Nikola Tesla - "Tesla's New Aircraft Flies Any Old Way" - An Engineer's Aspect


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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nikola Tesla - "Tesla's New Aircraft Flies Any Old Way"

I was excited to find this article in the Newspaper Archives because it had clear sketches of Tesla's Helicopter/Airplane plans!

The Bee, Danville, Virginia. March 2, 1928.

Caption: Upper drawing shows how Nikola Telsa's (sic) new plane looks when used as a helicopter. By manipulating a few levers the plane is adjusted for an airplane and looks like the bottom drawing. It is worth noticing that the pilot's seat swings so that it is always level with the ground.

(International Illustrated News)
THE latest creation of Nikola Tesla, inventor, electrical wizard, experimenter and dreamer, is a helicopter airplane.

It is a tiny combination plane which, its inventor asserts, will rise and descend vertically and fly horizontally at great speed, much faster than the speed of the planes of today. But despite the feats which he credits to his invention. Tesla says that it will sell for something less than $1,000.
Plane is Small
The helicopter-airplane is a small structure, with two wings about eight feet square. It may have one propeller and it may have several, to be driven by a light but powerful turbine motor of Tesla's invention.

When the plane rests on the ground the propeller will be overhead and the wings will be standing vertically. The motor is expected to generate a terrific power that will lift the plane into the air. This power can be sustained only a short while.

At the desired height, the aviator begins to tilt his plane. The wings gradually are brought into a horizontal position that puts the propeller in front of the machine. During this operation the engine power is decreased, and, at this lower power, the helicopter becomes an airplane and is operated as such.

The wings now are supporting surfaces, and, except when exceptional speed is wanted for a few moments, the engine will be run at a low rate.

Seats for the pilot and three or four passengers are suspended from trunnions on which they can turn through an angle of ninety degrees. This enables those in the plane to sit in a normal position at all times.

With two wheel bases at right angles, the helicopter-airplane is able to descend in a glide or vertically, landing easily either way. As a helicopter, it has a low landing velocity.
Patents Obtained
These are the assertions of Tesla about the new invention. He has not yet built a full-sized machine for tests, and he probably will not, he says, until he is ready to produce them in quantity. He obtained two patents on the helicopter-airplane January 3.

Tesla, for years one of the world's pioneer inventors, now is nearly seventy-two. He has attained his greatest fame, perhaps, through his work on wireless, in which he had made great progress even before the experiments of Marconi.

He designed an airplane when he was in college in 1876, and he says that a plane built from his design recently has been flown in France. In 1900 he claimed to have communicated with Mars, and since then he has dreamed of establishing communication with the planet.