Living in the Future - Dan Raymer autobiography

overscan (PaulMM)

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27 December 2005
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About the Book

Dan Raymer, noted aircraft designer and author of the industry standard textbook Aircraft Design: A Conceptual Approach, has written a non-technical book that will be treasured by everyone who loves airplanes, wonders how they get designed, and wants to know how somebody becomes an aircraft designer.

Half the book is Raymer’s warm and personal memoir of growing up in the 50’s and 60’s as the son of a Navy Test Pilot, discovering his own love of aviation, and entering the rarefied club of those who stare at a blank sheet of paper and turn it into a new aircraft or spacecraft design. The other half covers Raymer’s early involvement in the projects that became the B-2, F-22, T-45, F-35, and many more.

The book is an “easy” read, quick-paced, funny, and aimed at a general audience. Raymer includes his mistakes, disappointments, and downright stupid decisions. It’s not all airplanes either – read about Raymer’s aborted musical career, his misadventures in exotic destinations like Belarus, Turkey, and Bulgaria, how he got on the Internet early enough to grab, and how he came to write his design textbook.

The book is in paperback and is due out this fall from Design Dimension Press (Los Angeles, CA).

Interesting! That looks like a Rockwell ATF model he's holding.


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On his website, Raymer states that the original Rockwell ATF baseline was his design.

>Interesting! That looks like a Rockwell ATF model he's holding.

Yes, a black and white version of the same photo is also in the latest edition of his design book.
I got a copy today. Long-form review in a few days, short form review below:


(See? Bipartisanship. "I'm meeting you halfway, you stupid hippies!")
OK, it's been more than a few days, but I've posted by full review here:

The short form: if you are at all interested in designing aircraft, the design of aircraft, the wacky hijinks that go on when people design aircraft, or just a good read... *buy* *it.*
ordered my copy on Dec.28...still waiting...
it has arrived! whoa! many new stuff, many old mysteries are solved and puzzles got their clues
you will be sorry if you not get your copy
Very good and interesting book. Just about done with it. So. . .I wonder what Rockwell's final ATF entry looked like. ???
I'm reading it from chapters 12 to 27 and I found a it fascinating book. Highly recommended for serious aerospace amateur. You can know from the designer itself how an aircraft born from idea to hardware with real examples from Mr Raymer work at Rockwell. The manufacturer receives an order and there is a process to offer the best solution to fulfill the customer's needs, often in competence with other manufacturers. I've learnt that powerful simulation software is used even to simulate war scenarios to choose the optimal design. Working on warplanes sometimes you also depend on parallel developments from other companies (weapons, sensors...) to make your design succesful. I love the book.

I found very interesting when Dan Raymer describes some examples of designer expectations for their designs that later proved to be wrong. That made me think about the Luft 46 hysteria. As much as I learn about aerospace I find Luft 46 mania still more funny.

Thanks a lot Mr Raymer for that great book.
Anyone have this and can say if it's worth this price:

Enjoy the Day! Mark


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Hmmm.. link seems to be broken.
The short answer is yes, regardless of whether its "Living in the future" his biography, or "Aircraft Design", his textbook. We must have a thread somewhere about this.
It's basically *the* book on preliminary aircraft design. As for price. the ebay sale is a few bucks cheaper than at Amazon, where it's $101.
It's got a lot of rules of thumb and general conservative historical approaches to estimate things. Probably quite useful if you understand what that means - if you want to do something differently, then those rules might not apply. I haven't designed and built aircraft so hard to say.
I have it, I'm actually reading it, as I'm trying to learn this myself.
It is good yes! I like Mr. Raymer's relaxed style and pace.

To try and quote Kevin Bowcutt from one of his recent hypersonic
online classes, not exact quote, but what I recall as essentially what he said:
"Raymer's book is THE modern treatment of conceptual design of aircraft, but it
doesn't have anything on hypersonic aircraft design."

Kevin then indicated he would like fix this some day by writing his own book
on hypersonic aircraft design.

My comment: actually Raymer has a few pages on hypersonic aircraft - but not much.
Nowhere near what Kevin and guys like Paul Czysz and others talk about on that.

