Sign in to follow this  
Marshall

Flying Cars

Recommended Posts

Flying cars are back in the new (somewhat) so here is a look back in an article from HistoricWings.com

CurtissAutoplane-07-600x260.jpg
 
MAY
7
2017
THE CURTISS AUTOPLANE
POSTED BY HW ON 07 MAY 2017 / 2 COMMENTS
 

Published on May 7, 2017
By Thomas Van Hare

“At the aero show held at New York early this year there was exhibited a Curtiss triplane, which aroused the greatest interest owing to the decidedly novel lines on which it was constructed. The Curtiss Autoplane as it was called was really a motor car with wings.”  So began the description in the Royal Aero Club’s magazine, Flight.   This was the world’s first “roadable plane”, as they are known nowadays — the aeronautical dream of combining a car with an airplane.   It happened 100 years ago in 1917.

 

A rare photograph of the Curtiss Autoplane on display at the Pan American Aeronautical Exposition in February 1917.

A rare photograph of the Curtiss Autoplane on display at the Pan American Aeronautical Exposition in February 1917.

Even if the idea of a flying car is a century old, no manufacturer has yet made it practical.  The attraction is obvious — having flown hundreds of miles, the aviator finds herself in a distant town.  Airports, however, are almost always well outside of the city limits.  How to get downtown for the proverbial “$100 hamburger”?  Aircraft designers have long dreamed of landing, taxiing in, and then dropping off the wings, to transform the fuselage into an automobile.  With that, you drive downtown for a bit of shopping, lunch, or perhaps a business meeting.

 

Technical drawing of the Custiss Autoplane, from February 18, 1917, by Glenn Curtiss.

Technical drawing of the Custiss Autoplane, from February 18, 1917, by Glenn Curtiss.

What sounds good as an idea, however, doesn’t work out in practice.  Cars are not held to the same regulatory standards as airplanes and making the two compatible is deeply challenging.  Airplanes must be exceedingly lightweight, while cars must be made stronger to keep the passengers safe from possible accidents on the road.  Cars are designed to travel on four wheels for tens of thousands of miles, while airplane wheels and landing gear only require high speed touchdowns; the tires themselves are replaced after a few hundred landings because they wear out fast.  The drive system to power a propeller does not easily convert into a system to turn the tires and accelerate the car along without a lot of gearing and added weight.  The aerodynamics of the two are vastly different — even the speeds that they are expected to travel require different angles, fairings, and contours.

One hundred years ago, the Royal Aero Club’s magazine, Flight, implicitly recognized these issues.  The regulatory free zone that prevailed in 1917 was less a challenge, however, and many saw the merit in the idea.  The writers related the public suspicion with which the design was viewed, saying, “…although there were those who, at the time of the show, were inclined to smile and regard the machine as something of a joke on the part of the Curtiss firm, or at most a machine built solely for the purpose of creating a sensation at shows and in processions, a brief consideration will suffice to show that the machine, in spite of unconventional design, is not the freak aerodynamically some critics suggest.”

 

Technical drawing showing the top view and wing plan of the Curtiss Autoplane.

Technical drawing showing the top view and wing plan of the Curtiss Autoplane.

At least Flight respected the effort and went to great lengths to detail the key design features:  “The engine, a 1oo h.p. Curtiss, is mounted in front under a bonnet, motor car fashion, and is provided with the ordinary starting handle projecting through the radiator in the nose.  A four wheeled under carriage is fitted, the front wheels of which are connected up to the controls in such a manner as to allow of steering the machine on the ground at low speeds.  Inside the limousine body are three seats, the pilot’s in front, and two passenger seats side by side further back.  The upper plane is attached to a cabane resting on the roof of the body, while the two lower planes, the bottom one of which is of shorter span than the other two, are attached to the body.  The propeller is mounted approximately on a level with the centre wing, and is driven through a long shaft from the engine.  In addition to the rear elevator which, with the other tail units, is mounted on two booms, there is a small front elevator projecting out from the engine bonnet, giving the impression of mud guards.”

 

Internal layout and seating, highlighted by the cabin design.  From Glenn Curtiss' patent application of February 1917.

Internal layout and seating, highlighted by the cabin design. From Glenn Curtiss’ patent application of February 1917.

Indeed, while the design sounded promising as written, the key issue proved to be aerodynamics.  Just how to achieve efficiency when the fuselage, rather than being a narrow and arrow-shaped balancing act, to which attached the wings, the engine and the tail, was a wide, four-wheeled car?

