By Rick Sternbach.
The design brief for the Delta Flyer
called for a tough, all-enviroment shuttlecraft that combined Starfleet,
Maquis, and Borg technology. The final ship was designed by Rick Sternbach,
who worked hard to find a new and interesting shape.
The Delta Flyer began as a fifth
season writer concept for an 'all enviroment shuttle,' capable of deep
space missions, atmospheric flight, and planetary landings. The hull design
process began in June 1998, with the usual page upon page of felt-pen doodles,
as Sternbach looked for visual inspirations to get a sense of the overall
shape and function of the ship. Descriptions of the exterior and interior
came from the writers and producers as the episode "Extreme Risk" evolved.
The crew cabin would accomodate at least five, with Tom Paris's single
offset pilot station at the front, a departure from the tandem seating
from previous shuttles and the runabout. After the cockpit shape and window
frames determined by the set designs, the exterior hull would mirror those
elements and employ that styling, with additional key bits of Borg technology.
During the doodle stage, various
shapes, extensions of Starfleet hardware, were formed from familiar wedges
to streamlined darts. A few sketches looked like miniature Voyager's, or
larger versions of existing shuttles, with elements of the Type 10 shuttle
Chaffee. While making the preliminary sketches, a lot of questions came
up: warp pods? Where to put the nav deflector. Phasers? RCS thrusters?
How do you get in? One sketch of a pointy hull concept caught visual effects
producer Dan Curry's attention and asked Sternbach if he could develope
it more. As Sternbach developed the Delta Flyer into a more solid mass,
more details were added, including impulse nozzels, blended warp pods in
the winds, an entry hatch, Bussard fuel collects, and phasers. Some of
the initial sketches included heavy Klingon shield plating and far too
many Borg enhancements (mounted in small cutouts); which were toned down
to just a few, but still visible. The nose-mounted torpedo launcher was
moved underneath, replaced by the navigational deflector array, and two
pulse cannons were scratched. The producers requested that the nose be
shortened and round off and to widen the wings.
Several features were added to the
Flyer incase they were ever needed in later episodes. Vents and hatches
delineated the warp reactor on the underside; the reactor itself is a flat
'pancake' matter-antimatter chamber built into the floor. Emergency plasma
flush vents were cut into the lower wings and a large drop down Borg style
hatch in the back allowed for entry and for 'mission modules' like the
laboratory to be swapped in and out. A small escape hatch was built into
the roof, should the transporters and aft hatch fail, and 'speed brakes'
were scribed into the aft flanks, which could hide all sorts of new devices.
Sternbach had drawn up blueprints as if the Flyer were to built as a physical
miniature even though it would be a computer generated model. CGI modeler
Rob Bonchune of Foundation Imaging scanned and inputted the drawings into
Lightwave, 'lofting' the hull into a set of smooth, 3D, shaded objects.
Set blueprints of cockpit were provided to ensure a match with the interior,
and color specifications were given to Foundation Imaging for component
'painting' and building the surface texture maps, based partly on the Flyer
set walls and on existing Starfleet huls and known Borg hardware. In a
reverse of the need for set drawings to make the CGI parts, details of
the CGI model were required by the studio mill to build a pair of small
walls behind the cockpit set. This served to hide a set of welded steel
frames visible outside the windows, and were finished off with the proper
colors and shapes to appear like the impulse intakes that would be seen
Two years after the initial inception
of the Delta Flyer, more additions and modifications to the two sets and
the CGI model were still being made. Escape pods were mentally squeezed
into the aft sections, and chunks of hull plating were torn away. The pods
were particulary fun to invent, though they added to a well known but thorny
problem. As sometimes happens with cinematic spacecraft (not to mention
some cinematic boats, aircraft, and cars), the Flyer appeared appreciably
larger inside than outside, necessitating a recalculation of the dimensions
of the 'actual' Flyer from a length of about 15 meters to perhaps 21 meters.
Earlier, when the aft station was built for "Timeless," it was a real challenge
to fit everything within the conceptual space. The wingtips just barely
clear the shuttlebay opening.
Designing the Delta Flyer
October 2000 ,Star Trek, The