A young man wearing a black lab coat with “Prototipi” on the back and a raging bull over the heart is enthusiastically talking about the history of carbon fiber. Behind him a machine flexes a honeycomb panel almost 4 inches before the panel cracks like a gunshot, fracturing but not quite breaking in half. My heart jumps out of my chest.
I’m standing in an unmarked building perched on the edge of the Interbay district in Seattle, the crucible of American aerospace industry. Boeing and Honeywell Aerospace are just a few miles away, and the fantastic yet somewhat problem-plagued 787 Dreamliner came to life here. It’s also home to this place, Lamborghini’s Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory, one of the only places outside of Boeing that can simulate lightning strikes, hail, birdstrikes, and engine failures. The lab is under the careful tutelage of one man: Dr. Paolo Feraboli. “I always wanted to build and design fighter jets,” he says, a light Italian lilt to his words. “I am not an engineer. I am a carbon-fiber designer.”