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Toys Anime

Jet-powered Nausicaa Glider Project 346

SuperElectric writes "As reported on slashdot.jp, Opensky is a project led by media artist Kazuhiko Hachiya to implement a working, jet-powered version of Moewe, the vehicle (pic) that the heroine rides on in "Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind". They've successfully test-flown (.mov, 8.6MB) a 1/2 scale model, and are moving into phase 2, which includes interviewing for test pilots (women only!). Can anybody knowledgeable in experimental aeronautics speculate on how doable this is? While it's not designed for general production (riders must be less than 50 kg/120 lbs), this would certainly beat Segway any day!"
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Jet-powered Nausicaa Glider Project

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  • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:14PM (#8347114) Homepage Journal
    And Nausicaa wears no underwear. Not that I was looking or anything...

    Don't pay any attention to the stacks of Sailor Moon and tentacle porn DVDs under my bed!
  • by Naut ( 211748 ) <acesareo@gmai l . c om> on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:16PM (#8347119)
    Cool when can I have one , and does it play mp3's ?
  • I'd bet the plane turns out the same way: extra crispy :)
  • Oh man... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:17PM (#8347130) Homepage Journal
    You know these things [petworks.co.jp] look cool in cartoons, but you'll probably have bugs in yer eyes, wind noise in your ears, sore arms and it really won't really be any fun.

    Well, off to join my buddy Wile E. Coyote, walking off cliffs and holding up little signs and waving bye-bye before I fall and that sort of thing.

    • Re:Oh man... (Score:2, Informative)

      by bishiraver ( 707931 )
      Bugs in yer eyes, wind noise in your ears
      That's what a helmet and goggles are for.
      sore arms
      That's what intense physical training is about :)
    • Harden up (Score:3, Insightful)

      It doesn't look much worse than riding a fast motorcycle. Maybe they'd need to add a small windshield for the pilot if the nose didn't separate enough of the airstream, and flying inverted might be hard work, but that's all part of the fun.
      • by Tau Zero ( 75868 ) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @12:19AM (#8347435) Journal
        It would be much worse than riding a fast motorcycle, because most'cycles (even fast ones) have enough stablility to be ridden hands-off.

        That flying wing sure isn't going to. Just the pendulum instability from the offset between CG and CL (that's center of gravity and center of lift for you 'dotters who never study anything but web engines and FPS technique) is going to drive you bats, and each change in thrust or drag is going to result in pitch moments. If designed badly, these can be fatal; if you have any doubts about this, you should look into the history of "interesting" airplanes like the original Mignet HM-14 Flying Flea [valkyrie.net].

        There is a very real possibility of any such craft having serious PIOs (pilot-induced oscillations). Have them in a situation where you have no time to recover, and you can lose the airframe along with the crew.

        While I am a firm believer in the value of Darwin Awards, I thnk that such a machine should not be flown with a human aboard. No matter how utterly fucking kewl all those anime fans would think it was, their refusal to recognize the distinction between cartoon physics and reality is not worth someone else's life, or undamaged brain, or functional spinal cord. It's appropriate that such a machine fly with only a dummy aboard; if it cracks up, you've got a hilarious photo-op rather than a tragedy.

        • With an attitude like that, it's a wonder how Wright brothers managed to create a successful "flying machine". I mean, when you think about it, what they did was by far more dangerous!!! At least now, these guys are working with existing knowledge of flight mechanics.

          • by Tau Zero ( 75868 )
            ... I made reference to the Flying Flea?
            With an attitude like that, it's a wonder how Wright brothers managed to create a successful "flying machine". I mean, when you think about it, what they did was by far more dangerous!!!
            You're exactly right. Which is why we should not be repeating deadly mistakes for the sake of cartoon fans.
          • Grow up. (Score:3, Informative)

            by nuntius ( 92696 )
            Read up on the Wright brothers some time. They were losing pilots (and planes) at an alarming rate.

            A large number of the losses were caused by pilots (barnstormers) trying to show off. The Wrights and others were constantly trying to figure out how to prevent this before bad press killed aviation.

            Now we have enough experience in aerodynamics and control theory to say something *is* dangerous, and you get in a huff about some guy's "attitude" for pointing out the dangers.

            Dreams and experimentation belon
        • An unloaded test doesn't really address the stability concerns with a rider. The weight distribution is going to be a lot different with a rider. They should try it with a "crash test dummy". Like the Segway, it may need gyroscopes and a computer to keep it from flipping over.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 21, 2004 @02:31AM (#8347864)
          > Just the pendulum instability from the offset between CG and CL ... is going to drive you bats, and each change in thrust or drag is going to result in pitch moments.

          Flying wings, even well designed ones that don't have the problems you identified, have 3 instabilities that are more problematical than on conventionally tailed planes.

          The first is a lack of pitch stability. To be stable they must have a reflex curve on the trailing edge (or similar) to give a downforce at that point so that as lift is lost approaching a stall the wing pitches down (no longer held up by the reflex). Without this they stall viciously.

          Unfortunately the short lever given by the lack of length makes this reflex very sensitive to small changes and the wing 'nods'.

          The 2nd problem is directional instability, even with wing tip fins the plane does not fly in the direction it is pointed.

          The 3rd is more serious and is conic instability. When the wing banks and turns the outer wing is faster than wing on the inside of the turn. This gives more lift to the outside wing which then causes more banking. This can happen to tailed planes but with flying wings there is insufficient control leverage to avoid going pear shaped and winding up in an inverted spin.

          Hang gliders cope with these because they have very large pendulum stability.

        • Let's not be too harsh. The vehicle was not designed by an idiot. The films of Miyazaki are filled with themes of flying because his family made airplane parts for Japan during the WWII. (which also explains the harsh perspective on war and conflict in Nausicaa and Mononoke) Miyazaki's mecha designs may not have much geek appeal, but I think he has a better gut feeling for flying than most. Besides, the success of the scale model flights counts for something, doesn't it? :-)
    • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:57PM (#8347339) Homepage
      Well, they had some pretty damn big bugs in Nausicaa, so that's a significant point of concern.
    • Problems I see with it:

      - The 1/2 scale jet didn't have a 1/2 scale doll with 1/2 scale weight riding on the top.

      - As mentioned earlier bugs and stuff will be a big problem they should mount a camcorder at least and get an operator/rider perspective before live test flights (plus I wanna see the video on-line!).

      - Speaking about Wile E. Coyote, I remember the toons where he rides stuff similar to that and cannot turn fast enough and ends up smashing into a wall or something - I wouldn't want to see real p

      • Re:Oh man... (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        They have images from the onboard camera at:

        http://www.petworks.co.jp/~hachiya/aso_photo/ind ex .htm

        They are the ones near the end.
    • What's the stall speed on that thing, 90MPH? I think they mispelled the name, it should be "Eeeow."

  • MOV (Score:5, Funny)

    by FiberOpPraise ( 607416 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:17PM (#8347131) Homepage
    So Ya, Post a 8.6MB Movie file on the front page of /. and see what happens... GOOD JOB!!
  • Doesn't matter (Score:5, Informative)

    by MC_Cancer_Pants ( 728724 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:17PM (#8347133)
    Totoro died [nausicaa.net], I have no reason to live anymore.
  • Slashdot.jp?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mr.henry ( 618818 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:19PM (#8347144) Journal
    WTF.. how long has this been around?
  • 10 lbs. (Score:2, Interesting)

    If I could lose 10 lbs. do you think they'd let a guy be a test pilot? 6'2" 130 lbs... Anyway, regardless of how "doable" this is, doesn't it seem like a potentially dangerous means of transportation. I mean, I could understand people who already hang glide wanting one, but would you really feel safe flying this around a busy city? Granted, even if you don't feel safe, you'd look bad ass.
    • Re:10 lbs. (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      At 6'2" 130 lbs, how are you going to lose 10 lbs? Amputate a limb?
    • From the look of the outfit you'd have to wear, I suspect a female figure is pretty much mandatory. ...So I guess it boils down to "How far are you prepared to go to be a test pilot? Are you prepared to take one (or, more accurately, lose two) for the sake of the team?"

      Hmm?
  • by Bobdoer ( 727516 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:20PM (#8347154) Homepage Journal
    Why? Those people who can use this gilder are either: naturally small and/or fairly in shape. The Segway, however, has no such restrictions, and allows anyone to go fast without effort.
    In shorter: wider (figuratively) audience == good.
  • by Xpilot ( 117961 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:20PM (#8347159) Homepage
    This is taking "cosplay" to a whole new level. Now with real working props!

  • Cool... (Score:5, Funny)

    by wizz0bang ( 611592 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:23PM (#8347171)
    Yes, but now to the real question: can they make the Batplane?
  • Women only? (Score:5, Informative)

    by T0t0r0_fan ( 658111 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:26PM (#8347188)

    which includes interviewing for test pilots (women only!)

    Actually, I remember the FAQ saying that women are preferable, weight and all :) Though I'm not that proficient in Japanese, and babelfish spits out mostly nonsense, so might have missed something. Don't forget, Nausicaa wasn't the only one able to fly such a glider well...

    P.S. Please stop with those underwear jokes! See the movie(and watch what people are wearing), RTFF at nausicaa.net and keep in mind the messed up colours, too.(OT: read the manga too :)
    • Japanese being Japanese something's probably lost in the translation, similar to "Japanese preferred" bars - good luck getting in...

      But I think it's more in keeping with the project anyway. I'd say there must be some hotshot Japanese snowboarder chicks with the balance and coordination to fly that thing. Marketing is soo much easier when the test pilot is an extreme hottie. And to all the naysayers, I ask you, how say is a motorcycle compared to this? Answer is not much worse: Crash a ZXR at anything more
    • According to the official announcement:

      (1) Females are strongly preferred.
      (2) Weight limits of 35kg (77lbs) and 50kg (100lbs)
      (3) Age limits of 20 and 35
      (4) Two pictures: one which shows the face and another which shows the whole body.

      Sounds more like an audition for a movie or something...

  • It will fly (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bagheera ( 71311 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:29PM (#8347202) Homepage Journal
    The simple fact that they've flown a 1/2 scale model indicates they have the aerodynamic controlls down well enough to get it into the air. From just looking at the model, it seems like it would be inherently unstable and require some respectably fast computer mediation of the controls.

    Would _I_ fly it? (assuming I was the size of an "Anime babe") I would have to say "Maybe." If it had a recovery chute, it would probably be safe enough - and a real hoot to fly.

    Though laying on TOP of a running jet engine doesn't seem like fun. Worse than piloting an old style racing sidehack...

    • Re:It will fly (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Avihson ( 689950 )
      I can think of a lot of negatives:
      Noise of a jet that close to your head,
      An Intake that close,
      ditto for hot exhaust gasses
      the thought of injesting foreign objects and having a T-wheel cut me open is not fun.
      I would rather have the wing above, and not spoil the view, if I am going to lay prone.

      What is wrong with a BD-5J with fold up wings as seen in James Bond? At least he can sit like a human.

    • Re:It will fly (Score:2, Informative)

      by T0t0r0_fan ( 658111 )
      You don't have to lay on TOP, you can also hang at the BOTTOM, in theory at least(and in the movie). Isn't that how they want to carry out the first test fly(no engine, the person runs with the Mehve over him/her and jumps off the roof of some building :)?(Looks quite interesting and quite a bit more stable, apparently)
      Btw, I believe there was a lengthy discussion on the mailing list about the computer-controlled possibility, not coming down to much, though...Anyways, I don't think it's _supposed_ to be eas
  • doable (Score:4, Funny)

    by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:30PM (#8347205) Homepage Journal
    They've successfully test-flown a 1/2 scale model, and are moving into phase 2, which includes interviewing for test pilots (women only!). Can anybody speculate on how doable this is?

    Well, all they really need to do now is find a midget to fly the thing and its done!
  • by dupper ( 470576 ) <adamlouis@gmail.com> on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:30PM (#8347208) Journal
    We're stabbing Picard in the heart, again?
  • by gnuman99 ( 746007 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:34PM (#8347231)
    (riders must be less than 50 kg/120 lbs) Sooo, this excludes like 95% of all americans.....
  • Landing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dekar ( 754945 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:35PM (#8347233)
    I'm curious about the degree of comfort when landing this thing. The undercarriage looks awfully small and your feet would most probably hit the ground before you go down to a decent speed. I'd hate to have to jump off in mid-air and perform a bad-ass roll everytime I have to go somewhere! (While also destroying my mean of transportation in a spectacular crash.) (These people might have played BF1942 before and realized that's how everyone land in that game, so it must be the best way to do it...)
  • by zalas ( 682627 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:35PM (#8347237) Homepage
    This just in:
    Scientists at an unknown and undisclosed location are researching into how to create giant bugs that clean up pollution. Plans have been made for a test run of these bugs in New Jersey. Details at 10!
    • Our toxic waste will defy you! The swamps will swallow you up, and just wait until you reach Newark! Mwa ha ha ha haha!

      (note mouth moving out of sync with English words)
    • Scientists at an unknown and undisclosed location are researching into how to create giant bugs that clean up pollution
      ...while the Pentagon, realizing that dropping metal rods from space [slashdot.org] is a waste of money, announces plans to produce giant genetically engineered soldiers armed with lasers and tac nukes. In an interview, Rumsfeld mentions that "our God Soldiers will be able to destroy any potentially hostine nation in just a few Days of Fire." Germany and France have already condemned the American plan,
  • by borgheron ( 172546 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:41PM (#8347261) Homepage Journal
    Anime is one thing, but bringing this idea to life as a jet powered aircraft which could potentially take the life of the person piloting it in some, not too pleasant ways is yet another.

    GJC
  • Speculation (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:41PM (#8347262)
    Can anybody knowledgeable in experimental aeronautics speculate on how doable this is?

    IANAAE (I am not an aeronautical engineer), but I am willing to speculate that it is not doable with legos. Not even with Mindstorms.

  • Noise? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gray ( 5042 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:42PM (#8347266)
    Last time I checked, at the best of times, jet engines ain't quite.
  • ...erm?!. (Score:5, Informative)

    by matthewmichaelagee ( 555968 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:45PM (#8347281) Homepage
    Watching the video, I was about to comment that shouldn't they consider including a dummy pilot in their half-sized flight model?

    Then I saw the end of the film.

    THAT THING'S FREAKING HUGE!

    Seriously, there *is* a dummy pilot on their test model, but she's about the size of a 12-inch Star Wars doll. What's that going to put the full-sized mehve at, like a thirty-foot wingspan?!

    It's waycool work and all, I don't deny that, but Nausicaa's mehve was a personal aircraft she could drag about tossed over her shoulder, and it was mostly steered by shifting her body weight, non unlike a hangglider. The big difference was that its jet propulsion gave it enough speed that it didn't need to be so large as a hangglider in order to generate sufficient lift.

    That's what made it so amazing, and that's what made too fantastic to replicate in real life. These designers' trick? Make the thing so UNGODLY HUGE that the pilot has a minimal impact upon its aerodynamics and center of gravity.

    So, waycool that they built it and all, but not nearly as cool as the tiny personal aircraft in the original manga.
    • So, waycool that they built it and all, but not nearly as cool as the tiny personal aircraft in the original manga.

      No way! What you need is a flying surf board [prohosting.com]. Let's see you build one of those.

    • I haven't seen anyone discuss the obvious possibility of this being a hoax (of course, I do browse at +4...). It looks way more like a model airplane that someone modified to look like it ran off a jet engine. The video looks a lot more like a normal prop plane with jet-engine sound effects pasted over it (okay, they made an effort to match doppler effect to the video). The plane's aerodynamic behavior clearly indicates low-speed propeller-powered flight, not jet powered flight.
  • My worry (Score:5, Funny)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:49PM (#8347303) Homepage
    I hope the guy who invented this glider doesn't use performance-enhancers, go insane, and start blowing up New York while wearing a Green Goblin costume.

  • I've been wondering how big a wingspan would be required to support a person while flying wing-in-ground effect, gliding downhill.

    Or something like that.

    A kind of very low altitude glider but I'm thinking it would only need a short wingspan?

    No engine.

