The Flying Machine – The Four Superheroes

Note: The first paragraph here is also on my Home Page. Here is some more of the story of the Flying Machine and the Four Superheroes.

Well…. a New Year is here (2019) so I thought to add a brief note of what I’ve been up to. In October, I thought I would take a few months off from the robot to work on a Flying Machine. I thought it would be a cool idea for a toy for the Holiday Season. Hahahaha… nothing ever gets designed in the amount of time one thinks might be needed. Anyway, it never made it to the finished toy stage by the time the Holidays were here. I’m still working on it. Although it most likely will be a toy, I don’t like designing things that could not be real functioning items. If one is designing items and one doesn’t care if they could be real or not, well….I think one is just making stuff up….where’s the challenge in that? So I’ve decided to be sure the Flying Machine really could work. Yikes, flight stuff has so many variables. And everything one wants to place in a Flying Machine, well, that Machine has to lift all of that stuff up in the air. No free rides. I found a little tuboshaft jet engine from the Czech Republic, 140 horsepower, 125 pounds weight. If you’ll look at my image of the Flying Machine, you will see a little red box that is in the equipment space under the mannikin, that red box is my representation of the turboshaft jet engine, with its dimensions being those that the engine company gave for the engine at their website.  

The Flying Machine (so far) has 6 propeller units (I chose 6 so that there would at least be a chance to get the device safely back on the ground if one propeller unit failed). The propellers are 4-bladed with significant angle of attack and fairly large (from a proportionality viewpoint) chord. These propellers are optimized only for large thrust at low airspeed. Their only real purpose is to generate enough lift that the Flying Machine can go straight up into the air. I plan to add 2 wings that will be sort of folded up behind the Flying Machine when it is resting on the ground. It will look like a little pigeon 🙂  Anyway, once its up in the air, it will unfold its wings and fly off using fixed wing flying principles because this gives the Flying Machine so much more range.

There will be a set of smaller propellers to give horizontal thrust for fixed wing flying and also to provide yaw control for the Flying Machine. All of this is coming, but I thought the image was neat, so I uploaded it here.

Sharpened Cropped By Corel 140 Samples From Sketchup V91 Motor Plus Propeller Plus Frame V1.39

I created a little Mannikin guy to sit in the Flying Machine to let people see some size relationships. I gave him his own little chair. The propellers will be powered using hydraulic gear motors, one 20 hp hydraulic motor for each of the 6 propeller units. The propellers will spin at about 5600 rpm. Hydraulic motors really don’t prefer to spin that fast, so, unlike most aircraft where the engine rpm’s are geared down for the propeller, in this Flying Machine I geared up the hydraulic motor rpm’s about 2 to 1, so the motors can turn at about 1500-2000 rpm, while the propellers turn at 5600-6000 rpm. And the propellers are about 30 inches in diameter, so the blade tips are not going to be too near to Mach 1 at that rpm value.

The turboshaft jet engine will run a 120 hp gear pump. Again, the tubojet engine is shown in the image as that red box in the machinery space area. I have a design for a mechanical valve device that will allow this Flying Machine to have a swash plate control system like a helicopter does. This swash plate system will allow slight alterations of the power outputs of the 6 individual propeller motors in an as-needed and on-going fashion. This will allow pitch and roll to be continuously controlled very much like a helicopter. The Flying Machine (as currently drawn) is created from aircraft alloy aluminum, it weighs about 280 lbs without the jet engine or the mannikin. The combined vertical thrust from all 6 propeller units is about 1000 lbs, so it should lift off.

Finally, from a safety viewpoint, whew….. there is so much that needs to be added for a Flying Machine to be safe for transporting humans. But, hold on a second, this Flying Machine, particularly if one added 2 engines, well it may wind up with a payload lift capacity of 300 lbs. Hmmmmmm…..what a drone that would be. I plan to write a military story using this Flying Machine design. There will be a set of drones, each slightly different in their setup. I’ll call them the 4 superheroes. The issue is to look at Combat Air Support or Close Air Support.

