Designed by American aeronautical engineer Rex Buren Beisel, the Vought F4U Corsair was the first fighter aircraft with the capability of exceeding a speed of 400 mph in level flight carrying a full military load. The single engine aircraft was used extensively in World War II, allowing the Allied forces to dominate the skies in the Pacific. Between 1940 and 1953, the number of F4U Corsairs built by Vought across 16 models totaled 12,571, but because demand for the aircraft outstripped Vought’s production capacity, F4U Corsairs were also built by Goodyear and Brewster, with the prefix of FG for Goodyear and F3A for Brewster identifying the manufacturer.
Born in San Jose, California, on October 24, 1893, and raised in Cumberland, Washington, Rex Buren Beisel earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Washington, while at the same time working at various jobs. Upon graduation Beisel completed a civil service examination in mechanical engineering which led to a job offer in the US Navy’s Bureau of Construction and Repair, and later at the Bureau of Aeronautics in 1917 where he served as a draughtsman. Although he had no previous aeronautical experience, and limited access to relevant data, he started designing wing floats, pontoons and hulls for seaplanes with such skill that he was soon assigned to major aeronautics projects, and in 1919 became one of the few aeronautical engineers in the United States.
In 1923, Beisel went to work as Chief Engineer at the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company where he designed award winning airplanes, among which were the N2C-1 Fledgling and F8C Helldiver. In 1931, as Assistant Chief Engineer at Chance Vought, Beisel designed the SBU-1 and SB2U Vindicator bombers. He was soon promoted to Chief Engineer and was head of the design team that produced the legendary Vought F4U Corsair. He became General Manager of Vought Aircraft in 1943, during which time he oversaw the relocation of the company from Stanford in Connecticut to Dallas, Texas, and move that included huge quantities of equipment and 1,300 employees and their families. He was promoted to Vice President of Vought’s parent company, United Aircraft Corporation in 1949, retiring a few years later. Rex Buren Beisel died on January, 26, 1972, in Sarasota, Florida, at the age of 78, having made an indelible and noteworthy impression on aviation history.
Conservationists are sure to give the thumbs-up to a new plan being implemented by Dayton International Airport in Montgomery County, Ohio, to plant prairie grass at airports in an effort to prevent birds colliding with airplanes. The reasoning behind the strategy is that large birds, such as geese, which can cause significant damage in a bird strike, tend to steer clear of tall grasses which may conceal predators, so planting prairie grasses in strategic places, such as takeoff and landing paths may keep the birds away from these areas.
Similar measures have met with some success at Dresden International Airport in Saxony, Germany, where grass has been left to grow long for most of the year. As they are unable to detect their prey in the longer grass, raptors no longer see the area as viable hunting grounds. Records reveal that there has been a notable and continuous decline in the number of bird species involved in bird strikes at Dresden International Airport.
In an effort to minimize noise pollution and for safety reasons, airports generally have large areas of unused land around their runways. Add to this the fact that airports are most often placed on the outskirts of urban centers, and it’s easy to see why they are attractive to birds, many of which may have been displaced by urban encroachment. Airport management teams around the world continue to investigate the best ways to prevent birds and airplanes colliding. Deterrent measures include recorded predator calls, sonic cannons or similar noise generating equipment to scare birds off, as well as trained falcons and dogs to take on the role of predator. Habitat modifying methods include using insecticides to kill off food sources that attract insect-eating birds (with obvious risks to the wellbeing of the birds), covering nearby ponds and wetlands with nets to discourage waterfowl, removing shrubs and trees that may provide nesting sites, and removing seed-bearing plants.
The Dayton International Airport plans to plant prairie grasses on up to 300 acres of its 2,200 acres of open space by the end of the year. Additional advantages of the prairie grass is its capacity for absorbing carbon dioxide, its ability to prevent water runoff and the fact that it only needs to be mowed every three years. Hopefully, these measures will achieve the desired results in preventing bird strikes.