The Pivoting Wing Paradigm
Breaking the Fixed Wing/Rotary Wing Paradigm
Part of the vision of flying has always been to fly like a bird, taking off from small spaces, yet swooping and diving at high speeds. It is the stuff of dreams. Helicopters were a partial answer at best, and served as an alternative to fixed wing aircraft. These two heavier-than-air types have been so all-pervasive that they came to comprise a paradigm, one so strong that it is difficult to think in terms of any true alternative to those two, the fixed wing and the rotary wing.
The dramatic experiments over the years have been for the most part merely combinations of these two aircraft types: the X-wing, the scissors wing, the stop-rotor, the tilt-rotor, the tilt-wing, the tilt-ducted fan and so on. In the largest sense they are all variations on a theme, and can be well-understood just by thinking in terms of the conventional Paradigm.
Stand an airplane or a flying wing on its tail for takeoff, and you have the Pogo or the Heliwing. Once again the vehicle is either propeller-borne or wing-borne, and the Paradigm holds.
Substitute "jet" for "rotary wing" as a means of generating and vectoring thrust in combination with a fixed wing fuselage, and you are still inside the Paradigm. Here lie the Harrier jump jets and the JAST/ASTOVL combat jet concepts.
For all these aircraft types the transition state between modes of flight is inherently unstable, something to shy away from: dragons be there. At best one can linger with the dragons only with a very aggressive, intelligent and expensive stability augmentation system, and best not for long even then.
Breaking the Paradigm
It is possible to look at all these hybrids as trying to conquer thrust-vectoring with brute-force high technology. The Freewin Tilt-Body is a concept that can be understood and internalized only by stepping outside the Paradigm. Sometimes things can work better when we stop trying to control them.
For example, in the 1980s NASA sponsored an investigation to devise a technology to mitigate turbulence. The researchers began with a Cessna and conceived an active gust-damping system. On a long boom protruding from the nose of the vehicle there were sensing vanes. The researchers decided to install special servos on all the control surfaces, and even added some control surfaces that were altogether new. The idea was that the vanes would enter turbulence before the airplane itself, the quality of the gusts would be analyzed by onboard computers, and directions sent to all the control surfaces. The intent was, essentially, to dive down into upward gusts, up into downward gusts, etc., thus improving ride quality in bumpy air.
Did this system work? Sure. For this they paid a price of cost, complexity, safety, weight, reliability, and maintainability. How does a similar Cessna-size pivoting wing fare? At least as well, according to NASA CR-1523 of 1970.
Sometimes it's better to let things work themselves out.
Letting go of the Paradigm
Letting go as a new Paradigm
Imagine a different kind of airplane: in pitch the wing is free with regard to the fuselage, and the fuselage is free with regard to the wing, and together they are free with regard to gusts of wind.
Instead of fighting turbulence, the wing is allowed to yield. So it does yield, by itself. By not resisting turbulence, turbulence is neutralized.
Instead of forcing the wing to a certain angle of attack, the wing is allowed to adjust itself. And so it does, by itself, maintaining its own angle of attack more precisely than any fixed wing. And, oh by the way, stalls, a major contributor to aviation accidents, are eliminated in one fell swoop.
Instead of forcing the thrust line away from the direction of flight, the vehicle is allowed to vector its own thrust. And this it does, in a way that for the first time is inherently stable, and uses almost no moving parts.
In short, the Freewing™ Tilt-Body is a new class of aircraft that offers multiple revolutionary breakthroughs in comfort, safety and performance, eliminating the need for airports and saving lives, and scalable to all sizes and types of aircraft.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.
The world is won by letting things
take their own course ...
Nothing under heaven is as
soft and yielding as water.
Yet for attacking the hard and strong,
nothing can compare with it.
- Lao Tzu