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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fairey Firefly

The Fairey Firefly Recon Fighter – Fast Recon In WW2

 Andrew Knighton


A Plane Made for Two

The Fairey Firefly was a two-seat fighter and reconnaissance aircraft used by the British during WWII.

A Naval Plane

The Firefly was deployed by the Royal Navy, providing air support for ships at sea.

One in a Series

The Firefly was one in a series of planes that had fulfilled a similar role for British naval forces. Beginning in 1926 the Fleet Air Arm first commissioned a fast two-seat fighter to act as a reconnaissance plane.

Coming into Service

The Firefly entered service during WWII. Its first flight took place on December 22, 1941, just after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing America into the war. Its first flights, therefore, were at a time of change and escalating conflict.

Becoming Lead Fighter

The Firefly soon proved its worth as a plane. From July 1943, it was the Royal Navy’s primary carrier-borne fighter. It was the first time the British Royal Navy had made significant use of aircraft carriers, making the Firefly an important plane.

Attacking the Tirpitz

The first major action in which Fireflies took part was a series of attacks against the Tirpitzin July 1944. The Tirpitz and its sister ship the Bismarck were the most powerful battleships in the German fleet. The were a source of fear and an important target for Allied fleets serving off the coast of Europe.

First Kill

On January 2, 1945, a Firefly scored a kill in an aerial combat for the first time. It took place during a dogfight over Sumatra, as part of an attack on oil refineries there. A Firefly from No. 1770 Squadron shot down a Japanese Oscar fighter.

Supply Drops

During the weeks following Japan’s surrender, thousands of Allied prisoners remained trapped in severe conditions in the Japanese prisoner of war camps. Fireflies of the Fleet Air Arm dropped supplies to POWs in camps in mainland Japan.

Firefly Mk IV

Later Wars

Fireflies were involved in British forces action during subsequent wars. They served in Korea, which was the first time jet versus jet combat was used in war and which heralded the end of planes like the Firefly. They also carried out ground attacks during the British intervention in Malaya in 1954.

International Service

The Netherlands Air Force also used fireflies; AS4s in Indonesia in 1962.

Not a Fast Plane

The Firefly was equipped with a Rolls-Royce 1990hp Griffon XII engine. It was a step up from the Merlin engine which its predecessor, the Fairey Fulmar had. With a maximum speed of 416 miles per hour, it added an extra 40 miles per hour to the speed of Britain’s shipboard fighters. However, it was slow in comparison with other fighter planes taking to the skies around the same time.

Good Manoeuvring

The Firefly handled well at low speeds. With limited space on board aircraft carrier decks to take off and land on, it was important the plane operated well at relatively low speeds.

Fairey Fireflies aboard HMS Indefatigable after attacking Pangkalan Brandan, Sumatra.

Cannons in Place of Machine-Guns

The Fulmar was equipped with eight machine-guns, letting it put a large volume of firepower into the air. On the Firefly, they were replaced with four 20mm cannons.
The move to cannons was in line with changes made by the majority of air forces in WWII. Most planes had metal fuselages, making them tougher than the aircraft of earlier eras. Explosive shells fired from cannons were far more likely to do damage to those planes than machine-guns could.
A new development in fuel tanks also played a part. The Germans had created a self-sealing fuel tank, coated in layers of vulcanized and non-vulcanised rubber. If a tank was punctured, the leaking fuel caused the non-vulcanised rubber to expand, sealing the gap. As a result, just putting holes in the tank was not enough to send a plane up in flames. If a shell hit the fuel tank and exploded, no amount of expanding rubber could save the aircraft.

The N.F.2

The first attempt to create a night fighting version of the Firefly was the N.F.2 model. It was given recently developed airborne radar with which to target enemy planes in the dark.
The weight of the equipment changed the Firefly’s center of gravity. To counter it, the fuselage in the N.F.2 was lengthened by 18 inches.

The F.R.1

Changes in the way the radar was mounted meant the N.F.2 was not produced in large numbers. Instead, a different night fighting Firefly was developed repositioning the radar; the F.R.1.

Exhaust Dampers

One of the most important signs that could give away a night fighter in the darkness was the glow from the engine exhaust. To counter it, all Firefly night fighters were equipped with exhaust dampers.

A Fairey Firefly about to land on HMS Pretoria Castle.

Shifting Radiators

The first Fireflies had their radiators mounted underneath the engine. It was changed in later models when the radiators were moved into the wings, altering the appearance of the plane.


The Firefly had a wingspan of 44 feet 6 inches. To fit inside an aircraft carrier, the wings were folded back leaving a wingspan of only 13 feet 3 inches.


The fuel capacity of the Firefly gave it a range of 1,300 miles, enabling it to carry out reconnaissance over a wide area around its carrier base.

