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Drag Flying

Straight-up air racing using specialty nitro-fuel "rail" airplanes
  [vote for,

I was reading an article on the X-Prize committee search for a permanent spaceport for their yearly festival with fanciful descriptions of prize categories while also watching a Discovery Channel show on drag racers, or "nitro-burning funnycars." I noticed the structural similarity between the struts of a powered hang-glider and the front rails of a drag racer. I wondered what a propeller airplane built to simply leap straight up off the ground as quickly as possible would look like, and what kind of a race would be possible between two of them. I wondered if a drag engine could be adapted. Maybe the planes could run along race rails, like model rockets or mechanical rabbits? If you wanted to save weight, you could leave the engine on the ground and simply unreel a flexible transmission cable made of clear, lightweight unobtainium up to the prop. Also wondered what the pilots would do when the airplanes ran out of fuel six seconds into the race... Could several of these be used as boosters for the first few seconds of a vehicle launch? No doubt there are many rocket sled-type military applications :-) The idea has the advantage of using off-the-shelf technology, including those parachutes, for wimps who don't like bouncing. Disadvantages include those common to all air-races: There are people down there ka-boom.
cloudface, Jul 24 2003

Turbine Great Lakes http://www.airbum.c...epGreatLksTrbn.html
What a propeller airplane built to simply leap straight up off the ground as quickly as possible looks like. The TGL is a legend but it crashed at an airshow when I was, like, 3 years old so I never saw it fly. Poor me. [bristolz, Oct 06 2004]

"Precious Metal" http://www.airventu...eno02_precious4.jpg
P51 equipped with contrarotating propellors. Bring money; lots and lots of it. [bristolz, Oct 06 2004]

"Precious Metal" Closeup http://www.airventu...eno02_precious1.jpg
A view of the contrarotating prop. [bristolz, Oct 06 2004]

Damn short takeoff http://www.youtube....UOw&feature=related
[Klaatu, Jun 06 2008]


       Aircraft carrier?   

       Two airplanes designed to leap off the ground in a very short distance are the Pilatus Porter and the Maule Rocket. I'm sure there are others (Harrier).
bristolz, Jul 24 2003

       Harrier can take off vertically, yes, but is expensive, no matter how many pepsi points you have. I was thinking more along the line of adapting tilt-rotor technology or even cobbling together some kind of rotary-rocket first stage. I know the roton was meant as a SSTO, but scaled up maybe still could work as a reusable first stage? Anyway, the basic idea is highpower propeller-driven first stage. No idea if viable, but I think in England they're working on jet-turbine 1st stage.
cloudface, Aug 09 2003

       You could have classes of racing based on engine size or power limitations.   

       The races could be based on a combination of factors such as Rate of Climb, the service celing, maximum airspeed, or anything else like that.   

       People would be forced to push the envelope building light weight, super efficent aircraft.   

       One nitruous injected, turbocharged, lightweight, aerodynamic crissant for you!
KLRico, Nov 20 2003

       All of this burning stuff is so complicated. You gotta get a license, then get the stuff, then have something to burn it it, the there are the pistons and the spark plugs and the blah blah blah. You want something to turn fast, there's no beating a spring. You wind it up slow, then let it go fast, with a propeller attached. Want to turn faster? Get a bigger, stiffer spring.   

       So what next? You find youself 5000 feet off the ground and the spring is unwound. 1: Detach spring, which falls to the ground for later reuse. 2. Open ends of propeller with switch. 3. Propeller is full of telescoped very long, lightweight prop augmentation. 4. As you fall, the wind passing the propeller will make it turn. Centrifugal action pulls the prop augmentation out, making the prop longer. When fully deployed, the turning of the augmented prop and air resistance generated will a slow you to a safe descent.
bungston, Nov 21 2003

       So, the propeller should be able to increase diameter after the climb? Not too bad, it would be like a helicopter rotor, and then autorotate back down... Only one big problem, making a propeller that can do that...   

       Instead of messing with such a complex prop, a parachute device could safely bring the aircraft back down. These types of parachutes are definately baked for ultralights and many other small aircraft.
KLRico, Nov 21 2003

       Climbing vertically in a high-performance propeller craft is not at all the torque challenge you cite provided that there are ample control surfaces to counteract the adverse torque and P-factor. Any 4-aileron Pitts can do it and some of the higher-performance ones can hover, nose up, indefinitely, hanging on just the prop, without the rest of the aircraft counter-rotating (torque rolling). Often, aileron spades are added to enlarge the surfaces and speed rate of roll. Most of these have a constant-speed, 3-bladed metal prop which aren't particularly light.   

       A special P51 was once built for the Reno Air Races with a contrarotating propeller. It is called "Precious Metal." (link for photo)
bristolz, Mar 18 2004

       For extra added effect - participants must dress up like members of the opposite sex. Will your make-up withstand 6+ G's? Can you break the sound barrier, all without breaking a heel?   

xer0negative, Mar 18 2004

       Hmmm so is the plan to take off VTOL style? Or actually have a runway and just pull up as early as you can?   

       Either way, it's going to be good viewing.
BLSTIC, Jun 06 2008

       It's called "time to climb". Folks set records from brakes-off to certain altitude.   

       "In March 1962 new world climb records to 9,000 and 12,000 meters were established at NAS Brunswick, Maine, when an F4H-1 piloted by Lieutenant Colonel W. C. McGraw, USMC, reached those altitudes from a standing start in 61.62 and 77.15 seconds, respectively."
baconbrain, Jun 06 2008

       Does an 18' takeoff qualify? <link>   

       They already have numerous contests for shortest T/O & landing. I don't see where this idea is innovative.
Klaatu, Jun 06 2008


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