McMullan Aircraft Design


The Designer's Thoughts

November 29, 2013 - Wow, has it really been this long since I posted? I guess it has been. A lot has changed in the last nine years. I have some severe damage in my lower back. This is the result of, the best I can tell, falling about 40 feet from a pole in Oklahoma when I worked for GTE. This was when I was eighteen years old. A couple of months ago, I turned 54 so I have had problems for years now. I finally had to quit working in February 2008 after working eight more years than the doctors thought I could. In December of 2008 I moved to Florida to get married. I had two major back surgeries, one in 1995 and another in 1998 and neither one gave me relief from chronic back pain. I had the biggest back surgery in 2011 after an orthopedic surgeon told me he could give me 30% to 50% relief. In reality, I have had considerably more back pain since the surgery than before. I cannot do most of the thngs I could do before.

That being said, and I know this is no excuse, I have done nothing on my aircraft designs. I would love it if I had two or three friends who wanted to build a prototype of the JayBird, then build it under my supervision. That way, we could get all of the drawings for the parts and come up with an assembly manual.


August 30 , 2004 - If you have been following this website for awhile, you will know that progress has been slow. Many of you may not be familiar with the book I am writing on preliminary aircraft design. The title is, "Preliminary Design: Modern Aircraft Design for the Non-Engineer". I have just added Chapter 11 which will contain information and drawings on at least ten and up to twenty different aircraft, starting with the Wright Flyer. Most people that will be reading this book will not be trying to rewrite aircraft history and there is absolutely no harm in studying and even copying the way aircraft designers in the past have created exceptionally airworthy aircraft. Once the Wright brothers achieved the unachievable, powered, manned flight, aircraft design began to grow at exponential rates. In less than seventy years from that first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon! We think nothing of seeing a large jet aircraft at the airport that can seat scores of people and fly all the way across the country without refueling. We think nothing of the incredible fighter aircraft that the world posesses yet most of this technology was beginning to be developed by the middle of the 1940's. Even stealth technology is four decades old, beginning with the SR-71 Blackbird. If our government allows the world to see it's stealthy jets, what else are aircraft engineers developing that they won't let us see? Nuclear powered aircraft, tested in the late 1960's may become the thing of the future. After all, when all of the oil is gone, and it will be (it is not an unlimited resource), if we continue on only with the current stable of military equipment which all depends on fossil fuels, whoever has the last drop of oil will rule the world. So when you hear people say that the war in Iraq and the war on terror is only about oil, you'd better believe oil is a huge consideration and very rightfully so!

Most airplanes are designed by a large team of aircraft engineers. It is not so in my case. I have put "feelers" out on this website to see if any other knowlegeable individuals would be interested in giving a helping hand in their area of expertise but I have not heard from even one person. I hope to have Non-Engineer" completed soon although I am hesitant to try and give a date for completion. I will do my best to work on the book and the software when I have sufficient time and I will let you know of my progress on this website. If you are serious about designing your own airplane or if you just want to see what goes into the design of a modern day light aircraft, I am sure you will delighted with "Preliminary Design: Modern Aircraft Design for the Non-Engineer".


March 12 , 2004 - Well, it seems that change is the big thing in aircraft design. The first airplane I began designing back in 1996, The Vortex Magnum is surfacing again. A friend of mine at work is a welder and he wants to build the airplane. So, I'm back to the drawing board. I have to finish drawing the fuselage and wing drawings then have the finite element analysis to make sure everything is optimized. I have been building the aircraft with SolidWorks since most of the design work is done in AutoCad.

AutoCad is a two-dimensional computer aided drafting program. Using AutoCad is much like drawing the airplane on a drafting table. This gives you a two-dimensional sheet that can be printed out at almost any scale. AutoCad does have some three-dimensional capabilities but is not quite what I need. SolidWorks steps up to the plate here. It is the Cadillac of three-dimensional parametric solid modeling. The only problem with both of these programs is the cost, they are outrageously expensive. Because of this I have to use older programs. Once the aircraft is "built" in SolidWorks, the stress analysis needs to be run. What this does is checks all of the parts to make sure they are strong enough and it also makes sure that the parts and assemblies are not over-designed which adds un-needed weight. I do not have the software to run the finite element analysis studies and it would take quite some time for me to learn how to use it. Without a lot of money to invest in an endeavor such as this, it takes time to learn how to do everything yourself. As you can tell from this web site, I am not trying to make a fortune off of my aircraft designs. I simply want to make flying affordable to those who have always dreamt of flying but could never afford to. For this to work well, I need the help of skilled people. If I had some volunteers in the following areas, the prototype Vortex Magnum would be built, flown and put into kit production in a very short time:

-Experienced SolidWorks draftsmen
-Experienced engineers with experience with FEA and programs such as CosmosWorks and FloWorks
-Aircraft builders experienced in the use of composites, steel tubing, and wood aircraft structures

I know there must be some of you out there and by using the Internet, our world can be made much smaller, allowing us to work closely without being close geographically. If any of you would like to get involved, contact me and let's talk.

