Rhetoric & Homiletics: Building Meaning Into or Creating A “Big Idea”

BigIdea Graphic 1

It is possible to take a true to life story about an individual, event, or news report and invest meaning into a phrase(s).  Then that phrase(s) can be used to drive a truth, a principle, and/or become the Big Idea.


Let’s actually do that!

You do not need to get into the weeds with all that the story covers.  In fact, I tried to stay out of the weeds, while providing you with enough information to see where I was going with it and/or building it — say as an “introduction.”

(If you want, you can click on the link here or below and read the full article now or you can wait.  Waiting imitates the effect of actually using it.)


KLM, a Dutch Airline company, has developed and designed a revolutionary passenger jet.  An article on it reveals and pictures how radically different and futuristic it looks.

No surprise after looking at it, the jet is called the “Flying-V.”

It has what is called a  BWB design —  “Blended Wing Body.”

It looks like this . . . .



It is fascinating! — Isn’t it?

Can’t wait until they start flying this!

Now that is 21st-century technology!

Now that is the way to fly!

Sign me up!


But hold off a minute there’s more says KLM . . . .

As the article goes on to states . . .

“It does away with a conventional fuselage and even the middle bit of a blended wing body design—this plane is all wing.”



Looks pretty impressive to the average reader! 

Wow — The plane of the future!

Impressive features – as the article states !  . . . .

√  High energy-efficient design
√  New forms of propulsion
√  Opportunity to bring about real change
√  Flying more comfortable
√  BWB – Blended Wing Body (design)
√  Passengers sit along the “Leading Edges” of the win
√  Carries 314 passengers
√  It offers new options for rest and meals
√  20% less fuel in flight

Are they flying it yet?

I’m Off to Holland!

Looks amazing! – doesn’t it?

Time to get aboard!

Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?

Well, they have!

As revolutionary as it is made to sound, the BWB design has been thought of, designed, and produced before KLM. 1  I’ll tell you about that in a moment.

It does look and sound amazing, but those who know a little about aerodynamic will read this article differently than most.

If you are a novice you may read the article and not see what a pilot, or someone who knows something about flying notices.

It states . . . .

. . . .this plane is all wing. As a result, sections of the wings are much thicker than on a normal passenger jet, with a pair of engine nacelles mounted above the rear trailing edges.

If you understand just a little about aerodynamics, you understand that what looked cool is potentially high risk!

Without getting too much into the weeds, and to keep it simple . . . .

a “fatter” or “thicker” wing,
as well as a higher arched upper wing surface,
as well as a swept-back wing design

. . . . . all, and individually, radically changes the aerodynamics of an airplane  (“chord,” “camber” and “sweep”). 3

“Why hasn’t anyone else thought about this before?
Well, they have.  And the aerodynamic problems which accompany a BWB have been problematic at best and foreboding at worse.

On May 9, 1924, the first BWB  — the “Westland Dreadnought” — on its first test flight, aerodynamically “stalled,” crashed and by God’s grace “only” severely injured the test pilot.  The idea of a BWB was put back on the shelf.5

(“stalling” has nothing to do with the operation of the airplane’s engines, but means that the wings lost all ability to create the needed lift.  It then falls like a rock)


The passenger jets of the future?

Have they solved these problems since 1924?

Sorry, they haven’t.

There are LAWS which govern flight — the laws of aerodynamics.  These laws cannot be nullified by bigger engines or longer runways.  There are no workarounds of Newton’s law or Bernoulli’s principles.

Oh, did I mention anything about the aerodynamic ability of a BWB airplane to navigate turns?

Turning an airplane is not like turning a car.  That is why when an airplane turns one of the wings is lowered and the other raised.

With the BWBs — the wings are not only carrying the fuel (as with most airplanes), but are also carrying the people, luggage, and cargo.

In a typical airplane, the center of weight is located in the “center cylinder” where the passengers are seated.  The airplane rotates in regards to that “center passenger cylinder,” when lifting / raising opposite wings.

Yes, you can design and fly an airplane which is “all wing”  — it is called a fighter jet – i.e. the Vulcan B2.  With a military aircraft, with one or two people in the forward-middle cockpit area, it works.  But not with all this kind of weight on the wings!