Heights Reached

The Firefly could climb 15,000 feet in just under ten minutes. It could fly at heights of up to 28,000 feet.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Ho 229/Go229 The Horten Brothers Flying Wing Marvel

The Horten 229 V3 “Flying Wing” – Amazing Image Collection



The Horten Ho 229 is generally known by a few unique names. The plane was called the H.IX, by the Horten Brothers. The identity Ho 229 had been given to the plane by the German Ministry of Aviation. Sometimes, it was also called the Gotha Go 229, because Gothaer Waggonfabrik was the name of the German maker who manufactured the plane.
This plane has been recently called “Hitler’s Stealth fighter”, despite the fact that the plane’s stealth capacities may have been accidental. As per William Green, creator of “Warplanes of the Third Reich,” the Ho 229 was the principal “flying wing” air ship with a jet engine.
It was the primary plane with elements in its design which can be alluded to as stealth innovation, to obstruct the ability of radar to identify the plane.
The leader of the German Luftwaffe, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, awarded the German aircraft machine industry what is called “3 X 1000” objective. Goring needed a plane that could transport 1000kg of bombs (2,200 lb), with a scope of 1000 km (620 miles) and speed of 1000 km/h (620 mph).
The Horten Brothers had been taking a shot at flying wing design lightweight gliders since the 1930’s. They thought that the low-drag of the gliders that were made previously could be the base for work that would meet Goring’s requests. The wings of the H.IX plane were produced using two carbon infused plywood boards, stuck to each other with sawdust and charcoal blend.
In 1943, 500,000 Reich Marks had been awarded to the Horten Brothers by Goring to assemble and fly a few models of the all-wing and jet-propelled Horten H IX. The Hortens flew an unpowered glider in March of 1944. The flying machine did not resemble any current plane being used in the Second World War.

The Horten Brothers had been taking a shot at flying wing design lightweight gliders since the 1930s.

It looked fundamentally the same as the cutting edge American B-2 Bomber. Goring was very much inspired with the plan and transferred it from the Hortens to the German aviation organization Gothaer Waggonfabrik.
At Gothaer, the plan experienced a few noteworthy upgrades. The outcome was a jet powered model, the H.IX V2, which was first flown on 2nd February, 1945.
Expelled from the venture, the Horten Brothers were working with the Horten H.XVIII, which was also known as the Amerika Bomber. The Horten H.XVIII was just an effort to satisfy the Germans wishes to manufacture an aircraft that could reach the United States. After a few more experimental flights, the Ho 229 was added to the German Jäger-Notprogramm, or Emergency Fighter Program, on 12th March, 1945.
Work on the next model rendition of the plane, the H.IX V3, finished when the American 3rd Army’s VII Corps came to the Gotha plant in Friederichsroda on 14th April, 1945.
In 2008, Northrop-Grumman, utilizing those designs plans which were available, fabricated a full-size generation of the H.IX V3 by using only those materials which were available in Germany in 1945. They studied the main surviving parts of a Ho 229 V3, which were accommodated at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Paul E. Garber Restoration and Storage Facility on the outskirts of Washington DC in Suitland, Maryland.

The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)

Engineers at Northrop needed to see whether the German aircraft could really be resistant to radar. Northrop tried the non-flying reproduction at its classified radar testing office in Tejon, California. During the testing, the frequencies utilized by British radar offices toward the end of the war were directed towards the reproduction. Tom Dobrenz, a Northrop Grumman stealth master, said with regards to the H.IX, “This design gave them just about a 20% reduction in radar range detection over a conventional fighter of the day.”
When combined with the speed of the H.IX, after being picked up by British Homeland Defense radar, the Royal Air Force would have had only 8 minutes from the time of detecting the airplane before it approached England, rather than the standard 19 minutes.
While the design turned out to be stealthy, it has been contended that it was not intended to be stealthy. There is no written proof in Germany that the design was expected to be what would later be recognized as stealth innovation.
In an article composed by Reimar Horten, broadcast in the May 1950 version of the Argentine aviation magazine Revista Nacional de Aeronautica, Reimar composed, “…with the advent of radar, wood constructions, already considered antique, turned into something modern again. As the reflection of electric waves on metallic surfaces is good, such will be the image on the radar screen; on the contrary, on wood surfaces, that reflection is little, these resulting barely visible on the radar.”
In the late 1970s and beginning of the 1980s, data started to break to the media that the United States was doing some important work on airplanes with stealth innovation.
In 1983, Reimar Horten wrote in Nurflugel: Die Geschichte der Horten-Flugzeuge 1933-1960 (Herbert Weishaupt, 1983) that he had wanted to join a blend of sawdust, charcoal, and paste between the layers of wood that framed vast areas of the outside surface of the HIX wing to shield, he said, the “entire plane” from radar, in light of the fact that “the charcoal ought to ingest the electrical waves.
Under this shield the tubular steel, [airframe] and the engines, [would be] “undetectable” [to radar]” (p. 136, creator interpretation).

