Project Name: Frames
Project Type: Vehicle
Target Date: Stages Ongoing

Toward the end of high school, I started learning about the military. I had uncles galore who had served in every service out there, but most of them didn’t talk about it much so I didn’t have a really clear idea of what was on the inside of the uniformed world. I got to thinking about how it worked and perhaps how it didn’t work. Some of that thinking went into the Marine Cell. A little of it went into the design of the Frames.

The purpose of the Frame was to allow the redeployment of weapon systems that would not otherwise be able to be employed in difficult terrain. I explored a lot of different things, threw a lot of things that people really like right out the window and, after dozens upon dozens of startling moments of clarity, developed the separate components of this concept to a point where I can actually imagine it operating as one. I picture this as a useful tactical vehicle or as swift transport for an emergency worker, farmer, or park ranger. It is cheap, rugged, and simple enough to be fixed wherever the operator happens to be.

A few years ago, I “crashed” a DARPA announcement. They were putting out a contract for the DARPA-TX, a vehicle that did exactly what my Frames do. The Marine Corps was looking for the flying Humvee. I mentioned to my seatmates the challenges of the traditional flight options being explored, but no one had an answer. My arguments were pretty simple.

Fixed wing aircraft are great and long range, high-in-the-sky flight, but warfare is moving into cities. They just can’t get down in between buildings or linger over a target generally (the AC-130 is a pretty good attempt to address this). Rotor wing aircraft are great in local, moderately close-to-the-ground flight. They can land in open urban areas, but not in the more narrow areas. And of course they have huge spinning blades that if they just touch a building or any other object, a catastrophic failure can occur. Many people were leaning toward ducted fans, which solves the cavitation problem and yields a lot of lift. These are great because they can just bounce off of walls and be fine.

Here’s the thing: If the power goes out in a fixed wing aircraft, it can coast more-or-less safely to the ground. If the power goes out in a helicopter, it can auto-rotate more-or-less safely to the ground. If the power goes out in a ducted fan vehicle, it’s a meteor.

I had taken a very long time to find a solution to this problem, but I didn’t know how to share it with the people around me. I wished I’d had the ability to pitch my concept. But I didn’t.

I wrote the concerns I mentioned on a question card and pluncked it in anonymously with everyone else’s questions. Subsequently, they did incorporate that point (a way to land safely in case of failure) into the requirements. I don’t think anyone has solved it, but that point is the center of my design: a new kind of flight.

The Frame is a roadable aircraft that flies unlike any other vehicle.

I want to:
1) develop an equation to calculate lift for this kind of flight.
2) create a 2D design (drawings) of this vehicle in AutoCAD. It doesn’t have to show where every bolt goes. There’s an ISTJ or an INTJ who will do that much better than I will. I want to take my sketches of this and convert them into mechanical drawings.
3) create a 3D model (possibly in SketchUp or AutoCAD) to ensure that everything works in all dimensions.
4) build a 1/6 scale RC demonstrator that stays true to the physics.
5) create an instructional/informational PowerPoint video showing all of this.

I currently have:
• detailed sketches of the flight, engine, and ground systems
• narrated video explaining how it flies
• a paper plane demonstrator
• a bevy of damning arguments against the standard solutions
• principles of individual and cooperative tactical employment

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