heck of a thing to see, though.

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

        As the saying (originally about the F-4 Phantom, I believe) goes, "with enough thrust, you can get a brick to fly".

        To fly, but not necessarily be stable. The Phantom's polyhedral wings were at least symmetrical. I think an X-Wing's wing symmetry would cause it to pitch badly.

      3. Hairy Spod

        Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

        Yes, and the flight instructors on the two seat English Electric lightnings used to comment to the novice pilitots whilst going supersonic in the vertical that.

        "You'll notice dear boy that the purpose of the wings on the lightning is merely to keep the nav lights apart"

      4. DaddyHoggy

        Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

        I used to work with a former RAF Phantom Pilot and he did use that very phrase - he also said (of the Phantom) "Lift is a gift, but thrust is a must."

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

      "Given adequate funds, would it be possible to build a jet-engined full-size X-Wing that could fly like a normal aircraft? "

      Given the improbable aerodynamics of the Harrier, or the SR-71, I would suggest that getting a modified X-Wing to fly would not be an insurmountable challenge, just an expensive one. At a guess you'd probably only want two rather than four engines, and you're then perhaps drifting towards and ARC-170.

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

        Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

        "you'd probably only want two rather than four engines"

        Actually, four smallish engines might solve the CG problem someone else pointed out.

        And remember, with modern computers and fly-by-wire, even the ludicrously unstable X29 flies more or less normally

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

        As other posters have noted, if you have enough thrust you don't need wings to fly. So to answer your question, I'll quote Han Solo in the guise of Indiana Jones:

        "fly, yes. Land, no!"

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

        The Harrier's jet engines are fitted in VTOL configuration, where as the X-Wing's engines are fitted in a fixed-forward configuration.

        The SR-71, despite looking rather odd, has a large aerodynamic surface area to provide lift, which the X-Wing doesn't.

        Basically I reckon without that unseen mechanism that provides the X-Wing's lift (Anti-grav repulsion, as per Luke Skywalker's land speeder), you're stuffed.

        1. Bob Wheeler

          Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

          I always wondered how the hell the F104 Starfighter could fly with it's very stubby wings.

          Mind you, if I remember correctly there were an awful lot of accidents with the F104.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

          "The Harrier's jet engines are fitted in VTOL configuration, where as the X-Wing's engines are fitted in a fixed-forward configuration."

          Not really relevant to my point. When vectored for forward flight a Harrier has no vertical thrust component from the engine. What's more pertinent to the X Wing question is the relatively small wings relative to the brick-like aerodynamics, and to the weight of the aircraft, along with the anhedral configuration (drooping wings).

          And there's quite a few aircraft with small wings that can fly - as others have commented, the F104 is particularly notable, along with the EE Lightning. Arguably even the Tornado has a very small wing area for its size.

        3. Dr_N Silver badge

          Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

          "The Harrier's jet engines are fitted in VTOL configuration, where as the X-Wing's engines are fitted in a fixed-forward configuration."

          The Harrier only has a single engine.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

            When it comes to making aerodynamic shapes fly with sheer thrust, I think that the F105, the harrier or the Eurofighter are far from the best examples possible. How about an F15 with a wing missing?

            http://theaviationist.com/2014/09/15/f-15-lands-with-one-wing/

    5. returnmyjedi

      Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

      The Eurofighter shouldn't fly but does thanks to computrickery so it's not outside the realm of possibility. The B-Wing would be the real challenge.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

        Eurofighter doesn't fly with stability I think they do that with a few modern fighters so that the are more manavuerable.

        I would have thought with the X-Wing you are not getting enough surface area or the right wing shape on the leading edges, although thrust will help with that. Just what point does it stop being a plane for aerodynamics and turn into a rocket?

    6. Captain DaFt

      Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

      "would it be possible to build a jet-engined full-size X-Wing that could fly like a normal aircraft?"

      Well, first you'd have to correct one minor problem this artist pointed out.

      (For those that don't click: "Splitting a turbine down the middle has a negative effect on its performance. Who knew?")

    7. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      Joke

      Re: Here's an interesting poser that I have posed elsewhere.

      Of course real X-Wings can fly! Although they sometimes have trouble with deck landings: clickety

  5. graeme leggett

    Can't tell scale from photo

    Has anyone said if it's the original model kit from the 70s, one of Revell's modern "quick kits" or perhaps one from the Star Wars X-Wing minatures game?

    1. Lord Raa
      Coat

      Re: Can't tell scale from photo

      Indeed, we need at least a banana for scale here.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: Can't tell scale from photo

        Or a Kenner (Palitoy in the UK) action figure would do.

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Can't tell scale from photo

      Looks like too much (cosmetic) dirt and/or texturing on it to be the 70s Mattel version, plus the guns on the wingtips of the 70s version are black, and you'd have to push R2D2's head down almost flush with the ship to get the wings to lock in attack position.

  6. Anonymous Blowhard

    Well played

    J.J. Abrams take note...

  7. WraithCadmus

    I seem to have some muscle memory coming back...

    [

    o a

    Bksp

    [

    F9

    e

    r

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    In the next news artical...

    Small car flattened by plummeting X-wing

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Small car flattened by plummeting X-wing

      George Lucas, Disney Corp. To Be Sued.

  9. Bunbury

    These are not the F***wits we're looking for

    Move along

  10. Sir Sham Cad

    Hoping to catch the eye of JJ Abrams.

    Not quite. Needs moar lens flare! Get those images to Photoshop* stat!

    *or GIMP or Paint Shop Pro if that's still going or other commentard-approved image editing software.

  11. rdm
    Boffin

    And yet it flies...sort of.

    As far as making an X-Wing fly, Estes used to do a C6-3 powered X-Wing model rocket kit.

    Flies quite well, actually. Massive amounts of clay in the nose to make it stable, mind, but not as much as the Kilngon Cruiser needed.

    Then again, they also did a flying R2D2 kit...

    As is often said by model fliers and fighter jocks "Put a big enough engine in something..."

  12. RockBurner

    Lift

    under the question of lift - there may be some lift of the bodyshape of an X-wing (also - there may not be - anyone stuck one in an wind-tunnel yet?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lift

      I think you need to apply Peter level thinking, trim your canards and "pump it to keep it up" (they said).

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMfszvXvScA

  13. ShadowDragon8685

    The X-Wing is not very well-designed for atmospheric aerodynamic flight. The center of lift is entirely wrong, there's no rudder and no elevators/canards.

    Better than a TIE fighter, sure. But in-universe and IRL, the X-Wing is an atrocious flyer on solely aerodynamic principles. It also only has landing legs, not wheels, so take-off would be impossible without some kind of launch assist, and landing would be absolutely impossible without either some kind of flying trapeze style thing where it catches onto a dirigible, or just lithobrakes.

    So, nope. Not gonna fly until the invention of the repulsorlift.

    1. SonofRojBlake

      " It also only has landing legs, not wheels" - it has repulsorlifts. NOTHING in the sacred original trilogy had wheels.

    2. oldcoder

      You don't need a rudder... Just look at the B2 or other flying wing designs. Most don't have anything for a rudder.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_wing

      Granted, it still isn't well designed for atmospheric flying.

      You also don't need elevators or canards... if you have suitable thrusters in place.

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