Aircraft

Man levitates on terrifying gasoline-powered flying carpet

Man levitates on terrifying ga...
Impressively, the pilot's trousers do not appear to fill noticeably during the flight
Impressively, the pilot's trousers do not appear to fill noticeably during the flight
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The view from above. 
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The view from above. 
Impressively, the pilot's trousers do not appear to fill noticeably during the flight
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Impressively, the pilot's trousers do not appear to fill noticeably during the flight
That's a lot of hot and spinning metal to be so close to a body
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That's a lot of hot and spinning metal to be so close to a body
Visible at the bottom of this image is the hobby-grade controller he's got wired in
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Visible at the bottom of this image is the hobby-grade controller he's got wired in
Flying carpet in action
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Flying carpet in action
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I can show you the world... Take you wonder by wonder...
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I can show you the world... Take you wonder by wonder...
Water jugs are used to simulate the pilot's weight in testing
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Water jugs are used to simulate the pilot's weight in testing
The Swedish engineer himself, who posts on YouTube as "amazingdiyprojects"
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The Swedish engineer himself, who posts on YouTube as "amazingdiyprojects"
Tube lattice frame and eight petrol motors... In front is the electric drill he uses to start each motor
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Tube lattice frame and eight petrol motors... In front is the electric drill he uses to start each motor
Results of the crash from video update #8 - thankfully the pilot was not on board for this one
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Results of the crash from video update #8 - thankfully the pilot was not on board for this one
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Eight petrol-powered heavy duty propellers, one tube lattice frame, a simple seat and a hobby-grade R/C controller wired in. What could possibly go wrong? This Swedish engineer displays a pair of colossal cojones as he puts his home-made flying carpet multirotor to the test.

Today, we think of flight as one of the safest and most heavily regulated forms of public transport you can possibly choose. But 113 years ago, when the Wright brothers were making their first few powered flights, it was quite the opposite.

It was mad science with a dash of backyard engineering and men with an incredible willingness to put their bodies and lives on the line. These guys were taking the ultimate bet: either our calculations are right, our designs are superior and our workmanship is solid, or else we fall from a great height and die like others have before us.

This cavalier spirit is still among us, and we're seeing a lot of cojones on display among a new generation of fearless engineers who see manned multirotors as the key to personal flight.

Watching these guys take to the sky is a white-knuckle armchair ride. Take this latest effort from a do-it-yourself enthusiast in Sweden. His flying platform uses eight petrol motors on a tube-framed lattice structure that carries a lightweight, boxy chair.

Tube lattice frame and eight petrol motors... In front is the electric drill he uses to start each motor
Tube lattice frame and eight petrol motors... In front is the electric drill he uses to start each motor

Yes, combustion engines. The benefits of combustion engines versus the more common electric motor would include … pretty much just the ability to carry lots of fuel and refuel quickly.

The drawbacks? Well, a huge increase in mechanical complexity, flammable liquid on board, lots of heat, and the simple fact that gas engines are poorly suited to the job of stabilizing a flying platform. They're comparatively slow to respond to throttle inputs, which is a big deal when you've got a flight controller trying to make hundreds of speed adjustments a second to keep the thing horizontal in the air. Plus, throttle adjustments generate different amounts of power depending on how fast they're running, due to the fact that gas engines have weird power output curves.

Still, our mystery Swedish engineer has gone through a number of iterations of his flight platform, including one about five months ago which suffered an engine failure, pitched off into the trees and made a fair old wreck of itself. Luckily he was flying it remotely when that happened, because several heavy-duty props went flying in several different directions.

Manned multicopter / multirotor build Episode 8

Unable to help himself, by his own admission, he's now rebuilt the craft and in the last couple of weeks he's posted new videos that show him sitting in the thing and flying it at heights up to around 15 feet. "It's a really nice flight feeling," he tells the camera, "you can really feel that you're up in a thin medium."

Manned multicopter Episode 11 Expanding the flight envelope -Yaw

It looks for all the world like a flying carpet, and it makes one heck of a racket, so he appears to be doing the responsible thing by his neighbors and taking it way out into the middle of nowhere to fly it – alone. He's hitting record on his own video camera, so presumably if something goes wrong, there's nobody around to scoop his vital organs and loose extremities into a shopping bag and get him to hospital.

Godspeed, you wonderful, joyous dreamer. Fly on, and may your big end bearings and piston rings remain intact.

More information: amazingdiyprojects

View gallery - 11 images
14 comments
Grelly
How many people have to get hurt before they make shrouded propellers compulsory?
ta2025
"The drawbacks? Well, a huge increase in mechanical complexity, flammable liquid on board, lots of heat, and the simple fact that gas engines are poorly suited to the job of stabilizing a flying platform. They're comparatively slow to respond to throttle inputs, which is a big deal when you've got a flight controller trying to make hundreds of speed adjustments a second to keep the thing horizontal in the air. Plus, throttle adjustments generate different amounts of power depending on how fast they're running, due to the fact that gas engines have weird power output curves." Some statements are silly and some are downright ludicrous. Gas Engines are poorly suited?? Slow to respond? Tell that to an Apache Helicopter pilot. Flammable liquids? You mean like 99.9999% of ALL THE OTHER CARS AND AIRPLANES IN THE WORLD? Come on! I expect better!
Nomen
Shrouded propellers? I often wondered about that on a number of twin engine airplanes that I flew in. A broken propeller could potentially come right through the cockpit. But it never happened and the only propellers that did break were the old wood ones on single engine planes. I also noted his lack of a crash helmet but then everyone has a different tolerance to danger. My test pilot Father who flew daily for over 50 years had an interesting saying. He would rather land a plane on fire than bail out. Strangely, with over 20,000 hours and millions of miles of flight, he was deathly afraid of heights and could not climb up a ladder more than a few steps. In a jet airplane up to 50,000 feet he was fearless.
Kpar
GREAT FUN! That said, I suspect that the tendency to turn one way over the other has more to do with the fact that the props are all turning in the same direction. Also, I would prefer to have the props above head level- a hanging seat seems to me more stable. And the NOISE! How about a hybrid system- a gas generator driving electric motors?
PlanetPapi
Got to appreciate the guy to work on old school tech in modern form. I bet he himself knows that exposed props are not a good idea. This one is for his own pleasure for sure.
Brooke
Hi: Gasoline has a much higher energy content per pound than a battery. That's why planes use hydrocarbon fuel. The Solar Impulse is not a practical airplane. George Rolls, part of Rolls Royce, died when the "improvement" he made to his Wright Flyer failed. The "simple seat" seems designed to be a crash protection device. Shrouded propellers are not so much to contain prop fragments as to prevent the Cuisinart effect.
Nik
If the 'cockpit' was fitted with wheels, it would resemble a Victorian invalid carriage. Small two stroke engines can be terribly unreliable. I hope it doesn't end up needing the wheels!
habakak
Shine on you crazy diamond!!!!
Imran Sheikh
by the Sound it feels like motors are rotating at different speeds. add two thruster motors at the two back cornets of the setup with individual speed control in foot and directional control in the hand and you are done. also lower the seat for balance. Great Job no doubt.
peteepositive
I am truly amazed someone took the time to write about this man's amazing feat, and bash him all in one. I'm sure the first aircraft build had some flaws along with safety issues. However, hats off to this gentleman for his creation. I agree, batteries weigh too much, and I would feel safer with gas engines. I like the fact the man used r/c controls and did this all on his own. Simple, effective, and a success. Now he has a working proto type to make improvements on, and all the writer whom covered his story has is a keyboard and a negative attitude.