Tribute to Colin Chapman

Influential English design engineer, inventor, and builder in the automotive industry, and founder of Lotus Cars Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman CBE, sadly passed away on 16th December 1982, aged 54 after suffering a fatal heart attack, and on The day he died, Team Lotus was testing the first Formula One car with active suspension, which eventually made its début with the Lotus 99T in 1987

Born 19 May 1928 Chapman studied structural engineering at University College London, joined the University Air Squadron and learned to fly. Chapman left UCL without a degree in 1948, resitting his final Mathematics paper in 1949 and obtaining his degree a year late. He briefly joined the Royal Air Force in 1948, being offered a permanent commission but turning this down in favour of a swift return to civilian life. After a couple of false starts Chapman joined the British Aluminium company, using his civil engineering skills to attempt to sell aluminium as a viable structural material for buildings.

In 1948 Chapman started building the Mk1, a modified Austin 7, which he entered privately into local racing events. He named the car “Lotus”. With prize money he developed the Lotus Mk2. With continuing success on through the Lotus 6, he began to sell kits of these cars. Over 100 were sold through 1956. It was with the Lotus 7 in 1957 that things really took off. In the 1950s, Chapman progressed through the motor racing formulae, designing and building a series of racing cars, sometimes to the point of maintaining limited production as they were so successful and highly sought after, until he arrived in Formula One. Besides his engineering work, he also piloted a Vanwall F1-car in 1956 but crashed into his teammate Mike Hawthorn during practice for the French Grand Prix at Reims, ending his career as a race driver and focusing him on the technical side. Along with John Cooper, he revolutionised the premier motor sport. Their small, lightweight mid-engined vehicles gave away much in terms of power, but superior handling meant their competing cars often beat the all-conquering front engined Ferraris and Maseratis. Eventually, with legendary driver Jim Clark at the wheel of his race cars, Team Lotus appeared as though they could win whenever they pleased. With Clark driving the legendary Lotus 25, Team Lotus won its first F1 World Championship in 1963. It was Clark, driving a Lotus 38 at the Indianapolis 500 in 1965, who drove the first ever mid-engined car to victory at the fabled “Brickyard.” Clark and Chapman had become particularly close and Clark’s death devastated Chapman, who publicly stated that he had lost his best friend. Among a number of legendary automotive figures who have been Lotus employees over the years were Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, founders of Cosworth. Graham Hill worked at Lotus as a mechanic as a means of earning drives

In 1952 he founded the sports car company Lotus Cars. Chapman initially ran Lotus in his spare time, assisted by a group of enthusiasts. His knowledge of the latest aeronautical engineering techniques would prove vital towards achieving the major automotive technical advances he is remembered for. He was famous for saying “Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere”, as his design philosophy focused on cars with light weight and fine handling instead of bulking up on horsepower and spring rates. Under his direction, Team Lotus won seven Formula One Constructors’ titles, six Drivers’ Championships, and the Indianapolis 500 in the United States, between 1962 and 1978. The production side of Lotus Cars has built tens of thousands of relatively affordable, cutting edge sports cars. Lotus is one of but a handful of English performance car builders still in business after the industrial decline of the 1970s. Although these days Lotus is owned by the Malaysian Automotive Company “Proton”, Caterham Cars still manufacture the Caterham 7 based on the Lotus 7, and there have been over 90 different Lotus 7 clones, replicas and derivatives offered to the public by a variety of makers.

He pioneered many innovations and Many of Chapman’s ideas can still be seen in Formula One and other top-level motor sport (such as IndyCars) today. Such as struts as a rear suspension device. Even today, struts used in the rear of a vehicle are known as Chapman struts, while virtually identical suspension struts for the front are known as MacPherson struts, monocoque chassis construction, the tube-frame chassis, positive aerodynamic downforce, through the addition of wings, moving radiators away from the front of the car to the sides, to decrease frontal area (lowering aerodynamic drag). He also designed a car that generated all of its downforce through ground effect, eliminating the need for wings, active suspension and a dual-chassis Formula One car.

First man powered flight

The Wright Brothers – Orville and Wilbur are credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight in the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. The Wright Brothers spent a great deal of time observing birds in flight & noticed that birds soared into the wind and that the air flowing over the curved surface of their wings created lift. Birds change the shape of their wings to turn and maneuver. They believed that they could use this technique to obtain roll control by warping, or changing the shape, of a portion of the wing. The Wright Brothers designed their first aircraft: a small, biplane glider flown as a kite to test their solution for controlling the craft by wing warping. Wing warping is a method of arching the wingtips slightly to control the aircraft’s rolling motion and balance. Over the next three years, Wilbur and his brother Orville designed a series of gliders  flown in both unmanned (as kites) and piloted flights. They read about the works of Cayley, and Langley, and the hang-gliding flights of Otto Lilienthal. They corresponded with Octave Chanute concerning some of their ideas. They recognized that control of the flying aircraft would be the most crucial and hardest problem to solve.

