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Sep 24, 2021, 11:19 AM
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Phoenix User Made Model: Pitts Sky Car Ornithopter (1928)

Pitts Sky Car "Umbrella" Ornithopter (2 min 8 sec)

We have all seen the movies of this early ornithopter pumping and bouncing as seen in the 2nd video below and had a good laugh. However, the idea was not quite as ridiculous as it may seem at first sight.

The "umbrella" was not just a simple membrane which of course would be unable to provide any lift. It was in fact an ingenious and sophisticated device that had been well thought out even if it wasn't successful.

It was composed of sixty radial slats that opened on the upstroke allowing air to pass through and closed on the downstroke trapping and forcing air down. In addition, it also spun on each stroke in an attempt to generate more lift. These movements were driven by a complex mechanism with gears and cranks to generate the spin and reciprocation. 

"Jack" John W. Pitts filed a Patent for his idea in 1924 which was granted in 1926. Pitts, in collaboration with W. P. Kindree constructed two versions, the first of which was tested in 1928. 

Apart from the Patent and newsreel movies that were made, little more is known about Pitts or his aircraft. 

The first version which is modeled here was powered by a 65 hp engine of unknown manufacture. The second version was much more robust but weighed a massive 1,200 Kg (!) and was powered by a Curtis OX-5 90 hp engine.

As It was not possible to determine the manufacture of the engine used in the first version, the Curtis engine is the one modelled.

You can download here.

News Reel Video:

1920s "Sky Car" Early Helicopter Design (0 min 27 sec)
Last edited by nagas; Sep 25, 2021 at 05:15 AM.
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