The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)

By 1983, the fundamental elements of American stealth innovation were at the point of being public knowledge.
After the war, the latest scientific improvements prompted the idea of planning an airframe that could sidestep radar. It was found that a jet-powered, flying wing design, just like the Horten Ho 229 will have a little radar cross-area to traditional contemporary twin-motor aircraft. This is because the wings were merged into the fuselage and there were no extensive propeller disks or vertical and horizontal tail surfaces to give a locatable radar signature.
Reimar Horten said he blended charcoal dust with the wood paste to soak up electromagnetic waves (radar), which he accepted could shield the aircraft from identification by British early warning ground-based radar that worked at 20 to 30 MHz (the top end of the HF band), which is called Chain Home radar.
Engineers of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation had a great interest on the Ho 229, and a few of them went to the Smithsonian Museum’s office in Silver Hill, Maryland in the 1980s to learn about and study the V3 airframe. A group of engineers from Northrop-Grumman did some electromagnetic experimentation the V3’s multilayer wooden middle-area nose cones.
The cones are 3/4 of an inch (19 mm) thick and made up of thin sheets of veneer. The group inferred that there was surely some type of conducting element within the paste, as the radar signal lessened extensively as it passed through the cone.
So it turns out Hitler was far along with developing a plane that was far ahead of its time!

The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)

The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)

The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)

The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)

The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Credits: Cynrik de Decker)

Horten H IX V3
Horton 229 V2 on runway

Horten Ho 229

This is the only surviving prototype

Horten Ho 229

Horten 229

Horten Ho 229

Friday, June 23, 2017

Final Fantasy - Quest for the Flying Car

There are two main schools of thought amongst airmen; those that a spouse to the belief that it is safer to stop before landing and those that prefer to land before stopping. The helicopter is one flying machine that conforms to the first school.

Helicopters have been around a long time. In fact, the first helicopter accepted as such was the Focke-
Wulf Fw 61, created in 1936. Sikorsky later mastered helicopters. The term “helicopter” comes from hélicoptère in French, after Gustave Ponton d’Amécourt coined it in 1861. He took it from the Greek helix. It didn’t take long for someone to imagine a car with a helicopter rotor above it.
The flying car animated picture above is a mashup of the following flying cars. 1917 Curtiss Autoplane 1937 Waterman Aerobile 1947 ConVairCar Model 118 1966 Aero-Car 1971 AVE Mizar 2009 Terrafugia Transition 2014 AeroMobil 3.0 2017 AeroMobil 4.0

The fixed wing aeroplane on the other hand usually lands before stopping and to do that safely requires large expansive surfaces such as airports to operate from. Airports are generally associated with large urban centers, served with all kinds of services such as car rental check out counters so, no need for a car that flies in this case. As an flyer myself I have the idea that the most useful form of flying car would be one that stops before landing such as a helicopter or auto-gyro that exhibits also, good driving characteristics with a ground range of about 200 miles. The flying feathers should be easily detachable and the drive-able module electric powered.  The transportation standards have become so extensive over the years for cars with requirements for crash worthy bumpers, airbags,  impact crash testing, roll over standards etc have made it impractical to develop a flying car that complies with airworthiness and roadworthiness standards simultaneously, witness the case where the selling price for the Aeromobile has risen from 200,000 dollars to 400,000 during its development phase.

In my opinion it would make more sense to design the road vehicle comply with standards as a three wheel motorcycle.

1917 Curtiss Autoplane

Glen Curtiss invented and built the first flying aerial limousine - the Curtiss "Autoplane." Curtiss "Autoplane" 1917 The Pan American Aeronautical Exposition of 1917, held in New York's gaudy Grand Central Palace exhibition hall, represented "the biggest and best display of airplanes, aeronautic motors and aerial accessories and supplies ever gotten together on this continent. It was one of the most interesting exhibits at the Exposition.

The Autoplane quickly picked up the nickname "aerial limousine" because the pilot sat at the steering wheel and the two passengers in seats behind him.

The body is a combination of the motor car and aircraft practice, and follows very closely the lines of a modern limousine or coupé car-body. It is constructed mainly of aluminum, the windows being of celluloid. Elaborate upholstery and tapestries are employed for the interior, which accommodates two passengers in the rear and a "chauffeur" forward. Right in front is a circular radiator, through which passes a starting handle for the engine, a Curtiss OX-5 100 h.p., which is located under the bonnet. From the engine, power is transmitted through a shaft, extending to the rear of the body, to the four-bladed propeller located at the top.

There is a pair of wheel fore and aft, mounted in a similar way as on the Curtiss tractor triplane. The axle of the front pair, however, follows motor car practice in that the wheels are pivoted and connected to the control so as to enable the machine to be steered on the ground.

The triplane wings are also similar to the triplane tractor, except that they are staggered and the lower plane is of shorter span. The wing section is "F-2" with an angle of incidence of 4º and a dihedral angle of 3º to the lower plane. The top plane is connected to a cabane mounted on the roof of the "car," whilst the center and lower planes are attached to the body itself. Covered-in K-shaped inter-plane struts separate the planes, and interconnected ailerons are fitted to top and center planes.

The tail is carried by a pair of horizontal tubular outriggers attached to the center plane. The tail surfaces consist of a rectangular horizontal stabilizer, divided elevators, rudder and triangular vertical fin. Mounted on the bonnet, just above the front wheels, is a small plane. The general dimensions are as follows: - Span (top and center) 40 ft. 6 ins., (bottom) 23 ft. 4 ins.; chord (top and center) 4 ft., (bottom) 3 ft. 6 ins., gap, 3 ft. 3 ins.; stagger, 11 ins.; overall length, 27 ft.; height 10 ft.; width of body, 3 ft. 6 ins.; speed range, 45-65 m.p.h.; useful load, 710 lbs.

