As aviation technology continues to develop at breakneck speed, the goal of producing aircraft with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities, that can fly as fast as a fixed-wing airplane may soon become a reality. This has been achieved to some degree with the tiltrotor technology of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, where lift and propulsion are generated by proprotors mounted on engine pods at the ends of a fixed wing. Take off is facilitated by the rotors being angled horizontally as a helicopter rotor works, but as the aircraft gains speed, the rotors tilt forward until they are vertical, allowing the aircraft to reach higher speeds than a conventional helicopter. An Australian company recently announced that it is developing an aircraft which can transition between VTOL and fixed-wing modes with what it calls StopRotor Technology.
The company’s new RotorWing design reportedly aligns the airflow with rotation axis of the rotor while the aircraft is in flight, thereby creating a stable flight profile allowing the smooth transition from one mode of flight to the other. In a statement announcing the new concept, the company noted that the it is a “paradigm shift involving flight well beyond the limitations of conventional fixed and rotary wing flight”, going on to say that it “requires a new way of thinking”.
A patent application has been lodged for the new StopRotor, and the company is currently using flying models and computer simulations to test the concept, which was inspired by the VTOL X-Plane program announced in February by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The DARPA VTOL X-Plane project is dedicated to developing VTOL aircraft with greater hover and cruise efficiency, larger payload capacity, and higher speeds than current aircraft – the performance standard being set at greater than 300 knots, which is almost double the speed of the fastest helicopter today. Project leader Ashish Bagai noted that it was hoped that the project would “spark a paradigm shift”. DARPA is putting $150 million into developing the X-Plane which would prove valuable in search and rescue missions, surveillance, transportation of troops and other difficult to reach situations requiring swift response time.
Home of the legendary Wright Brothers, and widely considered to be the “birthplace of aviation”, Dayton is the perfect location for the National Aviation Hall of Fame – a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the pioneering and innovative people who have been behind the development of aviation in America. Situated at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the National Aviation Hall of Fame recently announced the names of the four individuals who will be joining the ranks of other inductees at the prestigious annual ceremony taking place in October 2013. They are Major General Patrick H. Brady, Captain Robert L. Gibson, the late Charles Alfred Anderson and the late Dwane L. Wallace.
Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady of the USAF (now retired) accrued a number of noteworthy achievements in his more than 34 years in the army. He developed tactical techniques for helicopter air ambulance rescue in combat and during his two Vietnam combat tours, Brady flew more than 2,500 missions and participated in the rescue of more than 5,000 wounded. As a highly decorated member of the armed forces, Brady’s service awards include the Distinguished Service Cross and the Medal of Honor.
Retired Capt. Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson flew combat in Southeast Asia as a Navy fighter pilot and was a flight test pilot before he joined NASA in 1978. Of his five Shuttle missions, he was Commander of four. As an aeronautical engineer Gibson was a member of the Challenger accident investigation team. In his aviation career Capt. Gibson has logged in excess of 14,000 hours in more than 130 types of aircraft.
Widely acknowledged as “the father of African-American aviation”, the late Charles Alfred Anderson played a major role in developing a civilian-pilot training program for blacks in 1940. His historical flight in 1941, with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt aboard, is considered to have been the stepping stone leading to the training of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots, with Anderson as the chief instructor.
The late Dwane L. Wallace spent 41 years with the Cessna Aircraft Company before retiring in 1975 as the company’s Chairman and CEO. His dedication to the company was so strong that during the Great Depression, he used money he won by air racing to ensure employees were paid. Following WWII, Wallace directed the company’s development away from military into corporate and general aviation products, with much success. Wallace was also a founding member and the first chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
The induction ceremony, referred to as “America’s Oscar Night of Aviation”, will take place at the National Aviation Hall of Fame Learning Center on Friday, October 4, 2013, and is open to the public, with advance reservations to be made with the NAHF.