Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Safe Flying, Part II

In this entry, I'm continuing my comments on the USA Today August 18th article by Chris Woodyard and Sharon Silke Carty titled "Inventors are sure cars can fly". The inventors featured in the story all see the convenience of travel through the air. As the authors state: "Of all those stuck stewing in traffic gridlock, who hasn't imagined soaring Jetsons-style directly to a destination?".

In Part I of my response, I give my thoughts on "roadable aircraft" and "flying cars", and how these vehicles fall short of safety for use by most people as a means of transportation. But the idea of traveling off the ground has its obvious merits: no paving over of green space; no collisions between vehicles and pedestrians or animals; much increased capacity. I have presented before my Arc Wing VTOL airplane as the ideal form of safe air transportation, but I don't envision it as a personal flying car. Piloting any aircraft is far more challenging than driving an automobile, which has its own requirements of age, sobriety, alertness and training.

What I propose for general transportation in my Aeroduct System. It too is off the ground, consisting of elevated guideways that can be stacked vertically. The vehicles in these guideways glide on a cushion of air. In other words, these craft fly at a very low altitude of perhap six inches [15.2 cm]. Being confined in the groove, they can be easily automated and thereby available to anyone, regardless of age, sobriety, alertness or training. This is really the safest form of flying, many times safer than any aircraft available today or any time in the future. The bane of pilots, wind, thunderstorms, snow, ice, rain, do not deter the Aeroduct vehicles from making their appointed rounds. And yet the goal of removing transportation from ground level, with all the accompanying advantages that brings, is met. A sketch of an vehicle in an elevated Aeroduct is below, as is a photo of a prototype in action.

I propose, then, aircraft at low altitude in elevated guideways as the best form of a "flying car" (or perhaps "non-road aircraft") possible. This Aeroduct System has many other advantages, among which are that it allows going "directly to a destination", the very understandable goal stated in the USA Today story. I have related all the desirable characteristics of the Aeroduct System in other blog entries and on the website of my company. I invite you, whether or not you have any interest at all in aviation, to look into this very safe, very advantageous form of flying suitable for everyone.

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