Development of the Autoplane was superseded by the war effort when America entered World War 1 only 2 month after the unveiling.

1937 Waterman Aerobile

Waldo Waterman's first flying wing aircraft was the unofficially named Waterman Whatsit, a pusher configuration low swept-wing monoplane with fins near its wing tips. The Whatsit also featured a wing-mounted tricycle undercarriage and a trim foreplane. Powered by a 100 hp (75 kW) Kinner K-5 5-cylinder radial pusher engine, it first flew in 1932.] In May 1935 Waterman completed a submission to the government funded Vidal Safety Airplane competition. This was the Arrowplane, sometimes known as the W-4. This adopted a similar layout to the Whatsit but had a strut-braced high wing on a blunt-nosed, narrow fuselage pod with a tricycle undercarriage mounted under it. Its wings had wooden spars and metal ribs and were fabric covered, with triangular endplate fins carrying upright rudders. Its fuselage was steel framed and aluminium covered. It was powered by a 95 hp (71 kW) inverted inline 4-cylinder Menasco B-4 Pirate pusher engine mounted high in the rear of the fuselage. The Arrowplane was not intended for production or to be roadable, but its success in the Vidal competition encouraged Waterman to form the Waterman Arrowplane Co. in 1935 for production of a roadable version. The resulting Arrowbile, referred to by Waterman as the W-5, was similar both structurally and aerodynamically to the Arrowplane, though the fins differed in shape, with rounded leading edges and swept-back rudder hinges. For road use the wings and propeller could be quickly detached. The main other differences were in engine choice, the need to drive the wheels and to use conventional car floor-type controls on the road. The air-cooled Menasco was replaced by a water-cooled engine as used by most cars. Waterman modified a 6-cylinder upright, 100 hp (75 kW) Studebaker unit and placed it lower down in the pod, driving the propeller shaft at the top of the fuselage via six ganged V-belts with a 1.94:1 speed reduction. The radiator was in the forward fuselage, fed from a duct opening in the extreme upper nose. On the ground the engine drove the main wheels through a differential gear, as normal, and the car was steered by its nosewheel. The wheels were enclosed in fairings, initially as a road safety measure. Instead of removing the propeller for the road, it could be de-clutched to prevent it windmilling the engine at speed. The wheel in the two-seat cabin controlled the Arrowbile both on the road and in the air. Outer wing elevons moved together to alter pitch and differentially to bank. The rudders, interconnected with the elevons when the wheel was turned, moved only outwards, so in a turn only the inner rudder was used, both adjusting yaw as normal and assisting the elevon in depressing the inner wing tip. This system had been used on the Arrowplane as a safety feature to avoid the commonly fatal spin out of climb and turn from take-off accident but the raked rudder hinge of the Arrowbile provided the banking component even from a nose-down attitude. There were no conventional flaps or wing mounted airbrakes but the rudders could be operated as brakes by opening them outwards together with a control independent of the wheel. The cabin interior was designed to motor car standards, with easy access and a baggage space under the seats. The Arrowbile first flew on 21 February 1937, making it a close contemporary of the Gwinn Aircar, and a second prototype with a number of minor modifications followed. Studebaker were interested in the Arrowbile because of the use of their engine and ordered five. The third Arrowbile was the first of this order. However there was little market response and the line was halted in 1938, with no more production aircraft completed. The production aircraft had several changes, some of which aimed to emphasise the similarities with cars; there was a radiator grille with a single headlight centrally above it and also car type doors and petrol filler cap. The fourth Aerobile was completed as a conventional, non-roadable aircraft; Waterman initially retained the Studebaker engine but in 1941 replaced it with an air-cooled 120 hp (89 kW) Franklin. In 1943 he modified the wings with slotted flaps and later still replaced the braced wing with a cantilever one, using the wing from the unbuilt fifth aircraft. The last, sixth aircraft was not completed and flown until May 1957. It was a three-seat, roadable version powered by a water-cooled 120 hp (89 kW) Tucker-Franklin. This was cooled by radiators on each side of the engine, fed air by fuselage side scoops. In the absence of the forward radiator the nose was remodelled, becoming shorter and blunter. The fins were also altered so that the upper and lower leading edges met at an acute angle. At some point this particular Arrowbile was renamed the Aerobile, though it was not a name that Waterman used.

