Trailers for Planes Carry Extra Fuel (Dec, 1938)

Trailers for Planes Carry Extra Fuel

TO INCREASE the cruising range of airplanes on long-distance flights, John Akerman, Chicago, Ill., inventor, proposes the novel flying gas tanks pictured in the drawing. The curious fuel wings, divided into a number of cells and provided with an automatic, float-operated mechanism that keeps them level, are towed behind an airplane by means of strong, hollow tubes that also serve as connecting fuel lines. During the take-off, the gas wings ride on wheeled undercarriages until they reach flying speed. When one of the tanks becomes empty during a long flight, it is detached from the fuel train by a special release mechanism, and glides to the ground where it can be retrieved, returned to the airport, and used over again.

  1. Myles says: May 15, 20089:55 am

    Are these gas tanks going to glide down into the mountains where they will not be able to be recovered, or are they going to fly into buildings in populated areas?

  2. Baron Waste says: May 16, 200812:22 am

    And, the obvious question – if your drag is increased by pulling these things, so that you need the extra fuel they provide just to travel with them – why bother? Probably why no one ever has…

  3. Rick Auricchio says: May 16, 20084:52 pm

    The tanks won’t glide, they’ll probably tumble end-for-end, because there is no longitudinal stability—no tail.

    The inventor also doesn’t understand basic flight principles: as speed increases, so does lift. That’s why aircraft have trim tabs. As speed increases, the tank-wing will keep trying to outclimb the aircraft.

    One also presumes the inventor provided an emergency drop for when the float sticks and fails to level the tank-wing.

    I don’t know whether I’d feel safer flying this stupid thing or standing below watching…

  4. Baron Waste says: May 16, 20085:30 pm

    Meanwhile, the more sensible approach was already underway:


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