Speaking of Daniel Bernoulli, these last few posts have reminded me of back when I was about twelve years old, and very into helicopters. For a while, Igor Sikorsky was my hero, and I didn’t think it was fair that kids weren’t allowed to have helicopter licenses. Unlike airplanes, helicopters can hover in one place, and to my twelve year old mind, that was just about the most magical thing ever.
I learned everything I could about all things helicopter, from coaxial rotors to gyrocopters to swashplates — swashplates are amazingly clever.
The only thing that really bothered me about helicopters was the downwash. Those huge spinning rotors create a serious downward wind force. If you’ve ever seen people trying to get onto a helicopter while its rotors are spinning, you have an idea how large this force is.
So I set about trying to design something that could hover in the air but would produce no downwash. And it was, in fact, Daniel Bernoulli’s principle that inspired me to think of such a crazy thing.