An End to Helicopters?

Not likely, but it looks like you might be able to use an airplane as a helicopter in some situations.

More on it can be found here.

Idle thought: I wonder if this technique can be used to aid in the eventual construction of the Space Elevator, what with the ability to ‘fly’ a rope into the sky and all.

Wow! That’s really neat!

:: imagines what you could do with a 747 and a really long cable… ::

I wondered if this was based on Nate Saint’s technique when I first saw it. Glad to see I was right…

Trying to compensate for wind with this technique would be pretty nasty, as they pilot has to fly an eliptical path, and try to keep oriented to the wind direction as he circles.

Then think about what happens if the cable gets hung up on, say, a fencepost.

Many years ago on one of those “stutman specials” they tried picking a guy off the ground using a biplane with this technique. It failed, and I think he suffered som pretty nasty cable burns to his hands.

You know who Nate Saint was!!!
[Treasures somewhat kindred spirit on the SDMB]

My dad really liked to waterski. He used the same technique (and had it used for him) when one person skiing would fall and the other one kept skiing while the first was being picked up. The boat would start orbiting the downed skiier, dragging the tow rope behind it, and the upright skiier would swing out as far as he could. The boat would circle tighter and tighter until the handle of the tow rope and the downed skiier were both at the middle of the circle. The downed skiier would grab the rope and signal, and the boat would straighten out so that he was skiing again and the other skiier would swing back in.

Flying that circle isn’t easy.

I spent a few months attached to an AC-130 gunship unit and got to ride along as an additional cockpit crewmember. They’re doing essentially the same thing, except their “cable” is a stream of outbound ammunition.

There was a lot of skill (aided by a lot of computerization) involved in holding the point of aim on or near the target as they circled in the wind.

A modern helo-as-skycrane can hold the hoist hook steady to within a few inches in decent conditions. No way you could do that with a fast moving (ie high lifting capacity) aircraft.

I don’t doubt Mr. Saint succeeded in delivering and picking up 10-20 lb loads from a low-speed airplane, but it’s a very different thing to pick up or deliver several thousand pounds with inches-level precision as helos do now.

This looks to me like another brilliant concept that won’t work outside the simulation.

LOL, last spring I saw some seriously amusing footage of a helo dropping a 5 ton training weight onto the piste at Laupheim…a nonexplosive cratering charge springs to mind…I can just imagine the training follies of that little move of a plane and a training weight.

I saw some footage of a firefighting helicopter that was carrying a bucket on a longline. The bucket hit a ridge and bouned up into the helicopter’s tail rotor. I believe the crash was fatal. :frowning:

Special training and an endorsement are required for carrying suspended loads.

Hmm … So, I’m looking at this illustration of how this works. As an object moves from being suspended motionless near the ground to being in the plane, it has to start moving with the plane, in the same circular path and at the same velocity. Look at the illustration and you’ll see that up near the plane, the rope is moving around, whirling like nobody’s business. I understand how the objects are stable near the ground, but it seems to me that any attempt to bring the objects back near the plane would result in them whipping around. What am I missing here?

Exactly. A very good friend of mine had been in the german military as a helo pilot for about 9 years, and we were watching some footage of his unit training…at least it let go over the piste instead of over the countryside somewhere … I do know that they train pretty constantly when they are not running missions of various types. Not sure if the US military does it, but the germans also use the military helos to do medevac stuff as well.

anybody know what medal has the nickname ‘ruby’? [or at least that s what it sounded like over the phone when he told me about it]