Stories from an Aeronautic Vigilante

Opus in A Wish for Wings That Work

Architectural Drafting class was a class I was extremely fond of in high school. There we learned the rudiments of design and drafting. We even got our hands dirty constructing balsa models. We constructed bridges and tested them under stress. We even designed, drafted, and constructed stud model buildings.

Here is where things get really interesting. I noticed there was plenty of scrap lying around. When I had a free moment, I had an inkling to build a bizarre looking glider. For some reason, tri-planes fascinated me. So, I built one and flew it in the classroom. The nose was not heavy enough. I added more weight by adding a stabilizer fin to it and called it a keel. It had four ailerons in the back, instead of two. It was an odd beast, but it flew like a dream.

Naturally, it caught the attention of the other students. Our teacher did not seem to mind and even encouraged the exercise. Soon, other students joined in to build their own flying contraptions during their free period, and we all went to a balcony area on the second floor of the high school indoors to test our creations.

Most dropped like stones. Being a little limp wrist-ed in the attempt, my throw had very little power behind it. Nerves … nerves got in the way. However, my competence as an engineer shown through just as my classmates started in with their jeers. The small glider preternaturally pulled up just a foot from the ground and glided to the far end of the main atrium with the grace of a bird and the surety of an arrow reaching its mark.

What started out as one student goofing off sparked an interest in the entire class to compete in a brief aeronautic excursion.

This was not the first time I sparked such a creative uprising. In elementary school, I was just as inventive. Using the elastic string from my socks, scotch tape, paperclips, and some tissue paper, I made a makeshift hot air balloon. Actually, it was more like a parachute than a balloon. The effect was the same. I placed it above the vent on a vertical room heater, and the hot air bellowed the chute to the ceiling. The whole contraption would then gently sail to the floor causing curious eyes to stare in wonderment at this new toy I made from mere stationary. The whole class practically begged me to create more for them to try.

I still have not given up on my flights of fancy.

I even sometimes think of different jet engine designs. SciFi engines from Star Wars, ion engines, and pulse jets gave me such inspiration. I decided to put them all together in some amalgamation and came up with this, the plasma jet engine.

Plasma Jet Engine
Plasma Jet Engine

The engine uses the Browning Effect to start air flow through the intake. Ionized air is turned into plasma in the combustion chamber and forced through a small tube to the exhaust end. There is more to it, of course. But that is the gist of it.

This is a simple Ion Drive.
This is how an ion drive works.

The design is not that far-fetched as other researchers and engineers are attempting something similar using hydrogen gas and microwaves. Microwave emitters turn the hydrogen into a plasma, and superconducting magnets compress and force the plasma through to the exhaust end. The technical term for it is Magneto Hydrodynamic Propulsion.

This is a MHD propulsion system.

It has been quite some time since I dabbled like I did during my formative years. Life has a way of limiting us from activities we would rather be doing. But I still have dreams of seeing my creations streaking across the sky or sailing the sea of stars.