Currently Combat Air Support requires manned aircraft flying standby missions where they sort of “swoop in” and give covering or assistance firepower to ground troops when the troops “call in” and ask for their help. This requires aircraft suitable for manned flight, an airfield, specially trained pilots, defensive facilities and military guard personnel to defend the airfield area. Also, there has to be a triage function where someone decides which embattled forces on the ground get the Combat Air Support right this minute, and which forces will have to just sit there and take the enemy fire while they wait their turn in line. So….let’s look at this heavy lift drone and some variations of it.

We’ll call the first variation FLIR. (I didn’t forget to notice that FLIR is very close to FEAR and I think fear is what FLIR will bring to a battlefield). This drone carries a Flir unit, a laser designator, sophisticated jamming equipment, and can communicate with ground control and the other drones via a Maser microwave beam (because Maser beams are hard to detect and hard to lock onto). The second drone is named BOOMER. This drone carries aloft a rack of small little glider type drones. These gliders are given the name BOOMEY. These Boomeys are about 16 inches long, have a fuselage about 6 inches in diameter and have a wingspan of about 18 inches. These Boomeys do not have flight control surfaces, instead they have a set of 3 transversely mounted battery operated thrusters. These thrusters are located toward the back end of the BOOMEY, one thruster in each wing and one in the fuselage. These thrusters have their axes of thrust aligned perpendicular to the flight axis of the Boomey. The thrusters can be individually controlled and the controls available for each thruster include how much thrust it is creating and whether its thrust is coming out of the top side of the BOOMEY or the bottom side of it (by simply controlling which direction of rotation is sent to the propeller in the thruster). All three of these thrusters are really nothing more than ducted fans with electric motors and their ducting goes all the way through the BOOMEY from the top side of it to the bottom side of it (for the fuselage thruster) and the duct goes from the top side of the wing to the bottom side of the wing (for the wing thrusters). The wing thrusters would be placed near to the fuselage section of the wing, so that they could be located in a portion of the wing that is thick enough to allow a thruster and its duct to be in place.

The effect of this is that by proper use of these thrusters on the Boomey, there can be some control of the pitch, roll, and heading of the Boomey as it falls through the air downward from the BOOMER to the target. These Boomeys will have an optical sensor that picks up the laser designation on the target and the Boomey will have on-board data processing capability so that, once the BOOMEY is dropped from the BOOMER, then the BOOMEY becomes autonomous and the BOOMEY uses its sensed optical data and its on-board processing to send continuously updated control signals to its 3 thrusters so that the Boomey alters its flight characteristics to direct itself down toward the point of laser illumination. The end of this is that the BOOMEY is flying itself into a direct impact on the laser illumination spot. I guess we need to mention, the BOOMEY does not survive its mission. Laser designation, of course, is via FLIR.

Each Boomey will carry the same high explosive charge. This charge will include a downward directed shaped charge. In front of the deformation metal of the shaped charge explosive will be a collection of parraffin, powdered aluminum metal, and white phosphorus. There will be a shrapnel cage around the high explosive. Net effect is a sort of general purpose munition. The shrapnel effect can be used against unhardened targets and the shaped charge component will allow a BOOMEY to first create an opening in the roof of a structure and then inject ignited hydrocarbons into the interior of the structure. The BOOMER will carry about 30-40 BOOMEY’s.

The BOOMEY’s will be carried and stored in a set of carousel type structures. The reason for this is to allow the set of BOOMEY’s to be transported and stored away from the collection of the rest of these drones (FLIR, BOOMER, and BANG-BANG) because the BOOMEY’s contain high explosives. When a BOOMER was being prepped for launch, one of these carousels would be picked up and carried over to the BOOMER and set into place. The process of launching the BOOMEY’s would be that the BOOMER would rotate the carousel and bring a BOOMEY into place over an opening in the bottom of the BOOMER. When it was time to launch the BOOMEY, then BOOMER would “pull its pin” and the BOOMEY would drop away. The BOOMEY’s would have metal contact areas on their wing leading edges and these would be in contact with an electrically active bar in the carousel. The effect of this is that the batteries of the BOOMEY’s could be kept charged and data could be transmitted to and from each of the BOOMEY’s and the BOOMER. This data capability allows the BOOMER to be sure that it is choosing a BOOMEY that is “OK” and that only one BOOMEY at a time is brought up to a “full launch readiness” condition.

