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Glider transport system

  [vote for,

Gliders have several advantages over aeroplanes. They are relatively cheap, simple, quiet, efficient, safe and low maintenance.

Gliders are currently used almost exclusively as recreational vehicles. There are several reasons for this:

-They need to be towed into the air by an aircraft, so the obvious question is why not just use the aircraft itself as the transport means. There are other launch methods such as a bungee fling, cliffs and hot air balloons but these have their own disadvantages.

-They are at the mercy of the weather, and it takes skill to navigate the thermals and waves.

-They have limited range.

Some improvements to gliders to make them more practical as a transport means:

-Gaining altitude is the energy consuming aspect of flying. Gliders could be launched from tethered blimps. The glider would be hooked onto a blimp which rises due to buoyancy. When it reaches a sufficient altitude (eg 800 m) the glider is released, first diving to gain speed, then flattening to glide. The blimp would then be reeled in by a motor on the ground.

-A head-up display for showing information such as thermals and maps. Information from weather stations and instruments on the glider (such as radar) would be used to calculate optimal paths.

-Solar chimneys could be placed strategically around the country (on popular routes). The chimneys could have a valve mechanism which is operated remotely by the glider pilot. On approach, the pilot would open the chimney valve, releasing the trapped hot air, hence creating an artifical thermal.

-The gliders could also be motorised to increase range.

xaviergisz, Apr 30 2005

Solar_20hot_20air_20hang_20glider_2e [2 fries shy of a happy meal, Apr 30 2005]

Also applicable, http://www.myairshi...abase/prospect.html
more in fact. [2 fries shy of a happy meal, Apr 30 2005]

solar gliders http://spectrum.iee...ric-planes-to-watch
gliders that use solar panels to move [travbm, Oct 29 2015]

Airplane lifting hot air balloon Airplane_20lifting_20hot_20air_20balloon
Similar. [Voice, Oct 29 2015]


       You missed a problem with gliders:   

       -They are terribly slow compared to other means of transportation.   

       (this being said, I'd love to commute in a glider.)
Worldgineer, Apr 30 2005

       //They are terribly slow// but 80km/h 'as the crow flies' is as good as most land based transport. Also, I was envisioning this for 300km journeys rather than a coast-to-coast marathon.
xaviergisz, Apr 30 2005

       This could tie in. [link]   

       I like this. We desperately need to reduce our fuel consumption (even when it slows us down) and even motorized gliders do not use much fuel and are fairly fast.   

       Now we need foolproof gliders, or gliders that carry a number of people and have an pilot, like a bus.
jmvw, Nov 23 2006

       There are solar electric gliders that can fly all day an night now.
travbm, Oct 29 2015


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