Oct 262010

Two F-111’s in flight over the sort of unimproved, rough, muddy, horrible little airstrips they were sold as being perfectly able to fly from on a regular basis.

 Posted by at 10:20 pm
Oct 262010

Before I left Utah, Fingers looked like this:

That’s her at the top of the stairs, looking down on me in “huntress mode,” ready to pound. The very image of the self-confident predator at the top of her game, and the top of the pyramid.

But the first night away from home, cooped up in a motel room, turned her into this:

That’s her curled up on a shelf in the bathroom, trying to hide from the weirdness of it all. In the week since, she really hasn’t improved any.

 Posted by at 10:00 pm
Oct 252010

An unusual Hiller design from the early 1960s, using four apparently fixed lift ducts. It would have performed much like the air jeeps, just on a larger scale.

The design seems like it would not have been capable of great speed, but it would probably have been useful in shuttling heavy objects around limited areas, a true “flying crane.”

See HERE for a vaguely similar Bell concept.

 Posted by at 10:31 pm
Oct 242010

Tagging along on the current trip is “Buttons” the cat. After a trip to the vet to assure that he didn’t have feline leukemia or AIDS or some other infectious horribleness, he got packed along in the hopes of finding him a home. It had been my expectation that Raedthin would pretty much shrug off the trip, that Fingers would have a hell of a good time, and that Buttons would freak out. I got Raedthinn right, but Fingers and Buttons I had reversed. He has taken to civilized livin’ quite easily… even though I’ve failed to find anyone who wants him. It’s starting to look like I’ll be returning him to Utah… where he’ll stay in my house from there on out. Gah.

While Buttons is having an exciting adventure, the other cats don’t have much use for him. Largely, I expect, this is due to him being The New Guy. But for now, he’s not overly welcome in the catpile.

 Posted by at 6:49 pm
Oct 242010

In the late 1950s/early 1960’s, a number of manufacturers produced designs for “flying jeeps.” In general these were effectively small open-cockpit helicopters with two small rotors, one fore, one aft. While some flew, none flew well enough to merit production. They had the noise and slow speed of helicopters, but due to the small diameter rotors and consequent high disk loading, they did not have the hovering performance of helicopters. Additionally, the flying jeeps tended to have some impressive stability issues.

One unbuilt design was the one below, by Kellett. It was a basically stereotypical flying jeep, having fore and aft low-mounted rotors attached to a central automobile-like pod. Note that due to the low mounting of the rotors, an extensive and rather tall support structure and landing gear system was required. It would seem to me that it would have been better to skip a few steps and go ahead and mount the rotors above the fuselage.

With modern materials, control systems and turbine engines, the functional but impractical designs of the 1960’s might be somewhat more servicable today. For instance, they’d seem to make decent air taxies… perhaps to modern lighter than air flying aircraft carriers.

 Posted by at 5:55 pm
Oct 242010

Fingers remains pretty freaked out. She stays deep in hiding when other humans are about, but she does come out when it’s just me. But as at home, her greatest comfort is when Raedthinn pays attention to her.

 Posted by at 8:32 am
Oct 222010

One of the great tragedies in aviation history was the failure of lighter than air vehicles tlo fulfill their promise. Probably the highest achievement in the field were the US NAvy’s flying aircraft carriers of the 1930’s, like the USS Macon. While not as big as the Hindenberg, the Macon and it’s sister ship the Akron had the advantage of actually being full-fledged flying aircraft carriers, carrying nine of the small F9C Sparrowhawk biplane fighters.

The Macon first flew in April of 1933, but was lost in February 1935 due to wind shear tearing off a tailfin and subsequent pilot error.

Almost certainly, had the Macon survived and proved the concept out, similar flying aircraft carriers would have seen service in WWII. And even more certainly, they would have been fairly easy meat for enemy aircraft. But for naval picket duties, such as guarding convoys and coasts against German and Japanese submarines, the concept seems like it might have proven to be of value. A late-war super-Macon loaded with Corsairs seems like a concept of considerable awesomness.

 Posted by at 9:43 pm