Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

The CarterCopter, which recently received some coverage on Modern Marvels, may be the next big thing in aviation.

As Henry Farkas and Claudius Klimt point out, large passenger jets need huge, expensive airports, because they need runways two miles long, or longer, and for many airplane trips, time spent on the ground is literally longer than time spent in the air.

The idea behind the Carter Copter is to build a hybrid aircraft with the takeoff and landing characteristics of an autogyro, but the flight characteristics of a fixed-wing airplane.

The fixed wings are designed like jet wings, just a quarter of the size of conventional wings and designed for low drag, in order to be efficient at high speeds and high altitudes. These wings, naturally, don’t provide enough lift for takeoffs and landings — unless you plan on taking off and landing at 150 miles per hour.

It’s the rotor, which is powered during takeoff, that provides enough lift for takeoff — with an interesting design twist:

What’s new is that Jay added depleted uranium weights to the outer ends of the rotors to give them enough stored angular momentum so that even when the engine power is switched from the rotors to the pusher prop, the stored angular momentum in the rotors allows vertical takeoff using the helicopter-like collective and acceleration using the combined cyclic/control stick. The control stick acts like a cyclic while the CC is in rotorcraft mode and like a normal airplane control stick once the CC is in fixed wing mode. The transition is transparent to the pilot.

Evidently the weighted rotor rotates slowly in fixed-wing mode, and this dramatically reduces its drag.

The CarterCopter FAQ provides more detailed information.

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