It’s a bird … it’s a plane

Associated Press

LE BOURGET, France — From hulking aircraft big enough to carry rail cars to one-person motorized power gliders, the Paris Air Show is not just a hotbed for lucrative dealmaking. It’s also a chance for an aviation-crazed public to glimpse the latest technologies.

On the business side, Boeing Co. and European plane maker Airbus Industrie have been jockeying for market share with competing visions of future air travel.

But in the exhibition halls, the battle for attention is between two heavyweights of a different kind: the Ukrainian-built Antonov 225, the world’s biggest plane, and Airbus’ bulge-backed A300-600ST.

"It’s the hunchback of Notre Dame," said Marie Madelon, 28, of the northwestern French town of Evreux, referring to Airbus’ "Beluga" plane, so named for its resemblance to a whale.

The Antonov 225, which was designed to transport ICBM missiles or carry space shuttles piggyback, has drawn thousands of visitors each day.

One, writing anonymously in the Antonov 225’s visitor’s book, called the giant plane "a beautiful cathedral, it’s only missing gargoyles and a rose window."

At the other end of the size spectrum is the paramotor, a propeller-powered flying machine that straps on like a backpack and is attached to a wide paraglider. It can take off from the ground with a little help from a gust of wind.

"This isn’t quite like the movie ‘The Rocketeer’ — that’s science fiction," said Guy Leon-Dufour, president of Paris-based Adventures, which sells the one-person paragliders for about $5,000 each. "The paramotor flies every day."

The air show, which runs through Sunday, offers the chance for big-name companies such as General Electric Co. and Rolls-Royce to showcase their latest emissions-reducing jet engines. Helicopter makers trumpeted how their machines are cutting down on noise.

But there are also more mundane advances that can make passengers’ flights a bit more relaxing, such as new reclining seats demonstrated by the European Aeronautical Defense and Space Co., or state-of-the-art airplane toilets that may soon look like the porcelain ones at home.

Robert Schafer, president of Rockford, Ill.-based Envirovac, a maker of vacuum toilets, said his company is experimenting with ways to paint their toilets in different colors.

"People feel most comfortable with something that looks just like home," Schafer said.

Even ill-fated flying machines of old are making a comeback in a new guise. Despite lingering memories of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster over New Jersey, dirigibles are in fashion again. German airship maker Zeppelin was showing its new Zeppelin NT, which bobbed smoothly in the blue sky above the spectators.

"The Hindenburg was a terrible disaster, it’s something that people don’t forget," said Zeppelin director of flight mechanics Fausto Maugeri. "Now the zeppelin is coming back."

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Business

New Jersey auto group purchases Lynnwood Lexus dealership land

Holman, which owns Lexus of Seattle in Lynnwood, bought property on which the dealership resides.

Two couples walk along Hewitt Avenue around lunchtime on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett businesses say it’s time the city had its own Chamber of Commerce

The state’s seventh-largest city hasn’t had a chamber since 2011. After 13 years, businesses are rallying for its return.

Students Mary Chapman, left, and Nano Portugal, right, work together with a fusion splicer and other equipment during a fiber optic technician training demonstration at Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Sno-Isle students on the path to becoming fiber professionals

The state will roll out $1.2 billion to close gaps in internet access. But not enough professionals are working to build the infrastructure.

Washingtonians lost $250M to scammers in 2023

Identity theft, imposter scams and phony online ads were the most common schemes, a new study says.

LETI founder and president Rosario Reyes, left, and LETI director of operations Thomas Laing III, right, pose for a photo at the former Paroba College in Everett, Washington on Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Woman brings Latino culture to business education in Snohomish County

Rosario Reyes spent the past 25 years helping other immigrants thrive. Now, she’s focused on sustaining her legacy.

Annie Crawley poses for a photo with her scuba gear at Brackett’s Landing near the Port of Edmonds on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Edmonds ocean activist to kids: Life is better under the sea

From clownfish to kelp, Annie Crawley has been teaching kids and adults about the ocean’s wonders for three decades.

Reed Macdonald, magniX CEO. Photo: magniX
Everett-based magniX appoints longtime aerospace exec as new CEO

Reed Macdonald will take the helm at a pivotal time for the company that builds electric motors for airplanes.

People walk along a newly constructed bridge at the Big Four Ice Caves hike along the Mountain Loop Highway in Snohomish County, Washington on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Check out the best tourist attractions in Snohomish County

Here’s a taste of what to do and see in Snohomish County, from shopping to sky diving.

People walk out of the Columbia Clearance Store at Seattle Premium Outlets on Thursday, April 25, 2024 in Quil Ceda Village, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Head to Tulalip for retail recreation at Seattle Premium Outlets

The outlet mall has over 130 shops. You might even bring home a furry friend.

Brandon Baker, deputy director for the Port of Edmonds, shows off the port's new logo. Credit: Port of Edmonds
A new logo sets sail for the Port of Edmonds

Port officials say after 30 years it was time for a new look

Penny Clark, owner of Travel Time of Everett Inc., at her home office on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In a changing industry, travel agents ‘so busy’ navigating modern travel

While online travel tools are everywhere, travel advisers still prove useful — and popular, says Penny Clark, of Travel Time in Arlington.

Travis Furlanic shows the fluorescent properties of sulfur tuft mushrooms during a Whidbey Wild Mushroom Tour at Tilth Farmers Market on Saturday, April 27, 2024 in Langley, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
On Whidbey Island, local fungi forager offers educational mushroom tours

Every spring and fall, Travis Furlanic guides groups through county parks. His priority, he said, is education.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.