To answer that question, Flight continued with its report:  “At first sight it would appear that the head resistance would be somewhat excessive, but owing to the shape of the body, a section through a plane on level with the bottom of the windows would approximate very closely to a stream line section, so that the real resistance may probably be found to be a good deal less than one would at first expect.  Placed where it is, the propeller should coincide pretty well with the centre of resistance, as it must be remembered that the upper wing carries a greater load than the other two, and that, although the resistance of the body is acting fairly low down, the bottom plane is of short span and offers but little resistance.”

The overriding sense one has when reading the article is that the writers felt that even the greatest aerodynamic challenges could be overcome.  Common sense, thoughtful design, and careful fairing would reduce wind resistance and make the design aerodynamically sound.  The use of a pusher propeller helped increase the efficiency of lift generation from the wing.

 

Internal layout showing drive system and the complex belts involved to convert propeller torque to wheel torque.

Internal layout showing drive system and the complex belts involved to convert propeller torque to wheel torque.

Lacking flight test data or the opportunity to fly the machine themselves, the writers at Flight reverted to comparison to tease out further issues:  “The machine would have a very low centre of gravity, certainly, but this has not proved detrimental to good flying in such machines as the Morane parasol, and the centre of side area also appears to be quite low in comparison with the centre of lift of the three wings.  A constructional feature which could, we think, be improved upon is the method of mounting the tail planes, which does not impress one as being any too strong.  Otherwise the machine appears to us to promise very well in many respects, and the Curtiss firm are to be congratulated on being first to produce what really seems to be the first attempt at the comfortable enclosed small machine of the future.”

 

Close-up of the an illustration of the Curtiss Autoplane in a report from the New York Times, February 13, 1917.  Artist unknown.

Close-up of the an illustration of the Curtiss Autoplane in a report from the New York Times, February 13, 1917. Artist unknown.

The answers that the Curtiss representatives themselves gave at the show when asked, however, were less than compelling.  As a result, the reporters from Flight struggled to remain optimistic given the lack of flight date.  They believed in the overall promise of a flying car, but left the show uncertain if the machine had even flown at all:  “At the moment we have not been able to ascertain whether or not the machine has been flown, but although alterations and improvements are still to be expected, it does appear to us that this machine is a step in the right direction.  For a three seater the power does not impress one as being quite sufficient, but it should not be a matter of great difficulty to install a more powerful engine, if that should be found advisable, which we fancy will be the case.”

The article ended, “To be concluded.”

Likewise, the New York Times covered the Exposition and urged its readers to get to the show before closing.  Fancifully, they called the Autoplane, the “Curtiss Aerial Limousine”.  Their reporting called the design the talk of the entire show:  “More wonderful than the Rodman Wanamaker Flying Boat “AMERICA”, more interesting than the huge military planes is this unique and novel product of the inventive genius of Glenn H. Curtiss, — The Curtiss ‘Aerial Limousine.’  Since its unveiling on Thursday night at the Aero Show it has been the talk of New York.  Epoch making in its conception and design, this wonderful aeroplane is a veritable drawing room on wings, a modern magic couch which can actually whisk you away with the speed of the wind.  We urge you to see it before the Show closes next Thursday.”

 

The Curtiss Autoplane at the hangar prior at the time of its flight testing.  Source:  P.Bowers - Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947; Putnam.

The Curtiss Autoplane at the hangar prior at the time of its flight testing. Source: P.Bowers – Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947; Putnam.

As it happened, despite best hopes of Flight and breathless reporting of the New York Times, the Curtiss Autoplane never flew.  It did lift off the ground for short distances in testing, but apparently never made it out of ground effect.  True flight proved impossible.  More power was needed given the weight and poor aerodynamics of the fuselage and limited wing area.  Even stacked three-high as a tri-plane design, the wings proved insufficient in lift, even if they were a design borrowed from the proven Curtiss Model L trainer.   A reliable Curtiss OXX water-cooled V8 engine was employed — boasting 100 hp.  This proved insufficient to get the Autoplane going fast enough to fly.

The further design work that the writers at Flight hoped would result never happened either.  A couple of months after the Pan-American Aeronautical Exposition, where the design was first exhibited, the United States entered the Great War in Europe — this was World War I.  Suddenly the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Co. found themselves busy with work from the US Army.  They abandoned the effort to produce the Autoplane and proceeded with design work on what would become the company’s signature airplane — the Curtiss Jenny.