I feel it would be nice if there could be step where a collection of picric acid type initiators would be stored in a separate location on the BOOMER. The process of getting a BOOMEY ready for launch would include that BOOMER would rotate the carousel to bring the BOOMEY in place over the launch opening. Then BOOMER would use a “pick and place” type of robot to lift up a picric acid initiator, open an access door on the BOOMEY, put the initiator in place, and the door would then close. The explosion sequence of the BOOMEY would be that as it fell it would increase its airspeed probably up to about 110-120 mph, since I feel the launch altitude should be about 18,000 to 22,000 feet above local ground level. When BOOMEY hit the target area nose first at 120 mph, this decelleration event would crush the picric acid initiator, it would explode, and this explosion would initiate the high explosives detonation. This seems safer to me if this “pick and place” robot action can be kept simple and reliable enough. That way BOOMER really doesn’t fly around with active ready high explosive charges loaded up in it. This becomes particularly important if BOOMER is returned to base for landing and cessation of operations and it has not launched all of its BOOMEY’s. I’m trying to keep these BOOMEY’s in a pretty safe state most of the time. Easy to say, I don’t know if its hard to do.

The third drone will be named BANG-BANG. It sure would be nice to get a 50 caliber aloft, but, in general, the recoil from a 50 cal would just wreak havoc on the flying or hovering characteristics of a drone that isn’t very heavy. Can this be fixed? Well consider a 2 barrel 50 cal. One barrel is directed forward and the other is directed backward. They are aligned on the exact same axis. One 50 cal discharges projectiles as kinetic output (bullets), the other barrel fires only a blank, but these blank rounds contain a larger powder charge than the non-blank rounds, so that the recoil of the round firing from the blank barrel is the same as the recoil from the round firing from the kinetic projectile barrel. The firing mechanism would include a very carefully and robustly designed dual firing pin action, so that the initiator of the bullet round is struck by its firing pin at the exact same time as is the initiator of the blank round is struck by its firing pin. Cool or what? Two simultaneous recoils of equal magnitude, exactly directed in opposite directions. So yes, 50 cal recoils (x2 actually) but… net recoil.

Probably from a reality viewpoint, it would not be possible to absolutely eliminate any recoil based impulses from the firing. What would happen would be a “net recoil” and the size of this “net recoil” would depend mainly on how exactly the two firing pins hit their respective initiators at the same moment. I feel this “net recoil” would occur, but I feel it is possible that it would be very minimal. Again, would that be cool or what? These impulses would probably still have enough of an effect on the attitude of the BANG-BANG drone that it would need a few moments to get itself back ready again after each set of rounds were fired.

Its my guess that the the firing rate would probably have to be limited to about one round every 5-6 seconds. Hence the name BANG-BANG. I would add optics to the bullet firing barrel. I would let Zeiss make a scope with 8-9 inch lenses and about 4 feet long. I would stabilize the optics of the scope so that the impulses of firing would not knock it out of alignment. I would give this scope infrared capability and the ability to sense the laser designation spot sent out by FLIR. . The barrels would be able to have some adjustment of their bearing via a rotary motion of the support base of this round firing device. I feel the barrels would protrude out beyond the structural elements of the BANG-BANG. This protrusion of the barrels beyond the structural elements of the BANG-BANG drone means that the structure on the BANG-BANG drone that holds these barrels would not have an unlimited ability to alter the bearing of their aim point. I feel that as they adjusted the bearing of their fire direction they could sweep left to right probably over about a total of 85 degrees. If more bearing motion than that were called for, then the BANG-BANG drone itself would need to alter its bearing.

