If you were to ask a representative sample of American pilots to name a handful of beautiful airplanes, the North American P-51 Mustang would be on almost everyone’s short list. I know because I’ve been asking that question for years now. (SEE OUR GALLERY BELOW)
What makes an airplane beautiful—for that matter, what makes anything or anyone beautiful—is largely a matter of opinion. It’s interesting, though, that there’s so much agreement about certain people and objects that we find pleasing, because that suggests that there’s something quantifiable going on. In fact, scientists have been working for the past decade in pockets around the world to figure this out, and some have, with some success, developed computer programs to try to pick out a particularly attractive human face from a crowd of run-of-the-mill candidate faces. They speak about the golden ratio, a geometric arrangement of features that humans find pleasing in a stranger’s face, as being key to this recognition.