The Museum Campus is closed at 12:30pm today due to inclement weather. 

IN RESTORATION: A MODERN MAGIC CARPET

Apr 29, 2013

Evergreen Museum

Written By: Stewart Bailey / Museum Curator

Nearly 1000 years ago, a series of stories came out entitled “1001 Arabian Nights” and it featured a wondrous creation; the magic flying carpet.  Ever since, people have wanted a device that could effortlessly whisk them through the air to their desired destination.  While the Wright Brother’s creation gave humans the gift of flight, it was still too complex for the novice, and engineers have been working ever since to make flying machines more like a magic carpet.

In the early 1950s, Charles Zimmer of the National Advisory Committee on Aviation (fore-runner of NASA) developed the idea for a personal rotor craft that was guided by the motions of the pilot’s body.  This principle was called “kinesthetic control” and several companies including Hiller, Bensen and DeLackner put it into practice on new, one-man rotorcraft designs. Their goal was to give their operator an ability to fly freely and quickly with minimal training.

Of all the designs, the most radical (and possibly the most dangerous) was the DeLackner DH-4 Heli-Vector.  Designed by Lewis C. McCarty, it featured a small platform for its operator to stand on, above a pair of counter-rotating 15’ foot blades, and was powered by a modified Mercury Marine outboard motor.  Airbags under the central structure and on four poles served as landing gear and made it amphibious as well.

helivector-500x400

First flown in November, 1954 the DH-4 showed enough promise that the US Army ordered 12 copies designated HZ-1 Aerocycle.  Their hope was that it would be an easy-to-fly way for troops to cross minefields or rough terrain; letting them serve as the eyes and ears of the Army, like the old horse cavalry.  Unfortunately, testing of the HZ-1 in 1956 proved that the Aerocycle was not easy to fly, and it had a tendency to kick up rocks and debris at the pilot.  What’s more, the rotor blades flexed at high speeds and collided, causing them to shatter and the platform to drop like a rock.  Amazingly, test pilot Capt. Selmer Sundby, survived two such crashes before the Army terminated the program.

Until last summer, only one Aerocycle was known to have survived and it was on display at the Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, VA.  Then in August 2012, Mr. Robert Cummins called the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum with the story of another Aerocycle, found in the former DeLackner Helicopter Company factory in New York. With Mr. Cummins help, the museum acquired the craft, and had it moved to the Evergreen facility at JFK Airport where the folks at Evergreen Aviation Ground Logistics Enterprises (EAGLE) crated it and shipped it to the museum aboard an Evergreen 747.

Arriving in McMinnville, the unique craft was inspected by the Restoration volunteers, which brought some surprising facts to light.  It turns out, that it was not just any Aerocycle, but the prototype; the DH-4 Heli-Vector.  Four original airbags, painted olive green for the Army demonstration flights were still attached, and under the dirt and grime, it still had most of its original parts which illustrated its hand-built nature.  Unfortunately some items were missing, giving the volunteers many mysteries to solve. The DeLackner Company closed long ago and there are no technical manuals available, so each day brings new questions and new opportunities to be “history detectives,” as the team tries to rebuild this treasure from the past.

While the DeLackner Heli-Vector and Aerocycles were not successful in their intended role, they do hold a unique place in aviation history.  They were an effort to make personal flight available to everybody and to provide people with a modern form of the “magic carpet.”

5 Comments

Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment

ZH1GeZTXuZtZ

I love all the pics! Your family (immediate and exntdeed) has the whole perfect family thing going on. You are all amazing! BTW, ran into your dad when I was in Klamath..at Big R of all places! xoxo

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My how your boys have grown! I know they enjoyed the park. Such a unquie water park you have in your town. It seems to draw a good crowd, and for good reason! Galveston just rebuilt the Historic Pleasure Pier this summer and it is a great tourist attraction that pulls in many tourists (almost too many for the size of our town) every weekend, and also during the week now that school is out for the summer. Come for a visit to our pier before your boys get too big for that! Bubba Gump is the anchor restaurant there. Wish I could visit your water park and most especially your wine tasting room. Maybe one day.

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Comment's author: phetreima03/31/07 01:24:00 AM我不想跟你抬槓了
因為爭議點不在於現象
而在於對於本能失效的定義上

至於阿宅吧
那是台灣在亂用
不過就算是日本 現在的用法也比以前寬廣了
傳統定義就真的是對於漫畫與動畫模形熱中的人
(嚴格定義的話 電玩是不算的 HG除外)
可是現在幾乎只要是對於非日常生活的專門事物有愛好
就可以算宅
我個人的定義的話
社交能力不健全 個性害羞 有點點反社會傾向
專注在日常生活之外的事物上 就可以算是宅
以你小玉那麼多的狀況來看
你應該算宅
--
大英前陣子有在故宮展
至於翠玉白菜人家故宮都說了是遷台的時候斷的
該死的中共
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comentou em 18 de agosto de 2011 às 01:51. Caraca!!! Então tá explicado… eu achando q Kristen tinha melhorado, é tudo culpa da make escândalo!!! Julia, que inƒeÂcívrl… ficou perfeito!

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