Aeroplanes have a certain allure for anyone who doesn't fly regularly. The immaculate flight attendants, miniature television screens and even the ready-to-go meals somehow bring a little extra magic to being transported through the air in a massive metal tube. The plane's exterior however, may not be of the greatest interest to passengers, unless of course your inflight movie is interrupted by the foreboding seatbelt sign and an oxygen mask dropping onto your lap. You might be surprised then to know that in an effort to delight passengers, airlines spend billions of pounds on designs for the little fin at the back of a plane.
Tail fins, or empennage for the aviation enthusiasts out there, have come to be considered something of an objet d'art and a symbol of identity. British Airways' 1919 debut saw planes take to flight in all their imperial glory with Union Jack tail fins gracing the skies. This patriotism lasted almost 90 years before being grounded in favour of progress and change. The late 1990's became known for more than just Y2K and Dolly the clone sheep; British Airways reached for new heights with a range of diverse, cosmopolitan tail fins.
British Airways had high hopes for their global, ethnically-orientated tail fins. The designs took off to a bumpy start, however, with Margaret Thatcher turning up her nose and covering one of the miniature plane replicas with her very own handkerchief.
Now we're not saying that Aunt Maggie had anything to do with it, but the new ‘arty' planes adorned the sky for only a few short years before plummeting to their death under the hand of what can only be seen as a symbol of national purification.
2011 marked the return to true 'britishness' and a new line of Union Jacked-up tail fins.
Airlines around the world are putting tail fins to good use (not that helping to direct the plane isn't a worthy purpose) and adding some artistic flare to their fleet. So on your next flight, we can't guarantee that you'll have enough leg-room, your food will be amazing or that you won't be coughed on by a heavy-set individual who's taken the opportunity to air their feet, but just maybe you'll notice the artwork trailing through the sky. Here are some of the best tail fins to look out for:
Images courtesy of airlinepost.commore blog posts