Following a successful glider test, the Wrights built and tested a full-size glider & selected Kitty Hawk, North Carolina as their test site because of its wind, sand, hilly terrain and remote location. They successfully tested their new 50-pound biplane glider with its 17-foot wingspan and wing-warping mechanism at Kitty Hawk, in both unmanned and piloted flights. In fact, it was the first piloted glider. Based upon the results, the Wright Brothers planned to refine the controls and landing gear, and build a bigger glider. In 1901, at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers flew the largest glider ever flown, with a 22-foot wingspan, a weight of nearly 100 pounds and skids for landing. However, many problems occurred: the wings did not have enough lifting power; forward elevator was not effective in controlling the pitch; and the wing-warping mechanism occasionally caused the airplane to spin out of control.  In spite of the problems with their last attempts at flight, the Wrights reviewed their test results and determined that the calculations they had used were not reliable. They decided to build a wind tunnel to test a variety of wing shapes and their effect on lift.

Based upon these tests, the inventors had a greater understanding of how an airfoil (wing) works and could calculate with greater accuracy how well a particular wing design would fly. They planned to design a new glider with a 32-foot wingspan and a tail to help stabilize it. So during 1902, the brothers flew numerous test glides using their new glider. Their studies showed that a movable tail would help balance the craft and the Wright Brothers connected a movable tail to the wing-warping wires to coordinate turns. With successful glides to verify their wind tunnel tests, the inventors planned to build a powered aircraft. After months of studying how propellers work the Wright Brothers designed a motor and a new aircraft sturdy enough to accommodate the motor’s weight and vibrations. The craft weighed 700 pounds and came to be known as the Flyer. The brothers built a movable track to help launch the Flyer. This downhill track would help the aircraft gain enough airspeed to fly. After two attempts to fly this machine, one of which resulted in a minor crash, Orville Wright took the Flyer for a 12-second, sustained flight on December 17, 1903. This was the first successful, powered, piloted flight in history.

Happy Birthday Mike Mills

The founding member of the alternative rock group R.E.M. Michael Edward “Mike” Mills was born on this day  December 17, 1958 in Orange County, California). Though known primarily as a bass guitarist, backing vocalist, and pianist, his musical repertoire also includes keyboards, guitar, and percussion instruments, and has contributed to many of the band’s musical compositions.

As a young boy, Mills  attended Northeast High School in Macon, Georgia. Mills’ father Frank was a singer whose appearances included The Ed Sullivan Show, while his mother Adora was a piano teacher, which helped him develop a love of music at an early age. He met and formed a band with drummer friend Bill Berry in high school. later, While attending the University of Georgia they also met Peter Buck and Michael Stipe and the four of them decided to form a band together. Mills, Berry, Buck, and Stipe then decided to drop out of college and focus on their band, now named R.E.M. The band quickly developed a following and were soon signed to I.R.S. Records.   Mills is credited with being the chief composer behind many of R.E.M.’s songs, including “Nightswimming”, “Find the River”, “At My Most Beautiful”, “Why Not Smile”, “Let Me In”, “Wendell Gee”, “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville”, “Beat a Drum”, “Be Mine” and “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”. In particular, R.E.M.’s 2004 album Around the Sun was heavily shaped by Mills’ piano and keyboard contributions. Mills is also responsible for the prominent backing vocal and harmony parts found within the band’s back catalogue, with his vocal contributions arguably being most noticeable on 1986′s Lifes Rich Pageant and 2008′s Accelerate. In addition to providing backing melodies, he has also sung lead vocals on the songs “Texarkana”, “Near Wild Heaven”, The Clique cover “Superman” and The Troggs cover “Love is All Around”. Mills also recorded a brief piano part for the song “Soma” from The Smashing Pumpkins’ 1993 album Siamese Dream, which was recorded in Georgia.

Mills is also known for his collection of Nudie suits, which he often wears on stage, these are named after a Russian-born American tailor named Nudie Cohn who designed decorative rhinestone-covered suits, known popularly as “Nudie Suits”, and other elaborate outfits for some of the most famous celebrities of his era. Mills was first seen wearing one of these suits in the 1994 video for “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” and then throughout the band’s subsequent 1995 tour.

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012

  1. Bradley Wiggins received 492,064 votes,
  2. Jessica Ennis, the heptathlon champion, on 372,765
  3. Andy Murray, the tennis gold medallist and US Open champion, who received 230,444.
  4. Mo Farah was fourth with 131,327 votes.
  5. Wheelchair racer David Weir was fifth (114,633)
  6. Ellie Simmonds sixth (102,894),
  7. Sir Chris Hoy seventh (42,961),
  8. Nicola Adams eighth (35,560,
  9. Ben Ainslie ninth (35,373),
  10. Rory McIlroy 10th(29,729),
  11. Kath Grainger 11 th (28,626)
  12. Sarah Storey 12th (10,342)

Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medallist,Bradley Wiggins wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 capturing the hearts of the nation and has fittingly won his last great race of 2012 in runaway fashion, being crowned as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He also took to the stage with a semi-acoustic guitar to play That’s Entertainment by The Jam and Wonderwall by Oasis, accompanied by Ray Parfitt Jnr’s band.