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Winch-Tow as an Aviation Basis

The more we look at AWE-driven winch-towing of gliders the more it seems like a potential foundation for extensive fuel-less aviation. It works at all scales, from model to jumbo aviation.

Fast tow a L/D-30 gliderliner to 10,000 m, and  it will glide some 300 km a hop. Repeating the tow XC (bounding mode) can go any distance. Aircraft could even be slingshot into the upper stratosphere for very fast ballistic XC travel. A simple mechanism is bow-string geometry where a short powerful fairly slow longitudinal tug on the "bowstring" creates high speed transverse travel. I have studied Wayne German's hypersonic kite concept for feasibility, and find that a tungsten cable could resist even orbital re-entry heat, although some sort of ceramic anti oxidation coating would be needed for long life. Nanotube tethers will be even better for extreme performance towing.

A future-tow key is a little airplane at the end of the tow rope to fly the tow rope for docking and back during retracts, sort of like the winged mid-air refueling pods. All sorts of variations would work; a major hub airport might have a continuous tow rope to launch transports at a high rate. Folks have already towed many gliders in gangs; the record is like nine at once, but could be far higher. E-train-based ground towing is attractive.

There are two main options in applying the AWE. We could power electric winch-towing as a separated utility, or directly power the winching with kites. E-flight aerotow would also have a place, but be fairly limited by the battery requirement.

CoolIP                       ~Dave Santos             March 26, 2010          M3254

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