Also, Kevin's comments were before Leland Nicolai from Lockheed's new book came out
published by AIAA: "Fundamentals of Aircraft and Airship Design: Volume I--Aircraft Design".

If you're really interested you should get these other books as you can.

I also bought Nicolai's book as well.
You should keep a lookout for other similar books from: Ed Heinemann and
Alexander Lippisch and others!
shockonlip said:
I also bought Nicolai's book as well.

I have his old book - do you know if the new edition has added much? i guess there is an airship section, but i wonder if it's worth the expense.
AeroFranz said:
shockonlip said:
I also bought Nicolai's book as well.

I have his old book - do you know if the new edition has added much? i guess there is an airship section, but i wonder if it's worth the expense.

Are you asking about Nicolai's book?

Assuming you are, I do not have one of Nicolai's older books, but I have browsed one of them in the past
in a used bookstore.

First off, Nicolai's new book is very large, around 900 pages. It is only Volume I,
entitled: "Fundamentals of Aircraft and Airship Design; Volume I - Aircraft Design.

Airship design is NOT part of Volume I.

Leland Nicolai's co-author is Grant Carichner, who is another extremely experienced
senior Lockheed designer who seems to have worked on almost every cool Lockheed
airplane in the past 50 years or so (from his bio. in the book).

From what I can tell, after browsing my copy, there is no hypersonics in volume I
either. Maybe they're waiting for Volume II, I don't know.

There is subsonic and supersonic aircraft design stuff. For example, I am fairly
familiar with inlets. There is some stuff on inlets but fairly basic stuff. I guess
the key word on the title is "Fundamentals".

After a browsing session with my copy, it seems like a hard book to get a feel for,
but again, after I have read it, perhaps I will feel it is really fantastic. Perhaps
this means you should find a copy to inspect before you take the plunge.

I am actually hoping it will teach me about areas I don't know much about currently.
I suspect that it will do that quite well.

The math seems well presented and quite understandable. So far, everything seems quite

I think it would also therefore be useful as a quick reference.

That's my take on it now.

Unfrtunately, Amazon does not have browse book enabled for it yet. If you need it, I'd
be happy to list or scan the TOC for you.

Since they got some publicity from the Aurora rumors for this book, I was hoping they'd
have a design case study on the blackbird or D-21, or whatever, or the Mach 5 concept
we all know Lockheed was studying awhile back. But no such luck. What would really be
cool is if there were design insights with historical anecdotes in the book, on these famous
older programs. Kind of like John D. Anderson does with his books on aerodynamics and
compressible flow, where he also teaches the history of the technology. Like it is fascinating
to me that the technology of supersonic fight was mostly in place in the 1930's.
Thanks, that's actually a lot of good info. Wow, 900 pages and it's just volume 1...granted, his previous book was printed fairly large.

Luckily i will be at a conference in early January and should be able to peruse a copy at the AIAA booth. I agree that a good primer on supersonics/hypersonics is sorely needed...maybe in vol II? I'm actually curious about the airship section. I did a lot of research recently on blimps and could not find a good design book, I even got myself a reprint of a seminal 1927 book for lack of better material!
AeroFranz said:
I'm actually curious about the airship section. I did a lot of research recently on blimps and could not find a good design book, I even got myself a reprint of a seminal 1927 book for lack of better material!

We have American Blimp here in Portland OR.

A few years ago, I met their chief engineer at a bookstore.
We had a nice conversation. He offered me a tour of their plant,
which I took. They are actually very close to where I work.

He may still be around.

Want me to ask him anything for you?
That was very nice of him to give you a tour. I don't have any specific questions, rather I was wondering what design textbooks he would recommend for someone who wanted to do a conceptual sizing of a blimp. Sort of "Raymer-for blimps". As far as i know, the two best references out there are

-"Airship Design" by Charles Burgess (1927!)
-"Airship Technology" by Khoury, Cambridge series

Both fall well short of giving the empirical equations required for sizing or even work through an example. But maybe Nicolai's vol. II will fill the gap?

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