Wednesday, April 30, 2008

True Point to Point Aviation

DayJet of Boca Raton, Florida has been in operation since October of last year, and has recently announced service to Alabama and Georgia as well as their home state of Florida. Their business is to use Very Light Jets (VLJs) to transport passengers from and to numerous airports in its coverage area, including airports not well serviced by larger commercial airplanes. I wish them the best with their venture.

But, as I've pointed out in earlier posts, aviation passengers really would want just about any and all locations to be departure and arrival points, not just airports. VLJs, like all fixed wing airplanes, need runways and that decidedly limits where they can take off and where they can land. True point to point commuting can only happen with a fixed wing VTOL (vertical take off and landing) airplane, which not only needs very small vertipads for points of origin and points of destination, like a helicopter, but also can fly at speeds of 300 knots or more.

Dayjet currently and other companies in the next year or so provide a valuable service to anyone who finds using the larger airlines for traveling less than 1000 miles is often counterproductive and inconvenient. But, why not expand that service to its full potential? I've worked on a VTOL airplane for a number of years, called the Arc Wing VTOL airplane. It will be almost as fast as a VLJ, more economical because it uses propellers instead of jets, and will be almost unlimited in its ability to service any location. And like a VLJ, but unlike a helicopter, it is aerodynamic and therefore easier to land if engine problems arise.

The in-depth story of this airplane is provided here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What Ever Happened to the Air Cushion Vehicle?

I was one of the pioneers of air cushion technology in the late 1950s and I met or knew many of the other founders of what we hoped then was a technology with unlimited promise. When I look around I am more than surprised by how limited is the use of ACVs today. The World Hovercraft Organization, with its Hoverworld Insider newsletter presents many of the craft being sold and used worldwide. It amazes me how this technology is limited to a few niches, and cannot even begin to compare in popularity with boats. How is it possible that instead of revolutionizing water and land travel, ACVs are such a small business?

Well, for one thing, ACVs are challenging to control. A frictionless craft is at the mercy of many elements, including wind and slope. I experienced first hand the frustration of getting these craft to precisely obey the driver. It took me a number of years and a number of full scale model craft before I could finally tame the wild ACV beast. My Gimbal Fan technology makes it possible for these vehicles to navigate as they should. On water and amphibious surfaces, Gimbal Fan ACVs maneuver effectively and predictably. Such craft really could challenge boats for many uses.

We pioneers of the technology also expected to revolutionize land transportation, too. The initial coverage of my work by Popular Science in 1959 talked about “cars without wheels”. It is doubtful that anyone today uses an ACV for land transportation. It was not until I developed my Aeroduct System of ground transportation, with ACVs in guideways, that I felt that air cushion technology really could replace the car. Even my early work showed me how ACVs liked being confined in grooves, and over time I conceived the Aeroduct System and developed a working prototype of this System. With wheel based transportation having any number of deficiencies, I feel that a car without wheels is exactly what is needed now and in the future.

I've spent 50 years in the air cushion craft business, and so far, it is not a business that has thrived. But the potential is still there and I feel I've found the ways for this technology to live up to all its promise.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Traffic Trauma

For almost all people living in urban and suburban areas, traffic congestion is always with us. The blog of the LA Times dealing with traffic in the LA area is appropriately called the "Bottleneck Blog". It is almost unnecessary to cite statistics about snarled traffic, big delays, and the consequent frustration of driving in most metropolitan USA areas, and in every other country of the world. Just about everyone experiences this reality firsthand, and knows that they themselves are part of the statistics.

Does it have to be this way? No. The wheel based transportation system of cars and trucks is not the only way for people to get around. My years of work on air cushion technology led me to devise a ground transportation system that will work without congestion. I call it the Aeroduct System. Briefly, it consists of air cushion vehicles traveling at high speed in tubes (aeroducts) in a completely automated fashion. These tubes can be elevated to eliminate the congestion - and danger - of travel on ground level. There are numerous other benefits to this technology which I will discuss from time to time.

Most people are resigned to long traffic delays because the current car/truck/paved road method of travel cannot possibly handle the traffic we have now, let alone that which will be coming in the future. We must look at an alternative if we really want to surmount this big drag of modern life. I refer you here to the relevant part of the Aeromobile website for more information on this essential technology.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Are VLJ’s the solution for General Aviation?

The recent news about the bankruptcy and subsequent sale of Very Light Jet (VLJ) manufacturer Adam Aircraft (as reported in the Denver Post), brings to mind the difficulties of making any aviation business a success. Why might it be hard to make a general aviation business prosper? Well, maybe we are making and selling the wrong kind of aircraft.

Why should planes go from airport to airport when people really want to go from where they currently are to their real destination? VLJ’s are just faster ways of traveling from one airport to another airport. But, who really wants to be limited in their travel to that? What people would really want if they had the choice is a way to fly directly and quickly from one destination to another.

My earliest inventive work concerned making a aircraft that could take off and land vertically - a VTOL airplane. That form of craft can fly fast and yet is not limited to taking off and landing at airports. This plane combines the vertical capabilities of a helicopter with the speed and aerodynamic qualities of a fixed wing plane. As such, it travels much faster and also more cheaply than helicopters - which are much slower than fixed wing planes - and it requires only small Vertipads for places of origin and destination. You can read more about this airplane, which I call the Arc Wing VTOL here.

And, I’ll talking more about this in other blog posts.

Why I write

For over 50 years, I have seen ways to make transportation of all kinds better, and have invented technologies to improve the way we travel by air, by land and by water. Unfortunately, many of the same limitations that plagued mobility then still remain, and are by and large much worse.

I am writing this blog to make people aware that there are solutions to gridlock, traffic fatalities, limited aviation options, and the frustration and inconvenience faced with every mode of “modern” transportation. These frustrations have been around so long that people think there are no alternatives. But, there are, and I want to make you aware of them. That’s why I have a website:, and why I am writing this blog.