Planes Need No Wheels (Feb, 1948)

How would they turn sideways? Wouldn’t it be impossible to do all the other stuff on the ground? Like, you know, get on the plane?

Planes Need No Wheels

Airplanes should keep their wheels on the ground, believes Samuel S. Knox, of Long Beach,. Calif. He has patented a landing strip formed of pneumatic-tired wheels, which could be powered to speed take-offs and braked to shorten landing rolls. It would free the plane of landing-gear weight.

22 comments
  1. fluffy says: July 22, 20119:39 am

    Also, good thing emergency landings never happen.

  2. Toronto says: July 22, 201110:24 am

    I’d be more worried about a giant tin box of groceries coming along and flattening me.

    (Some stores used to put your bagged groceries in a box, then put the box on a roller path and give you a “license plate” that matched the number of the box. You’d go get the car, drive around to the pickup area. There, helpful youths would take your plate, find the matching box, and put the bags in your trunk.)

  3. mburdoo says: July 22, 201110:44 am

    Would never get F.A.A. approval for this monstrosity – nor for the wheel – less aircraft that has to use it.

  4. John says: July 22, 201111:06 am

    He definitely was granted a patent in 1945 and everyone can calm down. This isn’t going to be adopted anytime soon. Posterity has already judged it and found it wanting.

  5. Hirudinea says: July 22, 201112:15 pm

    @ Toronto – Or a giant case of beer (it looks like the roller track in beerstores.)

  6. Toronto says: July 22, 20111:06 pm

    Hiru: I need to buy more beer at beerstores – I’d forgotten about them. (My favorite LOCAL beer isn’t carried by the Beer Store (which is owned by the major breweries after all.)

  7. Richard says: July 22, 20111:35 pm

    Interesting to read the actual patent (thanks John, for the link). He allows for detachable landing gear to be affixed to the plane at the end of the runway, so that the plane can taxi around the airport in the conventional way after it lands and/or before it takes off.

    This would make crosswind landings easier, because the pilot could “crab” all the way down, without needing to straighten out at touchdown. That’s about the only positive thing I can say about it, though, and that little advantage doesn’t outweigh the many obvious impracticalities.

    In the case when a takeoff needs to be aborted, I’d sure want the controls for the brakes to be in the cockpit and very reliable.

  8. Christoph says: July 22, 20112:30 pm

    I’m sure a mile long 200ft wide stretch of power controlled tires is an economical alternative over a tricyle landing gear.

  9. John says: July 22, 20112:40 pm

    Christoph » As I said, you’re kicking a dead horse.

  10. fluffy says: July 22, 20112:45 pm

    Thank you, John, for making sure we are all well aware of the fact that these articles are about things that happened a long time ago. I’m not sure we would have understood that otherwise. Thanks to that amazing knowledge we can refrain from ever commenting at all about anything that was ever considered in the past.

  11. Deth says: July 22, 20113:27 pm

    I actually think this has merit, though not for commercial airliners. I could see it working well for (for example) drones or carriers or something. The advantage would be in just how fast you could slow something down or how much you could speed it up, versus it operating under it’s own power or with a catapult or something.

  12. fluffy says: July 22, 20113:41 pm

    Who was saying anything even remotely like what you were reading into it?

  13. Charlene says: July 22, 20117:45 pm

    John, I suggest that whenever you get the urge to rush in and explain how inferior/stupid/wrong someone is (either here or elsewhere), stop for a minute and ask yourself if you’re misunderstanding the situation. Because most of the time, you are.

  14. John says: July 22, 20117:55 pm

    Wow even got Charlene off the bench to pile on. What happened, gynecologist pull the wrong tooth?

    You ladies sure can dish it out yourselves. Not that you actually said anything specific, mind you.

  15. Casandro says: July 23, 20111:59 am

    Well that’s an article about air travel. Without heavy subsidiaries that industry wouldn’t survive.

  16. John Savard says: July 23, 20117:15 am

    I would have thought, though, that the point of showing us this old article was to amuse us by giving an amusing example of a silly idea from the past. So, yes, it’s supposed to be obvious that “this will never work”, and in fact it’s something that never did work out.

    That being said, of course it did have an advantage in principle. Landing gear is complicated and fragile, and so this scheme avoids having landing gear on many planes by having these tires on a few runways.

    And landing gear isn’t well adapted to emergency landings anyways; perhaps the issue of having no landing gear for an emergency landing could be addressed by dotting the country with emergency runways of this type.

    Or perhaps the idea might be to start putting pontoons on all airplanes instead of landing gear, so that they would make their emergency landings on bodies of water, while normally landing on this kind of landing strip. Thus, the country could be dotted with artificial lakes.

  17. Rick Auricchio says: July 23, 20113:04 pm

    I’ll add a technical point here too:

    There’s nothing to prevent the plane from skidding to the side on the wheels. Consider how cargo rolls down those roller-conveyors. Without side rails the boxes would drift off the side of the rollers. So would the planes in this case.

  18. Porkchop says: July 23, 20118:02 pm

    Marge Simpson: You know, Homer, it’s very easy to criticize.
    Homer Simpson: Fun, too!

  19. Michael C says: July 24, 20117:56 am

    To the one part of the this tread…..Really a lot of us comment on the merits of these plans for the entertainment value of trying to figure out what they[ publishers] were thanking at the time. There must have been something that caused them to thank it was worth publishing. Now to the article itself, I admit this is the most bizarre, least practical plan I’ve seen.

  20. Casandro says: July 24, 201111:08 pm

    One should know that even today there are magazines like that. For example “Technology Review” where they propagate stupid ideas like machines which take the CO2 from the air and then pump it into underground caves… where it might not come out within the next few years.

  21. Barcrest says: August 15, 20115:33 am

    Any Weight saved from not having a landing gear would almost certainly be counteracted by the extra stregnthening needed on the underside of the aircraft. Also with no suspension i would imaging it to be a fairly hard langing.

    I wonder if for take off having the powered wheels would be of any benefit?

  22. Darren says: April 8, 20136:21 pm

    Changing a tyre must be a real pain.

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