05 July 2007

Piasecki Speed Hawk X-49A; or how to make a fourty year old idea new again...

Both Piasecki and Lockheed have tried something similar in the past. Lockheed doing it with it's competitor against the Hughes AH-64 Apache. The AH-56 Cheyenne had a (un)conventional main rotor paired with wings that also provided lift, a conventional tail rotor as well as a pusher prop rotor in the rear for added speed. Top speed was around 400 km/h. The AH-56 first flew on September 21, 1967. after a failure of one of the prototyped that lead to the death of the pilot the Army chose in favor of the AH-64.
Piasecki also tried a similar design in the early 1960s with its Piasecki 16H Pathfinder I and Pathfinder II. The Pathfinder I was powered by a PT6B-2 405 shp engine while the Pathfinder II was powered by a 1,250shp T58-GE-8. The Pathfinder I could reach a speed of 370 km/h.( no mention of the speed of the Pathfinder II).

On June 29, 2007 Piasecki did it again with the SpeedHawk a highly modified version of the already old UH-60 Black Hawk.

form an "secret projects" aviation forum:

Late Friday, Piasecki Aircraft re-entered the helicopter history books with a 15 minute flight of its unique compound helicopter design, the X-49A SpeedHawk.

Lifting off at Boeing’s Rotorcraft Div., Wilmington, Del, test facility at 7.50 pm the flight test team - which had worked all week to resolve a pesky shaft vibration problem - put the aircraft through a series of turns and a short forward flight sequence.

Pilots Steve Schellburg and ‘Snake’ Jackson guided the SH-60F-based helicopter - modified with its Piasecki-designed VTDP (vectored thrust ducted propeller) tail assembly - on a maiden voyage reportedly free of any problems.

A clearly delighted company chief executive John Piasecki tells rotorhub he regards the flight as the ‘beginning of the beginning’ for the return of compound helicopter flight efficiencies to the rotorcraft industry.

Compunds promise radical increases in speed and range for conventional helicopters by off-loading rotors in favor of wingborne flight.

The Piasecki design uses a ducted propeller to provide motive thrust, as well as vectored control of direction.

‘It’s been a long, long time coming, and we’re all savoring the moment,’ he said.

The team is utilising Boeing flight test telemetry facilities at Wilmington once used for V-22 testing, and - as reported in rotorhub last week - the latter is co-operating on the program because of potential interest in the VTDP design for future applications.

Piasecki has just signed a $3.1-million development contract with the Army’s AATD (Aviation Applied Technology Directorate) organisation in Ft. Eustis, Va., one of the more a forward-looking agencies often associated with pushing rotorcraft technology boundaries.

Piasecki says a 100-hour flight test program now lies ahead.

‘The schedule is still fluid but we anticipate being able to get this done within the rest of the year.’ The program will receive incremental funding as it progresses, he said.

The success of the first flight has enormous potential significance for a technology that many have often derided as impractical.

The Piasecki organisation stuck to its guns, however, working the problem resolutely for many, many years, drawing on bursts of funding enthusiasm mostly from within the Navy, the US Marine Corps and the Army.

‘A lot of people said this day would never come,’ Piasecki said. ‘Well, they were wrong.’

* A personal loss - the sudden death last week of Carl, USMC sergeant son of Terry Crews a well regarded figure in the helicopter industry - motivated the flight to be dedicated to him, Piasecki said.

03 July 2007

Independence Day

O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
'Tis the star-spangled banner - O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - "In God is our trust,"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Francis Scott Key-Sept. 14, 1814

I do not remember the last time so much conversation has been made of Independence Day as it has this year over the importance of the day its self and why we celebrate. Even after I had joined the Air Force it was just a day to flip burgers and enjoy life. That changed as I had aged a tad. Then September 11, 2001 occurred and all of our lives had changed. Even that very next year on Independence day we were all deployed and it was real to us but it had already died down back in the States. Our Independence was threatened by those who are willing to do whatever it takes to tear it out of our hands...and we sure as hell will fight them tooth and nail for the independence of our people, of our land, of our will and our hearts. It seemed to us that even that next year on July 4th 2002 that the spirit that had fallen over our nation had dwindled once again and then every year less and less sprit was shown on the streets, parade grounds, baseball games, back yard BBQs...But this year seems different. But why? What does the 231st year of our declared Independence mean? Why now? Everyone seems excited to celibate our freedom, Show support for those fighting in Uniform and to offer remorse to those who have fallen for us and our way of life. I want to thank you all for your support, your love, your will, your hearts, your fight, your desire and your patriotism. God knows, in these times we all could use just a tad more.

Take care and God Bless