Introduced in the mid-1950s, the Coléoptère (French for "beetle") was one of many experimental aircrafts in history designed to take off and land vertically. According to Smithsonian Air & Space, the Coléoptère designer Helmut von Zborowski's idea was for "an annular, or doughnut-shaped, wing surrounding a fuselage and serving 'as power plant, airframe of a flying wing aircraft and drag-reducing housing. By injecting fuel into the gap between wing and fuselage, Zborowski theorized, he could turn his wing into a ramjet engine, and his aircraft into a supersonic interceptor." Apparently, it managed to take off and hover for a bit but horizontal flight proved to be quite a challenge. Still, it was quite an attention-grabber, even making it into Tintin magazine.
With a full annular wing, an enclosed cockpit, and a seat that tilted forward to allow the pilot a nearly upright position during hover, the Coléoptère soon attained celebrity status. Catherinettes—French bachelorettes who annually advertised their single status by wearing eccentric hats—donned papier-mâché Coléoptères…
The Coléoptère briefly and unexpectedly achieved horizontal flight only on its ninth and last foray, when the aircraft yawed during a powered descent that degenerated into wild oscillations—including a brief horizontal acceleration– preventing (test pilot Auguste) Morel’s ejection until just 160 feet above the ground. The aircraft burned, and Morel was badly injured.
"Cancelled: Vertical Flyer"
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
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LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.
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