Most aeroplanes take off horizontally from a specially built runway. A new chapter in the history of aviation began with the development of aeroplanes that could take off or land vertically. This first happened on 2 November 1 954 when a small Convair aeroplane named the XFY-1 and nicknamed Pogo. rose straight into the air through the force produced by two propellers that measured almost 5 metres long. The two propellers rotated in opposite directions to each other and were driven by a turbine of 5,850 horse power.
The first study into vertical takeoff began in the United States in 1 920; but it took more than thirty years to solve the many problems surrounding the project.
An aeroplane that takes off or lands on the ground vertically, like a helicopter, is called a VTOL which are the initials of ‘vertical take-off and landing’. Another VTOL that resembled the Pogo was the X-1 3. an American machine fitted with a jet turbine. The way in which a jet aeroplane can take off at a very steep angle with its nose high in the air is one of the by-products of research in this field.
Another means of obtaining VTOL flight was to develop variable jet outlets as was done on the Kestrel. Yet another method is to incline the source of the thrust, such as the rotors, propeller blades or engines, to the required angle. This is the method used in the German aeroplane VJ-1O1C and for the American X-1 9 and X-22A.
A fourth system is to move the wings of the aeroplane in an arc of 90° so that the engines exert vertical power. This is the system used in the American aeroplane XC-1 42.
One of the most successful VTOLs is the Hawker Siddeley Harrier which is in service with the U.S. Marines and the Royal Air Force. This aircraft works by diverting part otthe thrust of its jet engine downwards at take-off and landing, providing as much lift as the Harrier pilot requires to manceuvre effectively.
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