Nonetheless, at the time of the aeronautical show where the Autoplane was first exhibited, Glenn Curtiss filed a patent covering the design.  Fifteen separate claims were made, each an individual innovation of its own right, and when combined together, it claimed the invention of the combination of the airplane and car for all time.  The patent, filed on February 14, 1917, was awarded slightly more than two years later on February 18, 1919, entitled, “Autoplane. US 1294413 A”.

 

The EHang 184, a manned UAV that debuted at CES in January 2015.

The EHang 184, a manned UAV that debuted at CES in January 2015.  Photo Credit:  EHang

Today, the idea of the “Flying Car” is again seen as part of a promising future that will free mankind from rush hour traffic.  Rather than a conventional airplane-like design, however, the future appears to be more a quadcopter or other helicopter design.  Perhaps the biggest challenge impeding the future of “Flying Cars”, however, won’t be technology, but rather piloting skill.  On the other hand, with driverless cars and trucks now becoming the norm, is it all that unlikely that the pilotless “Flying Car” is that far in the future?

One promising design (pictured above) is the EHang 184, made not by airplane firm or an auto company, but by a proven radio-controlled model drone company.  EHang describes their deisgn in a press release from January 2015 as, “the world’s first electric, personal Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) that will achieve humanity’s long-standing dream of easy, everyday flight for short-to-medium distances.”

Yes, that’s right — electric.  Gasoline-powered engines, after all, are so 20th Century.  If he were alive today, Glenn Curtiss would be amazed, perhaps even as much as we are.

 

2 COMMENTS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cars and airplanes are completely different things.  Can you design a combination car/airplane?  Yes, of course, but there are always huge compromises required - it's either a crappy car or a crappy airplane.  Why would you put up with those compromises when you could arrange for a $20/day rental car or an Uber at you destination airport?  The fuel savings and difference in initial cost from buying a proper airplane will pay for a lifetime of car rentals so, aside from bragging rights, it's fools errand. Always has been, always will be - falls into the same category as boat/car combinations and hammer/pliers combinations.

 

Edited by seeker
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, seeker said:

Cars and airplanes are completely different things.  Can you design a combination car/airplane?  Yes, of course, but there are always huge compromises required - it's either a crappy car or a crappy airplane.  Why would you put up with those compromises when you could arrange for a $20/day rental car or an Uber at you destination airport?  The fuel savings and difference in initial cost from buying a proper airplane will pay for a lifetime of car rentals so, aside from bragging rights, it's fools errand. Always has been, always will be - falls into the same category as boat/car combinations and hammer/pliers combinations.

 

Or owning a big ass , water ski boat in any province that has winter. 😀

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Marshall said:

Or owning a big ass , water ski boat in any province that has winter. 😀

Nope, not a fair comparison.  Many people own vacation properties that they only use for a couple of weeks per year - not worth it in my estimation but I won't subject others to my value system.  A ski boat might only get used for a few months a year but provide great pleasure while a car/airplane fails on both ends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Marshall said:

Or owning a big ass , water ski boat in any province that has winter

Haaaaaa 😂..that was aimed at me wasn't it ??? 🤣

I have a big ass boat but you can't  water ski behind it...Max speed is 8Kts........but I do have a centre console tender with a 60HP on the back that you can ski behind ...................................  ....and I am on/with my boats close to 5 months ....so there !!! 🤩

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Kip Powick said:

Haaaaaa 😂..that was aimed at me wasn't it ??? 🤣

I have a big ass boat but you can't  water ski behind it...Max speed is 8Kts........but I do have a centre console tender with a 60HP on the back that you can ski behind ...................................  ....and I am on/with my boats close to 5 months ....so there !!! 🤩

and in YVR you could likely use a personal car/plane for 10 months of the year.......  hmmmmm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, Marshall said:

and in YVR you could likely use a personal car/plane for 10 months of the year.......  hmmmmm

?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, seeker said:

?

weather wise/ 

when I lived in yvr  that I rode my Shadow 24/7 .  except for a couple of weeks. Rain suit included. I would imagine a personal car/plane would be just as usable.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Marshall, you gotta go back and actually read the posts above - your replies make no sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, seeker said:

Marshall, you gotta go back and actually read the posts above - your replies make no sense.

Quote

A ski boat might only get used for a few months a year but provide great pleasure while a car/airplane fails on both ends.

