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Could the SHIELD Hellicarrier actually fly?
July 10, 2012 6:50 PM   Subscribe

Could the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier from The Avengers movie actually fly? Last link does the math and has homework.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (58 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not having read the links: no.
posted by kavasa at 6:55 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Seems like in the movie it could fly, but just very slowly. I mean, wasn't something like 60% of the film scenes from aboard that behemoth?
posted by Metro Gnome at 6:55 PM on July 10, 2012


With or without Mjölnir sitting on the flight deck?
posted by doctor_negative at 6:56 PM on July 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


Yeah but ducted fans are more better than helicopter rotors.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 6:57 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


With or without Mjölnir sitting on the flight deck?
Oh shit, I hadn't even noticed that before. The helicarrier and Thor are the same person!
posted by kavasa at 6:58 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh crap, next they will be telling us that Asgard isn't a real place!!!!
posted by GavinR at 7:00 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or the helicarrier is somehow "worthy".
posted by doctor_negative at 7:01 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Unobtanium in the hull.
posted by Artw at 7:07 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I want to see someone do this for Pegasus. I'm guessing each wing is the length of a bus
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:13 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only reason why the US congress hasn't spent trillions on trying to build a helicarrier is that no-one can work out which branch of the armed forces it should belong to.
posted by Ritchie at 7:17 PM on July 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


Alien technology trumps physics. It is just the stroke of a pen to add some sort of partial anti-grav.
Iron Man would have similar problems.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 7:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


The only reason why the US congress hasn't spent trillions on trying to build a helicarrier...

... is that the concept was already tried many times.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:24 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Unobtanium in the hull.

Unobtanium is of course defined as "that which you don't have and can't get". So clearly it must be Cavorite. The fans are actually there to hold the helicarrier down.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:26 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


No, but the flying carrier in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow could.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:28 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Do any of you actually read the comic books? The Helicarrier falls out of the sky about once an hour. Usually on Rhode Island.
posted by PapaLobo at 7:43 PM on July 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wasting time on this sort of thing is why we don't have a Mars Base yet.
Bloody scientists.
posted by Mezentian at 7:47 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


What about the Valiant?
posted by mediated self at 7:48 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unobtanium is of course defined as "that which you don't have and can't get". So clearly it must be Cavorite.

Nth metal.

/waits for the head of a comics fan somewhere to explode with rage.
posted by Artw at 7:48 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Mr. President, I have some bad news: the SHIELD Helicarrier has crashed."

"Where did it come down?"

"The State of Rhode Island, Mr. President."

"The State of which? You're not making sense."

"Rhode Island. It's the smallest state, adjacent to Connecticut."

"You're talking nonsense. There is no such state!"

"There is now, Mr. President."

"I see. Thank you Mr. Rhode."

"Any time, sir."
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


Marvel should put some of that insane box office take to use and build an inflatable helicarrier to float over NYC for the Avengers 2 promotion. My twelve year old self freaking the eff out would completely drown out my thirty year old self being cynical about the advertising.

Of course Ike Perlmutter would probably skimp on the budget so much that somebody'd have to blow it up with their mouth, but, y'know, worth a shot.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:54 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


My head exploded with rage, because I recall reading Brightest Day ...
posted by Mezentian at 7:56 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, it can't fly. It couldn't fly in the movie either. Loki just made everyone think it could.
posted by dumbland at 7:58 PM on July 10, 2012


If I remember, SHIELD has flying cars of some sort in the comics (the wheels folded down to become jets?). Could they fly? I'm assuming the answer would be "no, but almost".
posted by Mezentian at 8:07 PM on July 10, 2012


My head exploded with rage, because I recall reading Brightest Day ...

Red Lantern Mezenitian.
posted by Artw at 8:08 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


As long as we're evaluating possible futures based on 1960s era TV shows, I want to put in my vote for Kosho (from The Prisoner) as an Olympic sport.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:09 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Really, I am surprised with my rough calculations that it is even partially close to the power output of a real carrier.
3.17x1011 W and 1.94x108 W are not "partially close," they're more than three orders of magnitude apart. He's compared Nimitz class watts to Hellcarrier horsepower.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:21 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The power output is very obviously the Epic Love Story of Steve and Tony.
posted by elizardbits at 8:38 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aren't you supposed to wait until it's out on DVD before writing slashfic?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:40 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


'Course it could've flown. Does no one remember Cloudbase ?
posted by Webbster at 8:41 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's answer another question, would Steve Rodgers make out with me?

The answer may surprise you!
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 PM on July 10, 2012


Aren't you supposed to wait until it's out on DVD before writing slashfic

I'm pretty sure half of them where done before the movie was out.
posted by The Whelk at 8:46 PM on July 10, 2012


I think you mean Tony and Bruce. SCIENCE BROS 4EVA!!!!!!
posted by maryr at 9:02 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Come on, Tony would be humping everyone.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:07 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Point.
posted by maryr at 9:08 PM on July 10, 2012


A wizard did it.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:53 PM on July 10, 2012


If they really wanted to, they could probably engineer a floating airport using a series of hydrogen blimps. It might be challenging and lose money, but probably not theoretically impossible.
posted by Brian B. at 10:48 PM on July 10, 2012


As cool as they look on screen, and as much as they appeal to the 12-year-old in me, helicarriers are just silly.

The reason aircraft carriers are at all reasonable in the real world is not because they are floating metal cities -- loads of other ships surround them, with the primary purpose of protecting the behemoth sitting duck in their midst.

