Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kite in the Sky

If you thought ideas for renewable energy were in any way running out check out the kite like wind turbines that are going to float above us in the jetstream at up to 30,000 feet. Turbines will be constructed from aircraft material and would hold four 130-foot-diamter rotors and will weigh 45,000 pounds. These machines would lift off like a helicopter and once they were in the jet stream the machine would stabilize itself and the wind energy will keep it in air.

This reminds me of what happened back in the 1930s when the goal of flying across the Atlantic commercially was exercising the mind. Rene Fonck, a ‘French air ace’ was obsessed with the idea of a series of floating islands that would be staging posts, every 325 miles, at which sea planes would refuel. The German’s were busy catapulting aircraft off ships in an attempt to speed up the crossing of the Atlantic by boat and then plane. Not that Britain was left behind in the eccentric ideas department. In 1937 two aircraft were built, they took off with the smaller one attached to a larger aircraft that would then ‘release’ its ‘passenger’ that would fly the rest of the way across the Atlantic. Against all the odds the idea actually worked in practice, and while it did make a few transatlantic crossings with mail events overtook its development.

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