Tuesday, February 12, 2008

All In A Day's Flight


My son and daughter-in-law are moving to a nice, but out-of-the way location south of San Francisco. It has a great view of the ocean and some stores less than a mile away, so it is not isolated from civilization, but the coastline really only has one main highway north and south and very limited highways east and west due to the mountains [and a lot of state and national parks].

We were talking about the commute to work ... only one feasible route... which was quite roundabout. I said something to the effect that they needed a helicopter. That got me to thinking about autogyros.

I found this on YouTube and shared it with them:

And also ran across this talking about the possible future of these personal aircraft [source]:
Gyrocopter to the Rescue
Related Pictures

Flying cars are out! Welcome the Gyrocopter – a new flying motorcycle, currently under development by the Dutch company PAL-V. This hybrid vehicle will be able to reach speeds of 200 km/h (125 mph) both on land and in the air, requiring only a short runway of about 100 meters (330 feet) for take off and landing. Expected to be launched in 2009, this unique vehicle enables commuters to leap over traffic jams on their way to work.

The basis of the Gyrocopter's flight technology is the autogiro. Unlike conventional helicopters that use rotating, overhead, motor-powered propellers to provide lift, an autogiro has an engine-powered propeller (attached in the front or back of the vehicle), that provides thrust, similarly to the propellers in fixed-wing aircrafts (airplanes). While the propeller provides thrust, overhead rotor blades act just like fixed wings on a plane, creating lift when air rushes through them. Unlike helicopters, autogiros cannot hover and do require a runway for take off and landing (although usually a very short one).

The autogiro is not a new invention. The idea was first introduced by Juan de la Cierva y Codorniu in 1919, and just four years later, in 1923, the first successful autogiro flight took place in Spain. The autogiro concept continued to develop throughout the 20th century, and autogiros were used by the German navy in World War II - carrying out surveillance and reconnaissance tasks for German U-Boats.. Since then, aircrafts based on the autogiro design have been used for various purposes by different countries, including unmanned target drones used by the United States Air Force.

PAL-V started working on advanced transportation concepts in 1999 and now claims that in two years' time it will release a commercial version of the autogiro-motorcycle hybrid vehicle, called the Gyrocopter. The vehicle is similar in many respects to the Carver One, a tilting three-wheeled vehicle already manufactured and sold by Carver in the Netherlands. The company is currently working on a prototype vehicle that will hopefully prove the possibility of effectively combining the three-wheeled motorcycle with the autogiro.

The Gyrocopter will run on regular petrol and most of the vehicle's components originate in the automotive industry rather than the more expensive aviation industry. In this way, both purchase and maintenance costs can be kept relatively low (although PAL-V has not published an exact cost estimate yet).

One of the most important aspects related to the development of the Gyrocopter is licensing. Gyrocopter drivers will need to pass a theoretical exam (Recreational Pilot License or RPL or PPL) and meet with an instructor for several hours of training, in order to learn how to fly the gyrocopter. According to PAL-V, the gyrocopter license will be obtained after 10 to 20 hours of training, depending on user skill and talent, at a cost of approximately 2,500 Euros.

Another possibly problematic aspect of Gyrocopter licensing has to do with flight certification. Different countries in the world have different regulations regarding small, low-flying aircrafts. The Gyrocopter will need to receive flight certification both in Europe and in the U.S. (and possibly in other countries as well) before consumers will be able to use it. Since it seems that Gyrocopters and other similar aircrafts will soon start commuting in our skies, we will need to find new technologies for controlling these aircrafts. NASA's "highways in the sky" technology should be able to provide us with virtual aerial highways, based on GPS and other positioning technologies. These virtual highways will even have on- and off ramps, which will simplify aviation for the masses in 10-20 years' time.

In the past, TFOT covered a different autogiro-based vehicle, known as the CarterCopter, with a theoretical top speed of 800 km/h (500 mph). A different unique flying vehicle covered by TFOT is the UH-19XRW Hoverwing, which uses ground-effect in order to fly up to six feet above the ground or water surface. TFOT also covered several three-wheelers, including the elegant T-Rex and the scooter-like PIAGGIO MP3.

More information on the gyrocopter, including videos, can be found on the PAL-V website.

Hmmm... virtual highways in the sky. Just think what fender-benders... or chopper-chops... would mean.


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“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)