1966 ConVairCar Model 118

Consolidated Vultee Aircraft (later Convair) was seeking entry into the post-war aviation boom with a mainstream flying car. Theodore P. "Ted" Hall had studied the concept of a flying car before World War II, with Consolidated unsuccessfully proposing the idea for use in Commando type raids. Following the end of the War, Hall and Tommy Thompson designed and developed the Convair Model 116 Flying Car featured in Popular Mechanics magazine in 1946, which consisted of a two-seat car body, powered by a rear-mounted 26 hp (19 kW) engine, with detachable monoplane wings and tail, fitted with their own tractor configuration 90 hp (67 kW) Franklin 4A4 engine driving a two bladed wooden propeller. This flew on July 12, 1946, completing 66 test flights.Hall subsequently designed a more sophisticated development of the Model 116, with a more refined car body and a more powerful "flight" engine. A 25 hp (19 kW) Crosley engine was in the rear, powering the plastic-bodied 4-seat car and a 190 hp (142 kW) Lycoming O-435C was used for the powerplant of the aircraft. A lofty production target of 160,000 was planned, with a projected $1,500 price tag. Convair anticipated that the Model 118 would be purchased in large numbers to be rented at airports.Operational history[edit] Test pilot Reuben Snodgrass flew the prototype, registration No. NX90850, for the first time on November 15, 1947. On November 18, 1947, while on a one-hour demonstration flight, it made a low fuel forced landing near San Diego, California destroying the car body and damaging the wing. The pilot, who escaped with minor injuries, reportedly took off with little or no aviation fuel aboard. Although the fuel gauge he had visually checked during the pre-flight check indicated that the tank was full, it was the automobile's fuel gauge, not the aircraft's gauge. Using the same wing and another car body, the second prototype flew again on January 29, 1948 piloted by W.G. Griswold, but enthusiasm for the project waned and Convair cancelled the program. The rights reverted to Hall, who formed T.R Hall Engineering Corp., but the Model 118 in its new incarnation never achieved production status.

1971 AVE Mizar

The prototypes of the Mizar were made by mating the rear portion of a Cessna Skymaster to a Ford Pinto.The pod-and-twin-boom configuration of the Skymaster was a convenient starting point for a hybrid automobile/airplane. The passenger space and front engine of the Skymaster were removed, leaving an airframe ready to attach to a small car. AVE planned to have their own airframe purpose-built by a subcontractor for production models, rather than depending on Cessna for airframes. According to Peterson's Complete Ford Book, by mid-1973, two prototypes had been built and three more were under construction. One prototype was slated for static display at Galpin Ford, owned by AVE partner Bert Boeckmann of Sepulveda, California. The other prototype, fitted with a Teledyne Continental Motors 210 horsepower (160 kW) engine, was unveiled to the press on May 8, 1973. It then began a series of taxi tests at Van Nuys, California. AVE made special arrangements to do flight testing at the U.S. Navy's test facilities at Point Mugu, California. AVE stated that FAA certification flights were underway in mid-1973. The Mizar was intended to use both the aircraft engine and the car engine for takeoff. This would considerably shorten the takeoff roll. Once in the air, the car engine would be turned off. Upon landing, the four-wheel braking would stop the craft in 525 feet (160 m) or less. On the ground, telescoping wing supports would be extended and the airframe would be tied down like any other aircraft. The Pinto could be quickly unbolted from the airframe and driven away. Production was scheduled to begin in 1974. AVE had stated that prices would range from US$18,300 to US$29,000. On a test flight from Camarillo Airport in California on August 26, 1973, according to test pilot Charles "Red" Janisse, the right wing strut base mounting attachment failed soon after takeoff. Because turning the aircraft would put too much stress on the unsupported wing, Janisse put the aircraft down in a bean field. After the roadway was closed to traffic, Janisse drove the otherwise undamaged aircraft back to the airport. On September 11, 1973, during a test flight at Camarillo, the right wing strut again detached from the Pinto. With Janisse not available for this test flight, Mizar creator Smolinski was at the controls. Although some reports say the Pinto separated from the airframe, an air traffic controller, watching through binoculars, said the right wing folded. According to Janisse, the wing folded because the pilot tried to turn the aircraft when the wing strut support failed. Smolinski and the Vice President of AVE, Harold Blake, were killed in the resulting fiery crash. Even though the Pinto was a light car, the total aircraft without passengers or fuel was already slightly over the certified gross weight of a Skymaster. However, in addition to poor design and loose parts, the National Transportation Safety Board reported that bad welds were partly responsible for the crash, with the right wing strut attachment failing at a body panel of the Pinto.

