Posts Tagged ‘Coeloptere’

More on the Coeloptere, the Piasecki Airgeep and the Avrocar

December 29, 2015

Last week I posted up a few pieces on three very unusual aircraft, the French VTOL Coeloptere, the Piasecki airgeep – a type of hovercraft designed in the late 1950s, and the flying saucer-like Avrocar. Here are a few more pictures of them I found in The World’s Strangest Aircraft: A Collection of Weird and Wonderful Flying Machines, by Michael Taylor (New York: Barnes & Noble 2000).

The Avrocar

AVrocar 2

Here’s a video of the Avrocar in flight.

The Avrocar wasn’t the first plane that had a circular design. Almost right at the very beginning of aircraft development in the 20th century inventors were experimenting with circular wing designs. In 1911 Cedric Lee and G. Tilghman Richards in Britain brought out a biplane with annular (ring-shaped) wings. This was unsuccessful, but they continued experimenting, and produced a successful glider. This was another biplane, which shared elements of the earlier plane. The upper wing was semi-circular, while the lower wing was ring-shaped. This flew in 1912. Tests in wind tunnels showed that the aircraft with annular wings were more stable, and needed a shorter wingspan than more conventional designs.

The two then produced a monoplane, whose wings were a 22 ft ring. This seated two people, and was driven by a 80 horsepower Gnome engine. This first flew in 1913. Unfortunately, it proved tail heavy, and stalled during flight. Fortunately, the plane and its pilots were saved from death by being caught on nearby telegraph poles. The plane was salvaged, repaired and suitably modified, and returned to the air. It proved very airworthy, and made a series of flights up to the outbreak of the First World War. The two began work building further annular monoplanes, in 1914, but the design was unpopular didn’t catch on.

Lee and Richards’ Annular Wing Monoplane

Annular Wing Monoplane

The Piasecki Airgeep

Piasecki Airgeep 2

The Coeloptere

This is a cutaway diagram of the structure of the French Coeloptere, another annular wing design which unfortunately proved to be unviable.

Coleoptere Drawing

These are only just four of the many weird aircraft that have been designed over the years. They show the immense inventiveness of the aircraft engineers and pioneering inventors, even if some of them proved unworkable in practice.

The AVROcar – the UFO Airplane that Never Made It

December 21, 2015

This is another photo of an experimental plane, like the French Coeloptere, of which great things were confidently predicted, but which was a failure in practise. Its the AVROcar.

AVrocar pic

From what I can remember, this was developed by A.V. Roe Canada for the American airforce. It was disc-shaped, and expected to fly at speeds of over 300 miles an hour at many thousands of feet. In practice, it was a colossal failure. It couldn’t rise more than 8 feet, and it was doing well it did as much as 30 mph.

And obviously, because of its shape, it’s of immense interest to the Ufolks. It’s also the subject of a conspiracy theory. This runs that the plane was really developed to give a false mundane explanation to the UFO phenomenon, and prevent the public realising that they’re alien spacecraft. I’m very sceptical about this theory, but the AVROcar does show that at one point there was an interest in developing ‘flying saucer’ type planes.