| 1 min read

Popular Mechanics: How to Glue Yourself to a Plane, According to Science

Our team at BTG Labs was entertained and honored that Popular Mechanics would feature BTG Labs and Giles Dillingham, Ph.D., CEO and Chief Scientist in a fascinating, and surprisingly educational, article. We decided to share an excerpt of the article here with a link to the full story. 

Popular Mechanics 
HQ was predictably spellbound yesterday when news reports trickled out concerning a protester who glued himself to the top of a British Airways plane at London City Airport.

On top of that, the protester, identified as a man named James Brown, is a partially visually impaired former Paralympic runner and cyclist. Meet your new Most Interesting Man in the World.

There’s lots to unpack here, like, say, how exactly a partially visually impaired man was able to climb on top of a twin-engine jet airliner. Seems pretty hard! But we were mostly curious about how you’d go about gluing yourself to a plane. Since airport security pulled Brown off the jet with relative ease, he honestly couldn’t have tried very hard.

So. Let’s say you actually wanted to do this thing the right way. We won’t ask why. But you’re dead-set on sticking to a plane, dammit, and that’s all that matters. Where do you start?

Master the Physics

“The first order of business,” says Giles Dillingham, Ph.D., the CEO and chief scientist at BTG Labs, a materials science company that performs research in surface science, surface treatments, and adhesion, “is to determine the load we are asking the bond to withstand.”

In this scenario, imagine you’re 170 pounds. This is your load. If you try to stick yourself to the bottom of a plane, you’ll put the adhesive bond (the glue) into too much tension, and the forces will probably fail it, Dillingham says. But go to the top of the plane and your weight will compress the bond instead. In that case, the only thing that could fail the bond is the shear stress that results from the drag of the airflow on your body.

Read the full article on the Popular Mechanics website.

For manufacturers who are seeking information on how to optimize their adhesion process (even if it involves bizarre applications), download the "Manufacturer's Roadmap to Eliminating Adhesion Issues in Production" ebook. It will give you insight into the biggest issues facing manufacturers and offers a guide for avoiding them. 


the manufacturer's roadmap to eliminating adhesion issues in production