Machine Design

Looking Back 03/18/2010

10 YEARS AGO — 2000
Cartercopter damaged in hard landing: The Cartercopter landed hard during flight testing when its pilot failed to lower the collective fast enough after liftoff to retain power for a safe landing, causing the rotor blades to hit the tail assembly. The impact also made the aircraft turn left on roll out, which substantially damaged the right wing. There were no injuries and repairs are expected to take four to six months.

To prevent similar accidents, engineers will add more instrumentation, tie an audio warning to the rotor speed, extend the nose gear for a more-level landing attitude, install dual controls, increase the rotor diameter from 33 to 43 ft, add a next-generation propeller, enlarge the rudder and horizontal stabilizers, and move the air scoop from the bottom of the fuselage to the top.

30 YEARS AGO — 1980
Flight plan for tomorrow – New shapes and materials: Intensive R&D will culminate in a new aircraft piloted by a computer and largely built of plastic composites. Better performance with less weight and lower fuel consumption is the goal for the next generation of military and commercial aircraft. “Stealth” is the driving design factor behind this Grumman Aerospace Corp. aircraft concept. A single engine is mounted on top of the fuselage and the exhaust nozzles are shielded to reduce its infrared signature from the ground. The craft’s radar-absorbent materials would eliminate or “confuse” its radar signature.

50 YEARS AGO — 1960
Giant antenna is a “precision” instrument: Tolerance of 3/16-in. was maintained in building this 84-ft-diameter radar-tracking antenna, built for the U.S. Air Force’s Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. The antenna and its support pedestal are taller than an eight-story building and weigh almost 375,000 lbs. The radar will pick up a hostile missile and electronic computers will determine its path and give the probable target location a 15-min warning. Goodyear Aircraft is building the antennas and 140-ft plastic radomes for Radio Corp. of America, prime contractor for the program.

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