The airplane has experienced phenomenal advancement in the twentieth century, changing at an exponential rate from the Wright brothers to the present day. In this ground breaking work based on new research, Dr John D. Anderson, Jr, a curator at the National Air and Space Museum, analyzes the historical development of the conceptual design process of the airplane. He aims to answer the question of whether airplane advancement has been driven by a parallel advancement in the intellectual methodology of conceptual airplane design. In doing so, Anderson identifies and examines six case histories of 'grand designers' in this field, and challenges some of the preconceived notions of how the intellectual methodology of conceptual airplane design advanced. Filled with over one hundred illustrations which bring his words to life, Anderson unfolds the lives and thoughts of these grand designers.