2009 Terrafugia

The experimental Transition Proof of Concept's first flight in March 2009 was successful and took place at Plattsburgh International Airport in upstate New York using U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tail number N302TF. First customer delivery, as of March 2009, was originally planned to take approximately 18 months and occur in 2011. On July 1, 2010 it was announced that the Terrafugia Transition had been granted an exemption from the FAA concerning its Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) allowing the Transition to be certified with a take-off weight up to 1,430 pounds (650 kg); the limit matches the MTOW for amphibious light-sport aircraft. The extra 110 pounds (50 kg) granted by the exemption provides more weight allowance for the mandatory road safety features such as airbags and bumpers. Oshkosh July 2008, Proof of Concept Oshkosh July 2011, Production Prototype The proposed design of the production version was made public at AirVenture Oshkosh on July 26, 2010. Aerodynamic changes revealed included a new, optimized airfoil, Hoerner wingtips, and removal of the canard after it was found to have an adverse aerodynamic interaction with the front wheel suspension struts; furthermore, the multipurpose passenger vehicle classification from the NHTSA removed the requirement for a full width bumper that had inspired the original canard design. On November 16, 2010 the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published Terrafugia's petition for a temporary, three-year hardship exemption from four FMVSS standards in the Transition. Terrafugia requested to use lighter weight motorcycle tires instead of RV tires, polycarbonate for the windshield and side windows, basic airbags instead of advanced, dual stage airbags and to not include an electronic stability control system. The NHTSA granted all of the requested exemptions on June 29, 2011, but limited the stability control and airbag exemptions to one year. In June 2011, a delay was announced and Terrafugia's CEO estimated that about another 18 months would be required before first customer delivery in "late 2012", but this was not achieved. December 2011 saw the base price increased to US$279,000 from an initial price of US$194,000. After undergoing drive tests and high-speed taxi tests, the production prototype completed its first flight on March 23, 2012 at the same airport in Plattsburgh, New York that was used for the Proof of Concept's flight testing. The production prototype then made its auto show debut at the 2012 New York International Auto Show in April 2012. In June 2012, Terrafugia announced that the Transition had completed the first of six phases of flight testing. By July, the second phase of testing was underway, expanding the performance envelope in the sky and continuing drive testing on the ground. In January 2013, development continued and the company announced that it might be necessary to construct a third, completely new prototype, due to the large number of modifications required. The modifications to date are said to appear to have improved the previous handling characteristics. By March 2014, the design of the third, updated prototype had progressed to finalization of the major structural members and a statement to investors said that it would be used in final compliance testing for certification before the first customer delivery which was then estimated to take at least another 18 months and occur "in 2015". By April 2014, 12 two-person test flights had taken place; this was the first time that anyone other than Terrafugia's chief test pilot had flown the Transition.As of 22 August 2014, first customer delivery was hoped for in about 18 months "in the second quarter of 2016." In December 2014 the company asked the FAA to allow the Transition to be operated at a gross weight of 1,800 lb (816 kg) instead of the light-sport aircraft maximum weight of 1,320 lb (599 kg) and have a stall speed of 54 kn (100 km/h; 62 mph) instead of the category maximum of 45 kn (83 km/h; 52 mph). The company indicated that the increases were required to allow inclusion of structures to meet FMVSS ground operation safety regulations. The company had previously been granted an increase in gross weight of 110 lb (50 kg) and another LSA aircraft, the ICON A5, was granted a 250 lb (113 kg) exemption to meet FAA spin resistance requirements; this new application would increase the Transition's allowed weight by a total of 480 lb (218 kg) or 36%. During consultations the request for the weight increase was supported by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association. Only a few individuals expressed opposition to the request. The exemption was granted by the FAA on 19 June 2016.In April 2015 the company announced that parts were being built for the third version of the aircraft, and that current planning estimated the first customer delivery after roughly two years. Terrafugia COO/VP of Engineering Kevin Colburn also stated that the company has changed the price estimate from $279K to between $300K and $400K.  In November 2015, the company announced that the third version of the Transition was being tested with a Rotax 912is engine, rather than the Rotax 912ULS that the second prototype had flown with. As of April, 2017, the company's website says "Today, Terrafugia is finalizing production vehicle design and compliance testing in preparation for vehicle deliveries within the next three years."

2014 Aeromobile 3

AeroMobil, a Slovakian company, plans to start selling its creation, the AeroMobil 3.0, in 2017. The company claims on its site that the vehicle "transforms in seconds from an automobile to an airplane" by using "existing infrastructure created for automobiles and planes." The vehicle is gas-powered and has wings that fold, which allows it to be parked like a car, though it is nearly 20 feet long. The company's web site features a video where the AeroMobil 3.0 drives out of a hangar and goes down a highway, sharing the road with regular cars until it arrives at an airstrip. The car then unfolds its wings and takes off from a stretch of grass, rather than a paved tarmac, and flies through the air like any other small airplane. AeroMobil spokesman Stefan Vadocz said his company hasn't nailed down an exact price because it's not ready yet. "The prototype is a work in progress," he said in an email. But he said to expect the price to be several hundreds of thousands of euros, somewhere in between a sports car and a light sports aircraft. Related: Challenger Hellcat production suspended The vehicle seats two people -- the pilot and a passenger - and its single propeller is located to the rear of the plane. The company said the car's top speed on the road is at least 99 mph and while flying is at least 124 mph. It can fly for 435 miles before running out of gas.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How I fixed my Cheerson CX-20 After Mission Planner Grounded Me

After many sessions with Mission Planner we were left with a drone that couldn't fly.
Someone suggested I needed to calibrate my transmitter.
  1. Drone weighted down during the throttle calibration process; no fear of a flyaway with that hunk of rusty tube threaded through the landing skids.
Calibration of the throttle completed and the rotors now seem to throttle up normally but after the session we check and find that the drone is still not able to lift into the air, so where do we go from here.

Our Internet browsing leads to this article which describes a familiar condition.

