World War I flying ace and frequent Popular Science contributor Eddie Rickenbacker
envisioned a monstrous airliner that would fly in "but a very few years." With a boat-like fuselage that let it alight on land and water, Rickenbacker's concept looks slightly like the Boeing Model 314 Clipper, the flying boat that made the first scheduled trans-Atlantic flight in 1939. The Clipper's 74 seats converted into 40 bunks—but there was no observation deck. The 300-foot wingspan of the giant would have dwarfed the Clipper's 152 feet.
Rickenbacker called for engines of 1,000 hp each. Today, each of the Pratt & Whitney PW4098 jet engines on the Boeing 777-300 airliner develops the equivalent of 78,400 hp (see "
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.