That of course is in your opinion, for me the car/airplane would provide much more pleasure than a ski boat

Edited by Marshall
edited to include sentence that was left off my original post

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Marshall said:

That of course is in your opinion, for me the car/airplane would provide much more pleasure than a ski boat

Yes, of course, simply my opinion.  The point I'm trying to make (not very successfully it seems)  is that while an airplane, ski boat, jet-ski, car, 4-wheeler, etc might provide lots of pleasure any combination of 2 completely different tools or devices satisfies no-one.  These are all bad ideas. First one; crappy boat, crappy car.  Second one; crappy airplane, crappy car.  You get the idea.

image.png.ffbc924fef798532466f8402c3bc0cf3.png

image.thumb.png.70d73d9f9b91ed84dfbcaeb08904a390.png

 

image.thumb.png.3f542df04771c85ffafaad261ae21850.png

 

image.thumb.png.16240a7fb71e51d94c2cb80753c266a3.png

 

image.thumb.png.ed1a08b2e819d2c461dc7878068ef6f9.png

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It also depends on your definition of "crappy"

I would think that if you were the type of person that desired a Plane/Car then having one would satisfy you.  You would understand that the car is functional but is not a Bently, and the plane is functional but not a Challenger.

I would think that the expectation would be that the car portion is functional as to its purpose and the airplane part is functional as to its purpose.  Expecting a perfect plane or perfect car is irrational but expecting a perfect combination (compromise) is not.

Can I drive it on the road?  YEP

Does it fly? YEP

Criteria met Take my money

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, boestar said:

It also depends on your definition of "crappy"

I would think that if you were the type of person that desired a Plane/Car then having one would satisfy you.  You would understand that the car is functional but is not a Bently, and the plane is functional but not a Challenger.

I would think that the expectation would be that the car portion is functional as to its purpose and the airplane part is functional as to its purpose.  Expecting a perfect plane or perfect car is irrational but expecting a perfect combination (compromise) is not.

Can I drive it on the road?  YEP

Does it fly? YEP

Criteria met Take my money

As a car it would be the worst car on the road - by far.  Let's crash one according to NHTSA standards and see how it fares.  I think that counts as crappy.  As an airplane it would be the worst airplane in the sky.  Performance figures are hard to come by but I think it's safe to say that carrying the deadweight of the transmission alone would destroy any concept of efficiency.  Insurance, federal vehicle standards, aircraft certification standards, maintenance requirements - none of these are mentioned (or are but just in passing).  I think you'd find that the "flying car" feasibility fails on every level except one - bragging rights.

You say, it's not a Bentley or a Challenger - well, clearly, but do you think it would come anywhere near the performance of a 50s era Cessna or a 70s era Chevette?  Yes, it's possible to make a flying car.  Take your money?  Sure, how about this one, it's only $1.6 million US:

image.thumb.png.b2116da111e41944c599369a62792da1.pngimage.thumb.png.b2116da111e41944c599369a62792da1.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Point is I am not looking for the best car on the road or the best plane in the sky I am looking for the best flying car.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, boestar said:

Point is I am not looking for the best car on the road or the best plane in the sky I am looking for the best flying car.

Awesome.  Here's the form to pre-order:   https://www.aeromobil.com/form/  

Looking forward to hearing from you after you buy it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not a flying car per-say but .......

Transport’s future is now in California

The goal is to get cars off road by offering better alternatives, Diane Francis writes.

  • Calgary Herald
  • 24 Jan 2020
  •  

img?regionKey=g3nb4QfHBd93gqZG%2fZI%2fSA%3d%3dTOMOHIRO OHSUMI/BLOOMBERG FILES The transition to autonomous or self-driving cars is gathering speed, and flight and rail are on their way to being transformed. Uber Air plans to launch its flying taxi service in 2023 in Los Angeles, Dallas and Melbourne. The EVTOLS, or electrically powered vertical take-off and landing drones, will make short-haul flights at low altitudes.

LOS ANGELES This city sprawls across five counties with an exploding population of 14 million. Its roads are now so choked that this fall Uber, Lyft and taxis were banned from picking up people at its crowded airport. Now arriving passengers must wait, then board shuttle buses to go to remote parking lots to find rides.

So it’s hardly surprising that California is where 22nd century transportation modes are being invented. And those of us at this week’s high-level Abundance360 conference hosted by tech pioneer (and a friend) Peter Diamandis learned that the “robots” that will transport us and everything are coming in a handful of years.

The transition to autonomous or self-driving cars gathers speed. They are permitted in 29 states, with testing permits, while Tesla and others offer partial self-driving features with drivers onboard. But by the end of 2020, Elon Musk will roll out a fully automated version of Tesla which, he claims, will prove that such cars are three to four times safer than human drivers.