"CX20 not lifting off Posted by Rob Nielsen on February 20, 2015 at 2:15pm in QuadcoptersView Discussions I just got my CX20 yesterday, I have been reading up on all the details and quirks so I was ready for it's arrival. I did a complete inspection of the interior components (ensuring I had disconnected the magnetometer in the mast). Everything is secure and in it's proper position. all solder connections seem sound. APM and GPS are in place and secure (they are mounting the GPS on the opposite side from the USB now). I reassembled everything and reconnected the Mag. Checked the propellers for balance. By this tiem the stock battery on the stock charger was completely charged. I updated the firmware and made sure it knew where home is in the Mission Planner software, as well as did a full calibration of accelerometers, Mag and transmitter. Propellers on their proper arms. All set to go. Ok time to fly. I take the unit outside. connect the battery, switch on the TX. The system binds as it should. Everything seems good. I have a solid green (Sats visible). I unlock the motors and try to take off. the moment the throttle leaves the full off position, the motors kick in at moderate revs, not enough for liftoff but flattening the grass. The unit leans forward so i pull back on the cyclic (right stick) to compensate. As i rev to max throttle, there is not difference in the RPM of the motors. At 0 throttle it is off, at 1% and up it is at a fast idle, not enough to take off. If i move the cyclic, i can rock it side to side and front to back, but it doesn't have the power to liftoff. similar to and ICE with the choke applied. I have gone through every permutation of the calibration routines from the incorrect factory ones to the ones used by people who fly this unit successfully many times over. I tried the all at once ESC calibration but this seems to not be the APM that works with that method. The only thing I can think of is doing a manual 'one at a time' ESC calibration but at this moment I am waiting for word back from the supplier. I have been waiting for a while for this to show up and now I am waiting with the thing right in front of me. it's pretty frustrating as you can imagine. Great weather and I can't fly it. FPV and telemetry gear on the way for it. ARG! If anyone has some good suggestions, i am VERY eager to try them. Flying the little Walkera and the Syma is getting old.

Suffice to say that I have been having this very same problem and I could not have explained it any better myself. It has been a very frustrating series of experiences that I have been having ever since I became risky soul  by updating firmware for my drone using the Mission Planner Graphic User Interface (GUI). Those sessions left my Cheerson CX 20 with Throttle settings of 80 when the default value should be 1000, rendering it incapable of flight. Several flip-overs later the USB port has been damaged will no longer talk to my computer so you can imagine how excited I was to discover this YouTube video which carefully explained how to re-calibrate the drones throttles using only the controller (transmitter). In my case I didn't even have to remove the blades; I simply slipped a heavy length of steel through the landing skids and carried out the procedure exactly as explained in the video."

The problem still persists, I have tried everything I can think of. I have downloaded the factory settings, firmware and computer drivers but am reluctant to do it since the instruction video is in Chinese.

One more thing to try before I bite the bullet and try blindly to upload these files.

Lasse Lundberg says on February 26, 2015 at 3:05pm : "Your esc's are probably not calibrated, I go into mission planner, in the full list there is a setting that says esc calibrate and you can choose to enter calibration on the next reboot....so I set that, write parameter, disconnect, unhook battery, take props off, move throttle on transmitter to max but keep it off, hook up battery to copter and quickly turn on transmitter. mine will beeb a few extra times than it normally does, i then lower throttle to minimum. disarm, unplug quad, and turn of tx....turn everything back on and see if the motors spin up like they are supposed to, then mount props and see if it will fly?"
The answer of course it would not.

Here is another |Guy who claims he has the answer.........maybe it's worth a try.

Reinstalling Factory Parameters on the Cheerson CX-20/Quanum Nova By: Joey Mirabelli:  "You disconnected while calibrating in Mission Planner and now your CX-20/Nova is stuck like this?

Follow this tutorial to solve the above problem or to just restore to factory settings

STEP 1: Download this file and save it somewhere that is easy to access, like the desktop. We will be loading this into the quadcopter shortly.

In case this link disappears sometime I have the file saved in the cloud for downloading here

STEP 2: Plug a Mini USB (OR power up the telemetry) into the belly where it says "USB" and then plug in the battery.

STEP 3: Plug the other end of the USB into the computer and start up Mission Planner.

STEP 4: Click the connect button on the top right and allow it to connect.

STEP 5: Locate the CONFIG/TUNING tab at the top and then click "Full Parameter List" on the left.

STEP 6: Click "Load from file" on the top right and select the file we downloaded at the beginning of the tutorial.

STEP 7: Select "Write Params" and wait 20 seconds. Then click the disconnect button at the top right of Mission Planner. The quad is likely still beeping at this point.

STEP 8: Once you've clicked "Disconnect" and have waited a few seconds, unplug the USB from the computer, unplug the battery from the quadcopter, then unplug the USB from the quadcopter itself.

STEP 9: Plug the battery back into the quadcopter to confirm that the consant beeping has stopped. DO NOT GO AND FLY YET.

STEP 10: Now you must go through the calibration wizard. This is a crucial step."

Mission Planning in my opinion is a complete disaster. I now wish that I had never heard of the program.....I should have left well enough alone and stuck with the factory settings. 

Mission Planner behaves differently each time I use it; sometimes it will connect and other times it will not, no matter how many times I try. The screens are nothing like what others tell you, for example I could never find options like  "Full Parameter List" or "Load from file" no matter how many times or versions of the program that I tried.

The last time I used Mission Planner these were the two setup pages that were displayed:

 If I were a conspiracy plan believer I might say that this would be a clever plot to render millions of camera drones useless and grounded forever: simply make the default maximum throttle parameter 200 (in my case 80) when it would normally be 1000 and none of them would ever fly again.

