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Author Topic: The Boeing Challenge- How to break the world non-jet speed record (fictitious)  (Read 139 times)

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Offline Frank v B

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A customer of mine is a professor at the York University Business School (my Alma Mater)  and is writing a book on Management and Innovation.
He uses me as a sounding board (desperation? ;)).  The book has been picked up by Harper.

This is a copy, in its entirety, of my note to him on the Boeing Challenge.  No aviator would ever have thought this was possible but it was achieved last year.

The "challenge" is fictitious.  The stats are real.  The speeds are real.  The achievement is real.

The President of Boeing wants to pull the company out of a funk due to the 737 scandal and Covid.  He wants to establish a world record.  He has decided to finance one team to go for a new world speed record for a non-jet airplane next year. 

The current speed record was set Sept 2, 2017 by the highly modified P-51 Mustang (WW2 vintage) named VooDoo with a 3100 horsepower 12 cylinder engine (vs original 1695 hp) .  Speed- 531.53 mph

Two teams came forward

Team 1 They propose a skunk works team made up of leading members of the propulsion unit since calculations show they need at least 4000 horsepower, aerodynamics specialists, aluminum specialists and wind tunnel time.  The proposed budget is $10 million which is lunch money for Boeing.  (a new 747 sells for $418 million, a new 737 sells for $99.7 million).

Team 2- Spencer Lisenby, avid glider pilot, comes forward and proposes he and his flying buddy want to team up to break the record.  When asked how much, Spencer said he would have to get new top end equipment and build a new plane but they figure they can do it for $10,000.
What motor? “we don’t need one”  How many staff? “Just us two”.

The president picks Team 2 led by Spencer Lisenby

In the year since announcing the challenge but before the attempt, how tough do you think the president’s life would have been?
tv interviews
industry magazines
union negotiators
company magazine
members of Team 1 , not chosen and talk inside each member’s unit.
Wall Street

The headlines “President of Boeing has lost it” would be all over.

Result: On January 19, 2021 Chris Lisenby set the world record at 548 miles per hour.  An 11’ wingspan glider.  Windspeed never exceeded 65 mph.– no motor.      Mission Accomplished!

The video of the flight

The main message to management- sometimes incremental improvements are not sufficient.  Try something radical and ..if you are President of the company, have the guts to see it through.

To TEMAC members the meaning is obvious: - keep building model airplanes and something great could happen...or not!  For us, it's about the journey. 8)


"Never trade luck for skill"

Offline GordPayne

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Great video Frank!  Took me a while to figure out what was going on.

Did your friend include a chapter on the 737 Max debacle that was precipitated by the move of Boeing management from Seattle to Chicago when they were bought out by MD?

Rory Kennedy's documentary,"Downfall:The Case Against Boeing" is a fantastic insight into the tragedy.

On Netflix and (other places 😉)
Old Buttonville proverb,"If you have to hit the fence, hit the far fence, not the near fence."