Copter Cops (Nov, 1958)

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Copter Cops

By Frank Tinsley

TODAY’S high-speed turnpikes require ground-bound traffic police to take to the air and graduate to the status of “Copter Cops,” mounted in a vehicle that could speed safely above the car-choked roads and provide a bird’s eye view of driving conditions and dangers. Such a vehicle could go far beyond the utility of the present patrol car. It could control traffic speed, clear jams at bottle- necks, perform emergency rescue work and provide fast aerial ambulance service, plus offering a more efficient pursuit of criminals.

Mi’s paddy-wagon for Copter Cops is based on the Army’s specifications for a compact, high-lift aerial jeep. It takes the form of a stable “flying platform,” built around three ducted-fan units. Each of these is fitted with a pair of contra-rotating propellers spinning on a horizontal plane to drive a column of air downward. The force of this airstream provides the machine’s lift. Power is provided by twin gas turbines.

The vehicle is designed to carry three policemen, the minimum crew for efficient patrol work. In the event of a wreck, as shown, it lands on the central safety island with one of the crew clearing a space by directions called through an electric “bull horn.” Upon landing, one of the men takes over traffic control while the other two place the injured on litters and lock them safely in place in the enclosed “Utter wells” on either side of the copter’s cabin.

The pilot then takes off for the nearest hospital, leaving his mates to superintend activities at the accident scene. Upon the patrol vehicle’s return, a cable is hooked to the wreck and it is dragged or lifted to a safe spot off the highway.

With its inflated pontoon rim, Mi’s copter is capable of landing on land, water or in deep snow. A kit of emergency tools is carried and the crew is armed with rifles and sub-machine gun. Floodlights are set in the lower surface and a built-in loud speaker can be used to flag down an offending vehicle. •

  1. Eamon says: January 13, 200912:27 am

    I thought the army abandoned the idea of a flying platform because it was inherently unstable. And what’s wrong with just using a helicopter?

  2. Sean says: January 13, 20098:27 am

    It wouldn’t be nearly as futurey looking.

  3. MrG says: January 13, 20098:36 am

    Flying platforms actually flew pretty well — see:


    They just didn’t have enough advantages over helicopters to be worth the bother. The idea was popular at the time and Tinsley wasn’t unusual in pushing it.

    Cheers — MrG // http://www.vectorsite.n…

  4. rsterling78 says: January 13, 20099:26 am

    It looks like our low-flying copter cops have created so much of a distraction that they’ve caused a motor vehicle accident.

  5. Myles says: January 13, 20093:27 pm

    Did flying platforms fly pretty well? I looked at the link, but most multi-engine ducted fan models never got beyond the tethered flight stage. How do you balance the output of 3 engines without computer control? What happens when one engine quits?

  6. MrG says: January 13, 20094:46 pm

    There are plenty of still pix of the AirGeep and Pawnee free-flying, one with the Pawnee at about
    100 feet — plus YouTube videos of the “AirGeep” and “Hiller Pawnee” free-flying, if not very aggressively. As far as engine-out, multiengine helicopters usually have two (sometimes three) engines driving the same transmission system. Of course that’s a necessity for a single-rotor helicopter, but it’s also so with twin-rotor helicopters like the Chinook. It is not unusual for the
    sum of the power of the engines to exceed the capability of the rotor system downstream, with the engines fitted with limiters. When an engine goes out, the remaining engine can be run at full rated power.

    The AirGeep had twin engines with a common transmission. I have heard the initial version was so underpowered it was stopped in a demonstration by a fence. “Well, we’ll be OK as long as the enemy doesn’t put up fences.”

    As far as three rotors go, got me there sport. Didn’t think of that, never saw any rotorcraft with three main rotors.

  7. MrG says: January 13, 20095:07 pm

    Come to think of it, I have seen a helicopter with three rotors, or at least a model of one. Familiar with the Mil Mi-26 “Halo”, the world’s biggest production helicopter? Nice YouTube video at:…

    Looks like Mil promo video … there’s a great shot of one hauling a damaged Chinook around like it was a toy:


    Anyway, the Russkies like to build big, and Mil came up with a concept called the “Mi-32” that looked like three pipes linked in a triangle, with the forward section of the Halo tacked on front and the dynamic system of the Halo mounted on top of each vertex of the triangle:…

    The Russkies weren’t crazy enough to build it, so I couldn’t say it was validation for Tinsley. I more than easily concede that he had a “Tom Corbett Space Cadet” concept of design.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.n…

  8. Mike says: January 13, 200910:40 pm

    Myles ,
    What happens when one engine quits?

    The same thing that happens when one engine quits on a standard helicopter.

  9. Toronto says: January 13, 200910:58 pm

    Mike – you mean it autorotates gently to the ground?

  10. Mike says: January 14, 20098:21 pm

    I wouldn’t call it “gently”

  11. alex in Las vegas says: June 13, 200911:53 am

    can any one tell me if a Flying platform can fly with only One prop../ I thoght you need two counter rotating to counter Torq..?
    Vertipod – Pete bitar has a great platform now and only uses One (1) prop for lift../
    all others needed two..
    looking forward to hearing the correct annswer/
    alex in las Vegas [email protected]

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