MERRY-GO-ROUND LAUNCHES AIRPLANE (Nov, 1933)

MERRY-GO-ROUND LAUNCHES AIRPLANE

Swung into the air from a merry-go-round launching device, a plane could attain flying speed without the need of a long runway, in a plan proposed by a Denver, Colo., inventor. The device consists of a tall mast with a revolving horizontal boom at the top, from which is suspended a hoop-shaped trapeze. When the plane has been attached to the trapeze and hoisted aloft, the pilot starts his motor. Then the plane revolves around the mast until flying speed is attained, and the pilot frees his craft from the device.

14 comments
  1. Myles says: February 4, 20088:49 am

    Wow, how many of these made it into production? Small airplanes become airborne within a couple hundred feet. What would be the point of whirling them in the air? They would need new reinforcements to stand the strain. How fun would it be to release while at a 45 degree angle into a heading you could only guess at?

  2. Slim says: February 4, 20089:11 am

    Landing could be a bit tricky too.

  3. Myles says: February 4, 200810:07 am

    Ya, I see in the picture that there is no runway for landing. How do the planes get to the whilagig?

  4. Myles says: February 4, 200810:08 am

    It would also take a precisely balanced plane to sit level while hanging from a hook :)

  5. scuba_sm says: February 4, 200811:33 am

    You know, if you fast forward a few years, it sounds like this would be the perfect land-based platform for the Goblin Fighter…..

  6. jayessell says: February 4, 20082:58 pm

    Wouldn’t it have to swing the plane by the tail so that it’s going forward when released?

  7. Stannous says: February 4, 20086:28 pm

    Wait til you see the one they’re building for the Boeing 767.

  8. Rick Auricchio says: February 4, 20087:44 pm

    When the plane attains flying speed, its lift will tend to pull it toward the center of the circle. So then the pilot releases and immediately levels the wings to fly away?

    Pretty good, considering he may be in at least a 60-degree bank at that point. Two problems with that. First, a 60-degree bank is a 2G turn; not fun for long. Second, as the plane banks around the pylon, it loses lift due to the turn. To get well above stall speed, the plane would have to fly much faster than normal takeoff speed.

    And never mind the time to hook up and lift the perfectly-balanced plane…

  9. jayessell says: February 4, 20088:15 pm

    Wouldn’t it have to be tied by the left wing so it’s going forward when released?

    Or instead a swiveling hitch that is at the top of the plane before takeoff and at the left side of the plane at release?

    Could more rope be played out as it’s speeding up to reduce the G forces?

    (Strike comment #6.)

  10. jayessell says: February 4, 20088:29 pm

    For landing, think of an aircraft carrier’s arresting cable system upside down.
    The tower rotates with the cable length set to 5 times the tower height.
    The pilot raises a hook above his plane and intersects the bottom of the hoop.
    The cable with plane is reeled in as the tower slows to a stop with the plane at ground level.

  11. Matt Sparks says: February 5, 20088:07 am

    Somebody did this with a piper cub, a large post set in the ground and a cable to the right wingtip.
    It worked fine for taking off.
    He didnt have a similar method for landing.
    No reason this couldnt work.

  12. Myles says: February 5, 20089:45 am

    reply to Matt.
    How did he get the plane back to the post?

    Was he winched up and then brought to speed by the tower or did he fly under his own power?

    What about headwinds?

    This could work for small planes (with some huge potential danger) but what is the point?

  13. Richard C says: February 5, 200812:04 pm

    What is the point, indeed.

    Small planes such as those shown can take off from a short grass strip. And as a bonus, the same grass strip can also be used for landing! Contrast the cost of clearing a strip of grass and keeping it mowed with the cost of building, maintaining, and powering a tower and swivel mechanism, plus a hoist mechanism. Then add the cost of building a landing strip, because you’ll need it anyway. Now figure the issues of pilot training, safety (what if the cable breaks before you’ve got speed?), performance in wind, susceptibility to wind damage during storms, etc. and it’s not hard to see why this idea never took off.

    It’s a classic non-solution to a non-problem. The only problem it solves is the need for takeoff runway, but since you still need a landing runway, it doesn’t really solve that very well. Granted, many planes can land in slightly less space than the require to safely take off, so it’s not totally useless, but it’s not worth all the other problems it introduces that are worse than the problem it tries to solve.

    My guess is the inventor hadn’t logged much time as a pilot.

  14. Jaber L says: February 5, 20089:25 pm

    Aside from the speculation as to the feasibility of this launching method, don’t you think the pilot would simply barf after 3 or 4 spins on this thing?

    I’m getting the hurlies just thinking about it.

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