xCars (And are we losing our flair?)

From the xCar archives – https://www.facebook.com/groups/worldcarshare/ (218 members)

USA. Inventor John W. Pitts, pathological inventor, notable primarily for his attempts at building a flying car and actually get it off the ground, the “Sky Car”. Source: The Old Motor, http://theoldmotor.com

The “Sky Car” was powered a four-cylinder engine. It did get off the ground by roughly eight inches or so and the “flight” ended. It was obviously staged for the camera and unwisely located right next to a tree.

Earlier in Bisbee, AZ, in 1911, Mr. Pitts designed and patented an odd six-stroke horizontal engine apparently without any form of an exhaust to the atmosphere.

Pitts filed a US Patent in 1924 for a propeller “which will cause an immediate vertical lift of any aerial car to which the propeller is attached”. This consisted of a “mushroom shaped” rotor of 60 blades, each hinged at the axis. A motor would rotate and reciprocate the propeller, causing the blades to close on the down stroke and open on the upstroke, which it was hoped would induce lift. The patent was granted in October 1926.[1]

In collaboration with W P Kindree, Pitts constructed a 2,700 lb (1,200 kg) prototype with a 90 hp (67 kW) Curtiss OX-5 engine. A newsreel of 1928 shows the Sky Car attempting to fly; however rather than take off, it merely jumps up and down.
Well, next time!.
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PS. Memories of my grandfather Dr. George Franklin Darracott of Darracott Mississippi who was a general practitioner and on the side an unstoppable inventor. He and his two sons built, starting around 1910 and in order, a motor cycle, a car, and a small airplane to help him in his daily rounds in rural Mississippi. Both sons turned out to be, unsurprisingly aeronautical engineers.

The eldest, also George, enrolled in Mississippi State University in Columbus Mississippi, and used the airplane to commute. But where do you land your plane since there was of course no airport at the time. Well young George bought a strip of land from a local farmer and used it over his four years as a private airport. Which is where the Columbus Golden Triangle Regional Airport is today (or at least that is how the family folklore holds it).

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In those days engineers worked with and tamed  material objects. While today much of their inventiveness is “immaterial” and mediated by the manipulation of data. (Proof that we are not in fact losing our originality and energy; it has just changed medium. That’s  the message!)

About the author:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is a public entrepreneur specializing in the field of sustainability and social justice. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets, his latest work focuses on the subject of equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions -- and in the process, find practical solutions to urgent climate, mobility, life quality and job creation issues. More at: http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7

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