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Right-side-up Cockpit

Weighted cockpit that stays upright
  (+2, -5)
(+2, -5)
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I've thought about this one for a while -- It would probably be more useful in space than in the atmosphere, although the mechanism would have to be rethought for space use.

Basically, take a sphere of glass/plastic/whatever, and put weight on one side of it. This side is now considered the floor. Put a chair, instrument panels, or whatever you need inside the sphere oriented so that the weighted side is "down." -- even, adding to the weight of the downward side.

This is the cockpit. The sphere is suspended in a larger sphere of liquid which is attached to the airplane - probably behind the nose cone, or in place of it, and the pilot controls the aircraft from inside.

Between the smaller sphere and the larger one are small brakes that can deploy to stop rotation, or lock the smaller sphere in place when needed, so during phases of extreme accelleration or spinning, the cockpit's movement can be locked, or stopped so it won't bob and twist afterwards.

[edit:] Perhaps these could be used to orient the cockpit in whatever direction was desired and lock it there; i.e., no more having to look over your shoulder; just turn the cockpit around. [/edit]

This would only work well in slower, less maneuverable aircraft, because the cockpit would go crazy with excessive maneuvering/accelleration/decelleration.

As to the space version, I imagine it would primarily be used in conjunction with a larger ship -- it could be deployed to check the hull, and the cockpit would stay oriented to the larger ship with magnets.

CaptainClapper, Jun 11 2007

I kind of did this before! Hamsterball_20Cockpits
[jhomrighaus, Jun 12 2007]


       What are the advantages to this?   

       Also how to the controls work? In a typical airplane I step on the right rudder pedal to get the rudder to point to the right. If my cockpit is "upside down" in reference to the plane, what happens when I step on the right rudder pedal? Does the rudder point to the right relative to the pilot? Or relative to the upside down plane? What if I am rolling while holding down the rudder pedal? The same problems are going to be true for all controls (except engine controls in a single engine plane.)
Galbinus_Caeli, Jun 11 2007

       controls could do one of two things: (1.) follow the orientation of the cockpit, so all controls control as of the pilots viewpoint - i.e., when the cockpit is facing backwards, right rudder pedal moves the plane's left rudder, right on the stick moves the plane's left ailerons. So basically the pilot doesn't have to think too terribly much about what he's doing, just where he wants to go (take that last bit in context).   

       or, (2.) controls are always oriented forward, and the pilot just has to deal with it.   

       I'd go for option 1, because planes designed around a cockpit like this wouldn't necessarily have to have a top and bottom -- they'd only have to worry about it when it came time to land; they'd have to know which side the landing gear was on. Planes could be shaped like a flying wing with a bubble in the middle.   

       Advantage is that during maneuvers, the pilot isn't spinning around, he's facing the same direction. It could reduce disorientation, and efficiency in, er, slow moving combat situations.
CaptainClapper, Jun 11 2007

       You don't know how to fly a plane, do you? It's ok, most people don't.   

       Stepping on the right rudder pedal does not make the plane turn right, it makes the plane yaw right. To turn right you turn the yoke (or tilt the joystick) to the right, this makes the right aileron lift and the left lower, banking the plane, it will then start to skid to the right, you use the right rudder pedal to turn that skid into a turn. You can then return the yoke (or joystick) and rudder to the center for the duration of the turn, you then turn the yoke to the left while stepping on the left rudder pedal to pull out of the bank and return to straight and level. Oh, and while you are banking, you better either be pulling up a bit on the yoke(or joystick) or putting on a bit more engine power, or your plane will be losing altitude during the turn.   

       Airplanes are not cars. You don't just steer them where you want to go. You adjust the aerodynamics of the airframe to keep it going the direction you desire. If control surface action does not closely follow control motions, the plane is going to be unflyable.   

       (a spacecraft would be entirely different, but then you are dealing with inertia and reaction mass, a whole new can of worms.)
Galbinus_Caeli, Jun 11 2007

       There may be something I am missing here. Weighting the bottom of the cockpit will not make the cockpit stay upright, if that is the intention. It will just make it point in the direction of the G forces. Is that the idea?
david_scothern, Jun 11 2007

       Really, the only other way I can describe it is as such:   

       Two spheres, one inside the other. The inner sphere contains instrumentation and pilot, (with an air supply, of course, since it's sealed). The outer sphere is part of the body of the airplane. Between the inner and outer spheres is a liquid that allows the inner sphere to spin free of the rest of the airplane, and since the inner sphere is weighted, the weighted side always stays down, regardless of the orientation of the plane.   

       so, the plane can do corkscrews while the cockpit stays still -- the pilot not spinning with the plane.   

       hope that clears it up -- and sorry for the outburst, [Galbinus_Caeli].
CaptainClapper, Jun 11 2007

       [david_scothern] mostly. This is why I was saying that it could only really be used in slow moving aircraft; ones that don't experience a lot of g's. also, the brakes would be applied during accelleration and decelleration, so the cockpit wouldn't swing fore or aft.
CaptainClapper, Jun 11 2007

       I understand how your cockpit idea works (though gimbals might work as well as the liquid bearing you propose). Lets just wave our arms and say that Computerized Controls Automate The Pilot Experience so things work as expected.
Galbinus_Caeli, Jun 11 2007

       aye. :-)
CaptainClapper, Jun 11 2007

       Add a gyroscope and electric moters and I bun it.
zeno, Jun 11 2007

       I kind of touched on this before though slightly different. You guys decide if this is different or redundant.
jhomrighaus, Jun 12 2007

       I like yours better [jhomrighaus]. they're really similar, but I'm not gonna tag it, I dont know if it's that similar. I'll let others weigh in.
bleh, Jun 12 2007

       The major advantage I can see for this is for allowing fighter pilots to subject the plane to more Gs while absorbing them in a comfortable position. The worst Gs to experience are negative G when the blood rushes to your head and you 'brown out'. I think the best position is that used in the shuttle, which is sitting in a seat which is laying on it's back.
marklar, Jun 12 2007

       [marklar] see the attached idea as we have tread this ground before.
jhomrighaus, Jun 12 2007


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