The key to fixing the throttle problem is found in this video.

Link to video showing how to back up and install firmware using Mission Planner

Complete guide to CX 20 Calibration and Binding:

Perhaps I was a little harsh with my comments on Mission Planner, I can now find the options mentioned above after discovering the Layout Button which when pressed uncovered the Basic/Advanced option.

Screen shot of Mission Planner screen that shows where options to list all parameters shows up.
THR_MAX at the bottom of the list of parameters was changed from the default of 80 to 1000.
THR_MIN was changed from 250 to 0.

These parameters were written to the drone and arming was tested but failed to unlock the motors.
At this frustrating point it was time for a break to and wait for further inspiration.
I remembered the Arming Check; a series of check boxes requiring a tick to include a particular arming condition. Maybe this is why the drone isn't arming? When I got around to looking for it, it wasn't showing up any more. Perhaps we have to go back to Basic option before the check boxes will show up?
Changing the Advanced Layout back to Basic and re-clicking the CONFIGTUNNG icon Standard Params the page we are looking for suddenly appears. Then we notice that the All box has been selected, which confirms our suspicion on why our drone is not arming. After on-checking the All box and writing the parameters we are anxious to see if the drone will arm and........Surprise surprise! the drone immediately arms and the motors unlock on command.
  The motors respond with full range throttle as they did when it was new. Now we are anxious to put it back together and see how it will fly.

Finally a taste of success after being grounded for over a year; downloading and installing factory parameters proved to be the key to success.

In Conclusion: I now think the flawed parameter files found in Mission Planner are not the result of some conspiracy, but rather the work of a few malicious individuals (who else would create files where maximum throttle is of a lower value than minimum throttle) hoping to lure as many drone newbies into loading their tainted parameter files and sit back and watch the havoc created; in much the same way that hackers operate. Everyone using Mission Planner to update their drone's behavior should be aware that tainted files exist and exercise extreme caution when attempting to load a new parameter file.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake”

Weird But Worked! Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” Flying Pancake

The Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” was an American experimental test aircraft designed by Charles H. Zimmerman and was built as part of the Vought XF5U “Flying Flapjack” World War II United States Navy fighter aircraft program. Both the V-173 and the XF5U featured an rather unorthodox “all-wing” design consisting of flat, somewhat disk-shaped bodies (hence the name) serving as the lifting surface. Two piston engines buried in the body drove propellers located on the leading edge at the wing tips.
The original prototype, designated the V-173, was built of wood and canvas and featured a conventional, fully symmetrical aerofoil section. Designed as a “proof-of-concept” prototype, the initial configuration V-173 was built as a lightweight test model powered by two 80 hp Continental A-80 engines turning F4U Corsair propellers.
These were later replaced by a pair of specially modified 16 ft 6 in three-bladed units. A tall, fixed main undercarriage combined with a small tailwheel gave the aircraft a 22° “nose-high” angle.

Ground testing of the V-173, c. 1942
Ground testing of the V-173, c. 1942

The disc wing design featured a low aspect ratio that overcame the built-in disadvantages of induced drag created at the wingtips with the large propellers actively cancelling the drag-causing tip vortices.
The propellers were arranged to rotate in the opposite direction to the tip vortices, allowing the aircraft to fly with a much smaller wing area. The small wing provided high maneuverability with greater structural strength.
In January 1942, the Bureau of Aeronautics requested a proposal for two prototype aircraft of an experimental version of the V-173, known as the VS-135.
The development version, the Vought XF5U-1, was a larger aircraft with all-metal construction and was almost five times heavier than the first prototype.

Diagram of the complicated powertrain

The first flight of the V-173 was on 23 November 1942 with Vought Chief Test Pilot Boone Guyton at the controls. The aircraft’s most significant problem concerned its complicated gearbox that routed power from the engines to its two long propeller shafts.
The gearbox produced unacceptable amounts of vibration in ground testing, delaying the aircraft’s first test flight for months.

Edited NACA image of of a Vought V-173 ("Flying Flapjack") undergoing testing in a wind tunnel.
NACA image of a Vought V-173 (“Flying Flapjack”) undergoing testing in a wind tunnel.

Flight testing of the V-173 went on through 1942 and 1943 with 190 flights, resulting in reports of UFOs from surprised Connecticut locals.

Maiden flight, 1942

Charles Lindbergh piloted the V-173 during this time and found it surprisingly easy to handle and exhibiting impressive low-speed capabilities.
On one occasion, the V-173 was forced to make an emergency landing on a beach. As the pilot made his final approach, he noticed two bathers directly in his path. The pilot locked the aircraft’s brakes on landing, causing the aircraft to flip over onto its back.
Remarkably, the airframe proved so strong that neither the plane nor the pilot sustained any significant damage.

V-173 upside down on the beach

The developmental V-173 made its last flight 31 March 1947. In 131.8 hours of flying over 190 flights, Zimmerman’s theory of a near-vertical takeoff- and landing-capable fighter had been proven.
The V-173 is now part of the Smithsonian collection at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland.
It was restored at the Vought Aircraft plant in Grand Prairie, Texas, as of April 2012 it is on loan to the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas.