The flying aircraft carrier from movies like The Avengers and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow has come to life! Well, sort of. A small scale version of one exists, and it’s pretty Sam Jackson expletive-worthy.
The design comes via Flite Test, a show by flight enthusiasts for flight enthusiasts. They talked about the remote-controlled flying aircraft carrier on a recent podcast. It’s a basic design made of about $1,000 worth of parts with a quadcopter as the helicarrier’s base. But it wasn’t a super design. They said that the $130 motors they used to lift the carrier off the ground were lukewarm after one run, and the carrier could lift just 15 pounds. Still, a little model airplane successfully took off from the carrier’s deck in flight!
But could this ever become a viable way to transport small aircraft and provide a mobile service station? Maybe. But should it? Maybe not.
The US Navy built two rigid airships in the 1930s, the USS Akron and the USS Macon. Both of these helium-filled airships were designed for long-range support to reconnaissance aircraft, and both went through an experimental phase as floating aircraft carriers. The ships featured a “trapeze” installation, which was basically a giant hook that could be lowered down from below the balloon. Once extended, a pilot could maneuver his smaller aircraft to the hook, hitching a ride with this larger airship. Hangars built inside the ships gave technicians room to service up to five aircraft.
Airships as aircraft carriers were eventually abandoned because the vehicle got too heavy to lift itself. And that seems like the problem with any flying aircraft carrier; at some point the it will just be too big and heavy to efficiently get off the ground. But maybe someone — <cough> Tony Stark <cough> — will develop some new engine that will bring the helicarrier dream to life.
We should probably automate this thing right? That worked out for Captain America I think.
Feature image via Facebook/Flite Test