Science: Magnus Effect Airplane

We’re always looking for new and exciting ways to defy gravity. Magnus effect airplanes are actually pretty old, tried out in the 1940ies, and like the Quadcopter which was first tried out in the 1920ies, abandoned at the time due to the control problems.

The normal single wing plus fuselage configuration of airplanes is self-stabilizing so it dominated for 70 years. Since we have computers and control circuitry small and fast enough to allow for real time control of instabilities, those crazy old abandoned ideas for more complicated configurations start to become feasible though.

Here’s a guy who builds a Magnus Effect plane from KFC buckets and flies it. He DOESN’T have an intelligent computer feedback loop to control instabilities so it’s… instable. You would have to do that before advertising it as a safe mode of transport.

I think it would be worthwhile to control the speed of the buckets independently.

Why would one want rotating cyclinders instead of airfoils? You can get more lift out of shorter wings, that’s why – so it would be useful for near-VTOL aircraft in cramped city environments.

If anyone has an idea about the relative energy efficiencies of airfoil planes vs. Magnus planes vs. Quadcopters, drop me a note.

I would suspect that a Magnus plane is not terribly suitable for FAST flying due to the air resistance of the big cylinders. So it’s more like a city air taxi than a long distance plane in my opinion…

Another idea: If you already have those big cylinders, fill them with Helium or hydrogen to get added lift, making it a hybrid of a plane and an airship – increasing possible payload.


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