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20 years ahead of my time?

10 December 2020

Back at the turn of the century, I was making headlines around the world.

Yep, the fact that I'd designed and was building a DIY cruise missile in a rural New Zealand garage seemed to be something that piqued the interest of the media.

Over a period of several weeks I had visits from most of the major news networks and my picture appeared in Time magazine, on the BBC website and on TV channels across the globe.

All this happened just days after I returned from filming an episode of Scrapheap Challenge in the UK where I'd built a pulsejet-powered dragster that won against a similar jet-powered machine when raced down the Santa Pod drag strip.

These demonstrations of just how practical pulsejet engines were, even more than half a century since they powered the V1 buzz-bombs that rained down on England during the Battle of Britain, captured the attention of the US and NZ governments as well.

It was an "interesting time" in my life.

One of the predictions I made way back then, was that terrorists could pretty easily build their own 21st-century version of the V1 flying bomb and, thanks to modern GPS equipment, create their own low-cost but pretty effective cruise missiles.

I published a number of articles and papers on the subject, including this piece that featured on this very website.

On another site I started a project diary, documenting the progress of my own build but most certainly not giving sufficient information to allow others to copy my feat (for obvious reasons).

Despite the fact that my objective was clearly not to empower or educcate terrorists but instead to alert Western nations to the threat, the US government did not take at all kindly to me pointing to the elephant in the room.

The rest is history, and well documented by a local TV crew in a documentary that has been archived on YouTube in two parts.

Part 1 Part 2

Ah, halcyon days :-)

So why am I reminding everyone of this today?

Well yesterday the BBC published this story titled IS tried to build pulse jet-powered drones which kind of proves my point.

I was right, I was just early by a couple of decades!

The reality is that perhaps I over-estimated the abilities of terror groups to create such a device. Maybe they're not as smart or well educated as I thought they might be.

However, the risk remains and I would not be surprised if, sometime in the near future, we see an attempted or possibly even successful attack launched against a soft target using technology just like this.

What does annoy me somewhat is the attachment of the world "drones" to this story. A pulsejet-powered missile is *NOT* a drone it is.. a missile.

Of course the distinction is lost on a misinformed media with an agenda of creating hysteria within the ranks of the great unwashed. The narrative de jour is still the vilification of drones so best reshape the "facts" to suit that narrative -- right?

Ah well, I wonder what predictions I can come up with for the next 20 years?

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