    (The thing in the article seems to be described variously as a glider and as having a jet engine. Am I missing something here?)
  • by GoMMiX ( 748510 )
    Lets see, that's no more Dr. Pepper, no more Coffee, no more pizza, no more beer[!!!!!!!!!!!!!]...

    My God, this is the spawn of Satan!!!!!!!!!

    It must burn!!!!!
  • It was cool (Score:3, Funny)

    by fireman sam ( 662213 ) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @12:01AM (#8347361) Homepage Journal
    I had a go of the first prototype, but it made me nauseous

    score: -1 pun
  • That Slashdot.jp site is cool.. all of the articles are ?????????????
  • by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <r_j_prahad@hotma ... m minus math_god> on Saturday February 21, 2004 @12:02AM (#8347369)
    I didn't know suicide was still a popular thing to do in Japan. The aircraft in the photo looks spectacularly unstable.

  • Based on the sound from the video, this craft is clearly using a Class-I jet engine. These were phased out of use by all but older military craft (which were grandfathered in) due to excessive noise.
  • Feasibility (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CHaN_316 ( 696929 ) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @12:05AM (#8347381)
    "Can anybody knowledgeable in experimental aeronautics speculate on how doable this is?"

    IANAAE (I-am-not-an-aeronatical-engineer, yes folks, a new acronym is born) but I think this thing is pretty dang doable.

    Which illustrates the point...why would you consult slashdot for aeronautical advice?
  • Inherently unstable (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 21, 2004 @12:52AM (#8347543)
    I flew hang gliders for years. This thing looks like a death trap. The center of mass is on top of the wing. It should be hanging underneath like a hang glider. Just look at bag fags (I mean parapente pilots) to see the extreme case of a wing stabilized by the mass hanging underneath. So to turn it, you oooch over a little bit to lean it, oooch too far and over she goes. Front, back left or right, it doesn't matter. Maybe it flies well upside down though. Guess they'll find out. Hope they have enough altitude when they do though. How do you land it? You can't flare it like a hang glider.

    Sheesh.
    • The center of mass is on top of the wing. It should be hanging underneath like a hang glider.


      Time to think out of the box. Where do you think the CG of a typical airliner craft is? And where are the wings?

      Answers:
      1) just short of halfway up the fuselage.
      2) near the bottom of the fuselage.

      Just because hangliders work that way doesn't mean all aircraft do.

  • ...as opposed to propeller-powered gliders, I guess. Sounds like something military intelligence cooked up....
  • by ashitaka ( 27544 ) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @01:20AM (#8347652) Homepage
    From the German for "Seagull".

    The opening sequence in Nasuicaa where she glides over the desert is really fantastic if you're into flying although you know in the back of your mind something like this would never be stable.
  • by carambola5 ( 456983 ) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @01:24AM (#8347659) Homepage
    There is nothing that says that this thing cannot fly ever. Sure, there are many calculations to perform, but the design isn't inherently unusable.

    First of all, the main thing to notice is the lack of a tail. The main difficulty with the lack of a tail is that you need to balance both Cm (moment coefficient) and AOA (angle of attack) with the trailing edge of the same airfoil, namely the wings. While possible, it's not an easy thing to do. Essentially, for the vehicle to be stable, it needs to have a positive pitching moment at zero AOA (Cmo) and a negative derivative of the pitching moment with respect to AOA (Cmalpha). With a flying wing, the positive Cmo is not difficult to achieve, it's the negative Cmalpha that's difficult. Think of it this way, if the plane is disturbed such that the nose goes up (ie: updraft), the plane needs to have the nose tend down. Tails are really good for this, but without a tail, it's pretty difficult.

    The simplest solution is to push back the aerodynamic center (AC) of the wing. Since most wing profiles have an AC at about 1/4 chord (25% from leading edge) for subsonic applications, a profile not used commonly must be used. Once again, this can be done... it's just not very common.

    The winglets are a nice touch... helps decrease downwash and therefore overall lift. That, and I think winglets are sexy.

    Yes, I'm an aeronautical geek. Deal.
    • Interestingly, the original Mehve has no winglets and a very different wing profile. I wonder how much stability is gained by using the winglets.
      • A wing profile is the cross-sectional area of the wing. You're probably thinking of the planform shape, which is the shape you see when looking straight down (or up) at the plane. The profile is the shape when looking at a section of the wing from the side.

