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Urban STOL for light planes

Use a wind-tunnel-type giant fan to allow near VTOL vertical landing of light planes
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
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This idea will probably work better with the advent of the system of automated light planes NASA is developing. By landing into a strong wind, the rollout for a landing is lessened or even eliminated depending on the speed of the wind. So,why not have an automated landing area which includes a sort of "landing wind tunnel" or vector thrust landing facility? An ordinary, current-technology light plane would enter this (large, complicated, interactive) device, slow to a hover, and then drop to a landing pad, where it would taxi off, out of the articfical wind, to its tie-down. I know this seems overly complicated, but it is probably a cheaper and safer solution than issuing every commuter an Osprey, or the commercial equivalent. Airfields could be set up in smaller areas; perhaps even the size (and format) of parking garages. You would use today's aeronautical technology for the planes, and simply add it to some kind of universal landing program linked to the wind machine. Since the wind would have to be deflected upward anyway in an urban environment, to take off, you would enter an equally artificial "thermal"--a column of air that would lift the aircraft to a safe level before forward flight... Since NASA is publishing standards for their highway in the sky, they might as well add something about the parking lot. And the driveway. (See link below.) For that matter, you could probably design a small aircraft carrier using this technique rather than stopping the plane with a tethered cable. This idea came after chewing over the crisis-type news that many small airfields around the country are closing & the real estate being developed for other purposes. As to the transition layer,and aerial buffeting that Klaatu mentions--right. New kinds of airplanes to use these facilities would have to be designed to cope with that. Sort of similar to a situation where a modern-day Corvette couldn't get across the country at all due to bad roads at the beginning of the twentieth century, but could drive very quickly across at the beginning of this one.
cloudface, Nov 05 2003

RV-9A http://www.vansairc.../public/rv-9per.htm
"Landing Distance 250 ft" [Klaatu, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Aeros http://www.windspire.com/aeros/
Landing distance Ø feet [Klaatu, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

These are made down the street from me http://www.bellagus...t/ba_609/index.html
From Bell/Textron [Letsbuildafort, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

The SkyCar on Howstuffworks.com http://www.moller.com/skycar/
[Letsbuildafort, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

nasa small aircraft transportation site http://sats.nasa.gov/
no mention of how to build a driveway for the highway in the sky [cloudface, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

USS Macon http://en.wikipedia...S_Macon_%28ZRS-5%29
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. [8th of 7, Jul 31 2010]


       As a pilot, I would like to mention that the transition zone between the "landing wind tunnel" and free flight would be an extremely rough, and unpleasant, ride.   

       There are plenty of planes that can safely be landed in the length of a football field or less. <links>   

       [mild rant] Do schools teach students an archaic form of writing format called the paragraph?
Klaatu, Nov 05 2003

       Hardcore baked by Bell Helicopter, and the long proposed SkyCar ... that thing is like Duke Nukem Forever -- its been promised, but I don't think its ever going to be released
Letsbuildafort, Nov 05 2003

       And you didn't even mention the stip-search.
Worldgineer, Nov 05 2003

       don't forget the swirling wind from the rotating fan. Of course, you could reduce this with vanes, but it starts to get expensive... and then there is the shear previously mentioned. I'm looking at building a Bearhawk, which takes care of a lot of that, providing you have a mere few hundred feet of cleared real estate. www.bearhawkaircraft.com
spacer, May 10 2005

       I logged in to post a similar idea so I don't think its bad. However, being a pilot myself, I would still be concerned with the intense windshear at the transition. It would have to variable speed (from the cockpit) and maybe have PAPI or VASI like lights on all sides to help know where the wind begins. As for the buffetting, maybe do like the new dyson fan does with no spining blades. The whole setup would have to ramp up real fast (something greater than stall speed) then tilt down and slow down to effectively allow a vertical landing.
tjhenry, Jul 31 2010

       or for the portable version you could mount the fan-like thing on the front of the plane.
FlyingToaster, Jul 31 2010

       In the 1930's, there were successful experiments in launching and recovering aircraft in flight from airships; in effect, using the airship as an airborne aircraft carrier. That sounds slightly more sensible than this idea, which does not seem to take account of the ground effect, would require enormous amounts of power (probably several high-bypass fanjets in ground mountings) and offers little in the way of go-around options if It All Goes Horribly Wrong (Handle forward, carb heat OFF, flaps up, gear up, pull hard on the houses lever ...)
8th of 7, Jul 31 2010

       This is not practical ... but since when are we judging ideas on how practical they are? bun
ixnaum, Aug 04 2010


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