COMING: Rooftop Airports (Oct, 1956)

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COMING: Rooftop Airports

Runway-less air terminals, VTOL’s will greet air travelers of 1965.

STRANGE-looking craft that take off and land on rooftop airports, operate via automatic flight instruments and controlled by electronic traffic cops are some of the things in store for the air traveler of 1965. Dream stuff? Not according to Civil Aeronautics Administration experts who made the above predictions. Many such planes are already working models or on drawing boards. Limited runway space will mean more and more vertical takeoff and land (VTOL) ships in the air. Passenger planes will have tilting wings and power plants on a horizontal body and will rise and land like helicopters. Skyscraper roofs will be the “fields” for the aircraft of tomorrow.

6 comments
  1. Nomen Nescio says: January 3, 20121:25 pm

    and the tiltrotor VTOL principle finally entered service in 2007, with the V-22 osprey. which has a track record such that i wouldn’t fly on one to save my life, personally. i don’t really think this’ll become a common thing in civil aviation any time soon, no.

  2. Kosher Ham says: January 3, 20123:59 pm

    For V/STOL to work, I think that we have to abandon air vehicle technologies and start thinking antigrav and related technologies that are used with much success in the Star Wars and Star Trek Franchises. (Don’t forget George Jetson too.)

  3. Nomen Nescio says: January 3, 20127:11 pm

    oh, VTOL works fine — for helicopters. trying to make helicopters fast (by airplane standards) is the trick. tiltrotors is one of those obvious ideas that seem like they should work, but making them still work if something breaks or quits on you — making the failure modes even as relatively “safe” as they are in a helicopter, say — is downright hard.

    (V/STOL also works fine for autogyros, but they don’t have enough advantages over helicopters — as well as having most of the choppers’ drawbacks — to have ever really broken through.)

  4. Hirudinea says: January 3, 201210:15 pm

    Sure VTOL airplanes have never really worked well but its such a neat concept it will always keep comming back.

  5. G. L. Tyrebyter says: January 4, 20123:41 am

    The idea of landing on rooftops has also fallen out of favor. The former Pan Am building in NYC (Now Metlife) was designed with a flat top so helicopters could land and take passengers to the airports. After some scary landings on windy days and a helicopter rotor blade breaking off and flying through another office building’s glass facade, the service was quickly dropped. The unusual tower on top of the Empire State Building was designed for the docking of Zeppelins. (The pseudo 30′s sci-fi movie “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” has a first scene of this occurring.)

  6. Stephen says: January 4, 20123:56 am

    I remember when STOL (short take off and landing) was the future. The idea was that airports could be smaller and nearer cities. The problem is that only a small proportion of the area an airport covers is actually the runways: there is also a huge space needed for marshalling the aircraft, taking on passengers, servicing, baggage handling, crew and passenger facilities – and very, very big car parks. None of these get smaller with the runways.

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