The "Kelvin 40"


A Two-Seater Just Right for Getting Away from It All

The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement
brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye,
the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage.

- John Steinbeck

Global capital markets pose the same kinds of problems that jet planes do.
They are faster, more comfortable, and they get you where you are going better.
But the crashes are much more spectacular.

- Larry Summers

by Stephen Treffinger

The prototype for a jet plane by the Australian designer Marc Newson made Paris feel like a cutting-edge design centre during the Maison et Objet show last month.  "Kelvin 40," as the project is called, was shown at the Fondation Cartier Pour l'Art Contemporain, which commissioned it.  Mr Newson has had a lifelong fascination with jets.  "To me they were glamorous, beautiful streamlined objects that gave me the nearest thing to an out-of-this-world experience," he said.  "If I hadn't quit college, I would have become an aeronautics engineer."

Instead, Mr Newson turned to design.  He is known for his chairs for Cappellini, a prototype car for Ford, the design of the business-class seats for Qantas and the restaurant at Lever House in New York.

The 26-foot-long "Kelvin 40" two-seater has a 26-foot wingspan.  Its name refers to Chris Kelvin, a character in the Stanislaw Lem novel Solaris and Lord Kelvin, the 19th-century Scottish physicist and mathematician, and also to Mr Newson's age.  The "Kelvin 40" exhibition and catalog show his sketches, aerodynamic studies and construction photographs.

The exhibit continues through 2 May at the Fondation Cartier, 261, boulevard Raspail, then from 22 May to 6 September at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands and from 23 October to 30 January 2005 at the Design Museum in London.  Information,

Source: The New York Times Thursday 19 February 2004 photo credit Daniel Adric, jet; Agence France-Presse/Getty Images for Marc Newson

Marc Newson's concept jet, Paris, January 2004


M400 Skycar

by Moller International, Davis, California

40 years of work, $200 million and two failed marriages and Paul Moller is still not even close to a payoff.  According to him, the Skycar will be the only feasible, affordable personal VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) vehicle.  It should retail, eventually, for under $80,000 and attain speeds of over 350 mph with mileage of up to 28 mpg.

Click to Begin

At 11, Moller saw a photo of a ferris wheel and built a working version 20 feet high that could hold 4 of his friends.  He also admired hummingbirds - so building a VTOL was a natural for his life's work.  I think he'll make it.  In only two years he received a PhD in aeronautical engineering - without ever being an undergraduate.

Click to Begin

I'm sorry but the above flash video lacks sound - I had no software that would decode it - for sound, you could go to the second link listed in "Sources" below and watch the original.  I included this file so you could watch him land - one of the details that obviously needs a wee bit of polishing...

Sources: and (for clips)

See also:

bulletStrap-On Helicopter (an external site) - for information and photographs (if you're interested)...

To view other articles related to flying including history, unusual flying machines, hot air balloons, skydiving, gliding, problems, airports, turbulence, pilots, crashes, the Paris Air Show, the future, blimps, space travel, solar sails and more, clicking the "Up" button below takes you to the Table of Contents for this section on Flight.

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