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Nikola Tesla’s $1000 Aircraft

Posted July 24, 2017

Did you know Nikola Tesla invented and patented a flying machine that he called helicopter-airplane?

Image credit: PatentYogi via YouTube

Tesla is popularly known as an eccentric inventor. In fact, he was a prolific inventor and obtained over 300 patents in his lifetime, which is no mean feat.

He is best known for many revolutionary contributions and inventions in the field of electricity and magnetism. But Tesla was also interested in flying machines. He invented the worlds first tilt-rotor, tilt-wing concept aircraft, which he called the helicopter-airplane. He also patented this innovative helicopter-airplane.

Tesla never actually built the helicopter-plane. So we have created an exact 3D model of Tesla’s helicopter-airplane based on the patent drawings, to understand it a little better.

The helicopter-airplane is a small structure, with two wings about eight feet square. It has a propeller to be driven by a light but powerful turbine.

In fact, Tesla was the first one to propose a turbine on a turbine. This was important as turbine engine is essential for generating vertical lift.

The helicopter-airplane has three pairs of wheels. When the helicopter-airplane rests on the ground the propeller will be overhead and the wings will be vertically aligned. In this position it will work like a helicopter.

First, the propeller generates huge power to lift the helicopter-airplane into the air vertically (just like a normal helicopter). But this high power is sustained only for a short while. At the desired height, the aviator begins to tilt the helicopter-airplane using a tilting device. The wings are gradually 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 then it is operated as such. This provides higher efficiency than traditional helicopters in forward flight.

Since Tesla’s time many vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft have been built. But Tesla’s helicopter-airplane has one unique feature. Seats for the pilot and the 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 even vertically, landing easily either way.

Tesla’s helicopter-airplane was a unique plane for its time. Tesla wanted to sell the design for mere $1000. In today’s terms, this would be close to about $27000, which would again would be a very good bargain.

Patent Information
Publication number: US1655114 A
Patent Title: Apparatus for aerial transportation
Publication date: 3 Jan 1928
Filing date: 4 Oct 1927
Priority date: 4 Apr 1921
Inventors: Tesla Nikola
Original Assignee: Tesla Nikola

Source: PatentYogi

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