For the Do-it-yourselfer who's already done it all.
September 17, 2000 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Leaping Loki! I wanna get into space so bad I would trade my life for a few hours up there. I got myself all worked up a few years back over a Wired blub about a reuseable rocket helicopter that they said would sell used for the same cost as a private jet. I immediately started thinking of all the people that I could convince to possibly be canidates in my rocket helicopter co-op. I hope somebody pulls it off. I get all passionate, this was the same time I thought I could buy a decommissioned missle base, and my poor friends could live on the surface in cheap geodesic domes.
Since there is no personal spacecraft available, I just started flying around in these instead, I recommend you all try it, incredibly fun and very safe.
posted by thirteen at 8:14 PM on September 17, 2000

You're insane. And i love it.
posted by milhous at 9:32 PM on September 17, 2000

I don't want to turn this into something too off-topic, but the last line of this article bothered me: "the US would have to waive the 18-kilometre ceiling that limits private pilots now, he says."

Why does there need to be a law like this? When did they pass it? Were there a lot of private citizens flying this high and doing bad stuff? I imagine it has to do with the growth of commercial airliners and the need to keep that airspace clear. Can anyone corroborate this theory?
posted by donkeymon at 10:55 PM on September 17, 2000

I would guess that you're correct that they're trying to keep the high air-space clear for commercial flights. The average commercial flight spends the majority of its time at altitudes higher than that, and if you've ever watched film of air-traffic-control, you know how much trouble they have just with all the commercial traffic. The last thing they need is a whole bunch of idiots in private planes violating traffic lanes; it would make their job five times harder (and air travel far less safe).

Most extant private aircraft aren't capable of flying that high (because they don't have pressurized cabins which pretty much limits them to 20,000 feet), but there's more than you might think: a Lear Jet can fly much higher than that and so can several other standard mid-size aircraft.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:08 PM on September 17, 2000

A while back discovery channel showed (I forget in which program) inventors and home made planes. One man had made this white two seater with the engine in the back and cunnards (sp) on the nose for stabilizing. He said he was also selling them as do-it-yourself-kits.

I searched the web for for more info on the kits a while back but found nothing. If anyone knows anything about these kits, please let me know.

Thanks in advance.
posted by tamim at 11:21 PM on September 17, 2000

My very first plane ride, when I was 13, was in a bright yellow fold-up two-seater jobby called "The Goat" owned by one of my paper route customers. The wings were hinged to lay flat along the side when he hauled it around on a trailer.

It was amazing. I was scared shitless. This old man with flaming white hair who looked harmless and homey on the ground turned into a whirling, zooming, pitching, yawing, howling maniac in the air. Personal planes will do that to you.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:37 AM on September 18, 2000

That sounds like a Burt Rutan design. Scaled Composites is his latest venture.
posted by Aaaugh! at 7:17 AM on September 18, 2000

18 km roughly equals 60,000 feet. That is MUCH higher than commercial aircraft fly (with the possible exception of the now grounded Concorde) and higher than most aircraft are capable of flying. I would imagine the rule was made several decades ago when global superpowers were the only ones capable of exceeding that altitude.

But who says that anyone adventurous to launch that thing is going to stay in the USA to do so?

posted by mutagen at 1:08 PM on September 18, 2000

I forgot to mention that the rocket helicopter would power itself up to a reasonable height, at which time a booster would kick in and put it in orbit. It sounds plausible to me.
posted by thirteen at 3:57 PM on September 18, 2000

Thanks Aaaugh!.

I think the aircraft that was on discovery channel was the left most on this image found on the "about" page of Scaled Composites.

It had two engines on the back and that neat wing with the winglets. It is odd that the Scaled Composites web site does not have more information on that particular model.
posted by tamim at 11:02 PM on September 18, 2000

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