With a passenger aircraft, with no center cylinder, with all of its weight inside the wings, turning the airplane requires a different set of skills and makes it much more dangerous.  In fact, it now goes to a level of “high risk!”


Wow!  But that’s not what it looked like at first!

High-risk — but still an impressive passenger jet concept!

It looked pretty incredible on the outside.

If someone is making it, I’d still might like to try it.


You might be willing to be one of the first to try it, but only if you like amusement parks — says the article!  You have to read down to the last paragraphs before the author reveals that.

The article points out the previous problem in its closing words . . . .
(Why did you drag me through an article and at the end says it will probably fail?)

“Sadly for the Flying-V, it will probably fail like the blended wing body designs we’ve seen down the years. It’s for the same reason, too: airplanes bank as they turn. That’s not much of a problem in a conventional airliner design, where passengers are never that far from the plane’s central axis. But as you move farther out from that central axis, the effect becomes a lot more pronounced.

That said, it’s easy to be a naysayer. Climate change isn’t going away on its own and neither is commercial air travel, so I’m all for fresh ideas. And now that I think about it, some people will queue for hours to ride roller coasters—maybe they’d actually enjoy it?2

Looked like a great idea though!

The pictures are breathtaking!

The features are inviting!

The concept is incredible!

Sounded like it would be a terrific and revolutionary alternative!

As it states, there may even be those who would try it!


But it is not as it was / is portrayed.

Looks pretty cool, but only in the pictures.

It is not as good as the hype!

It is high-risk  — to those who know just a little about airplanes.

It will not be as comfortable as it purports will be the case.

It initially sounded far different than it actually is!

That rest and meals will not happen — neither the rest nor the meals.

What you think you are boarding will turn into a roller coaster.


“Flying-V” airplane design promises fuel savings, but there’s a catch

There is a catch!
(That’s an understatement)


Now you can take that phrase – or any one of the restatements – and use it throughout the message — i.e. The Parable of the Prodigal Son.

You have packed those phrases with meaning
through the development of the story and its details.

Now you can use those phrases to call up a story.
A story which is contained in just the phrase(s).

“Looks pretty good, in the pictures.”

“You will realize that you are really boarding a roller coaster.”
“It is not as good as the hype.”



P.S. You can use far less than I have provided.

In fact, you can just go from the beginning part of the story — make some comments as to its features, futuristic look, cool design, exciting days ahead —  build in the “phrase(s) — and then go to the end two paragraphs of the story.

You decide if some of the provided details help or not.

It probably depends on the audience, situation, and time!



Other Information & Links:

Original Article Link


Just read around a little on the subject, and you will see that various pilots comment on such articles. . . .

“Why are these BWB studies published?

The author gets more attention when he/she claims a “revolutionary breakthrough” than when he/she is more honest and admits that the concept is a dud.

Even Boeing or Airbus like to publish BWB studies, so the public gets the impression they are ahead of the competition.

It is sickening to read such academically dishonest studies – you need to spend time to dig to the bottom of the thing and to unravel the plot; however, once you have done this a few times, they all become alike. But compared to studies made 60 or 80 years ago, where the author factually lists what he did and why it didn’t work out (which is the only way you can learn something), those modern studies are a waste of time. ” 6



1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blended_wing_body#History

2. https://arstechnica.com/cars/2019/06/radical-new-airliner-could-save-fuel-but-ride-like-a-roller-coaster/

3.  https://aerotoolbox.net/intro-airfoil-aerodynamics/

“The thickness of the airfoil is a very important design parameter and as always expressed as a percentage of the total chord.” 3

Highly cambered airfoils produce more lift than lesser cambered airfoils, and an airfoil that has no camber is symmetrical upper and lower surface. 3

Wing sweep is primarily used on aircraft that fly in the transonic and supersonic regions. The sweep has the effect of delaying the formation of shock waves on the surface of the wing caused by the compressibility of air at high speeds. The ability to delay the formation of the shock waves has a dramatic positive effect on the total drag produced by the aircraft as it approaches Mach 1. 4


4. https://aerotoolbox.net/intro-sweep-angle/

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westland_Dreadnought

6. https://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/12782/why-are-there-no-blended-wing-passenger-airplanes-in-operation



What was wrong with V-tail Bonanza pilots?

Introduction to Airfoil Aerodynamics

Sweep Angle and Supersonic Flight





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