Even after flying 140 different types of aircraft, the chief pilot on Virgin Galactic's successful powered-spaceship test Thursday (April 5) says being at the helm of the VSS Unity was "something else." "This is a major milestone in our flight test program," says David Mackay in a new video from Virgin Galactic posted on YouTube. "When the rocket motor is lit, that's when it really comes alive. We've been gliding it [the spacecraft] so far, but really, what it's designed to do is go into space." The flight of VSS Unity yesterday (April 5) was the first powered test of any Virgin vehicle since the fatal crash of SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise on Oct. 31, 2014. [Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity Spaceliner in Pictures] The new flight saw VSS Unity drop as planned from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft at an altitude of 50,000 feet (15,000 meters), roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The ship was piloted by Mackay and Mark … [Read more...] about Awesome Video Shows What It Was Like to Fly Virgin Galactic’s Rocket-Powered Test Flight
What makes aircraft fly
The image of George Jetson and family zipping about town is at once nostalgic and frustrating. Like George, most of us push buttons for a living. But so far, few of us commute in a flying car.As with many of the technologies we "don't" have (where's my jetpack?), flying cars do exist. The roadable aircraft of today are basically small planes that can be driven legally down a road, usually because of a retractable-wing system. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below But, in a 2010 interview, physicist and science-fiction writer Gregory Benford summed up the problem with these designs: "It turns out that if you optimize the performance of a car and of an airplane, they are very far away in terms of mechanical features. So you can make a flying car. But they are not very good planes, and they are not very good cars."Indeed, PM has rounded up the various contenders out there, many of which had creators who marketed them as the flying car we've all been waiting for. None, though, … [Read more...] about Why Don’t We Have Flying Cars Already?
An Australian startup called Alauda came out of stealth mode this week to announce its plans to host the world’s first “flying car” race in 2019. It built its own scaled-down prototype, a racecar-shaped quadcopter called the Alauda Mark 1 Airspeeder, that it plans on testing in 2018. And naturally it’s taken to Kickstarter to raise money to fund all its efforts. It’s a twist on the typical story we hear these days about flying cars. While most engineers and developers think the only possible use case for these vertical take-off and landing vehicles (VTOLs) — which are really just oversized drones, when you think about it — is some sort of aerial taxi service, Alauda is going in a different direction. Its focus is on speed and sport. Its goal, in its own words, is to build “the Ferrari of the sky.” “Since there’s been cars, there’s been motorsport,” Alauda CEO Matt Pearson said in his Kickstarter video. … [Read more...] about Flying cars don’t exist yet, but one company already wants to race them in the desert
Last month, Phoenix was hit by a sweltering heatwave, with temperatures reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It was so hot, American Airlines was forced to cancel 50 flights scheduled to depart Sky Harbor International Airport. The news of the cancellations spread far and wide, as people were interested in learning more about the physics of air travel and how extreme heat affects flying. And now a new study suggests that what happened in Phoenix may be just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg. Extreme heat is a byproduct of climate change. Experts agree that as the Earth’s temperature rises, these heatwaves will come more frequently, last longer, and be felt more intensely. And this will have an indelible effect on how we use airplanes for travel and commerce. A team of researchers at Columbia University set out to chart exactly how rising temperatures will affect the takeoff and landing performance of aircraft; their findings were published today in the journal Climatic Change. … [Read more...] about Climate change is going to make air travel even more nightmarish, study says
Deborah is a computer-generated human who needs to get from the Hotel de Anza in San Jose to Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, post haste. Traffic on the 101 is a nightmare, so rather than spending hours in traffic, she whips out her smartphone and hails an electric, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft through Vahana, the on-demand, aviation project. Total fare: $77. Total flight time: 18 minutes. This is the future envisioned by Airbus, which operates Vahana through its A³ subsidiary. For almost a year now, the aeronautics giant has been working on developing a fleet of electric, autonomous, multirotor VTOL vehicles that can be used to fly from rooftop to rooftop in dense cities where traffic is often at a standstill. And next week, A³ will be showing off this vision at the Paris Air Show in an effort to get aviation nerds excited about the future of flying taxis. (An important note: I know a lot of publications have taken to calling these aircraft … [Read more...] about Here’s what it’ll be like to hail one of Airbus’ futuristic flying taxis