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Vehicle: Airplane: Airport
Vacuum packed landing pads   (+4)  [vote for, against]
For helicopters requiring quickly deployed landing pads in remote areas.

Militaries around the world often have a need for a rapidly deployable landing pad which is light, strong, cheap and easy to construct. The VP-LP makes use of the same phenomenon which gives vacuum-packed coffee bricks their rigidity (See Link).

Soldiers arrive by land or parachute with what looks like rolled up waterbed mattresses which are laid out on the desired landing spot. The difference is that these 'mattresses' are 4m x 4m x 100mm thick. A large plastic manhole is unscrewed and the VP-LP is filled with sand or whatever soil is locally available. When roughly full, the manhole is replaced and a small vacuum pump removes the air. Voila! Instant rigidity and a waterproof, dust-proof flat surface. Obviously several of these could be linked together to provide a large a surface as is required.
-- AusCan531, Jan 10 2017

Vacuum packed coffee brick being opened.
Note how it goes from very strong and rigid to floppy and friable. [AusCan531, Jan 10 2017]

//a need for a rapidly deployable landing pad// I thought the point about helicopters was that they could manage without a landing pad?
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2017

This would work well with sandbags. The inventor that invented the inner structure sandbag made enough money to acquire the Segway company!

There are even more sandbags than helicopter landing pads.
-- beanangel, Jan 10 2017

Why not just use HE to level and clear the required area in one simple, quick operation? Much less bulky, no shovelling ...

One of the major advantages of being military, apart from the primary one of being allowed to shoot pretty much anyone you take a dislike to, is that there are generally plentiful supplies of HE or repurposable ordnance close to hand. All that's needed is someone with the necessary skills, experience, and a total lack of consideration for the environment.
-- 8th of 7, Jan 10 2017

I still don't understand the use of this landing pad.

If you're landing a helicopter in open country, why do you need a landing pad? Equally, if you can't land a helicopter because of huge boulders or trees, this won't help. On the other hand, my helicopters always land on the lawn, so I don't have first-hand experience.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2017

//I thought the point about helicopters was that they could manage without a landing pad?//

Soft sand, mud, loose soil all cause stability issues for the landing skids while blowing gravel and sand dislodged by the downdraft is a serious risk to blades, engines and personnel. My company occasionally creates these landing pads by spraying various cementatious materials to bind loose soils. They are usually water-based and subsequently heavy to transport and require specialised application.
-- AusCan531, Jan 11 2017

Sort of whoopie cushion for helicopters? That would have cheered up the troops no end in the Tet offensive.
-- not_morrison_rm, Jan 11 2017

Just peg out a big tarpaulin to keep the FOD down, and put load spreading landing pads on the chopper skids.
-- Custardguts, Jan 11 2017

//Soft sand, mud, loose soil all cause stability issues//

Ah, OK - now it makes sense. [+]
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 11 2017

random, halfbakery