A ‘Flying-V’ airplane exists – and it just made its maiden voyage

The Flying V is one of the electric guitar’s most iconic outlines, but it seems the shape could also play a role in the future of air travel.

For the past year, Dutch airline KLM has been working on a design it calls the ‘Flying-V’, and yes, it does look awfully similar to the body of Gibson’s rock guitar staple.

A 22.5kg, three-meter scale model, developed by the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology, has now undergone a successful maiden voyage, which you can watch above – and bodes well for the real thing.

Besides looking pretty darn cool, the aerodynamic shape promises to cut fuel consumption by 20 percent compared with contemporary airplane designs.

In the ‘Flying-V’, passenger cabins, cargo holds and fuel tanks would be located within the wings of the plane.

KLM 'Flying-V' airplane

(Image credit: KLM/YouTube)

“One of our worries was that the aircraft might have some difficulty lifting-off, since previous calculations had shown that ‘rotation’ could be an issue,” said project leader Roelof Vos, assistant professor at the aerospace engineering faculty of Delft's University of Technology.

“The team optimized the scaled flight model to prevent the issue but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You need to fly to know for sure.”

Next up, the development team will be looking into sustainable propulsion, since the design apparently lends itself to carrying liquid hydrogen rather than kerosene.

One sticking point they may not have considered is the name – unless Gibson’s given them the go-ahead, we can’t imagine the ‘Flying-V’ airplane – hyphen or no hyphen – going into full-scale production with its current moniker…

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.