Vertical Take-Off and Landing Drone & Tesla’s 1928 Patent
In August of 2014, NASA conducted a test flight of a Drone plane that is rooted in
some of the technology Tesla patented in 1928 in U.S. Patent #1,665,114 !
Tesla’s Ideal “Air Flivver”!
In January of 1928, Tesla received the last patent of his life, US Patent #1,665,144,
for a hybrid helicopter/aeroplane that had a rotor/tilt wing design powered by turbine engines.
In the New York Times, February 22, 1928, Tesla said he saw the airplane as the ideal “Air Flivver.”
A Flivver is sort of a crude ride, or a jalopy.
That is probably an accurate description, according to J. Gordon Leishman, professor of
aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland. Leishman, as quoted in
the Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine. Leishman noted that Tesla’s design would have
had some difficulties with stability and torque control. However, Tesla’s use of turbine engines
was “astonishingly prescient,” according to Roger Connor of the National Air and Space Museum
(as quoted in the same Air & Space Magazine article linked above). Connor says
Tesla “hit the bull’s-eye” with the turbine engine saying he believed Tesla’s patent to be
“the first time anyone proposed a turbine on a rotorcraft.”
To be fair, NASA’s “Greased Lightning” drown above is not the first implementation of this
type of technology. In fact, actual full-sized airplanes have been built using the technology.
The Convair XFY 1 Pogo Fighter (1955), the Bell XV-15 (1979) and the V-22 Osprey (Today),
but once again, Tesla was ahead of his time, even down to his last patent, having registered
this one just over 87 years ago and over 27 years before the Pogo was built!