NASA has presented its concept for the airliner of the future, bigger, more efficient and weird-looking, but still not as weird and intriguing as these other concepts, which include nuclear airplanes and flying airport bases.
The NASA concept takes its hints from scramjet designs, and may be a very real possibility in the next 20 years. However, there are some things in this gallery which I doubt will ever find the light of day. Or maybe they will, according to Flight Global's Max Kingsley-Jones editorial on the next 100 years of flight:
Flight's first editor Stanley Spooner had little trouble deciding what story would be the lead in our inaugural issue 100 years ago - "A Second Englishman Flies" was our first headline. But back in those pioneering early days, what would Spooner have predicted for the top aerospace story a century later?
Even the most enthusiastic aeronauts and aviators in 1909 would have struggled to believe the way in which powered flight would evolve during the magazine's first 100 years: that the aeroplane would be "going to war" within five years that passengers would be travelling in shirtsleeve comfort across the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound within 70 years or that within 80 years a winged spaceplane would be regularly blasting into orbit and returning to earth as a glider.
He's right. We are probably going to see some of these aeroplanes—and even wilder concepts—in the skies during this century. But for now, you can check the entire gallery and read the rest of the feature on the next 100 years of flight here. [Flight Global]