        Also, winglets don't contribute much to stability. They reduce the rate at which air flows from the bottom of the wing to the top at the edges. The difference in pressures, which causes the lift, can't simply jump from low to high... there must be a
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @01:36AM (#8347690) Homepage
    They're clearly trying for static stability. Look at all that dihedral [petworks.co.jp] and the big winglets. But big dihedral angles tend to induce Dutch roll. With no tail, that's going to be a problem. They're doing well with the model, but if you watch the videos, there's a 1Hz or so roll oscillation. That's a half-sized model, of course. The full sized one should oscillate at a lower rate.

    It's possible to build very stable aircraft, but they have high drag, because the stabilizing aerodynamic forces are fighting each other. Engine power can overcome this, which is what they're doing. This isn't a glider.

    If this thing is ever flown successfully by a human, it's going to be an experienced test pilot who flies the thing. Someone who's flown very unstable aircraft. It's not going to be steered by leaning; it will need a full set of control surfaces. And they'll have to figure out some way to attach the pilot to the craft.

  • by gsfprez ( 27403 ) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @04:57AM (#8348248)
    color me unimpressed...

    i've been flying Zagi flying wings [zagi.com] for about 2 years now..

    bfd.

    this thing doesn't even look as big or as fast as the new dual engine Zagi XT [zagi.com], which basically is just a $250 70 mph crash just waiting to happen. :-)

    holy shit - those videos are crazy.. you have better be someplace where augering in at 90 mph is not a big deal... and you better have reaction times like a rattlesnake on a triple espresso.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:07AM (#8348529) Journal

    Someone build a fun new plane they have succesfully tested. Not some toy model but fully functional jet plane that can take of and land and is easily controlled by remote.

    And what is the reaction? Oh it will never fly, it did fly. It is to unstable to control, they did control it and without a crash. Now most /. stories have a lot of uninformed opinions but usually there are at least a couple of people who happen to know what they are talking about. Where are the pilots today?

    The thing does fly, wether it is safe with a human on top remains to be seen. But the aircraft without the pilot is not that different from a simple flying wing design. Flying wings are hardly new.

    What is different is the placement of the payload. In the movie she lies down flat on top of it and stands on it. Most flying wing designs put the payload inside the wing.

    First of laying on top of it. While this would be the most logical thing to do (look at a commercial airliner and replace the tube of the fuselage with a human body same idea) and not disrupt the aircrafts stability you would be just a passenger since there are no traditional controls (some way to move the ailerons) and you would be unable to affect the aircraft much with a shifting in weight (yes hanggliders can but the pilot is farther away from the wing making a small movement have a bigger effect). Depending on the size of the final aircraft you would also have to be carfull not to let the feet dangle in front of the exhaust. A running jet engine is not something you want to be close too. (carrier crew member around?).

    Standing on top of it would create a huge amount of drag but would be doable. It is hardly a new stunt to stand on the wings of an aircraft. Don't forget that even the scale model is hardly small. The final aircraft would be pretty normal in wingspan to existing single seaters. As for controlling the aircraft in this way. Unless the aircraft is naturally very close to stable but not to stable I think it would be hard. Airliners are designed to be stable and the aircraft needs constant pressure to change its flightpath from straight and level. An F16 is extremely unstable and can only be flown by a computer. The pilot only telling the computer what the desired attitude is.

    Both are not exactly designs you would want to control by shifting weights around. All but hanggliders control flight by altering the shape of the wing (correct me if I am wrong). This might be the hardest thing to do. BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE. If the aircraft can be made stable enough of its own then a mere shifting of weight should affects its flightpath. Only direct control you can't do without is a throttle.

    Moving between lying down and standing up would also significantly alter the profile of the aircraft. Unless the final aircraft is so big that the change in drag is meaningless.

    I am not a flight engineer but I do have an avid intrest in flight and am the kinda idiot that devours books and docu's on flight pioneers. I think the makers of this plane know a lot more about flight then me and the people that have reacted so far.

    Cool stuff.

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