inflatable plane

I would love somebody to build a 2 seater plane that is collapsable using a telescopic carbon fibre frame and wings covered with a balloon type inflatable skin and cockpit using helium as the inflating gas it would in theory be light enoug to be powered by a microlite engine. And after that a helicopter on the same principals.

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will1947 (author) 9 years ago
thanx for the comments guys, The idea came to me whilst laying on a hospital bed following my second stroke, probably the drugs pumping around my system or my guardian angels screwing with my head.
The TV wasn't playing old Warner Bros. cartoons or Who Framed Roger Rabbit? perchance? (I can so see Wile E. Coyote pulling out an ACME Inflatable Plane...)
CameronSS9 years ago
Goodyear came up with one in the '50s, when everything seemed like a good idea.
forgesmith9 years ago

It would also be a balloon, if helium is being used to make it so light. Actually with a rigid internal frame I think it would be a dirigible like the Hindenburg. Although it would have to be a rather large thing, despite having only two seats, to have enough helium for a significant amount of lifting for two people + equipment + fuel + engine. So I guess if you wanted to call it a plane you wouldn't be thinking much about helium being a lifting gas, but instead as what "puffs out" the skin and makes it rigid. Now as a collapsible frame isn't the strongest, it might have problems achieving enough air speed for lift-off. Of course you wouldn't want it to go that fast anyway, the skin, being thin and flexible enough for inflation, would be prone to rippling, which could lead to tearing at the attachment points to the frame. But with careful designing, it should be possible to build something roughly as you described. Which would then ascend so many hundred to a few thousand feet up, hit a bird, and leave you sitting in a rigid carbon-fiber frame with formerly-inflated lifting surfaces rippling and getting torn to shreds as you head downward at a high velocity.

It may also be possible to design a helicopter on the same principles, however the downward air thrust of the blades may require a tightly-spaced framework for the roof and nearby sides to give the skin enough support. The rotor blades of course would not be inflatable as they see forces too great for a collapsible frame to withstand, which means if there was any problem as long as the rotor assembly was fine then the 'copter could autorotate to safety. Provided the collapsible frame doesn't flex enough to get in the way of blades.
I would think a snap together sort of style would be much safer than inflata-plane, how about a collapsible plane that locks together, the wings come in to three bits each, using a sizable overlap of joining rods to lower the chances of breaking... Instead of looking at making something unbelievably light, since there are limits a homebuilder can stretch to it may be better to use the ideas of massive lift, my dad's old 100hp cessna could be lifted over your head on a windy day, despite weighing 3/4 of a tonne... It's max airspeed was only 100kts at cruising and DNE of 130kts but it worked. A gyrocopter could be a nother good answer, since they are quite simple machines, either that or building a full sized counter rotating blade helicopter, these have the massive advantage of needing no tail piece and being mechanically simple in comparison.
NachoMahma9 years ago
. Other than the Helium, that sounds like an ultralight to me.