HELICOPTER AIRBORNE LOAD SYSTEMS AND
COMPOSITE AIRCRAFT CONFIGURATIONS
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 5
The concept of a rotary wing-fixed wing composite aircraft system and method of flight was recognized as early as 1958 by Bennett, as set forth in U.S. Pat. No. 2,843,337 which was issued July 15, 1958, and was assigned to Hiller Helicopters. The Bennett patent dis- 10 closed a rotary wing aircraft attached above the longitudinal center of gravity of a fixed wing aircraft with the attachment points being close to the main structure of the fixed wing aircraft and with attachment fittings on the rotary wing aircraft housed in leg fairings of a 15 skid type under carriage. The attachment disclosed effected a rigid connection directly between strong points on the upper and lower aircrafts, with an arrangement in which the attachment point on the fixed wing aircraft could be retracted when released for inde- 20 pendent flight. In a disclosure by E. F. Andrews, as set forth in U.S. Pat. No. 2,797,881 of July 2, 1957, another rotary wing-fixed wing composite aircraft system was described. In both of these disclosures the attachment means on the rotary wing aircraft was neither extend- 25 ible nor maneuverable and was rigidly attached to the rotary wing aircraft structure. In addition the engine thrust of the fixed wing aircraft could not be directed or utilized to help lift or assist in the fixed wing aircraft take-off or landing. 30
Other kinds of composite aircraft such as fixed wing^ fixed wing and dirigible-fixed wing systems have also been previously disclosed.
There preceded Bennett the concept of launching and retrieving a small fixed wing aircraft from the bomb 35 bay of a large fixed wing aircraft, as disclosed by Barkey in U.S. Pat. No. 2,653,777, which was issued Sept. 29, 1953. This patent was directed to the mechanism for achieving that result.
Prior to the Bennett and Barkey disclosures, Richard- 40 son disclosed, in U.S. Pat. No. 1,869,506 which issued Aug. 2, 1932, an arrangement for catching a powered airplane while in flight from another aircraft, and more particularly disclosed apparatus to permit an operator from within a dirigible to catch and temporarily sus- 45 pend an aircraft from the underside of the dirigible. The disclosure of the preferred method derived by Richardson was directed to manual control over the securing or mooring means, since the pilots of the respective components were not considered in position to visually 50 superintend the catching operation.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to helicopter airborne load systems and composite aircraft configurations, and 55 more particularly to means rendering the helicopter useful for handling airborne loads or to be part of a configuration that allows a fixed wing aircraft to take off and land with a minimum of ground run.
It is an object of the present invention to utilize a 60 rotary winged aircraft equipped with a maneuverable probe type attachment means to make contact with a fixed wing aircraft for rendering assitance to it in the take off mode or the landing mode, and to effect a substantially vertical movement thereof or to reduce to a 65 minimum the ground run for the fixed wing aircraft.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a maneuverable probe type attachment means that
can be moved between retracted or extended positions by an operator or pilot in the rotary winged aircraft to permit unencumbered take-off of the rotary wing aircraft and extension of the probe to effect a hook up or release of the fixed wing aircraft.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an extendible attachment means that can permit a safe separation between the rotary wing aircraft and its airborne load or safe spacing relative to a fixed wing aircraft.
It is an additional object of the present invention to utilize the propulsive thrust of the fixed wing aircraft directed vertically, or nearly so, as an assist in the takeoff.
Further objects of the present invention will be set forth in the detailed description of the present invention.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Certain preferred embodiments of the present composite aircraft will be set forth in the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is an elevations view of the initial hook up of a rotary winged aircraft and a fixed wing aircraft just prior to initiating take-off;
FIG. 2 is a view similar to FIG. 1, but depicting the lifting of the fixed wing aircraft during take-off;
FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 1, but depicting a supersonic type fixed wing aircraft as a component of the composite aircraft;
FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3 in which the jet thrust of the fixed wing aircraft is directed generally vertically during the take-off mode of the composite aircraft by pitching the aircraft nose up.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a fragmentary portion of the fixed wing aircraft equipped with load bearing means exposed for engagement by the maneuverable probe, a fragmentary portion of which is extended from the rotary wing aircraft;
FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 5 illustrating a more advanced condition in which the principal connection of the maneuverable probe has effected engagement with the load bearing means on the fixed wing aircraft;
FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 are fragmentary sectional views showing the progressive operation of the maneuverable probe in effecting connections with the load bearing means;
FIGS. 9 and 9A are schematic views of the control system for the probe carried by the rotary wing aircraft;
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary perspective view of a modified probe having maneuvering control means, and means to retract or to vary its extended position; and
FIG. 11 is an elevational view of a1 modification in which the helicopter is used as a refueling vehicle by carrying a fuel supply pod for a fixed winged aircraft.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
While a composite aircraft system is not new in view of Bennett or Barkey, supra, the present invention embodies improvements of unique type which are useful in a number of different ways. A fixed wing aircraft normally requires a substantial length of runway for takeoff and landing. On the other hand a composite aircraft using a rotary wing aircraft capable of aiding the fixed wing aircraft can substantially reduce or eliminate the take-off and landing run as will be set forth hereinafter.