One common evolutionary trait you’ll
find here on the Patent Veldt is the
desire for vertical takeoff airplanes. In
the pre-jet days, vertical takeoff and
landing (VTOL) aircraft designs usually featured a multitude of vertical
airscrews. But they usually required
awkward outriggers to reduce interference with aircraft structure.
Elmer P. Kray’s idea was different. His
biplane put the vertical props between
the wings and shot-gunned the panels with foot-wide holes to let the air
through. To allow straight-and-level
flight, he envisioned an army of movable covers, looking for all the world
like flat tin skillets that the pilot would
open and close using a single lever.
The holes in the wings were
tapered slightly. To quote inventor
Kray, “This increases the velocity of
the air passing through the tapered
sleeves, causing the same to exert a
lifting action upon the machine.”
Methods of maintaining the structural integrity of the wings with 88
big holes through each was not mentioned in the patent.
However, Mr. Kray’s design does
have echoes in the modern era. Several VTOL aircraft have panels like Mr.
Kray’s to feed the voracious appetites
of vertically mounted jet engines. The
Russian Yak- 38 is such an example, as
is the VTOL version of the Lockheed
Martin F- 35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Ron Wanttaja is the past president of
EAA Chapter 26 in Seattle and EAA
Chapter 441 in Kent, Washington.
He’s the author of two aviation books,
Kit Airplane Construction and
Airplane Ownership. He owns a 1982
Bowers Fly Baby and maintains a
web page for devotees of the design