With trust in the tech, adoption will leap. Cars or drones on wheels will drive the elderly to doctor’s appointments or children to school or commuters to work while they work or watch television or sleep.

Besides that, flight and rail will also be transformed. Uber Air is testing its flying taxi service in San Diego and will launch services in 2023 in Los Angeles, Dallas and Melbourne. Most important, the FAA, or Federal Aviation Administration, has given a theoretical green light for these low-altitude commuter services along selected air routes, pending trials.

Uber will offer short-haul flights at low altitudes between sky ports that will be built or added on to existing rooftops, vacant parking lots, stadiums, or highway interchanges. Uber plans to take cars off the road and keep costs low by “batching” passengers. People will be picked up and ride-share in vehicles to a sky port for departure, then fly and ride-share from the sky port to their work destinations. The process will be reversed at the end of the workday.

“These are not helicopters, which are unsafe, noisy and expensive,” said Nikhil Goel, head of product development at Aviation Uber. They are EVTOLS, or electrically powered vertical take-off and landing drones, with noise-proof rotors that allow them to vertically take off, then fly between sky ports.

“A helicopter cost is $10 per mile,” he said, “but with batching (of passengers) to and from sky ports we can get that cost down to $1.50 per mile.”

The ultimate goal is to get cars off the road by making it faster and cheaper to fly than to own a car to commute. Last year, billions were raised for development by various companies and the first one was listed on Nasdaq. Joint ventures between flying car companies like Uber and Joby and giant automakers like Hyundai and Toyota are moving quickly.

“It’s two hours from JFK Airport to Manhattan by car and less than 10 minutes flying,” said Goel.

Such aircraft will also be able to carry cargo and to deliver emergency supplies or ambulance services quickly.

Another Los Angeles pioneer is Virgin Hyperloop One, which will revolutionize railways by moving passengers and freight through concrete tunnels at the speed of aircraft.

Virgin’s CTO Josh Giegel said the company is working on nine projects and 400 test pilots, and expects several lines to be built this decade. These rail systems will link cities, and could be tunnelled, or built above ground along existing highway medians.

“Hyperloop would turn cities into stops,” said Giegel. “For instance, Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh would be 30 minutes apart.”

These companies will allow cities to reach their goal of getting cars off the road this decade. The only obstacle in their path will be political will and foresight.

Hyperloop would turn cities into stops. For instance, Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh would be 30 minutes apart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds good but I have some questions;

1).  What Alien technology did they steal from Area 51 that allows the production of "noise-proof" rotors?  My neighbour has a small drone that he uses for taking pictures (and annoying me) - I'll buy him a set of those rotors because the ones he has now are far from noise-proof.

2).  What proof can they offer that their VTOL with 4, 6, or 8 electric rotors is safer than a helicopter?

3).  Why do people keep falling for the Hyperloop scam?

 https://youtu.be/vwLnyzyybYs

https://youtu.be/vwLnyzyybYs

Edited by seeker
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, seeker said:

).  Why do people keep falling for the Hyperloop scam?

Brilliant video but unfortunately the gullible keep pouring in the $$$ and the poor students are sucked into a nonsensical quest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The fact is that when is comes to grammar, there'a right way and a wrong way.  You can use it the wrong way and suffer the abuse from those who know the right way while trying to defend yourself using memes, or take the time to find the right way before you hit the "submit" button - your choice.

BTW, a meme - no matter how funny - does not balance the original grammatical offense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, seeker said:

The fact is that when is comes to grammar, there'a right way and a wrong way.  You can use it the wrong way and suffer the abuse from those who know the right way while trying to defend yourself using memes, or take the time to find the right way before you hit the "submit" button - your choice.

BTW, a meme - no matter how funny - does not balance the original grammatical offense.

So sorry you think so....  not really......😀 My meaning was clear but my spelling was off.    

Quote

Per se is a Latin phrase literally meaning "by itself.

 

29 minutes ago, seeker said:

The fact is that when is comes to grammar, there'a right way and a wrong way.  You can use it the wrong way and suffer the abuse from those who know the right way while trying to defend yourself using memes, or take the time to find the right way before you hit the "submit" button - your choice.

BTW, a meme - no matter how funny - does not balance the original grammatical offense.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It doesn't bother me - just saying that if a person posts something with a grammatical error and gets corrected it's pointless to try to defend the original post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this