What Will Your Grandchildren See
When They Look Up?
Twenty-four university students just published a look into the future of aviation. Titled “What Will Your Grandchildren See When They Look Up?” these millennials researched the history and future of aviation to build a picture of what will be in the sky in 2050, the time when their grandchildren look up. Their effort was part of a course “The History of Aviation 1800-2200” offered through the Honors College at Oregon State University.
Professor David G. Ullman has taught this course three times to small groups of exceptional students. By the end of each offering, a new edition of the book was produced. It is with this third edition that the book is sufficiently mature to release to the public. During each revision Ullman’s only additions to the book were to the introductory and concluding chapters, and to lightly edit each student-written chapter.
In the book, the student-authors make predictions about the technologies of flight, the types of aircraft that will be in the sky, and how regulations and society will affect this future. The book is packed with interesting information on current technologies merged with factors that will drive development.
The book is robust in facts and well referenced. Additionally, since many of the student-authors are non-technical, the book is accessible to all interested readers.
The thirteen chapters begin with an introduction by the course’s professor and book’s editor, David G. Ullman. This brief chapter outlines the structure of the book and how it came into being.
The first set of chapters, written entirely by the students, build on the current states of propulsion technologies, autonomy, and materials. In each, the authors build from the history through current advances in fuels, electric motors, batteries, fuel cells, composite materials, sensors and controls in their effort to project thirty-five years into the future. Honoring the Danish proverb, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” They make high, low and most likely estimates about how these and other technologies will mature, and how they will affect aircraft.
The second set of chapters focus on specific types of aircraft that may be flying in 2050. Chapters exploring the potential evolution of commercial air transports, drones, personal air vehicles and atmospheric satellites are detailed. Particular attention is given to the new technologies that are now being developed. Each chapter not only portrays the potential, but the forces impeding development.
The final set of chapters explore how government regulations and societal attitudes may affect future developments. These chapters explain how the FAA and other government organizations can and will have a profound effect on how the future unfolds. One chapter explores the challenges of managing the pending air congestion over cities. Tempering all the projections is the attitudes of society and what will be needed to foster the innovations outlined in the earlier chapters.
The thirteenth and final chapter summarizes thirteen predictions. These paint a picture of what the authors believe their grandchildren will see when they look up.
New for 2018