The reason helicopters are at all reasonable in the real world is not because of their inherent instability -- it is their versatility, their ability to take off vertically, their ability to hover, etc. They are, however, dangerous beasts with a nasty habit of crashing and killing everyone on board.

Helicarriers combine the worst of aircraft carriers and helicopters into a vast target with a propensity to fall out of the sky, causing mass destruction, every time a flock of geese hit their rotors.

They sure do look awesome, though.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I should append that I adore Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow with a fervor, and I have proclaimed boldly to my friends that Avengers is the Best Super Hero Movie Ever Made. :)
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:52 PM on July 10, 2012


If they really wanted to, they could probably engineer a floating airport using a series of hydrogen blimps. It might be challenging and lose money, but probably not theoretically impossible.

If all you wanted to do was hover (as opposed to rapidly fly from place to place) it's an idea that's been knocked around for a long time, and as far as I know, entirely solvable using existing materials. And at that scale you don't even need helium; at that scale solar heating of the internal atmosphere of a contained volume would be more than adequate, controlled by relatively simple mechanical systems like panels and vents. I'm not sure how you control for hurricanes and such but it should be impervious to any lesser force.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:58 PM on July 10, 2012


Come on, Tony would be humping everyone.

I believe Tony's armor has "got him covered", as it were.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:36 PM on July 10, 2012


You know he has a work around for that.
posted by The Whelk at 12:05 AM on July 11, 2012


If they really wanted to, they could probably engineer a floating airport using a series of hydrogen blimps.

Airships with parasitic heavier-than-air aircraft were built and used in the real world, though not very much. Airplanes (small biplanes) "landed" on the underside of the carrier dirigible with a hook-and-trapeze system and were then winched into the hangar.
posted by hattifattener at 12:07 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


If they really wanted to, they could probably engineer a floating airport using a series of hydrogen blimps.

I'm uncomfortable with the current state of TSA screenings. I can only imagine...
posted by Avelwood at 12:19 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]



Come on, Tony would be humping everyone.


And then I immediately thought of this classic from Robot Chicken.
posted by mikelieman at 5:17 AM on July 11, 2012


PapaLobo: "Do any of you actually read the comic books? The Helicarrier falls out of the sky about once an hour. Usually on Rhode Island."
"I've had the same car since I was 19 years old, never had a problem, yet THIS THING falls out of the sky every other Thursday." — Maria Hill, about the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier
posted by Karmakaze at 6:32 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mass is off, by an order of magnitude. Since this is a helicarrier, an aircraft, lightweight magnesium and titanium alloys and next generation composites like carbon-paper are used instead of steel, as well as weight-saving construction techniques... 107 is more reasonable - ten million instead of a hundred million kg's.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:40 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


With sufficiently strong materials (or force feilds) you could make it partially a vacuum blimp.
posted by Artw at 6:45 AM on July 11, 2012


Yeah, assuming the Helicarrier is operating with normal helicopter blades is a bad direction to go. A Harrier can hover using a much smaller set of 'blades' by using a different method for generating downward thrust. If the Helicarrier is using essentially jet engines for downward thrust, instead of helicopter blades, the calculations will be quite different.

But then you get into the question of if the jet-hovering helicarrier can fly and carry the weight of all the fuel it needs to remain in flight....dammit, I have to go to work, I don't have time for this.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:46 AM on July 11, 2012


From the wikipedia link (cited above) on Airborne Aircraft Carriers:

An airborne aircraft carrier or carrier aircraft is an aircraft which can carry other smaller aircraft. These are typically large aircraft.

Sometime's it's impossible to tell if wikipedia is making fun of you or not.
posted by ominous_paws at 8:29 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was like, yeah yeah, of course it wouldn't fly, but who cares? But the article is actually worth a skim read just for the "fixed image" at the end.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:58 AM on July 11, 2012


Well it probably crashes all the time because the go-around route if you miss the arresting wire gets you sucked in to the propeller.
posted by ckape at 9:52 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also important:

In the film Batman Begins, Batman can glide from
tall buildings using his 'memory cloth' cape, which
becomes rigid when a current is passed through it.
This method of gliding is similar to that used by base
jumpers with wingsuits, where the wingsuit acts as an
aerofoil to create a horizontal force propelling the base
jumper forwards.
This paper analyses whether Batman could generate
enough lift to glide successfully.
[PDF]
posted by chavenet at 11:02 AM on July 11, 2012


So...if you blow Batman's cape it gets hard?
posted by maryr at 12:12 PM on July 11, 2012


*eye squinting*

....yes.
posted by The Whelk at 12:14 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The codpiece is a lie.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:17 PM on July 11, 2012


Celsius1414: t carriers are at all reasonable in the real world is not because they are floating metal cities -- loads of other ships surround them, with the primary purpose of protecting the behemoth sitting duck in their midst.

The reason helicopters are at all reasonable in the real world is not because of their inherent instability -- it is their versatility, their ability to take off vertically, their ability to hover, etc. They are, however, dangerous beasts with a nasty habit of crashing and killing everyone on board.
My favorite One of my favorite Girl Genius strips is the one where Hero #1 talks Hero #2 into getting into a prop-driven, heavier-than-air flying craft - that is NOT suspended from a balloon! During a battle! Insanity!
posted by IAmBroom at 1:41 PM on July 11, 2012


The helicarrier flies because of fairy dust incorporated into the metallurgy of the subframe. Many many fairies were ground up to get that thing of the ground and that is why children do not dream anymore.
posted by Ritchie at 5:24 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shucks, my husband's going to be disappointed. The last graphic of the honkin' huge rotors attached to the tiny carrier is hilarious, though.
posted by dragonplayer at 5:34 PM on July 11, 2012


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