A Perspective on the First Century of Vertical Flight 1999-01-5584
The first powered vertical flight was accomplished less than four years after the first powered horizontal flight was made by the Wright Brothers. But it was not until nearly 30 years later that the first practical vertical takeoff and landing aircraft was flown. By World War II, the problem of achieving practical vertical flight had been solved with the introduction of the helicopter, but higher speeds were desired. Vertical and/or Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL) aircraft are intended to combine the vertical take-off and landing capability of the helicopter with the high forward speed of an airplane. The key problems with developing a practical vertical take-off and landing aircraft have been the same as with the early fixed-wing aircraft: high thrust to weight and adequate controllability. This paper looks at the key achievements in vertical flight throughout the 20th century.