Bladerider

The design altitude for the testbed is 10 feet at the current flight weight. Unfortunately off-the-shelf blades won’t get you there. The upside; we have dialed-in the necessary power and have set off designing blades that will.

Igor Sikorsky - father of the modern helicopter

Persistence in lieu of Genius

We came close to quitting the project during the summer of ‘09 while trying to resolve control issues in ground effect.  A repetitive grind of field-tests in heat and dirt; hastily fab’ed set-ups of aircraft spruce and gorilla glue; and correlating computer models - before trying again. (this video was taken in November of that year, as we were clearing the demons from our shop)

The end result: knowing what doesn’t work; a just awarded patent for what does, and a pretty fantastic ride. 

Deconstructed Vertical Flight
We believe we have hit our minimum (finally). Reliable lift on 16 moving parts - all derived from autos and motorcycles, readily serviceable just about anywhere in the world.
That includes the fans and engine (exc. bearings).

Deconstructed Vertical Flight

We believe we have hit our minimum (finally). Reliable lift on 16 moving parts - all derived from autos and motorcycles, readily serviceable just about anywhere in the world.

That includes the fans and engine (exc. bearings).

Future Duster
Looper joins the ranks of Avatar and Star Wars as a technically visionary film - however down to earth.
The future of aerial application is robotic.

Future Duster

Looper joins the ranks of Avatar and Star Wars as a technically visionary film - however down to earth.

The future of aerial application is robotic.

Our gratitude to the people at Honda Motor Co. for including us among the innovators they like in their 2013 Honda Civic campaign. 

Our gratitude to the people at Honda Motor Co. for including us among the innovators they like in their 2013 Honda Civic campaign. 

Out & Up
Shown just before first flight, the next-gen vehicle has taken to the air for check-out prior to final integration.

Out & Up

Shown just before first flight, the next-gen vehicle has taken to the air for check-out prior to final integration.

Two times a helicopter
Piasecki’s -59 series aircraft proved a promising configuration that was never brought to fruition.
By the early 1960’s evolved models attained speeds of 75 mph, had flown indoors, within trees and under bridges. “While the Airgeep would normally operate close to the ground, it was capable of flying to several thousand feet, proving to be stable in flight.” These vehicles demonstrated the viability of the tandem-duct platform.
Unfortunately, the aircraft possessed the complex aero-mechanics of a helicopter - repeated twice. They utilized the same controls as a helicopter, requiring the same skills to fly, with the difficulty compounded by the intent of low altitude flight. “…the Army decided that the “Flying Jeep concept [was] unsuitable for the modern battlefield”, and concentrated on the development of conventional helicopters.” 

Two times a helicopter

Piasecki’s -59 series aircraft proved a promising configuration that was never brought to fruition.

By the early 1960’s evolved models attained speeds of 75 mph, had flown indoors, within trees and under bridges. “While the Airgeep would normally operate close to the ground, it was capable of flying to several thousand feet, proving to be stable in flight.” These vehicles demonstrated the viability of the tandem-duct platform.

Unfortunately, the aircraft possessed the complex aero-mechanics of a helicopter - repeated twice. They utilized the same controls as a helicopter, requiring the same skills to fly, with the difficulty compounded by the intent of low altitude flight. “…the Army decided that the “Flying Jeep concept [was] unsuitable for the modern battlefield”, and concentrated on the development of conventional helicopters.” 

Next Up
Shortly out of the “hangar” is a more capable version of the test-bed vehicle. Among the many upgrades, the two most visible are the landing gear and MotoGP inspired pilot position.
A much more capable vehicle, it has been set up specifically to develop three new flight technologies.

Next Up

Shortly out of the “hangar” is a more capable version of the test-bed vehicle. Among the many upgrades, the two most visible are the landing gear and MotoGP inspired pilot position.

A much more capable vehicle, it has been set up specifically to develop three new flight technologies.

Low Lap on a Lake Bed

On this last flight of the test-bed before rework, the favorable downwash of ducted fans is clearly visible. Dust and debris are pushed away from the pilot, even while flying close to the ground. 

The ducts prevent tip vortices from forming and isolate the fans from the external flow field. The latter quality permits unperturbed flight around obstacles and when transitioning indoors.

In contrast, the recirculating flow of open rotors has earned it a name, and the bane of pilots: “helicopter brownout” in the desert and “helicopter whiteout” in snow.

Helicopter Brownout
The result of recirculating flow around the tips of all open rotors, brownout applies to tilt-rotors as well.

Helicopter Brownout

The result of recirculating flow around the tips of all open rotors, brownout applies to tilt-rotors as well.

not actual sound

(November 2011)

Expanding the Envelope

Or pilot training?

The symbiotic relationship between vehicle and rider is similar to a bicycle - each dependent on one another for controlled, stable flight.

The benefit is simplicity; no artificial stabilization or software, and the pilot feels naturally in command with little prior training.

(November 2011)

Thrust Augmentation and Control of a Ducted-Fan VTOL Air-Vehicle
Presented at the Future Vertical Lift Conference in January of this year, the technical paper explaining the aerodynamic control of the vehicle has been released by the American Helicopter Society.
A description of the presentation and video is provided at the link below.

Thrust Augmentation and Control of a Ducted-Fan VTOL Air-Vehicle

Presented at the Future Vertical Lift Conference in January of this year, the technical paper explaining the aerodynamic control of the vehicle has been released by the American Helicopter Society.

A description of the presentation and video is provided at the link below.

Un-Coupled

Control coupling occurs when a maneuver about one axis is joined by an unwanted rotation about another. An airplane with too much dihedral will roll when commanded to yaw. A helicopter will yaw when pulling collective.

"High-pilot workload" is the euphemism used to describe an aircraft whose control coupling is particularly onerous.

The control system on the test-bed minimizes coupling. A command to pitch nose-up does not induce roll or yaw. No bucking, no spinning. Not very challenging.

(October 2011)