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Sport: Air: Gliding
Vertical Slingshot Launch Hang Gliders   (+18, -1)  [vote for, against]
with folding wings.

There's a kid's toy about that consists of a glider with wings that can be folded back flush with the body. The wings are spring-loaded. The resulting arrow-like configuration is launched vertically from your standard-issue bungee cord slingshot.

Air pressure during ascent keeps the wings folded back. When apogee is reached, the spring causes the wings to pop open. At the same time, the nose tilts downwards, and normal gliding flight commences.

Basically I want to be strapped in to a high-powered, human scaled version.
-- BunsenHoneydew, Dec 04 2006

Hang Glider Jack
For the toy similar to [BunsenHoneydew]'s inspiration, scroll down to the center of the page, then watch the video. [jurist, Dec 05 2006, last modified Dec 06 2006]

Spring Shot and Sling Shot
But not in that ordrer... [rascalraidex, Dec 06 2006]

Human scale slingshot - different than link above
[knowtion, Mar 11 2009]

How do you propose to ward off death due to extreme G-force upon launching?
-- Texticle, Dec 05 2006

[Texticle] \\ How do you propose to ward off death due to extreme G-force upon launching? \\ Bungee cords, of course! Is this a WIBNI?
-- MoreCowbell, Dec 05 2006

How do the bungee cords achieve this? Are they not the source of the extreme G-forces?

Or were you saying "Bungee cords, or course!" in a manner similar to how one might declare "Synergy, of course" in a senior management meeting?
-- Texticle, Dec 05 2006

Oh I'm sure you could devise a launch system that wouldn't scramble your innards, and even if it is an enlrargement of an existing toy, I don't mind one bit.

I want a go at it.

-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Dec 05 2006

There is a amusement park ride called the spring shot(?) that launches an attached cage 350 feet in the air. I'm pretty sure that would work on a small scale.. not like.. rocketing into the cosmos or anything.. but it would be a fun little flight for sure.
-- rascalraidex, Dec 06 2006

There's a fairly simple formula for figuring launch pressures and vertical throw, I think. One G of vertical acceleration for any distance will throw you precisely that same height above the end of your launcher, 2 Gs will throw you twice as high, et c. (You are already feeling one G just sitting still, and the drag of the air will keep you from reaching your theoretical height, but the height of the tower counts toward the total altitude.) So, an 9-G launch will throw you less than 9 times as high as your tower, maybe.

Given a one-hundred-foot tower and a 6-G launch, the glider would be less than 600 feet up. Which could be interesting, considering that you are going to have to unfold the wings, then dive to gain some airspeed.

I'd like to try it.
-- baconbrain, Dec 06 2006

//from the top of the building//

Or indeed, from the bottom of a mineshaft. You could have a 500 meter launch, at say 6Gs - that's 3km up you go.
-- BunsenHoneydew, Dec 06 2006

Or a weight and some cable and pulleys.
-- BunsenHoneydew, Dec 06 2006

Sounds like an Osma Bin Laden version of the Tommyhawk missile.
-- ldischler, Dec 06 2006

yeah.. but if you used a rocket and a ramp it wouldn't be the same idea...
-- rascalraidex, Dec 07 2006

This sounds a little like the catapult used to launch gliders.
-- webfishrune, Dec 07 2006

//baconbrain, you could also launch a person from the top of a building to add height.//

Yes, you could launch from the top of a building, but it wouldn't be a help. Just jumping off the top of a building, without any vertical component, would let you fly, yes.

But getting to the top of the building in a slow elevator doesn't add any vertical speed to the launch, so putting a vertical-acceleration launcher only on the top of a building is inefficient.

What we want is a high-speed elevator that fires you up into the air above the roof of the building, or feeds you into the launch track atop the building with a good bit of vertical speed already in hand.

The key issue with a vertical launcher is making the launch track as long as possible. Which is not the same thing as making the tower as tall as possible. BunsenHoneydew suggested putting the launcher down a mineshaft, which would work well. If a tall building is already available, the launch track should be built to run the entire height of the building, whether inside an elevator shaft or on an outside track. An additional tower to continue the track further above the roof would be good, but a hole bored down into the ground below the building would also help, although not as much.
-- baconbrain, Dec 07 2006

Bungee cord is cheaper.
-- BunsenHoneydew, Dec 12 2006

really.. if you use anything other than elastic strap of some sort it wouldn't be a slingshot.
-- rascalraidex, Dec 14 2006

I had the same idea. I added a video demonstrating the slingshot end of this idea [see link].

This could be used for transportation. You would get flung into the air, glide 20 miles to the next slingshot, and get flung again... etc. If you wanted to land somewhere in between, then you would have to employ a kite to lift you into the air. (half-baked in this category).
-- knowtion, Mar 11 2009

Human beings can withstand more G's in a prone position (ie: perpendicular to the force)... so a trebuchet should work just fine.
-- FlyingToaster, Mar 14 2009

Hey, a catapult [+] gliding wings. I wonder why Da Vinci never invented this one. Many a castle could have been raided more easily if he did.
-- quantum_flux, Mar 16 2009

//How do the bungee cords achieve this? //

The way I imagine it, the bungee cords *would* help... with the G-force, anyway.

Imagine, for a moment, improbably slack bungee cords. Imagine the glider being launched with tremendous initial acceleration. While the glider is accelerating tremendously, the passenger does not, at first, accelerate at all, because the slack in the bungee cords which connect the passenger to the glider has not yet been taken up.

Once the slack in those bungee cords has been taken up, the passenger begins to accelerate away from the ground, but with a significantly smaller acceleration than the initial acceleration of the pouch of the slingshot.

In other words, whereas the transfer of velocity from the slingshot to the glider is almost instantaneous, the transfer of velocity from the glider to the passenger is more gradual, the passenger being plucked off the ground as if in an afterthought.

Never mind the G-force, mind the whiplash.
-- pertinax, Mar 19 2009

You'd then need some ingenious kind of hook to catch hold of the glider as you overshot it near apogee, perhaps at about the same time as the spring-loaded wings popped out.
-- pertinax, Mar 19 2009

Check out the link I added. It basically solves the launch issue. And it's frickin' crazy.
-- knowtion, Mar 19 2009

Right, yes, that. I want a go!
-- BunsenHoneydew, Sep 27 2009


okay, sign me up for this one anyways.
-- FlyingToaster, Sep 27 2009

random, halfbakery