The barrels would also have adjustability of their inclination with respect to the horizon. I feel it would help BANG-BANG a lot if it could just about discharge bullets straight down, not absolutely straight down, but close.

I think its pretty important that these drones are somewhat difficult for the enemy to detect them and also that access to them via enemy fire would be limited. This is with respect to an enemy force that basically consists of ground forces of a not very sophisticated military force. If the enemy is going to have radar ranging and bearing with radar based anti-aircraft fire capability, well….. that’s not really your basic simple enemy force. I’m not sure our 4 superhero drones need full protection and avoidance capability against every conceivable defense munition.

I do feel that BANG-BANG should not be required to rely on tracer rounds so that it can adjust its firing solutions. These tracers sure would tell everyone where was BANG-BANG. And I also would have fairly robust suppressors on those barrels, both sound and light suppression. Instead of tracer rounds to adjust the firing solution, I suggest that the bullets of the 50 cal of BANG-BANG be drilled out a little at their central core axis. I would load into this drilled out area again the same setup as BOOMEY, except there would not be a shaped charge. I would add white phosphorus, paraffin, aluminum powder, high explosive, and a picric acid type initiator. End result…. as each bullet hit something fairly hard, there would be an explosion, a brief white flash, some ongoing flames, and a small amount of shrapnel. This could be seen by both FLIR and BANG-BANG and ground control. The firing solution could be tweaked and the line of impact “walked in” to the enemy position. This seems to me that this would be just terrifying to an enemy force to watch that line of explosions headed their way. And no indication really of exactly where this fire was coming from. Whew…what an image!

My thought is that these drones would engage the enemy from about 18,000 to 24,000 feet above ground level. I feel this makes them pretty much safe from the capabilities of your basic low level ground forces. I would have these drones transported via what is basically a dump truck. It has pretty thick steel walls around the drone storage area. It would have a crane. When the decision was made to “Loose the Drones”……

Well, the drones would be craned up out of the dump truck and placed on the ground. They would be fueled up and in sequence, the jet of FLIR would be lit off and up it would go. One of the carousels of BOOMEY’s would be picked up off of their special transport truck and this carousel would be mated up to the BOOMER. The BOOMER’s jet would be lit off and up into the air it would go. FLIR would establish communication via MASER beam to ground control, and then as BOOMER went up, FLIR would find it and connect up to it with a separate MASER beam. The two of them would transition to fixed wing flight and begin their ascent in air space controlled by friendly forces. Once they were at their battle and cruising altitude of 18,000 to 23,000 feet above ground level they would proceed over the battle line and into enemy airspace. FLIR would look around and ground control would establish target decisions. FLIR would be given its “GO” order, FLIR would set out the laser designation illumination of the target, and FLIR would tell BOOMER, “Hit it” Repeat salvos of BOOMEY’s would be released either until BOOMER ran out or FLIR was informed by ground control that the engagement was over.

BANG-BANG would be launched in the exact same manner. FLIR would be able to simultaneously communicate with BOOMER and BANG-BANG and then send this back to ground control. In addition, as the mission dictated, it could be that only FLIR and BANG-BANG were launched, or perhaps that only BANG-BANG was launched. I don’t think BOOMER could be configured to be launched by itself because the parts of running the BOOMEY carousel and the command and control and target evaluation and designation would just be too much stuff for BOOMER to carry aloft by itself.

So, in conclusion, I love to write stories. I feel just the pulling up of these dump trucks, the craning out of the drones, lighting off the jets and watching them ease their way up into the sky and then the reign of terror that they would commence against the enemy position after a short wait while the drones got everything “all ready.” Wow. To me anyway. I think that would be so cool to watch, even if it was just a training exercise. I don’t have any military contacts so I have no idea what actual troops would say. It sure seems to me if they had “their own stuff” that they could “send up” when they felt like it and they didn’t have to just absorb fire while they waited for someone to help them.

I think the troops would say, “Yeah, we want the 4 superheroes.”