What again do we need helos for? ;)

A cub with tundra tires landing in a space no larger than a parking spot and then takes off after a short roll.
(There are lots of such bush and competition aircraft as well as videos about them.)



  1. Could you put, say, six guys (three per side) on something like this? This seems a VERY cheap way to put in troops (say, six on the sides in tiny containers and four in the cockpit: ten goddamned troops) into fields, on the tops of buildings (I saw the landing, it could be done), wherever you want.

    So if they know about this, why isn't anyone trying it?

  2. Such ESTOL capabilities depend on headwind. Some aircraft can land vertically with just the right headwind. The ground needs to be suitable, too. Swampy or very uneven ground is unsuitable. You cannot land on a patch of grass in a wood as a helicopter can do, either.

    The payload of such small ESTOL aircraft is only 2-4 people, and a bigger ESTOL design would not be faster than a modern military helicopter. It could easily be cheaper and consume less fuel, though.

    Sooner or later some company will finally develop a replacement for the Twin Otter, possibly as ESTOL design. That one would be most interesting.

  3. In WWII these types of aircraft were heavily used, not only as liaison aircraft, they were even used for light transport. SOE would often use the Lysander to insert spies, as it could land in a field and take off again using very little space.

    They were, unfortunately, very vulnerable, as they were slow. The Lysander had a top speed not too far from the UH-1 Huey. I guess it says a lot about the vulnerabilities of helicopters.

    Still, the bushplane ESTOL capacity is very interesting. It would need to be light, with big wings that give tremendous lift, and a very powerful engine. A modern turboprop, combined with an appropriate airfoil of the right size, and a simple, light fuselage, it's not impossible. Perhaps going back to wood and canvas, like on the de Havilland Mosquito, could make it work, but in an age of stealth, hyperadvanced electronics and (at least among amateurs) a disdain for "old things", that's an idea hard to sell.

    I'm still puzzled as to why flying boats were taken out of service; they can land on any reasonably calm body of water, and because they typically operate from sea, they can skim it, meaning that they can avoid a lot of electronic surveillance equipment.

    Sorry for the long-winded comment. Great post, as always, Sven.

  4. Flying boats lost out because
    (a) Flight safety has improved a lot, making emergency landings on water an unnecessary feat (actually, already by '43).
    (b) The hull shape and stabilizers cause too much drag (yes, I know about the P6M).
    (c) Military bases on newly-captured atolls have become rather rare.
    (d) There are airports, airbases and highways everywhere
    (e) You needed a so-called "amphibian" flying boat with lading gear anyway because of high sea states.

    Nowadays flying boats and floatplanes are mostly kind of bush pilot aircraft, meant to compensate for the lack of airfields in some thinly inhabited regions of the world.

  5. From early on compound copters were discussed and they do one way or another reappear as the V-22 Osprey and other crafts. The helicopter seems to have been a stable slow speed capable platform for air to ground combat feasible and affordable with post WWII-technology. Afterwards things were stuck with true and tested.
    Looking at the history, the A-10, the Harrier, the Cobra, the Apache, the Black Hawk and the Cheyenne all competed for a similar niche.

    I consider it quite possible that a compound copter with wings, optional autogyro and tilt propellers/fans will appear in the future.