Some groovy info on the high-tech aviation front: Japanese scientists plan to test-fly a model of a rocket-powered aircraft that could fly twice as fast as the supersonic Concorde but carry three times the people, and make half the noise to boot. Successful testing of the computer-designed scale model could lead to a 2012 production target. (via FARK) Meanwhile, Boeing is developing a bat-winged next-generation jet that could carry 480 people with greatly improved fuel efficiency. A full-scale prototype is planned for 2006.
On a sadder note, Everette Webb, who co-designed the Boeing 747, one of the most beautiful passenger jets of all time, died July 2 of congestive heart failure. He was 80. The 747, with its unmistakable double-deck forward section, was introduced in 1968 as a "luxury liner of the sky," but its cost-efficiency made it an enduring workhorse in the passenger airplane market.