January 25, 2004 - Let me explain where I am in the "design phase" of my aircraft and what goals I have set for myself.

1. I have decided to NOT build the Vortex Magnum first. The reasoning for this is that it has been many years since I have welded and I would have to go through that learning curve all over again. This would probably cost me at least six months.

2. I have made some MAJOR changes in the two-place JayBird RX-2T. Using the same construction techniques (douglas fir and birch plywood) I have increased the height and length of the fuselage by 10% and changed the design of the windshield and side windows to make them easier to build. This could result in the airplane carrying not only a pilot and one passenger but possibly even three passengers and luggage with the proper powerplant.

3. My laptop computer is in the shop and it is the computer that I do most of my design work on. My desktop computer is much slower and it is harder for me to make the time to sit in my office to work. I am usually working on the design other places. The computer is scheduled to be back tomorrow but I kind of doubt that it will be. Then, when I do get the computer back, I'm sure I will have to reload all of my software. That, in itself, is a two day process.

4. Due the changes in the JayBird RX-2T, I have decided to give the airplane a new name, the BelleStar. In my Internet series, "Watch an Airplane Being Born" you will see the changes from the JayBird to the BelleStar.

5. I have set a goal to have the BelleStar engineered and designed in AutoCad (two dimensional drafting software) by July 1, 2004. In order to do this, I realize I must set shorter goals such as the plan sheets for the horizontal tail and elevator and for the vertical tail and rudder. It will make the design process much easier when I break things down into smaller, obtainable goals. Watch for this information to be posted soon here on my web site.

6. Once the two dimensional work is done with two-dimensional CAD software, I will "build" the airplane with three-dimensional software. Once this is done, finite element analysis (FEA) can be performed on the aircraft. This will show me if the airplane is too weak in areas or even if it is too heavy and over designed in other areas. It used to be that aircraft manufacturers would build a prototype and then test it to destruction. They would keep doing this until they had a safe airplane. Well, unfortunately I don't have government contracts and the money that comes with them, nor am I financially able to build prototypes to destroy. That is what is so exciting about modern computers. The whole design can be tested on a computer and even flown in a wind tunnel before the real airplane is built. Granted, the computer software programs to do these things are extremely overpriced. This is especially so for an individual that does not have the money to sink on such software. For Boeing, it is not a problem, for me, it is!

7. After the airplane is tested for it's structural integrity and wind tunnel tests are run, the parts will be built and put together to form the airplane. Then the flight testing program can begin.

I have mentioned before that I could sure use some help in getting all of this done. It is not my desire to try and make McMullan Aircraft Design a way for me to make millions of dollars. I simply would like to help make flying affordable and safe to those that want to fly. As I build each aircraft I will keep meticulously designed plans and building notes. This way, once the prototype has flown and has proven to be successful and SAFE, I can make those plans and building instructions available to the public at extremely sensible prices.


If you have questions or comments about any of my designs or my web site, please contact me. It is important for me to know that people are interested in what I am doing.

January 7, 2004 - I've decided to add this new section to the McMullan Aircraft Design page. I'll share my thoughts and my progress with my aircraft's design. I have progressed at a much slower rate than I ever thought I would when I began designing the Vortex Magnum. Those of you that have followed my web site have seen that I decided to build the JayBird RX2 as my first airplane. The airplane is smaller and simpler to build. Well, I have decided to make another big change. I decided to change the design once again. The new design will incorporate much of the same design attributes as the JayBird. I have struggled about how to build the structure. I had originally decided to build the JayBird out of wood and then I thought I would go with fiberglass. Well, after all of that, I think I am going back to wood, at least for the fuselage and tail sections. I may build the wing out of wood depending on how hard I find it to put fuel in the wing. If it gets to be too much, I'll go ahead and build the wood out of fiberglass with a carbon fiber wing spar. Take a look at the new airplane and tell me what you think. It is just a little bit larger than the JayBird and will use the Ford 3.8 liter V6 or the Chevrolet 4.3 liter V6. I have also been impressed with some of the four cylinder engines on the market now that are supercharged. I don't want to be an "engine tester" so I will probably just stick with what has been proven to work in aircraft.

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