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Flying Platform Experiment circa 1961 NASA Ducted Fan VTOL Aircraft

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"The flight experiment of the Flying Platform with the use of a kinesthetic control. The platform was intended for military troops and this experiment was conducted in the Free Spinning Tunnel where early VTOL models were tested." Silent. NASA later (circa 1970) considered this sort of ducted fan vehicle as a simulator for a lunar flying platform.

Public domain film from NASA, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.


The Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee (U.S. Army designation; earlier Army designation: HO-1) was a unique direct lift rotor aircraft, using contra-rotating ducted fans inside a platform that the single pilot stood upon for lift, and controlled by the pilot shifting his body weight around to tilt the platform. The platform was developed starting in 1953 under an Office of Naval Research (ONR) contract to Hiller Aircraft Corporation, and flew successfully, starting in 1955...


The HZ-1 Aerocycle, also known as the YHO-2 and by the manufacturer's designation DH-4 Heli-Vector, was an American one-man "personal helicopter" developed by de Lackner Helicopters in the mid 1950s. Intended to be operated by inexperienced pilots with a minimum of 20 minutes of instruction,[1] the HZ-1 was expected to become a standard reconnaissance machine with the United States Army...




By Lysle P. Parlett


Full-scale hovering flight tests have been made to compare two
methods of controlling a ducted-fan vehicle of the flying-platform type.
The vehicle had counter rotating fans, 4 feet in diameter, operating in
a duct 20 inches long. The thrust of the duct-fan assembly was supplemented
by four air jets, directed parallel to the axis of fan rotation
and spaced equally around the outer circumference of the duct inlet lip.

One control method tested was the kinesthetic method, in which the pilot
stood on the vehicle and furnished control moments by shifting his body
weight. The other method was one in which the pilot, seated, produced
control moments by moving an airplane-type control stick linked to
valves which differentially varied the thrust of the four air jets.

The investigation consisted only of hovering flight tests in which
a slack overhead safety cable was provided to prevent crashes and in
which an outside operator controlled the thrust and azimuth of the
vehicle. During the course of the investigation, the machine was flown
by 10 men. This group included men of no previous flight experience,
men proficient in light-plane operation, and men with extensive experience
in flying military jets and helicopters. Successful flights were
made by all men, although some practice time (seldom exceeding about
10 minutes) was occasionally required before reasonable proficiency was
attained. All but one of the six men who flew the machine with both
control systems preferred the control-stick method of control.


The flying platform is one of the proposed types of aircraft
intended primarily to give ground troops a degree of mobility unattainable by any existing mode of surface transportation. The mission of the flying platform would be to provide one man with short-range transportation,
unrestricted by terrain obstacles. In order to be of any
great practical value, the machine would have to be very simple in
construction and so easy to operate that only a relatively low degree
of pilot skill and training would be required. The requirements of
simplicity of construction and ease of control seemed to be met by a
configuration which was basically a relatively low-powered ducted fan
on which a man could stand and control the machine in pitch and roll by
simply shifting his body weight. In this method of control, called the
kinesthetic method, the pilot senses accelerations and applies control
moments using the same reflexes and muscles normally used to maintain
equilibrium while simply standing on a surface fixed relative to the

Although the kinesthetic control seemed to represent nearly the
ultimate in mechanical simplicity, no tests had been performed to
compare its ease of mastery with that of other control systems... The National Aeronautics and Space
Administration therefore undertook the construction and testing of a
man-carrying ducted-fan vehicle equipped with a removable seat and control
stick so that direct comparisons could be made...

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