Friday, February 12, 2016

The circular wing

A newspaper in June 1934 declared that this brainchild of inventor Steven P. Nemeth was virtually “foolproof”, “stall-proof” and able to land just about in any field. Nemeth had been a former flight instructor at the McCook field (near Dayton, Ohio) before it shut down in 1927, and had been carrying out experiments on rotating wings for several years, since 1929.
So students at Miami University constructed a protoype based on Nemeth’s design, so they could test configurations of circular wings. The resulting strange aircraft was called the Nemeth or Nemuth Parasol, and it was tested in 1934. People who observed the Nemeth’s test flight from the ground called it the “flying umbrella.” The round, saucer like wings of the airplane spanned fifteen feet, leading many in the media to dub it a “saucer plane.”

According to Nemeth, the airplane was so easy to fly that someone who had never flown a plane before could learn to maneuver the Nemeth Parasol in thirty minutes. During testing, this strange aircraft achieved a speed of 135 mph, powered by the 110 hp Warner engine. Coupled with a relatively more mild landing speed of 25 mph, this made the machine quite an impressive craft.During the test flight, Nemeth stalled the craft mid-air and let the disc wing do the work of a parachute. The demonstration was a success: with the motor off, the wing stabilized the aircraft, and it came down “almost vertically” to a gentle landing, according to a 1934 report from Popular Science. The Nemeth Parasol became the first round wing design to maintain consistent flight. Sadly, only one prototype of the Nemeth Parasol was ever made.

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