The Goodyear Inflatoplane was an experimental aircraft made by the Goodyear Aircraft Company, a subsidiary of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, well known for the Goodyear blimp. Although it seemed an improbable project, the finished aircraft proved to be capable of meeting its design objectives although its sponsor, the United States Army, ultimately cancelled the project when it could not find a “valid military use for an aircraft that could be brought down by a well-aimed bow and arrow.”
The original concept of an all-fabric inflatable aircraft was based on Taylor McDaniel inflatable rubber glider experiments in 1931. Designed and built in only 12 weeks, the Goodyear Inflatoplane was built in 1956, with the idea that it could be used by the military as a rescue plane to be dropped in a hardened container behind enemy lines. The 44 cubic ft (1.25 cubic meter) container could also be transported by truck, jeep trailer or aircraft. The inflatable surface of this aircraft was actually a sandwich of two rubber-type materials connected by a mesh of nylon threads, forming an I-beam. When the nylon was exposed to air, it absorbed and repelled water as it stiffened, giving the aircraft its shape and rigidity. Structural integrity was retained in flight with forced air being continually circulated by the aircraft’s motor.
Developed during the 1980’s in Soviet Russia, the futuristic looking MD-160 Lun-class ekranoplan had been sitting unused at a Russian naval base since the late 1990’s, but has now been beached on the shores of the Caspian Sea, as part of a plan to turn it into an ocean-side tourist attraction.
Known as the Caspian Sea Monster, the giant ekranoplan was designed in 1975 by Rostislav Evgenievich Alexeyev, a prominent developer of of hydrofoil ships and ground effect vehicles. It used a cushion of air beneath its giant wings to hover at about 13 feet above water, making it hard to detect. It was built as part of the Soviet WIG program, which dated back to the 1960’s Cold War, and was the only Lun-class ekranoplan to ever be completed and equipped with supersonic missiles.
The experimental aircraft got its nickname from the CIA. When spy satellite photos revealed this giant airplane with “KM” stamped on the wings, they named it Kaspian Monster, not knowing that the letters actually stood for Korabl-Maket (Prototype Ship).
The MD-160 ekranoplan was retired in the late 1990’s and had been sitting abandoned in a Russian naval base ever since. On July 31, the vehicle was taken under tow for a move to Derbent, Dagestan, with plans to turn into a tourist attraction as part of a park. When it arrived, authorities realized that there was nowhere to put the giant aircraft, which dwarfs a 747 jet.
The one-of-a-kind ekranoplan has been beached on the shore of the Caspian Sea since August, despite several attempts by locals to pull it to dry land by hand.
It appears that the Caspian Sea Monster has once again been abandoned, at least for the moment, and there is the sad possibility that it will be pummeled to pieces by the waves. A tragic ending for one of the most visually-impressive aircrafts ever built.
Capacity: 50 people
Length: 92.00 m (301 ft 10 in)
Wingspan: 37.60 m (123 ft 4 in) * Tail stabilizer span: 37 m (121 ft 5 in)
Workers refurbishing a platform overlooking the iconic Nazca Lines in Peru could not believe their eyes when they stumbled upon a massive drawing of a cat that had been etched into a hillside thousands of years ago. According to a press release from the Peruvian Ministry of Culture announcing the remarkable discovery, “the figure was scarcely visible and was about to disappear, because it’s situated on quite a steep slope that’s prone to the effects of natural erosion.”
Fortunately, upon finding the feline, experts set about clearing and restoring the drawing, which measures 120 feet long and is believed to have been created around 200 BC to 100 BC. “With this discovery, once again, the rich and varied cultural legacy that the area harbors is revealed,” marveled the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. The proverbial Nazca cat is the latest in what has been a staggering series of finds made in the region over the last few years, including a whopping 50 previously unseen drawings documented in 2018 by way of a drone survey.
In the pantheon of odd and obscure holidays, October 20th stands out as a date which may be of particular interest to paranormal enthusiasts as it happens to be National Sasquatch Awareness Day. The concept was first proposed back in 2009 by way of a Change.org petition, presumably meant to mark the anniversary of the filming of the iconic Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film on October 20th, 1967. Although the idea initially received middling support online, it has since slowly grown over time, not unlike the legend of Bigfoot itself.
This year, the burgeoning holiday caught the attention of Oregon television station KPTV, who dispatched reporter Joe Vithayathil to The North American Bigfoot Center which is located in the ironically named city of Boring and helmed by ‘Finding Bigfoot’ star Cliff Barackman. Reflecting on the impact of the Patterson-Gimlin movie, he mused that the footage was “the best and the first footage obtained of a Sasquatch and its one of the only ones that holds up to that level even now.”
Meanwhile, indicative of how October 20th holds a special place in Sasquatch lore, Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation recognizing the date as ‘Bigfoot Crossroads of Nebraska Day.’ Honored as part of the decree is Harriett McFeely, who operates a museum devoted to the cryptid in the city of Hastings that made headlines earlier this year when it acquired a flag believed to have been shredded and braided by Bigfoot.
Although National Sasquatch Awareness Day has yet to achieve the level of notoriety afforded to Extraterrestrial Culture Day or World UFO Day, which is inexplicably two separate dates, it’s likely only a matter of time until it becomes as much a part of the paranormal calendar as those aforementioned celebrations once word about it grows. To that end, it would seem that perhaps the only thing holding the holiday back is, ironically, a lack of awareness that it exists.
A humanoid-shaped object descending upon a village in India sparked fears of an alien invasion until authorities identified the ‘visitor’ as merely a life-size Iron Man balloon. The bizarre panic reportedly occurred on Saturday in the community of Dankour when residents spotted what appeared to be some kind of entity floating in the sky. Their mystification quickly turned to concern when the flying humanoid slowly began falling from the sky and ultimately landed around some bushes near a canal.
Given its aerial origin and the fact that the strange entity appeared to be moving after it had come down to the ground, many villagers suspected that it was some kind of ET and refused to go near it. Fortunately, a call to the authorities squashed their concerns about an alien invasion as it was soon determined that the ‘space brother’ was, in fact, a helium balloon depicting Iron Man which had falling from the sky because it started to deflate.
As for why it seemed to be moving once it touched down, a police spokesperson explained that “a part of the balloon was touching the flowing water in the canal which had led it to shake.” Authorities blamed the balloon’s humanoid shape and the robotic-looking design for why the villagers had believed it was an alien. After checking to ensure the object was harmless, cops confiscated the balloon and are now trying to figure out who set it loose in the first place.
It was an otherwise quiet Sunday night at the Los Angeles International Airport control tower when an American Airlines pilot radioed in with an unbelievable report.
“Tower, American 1997. We just passed a guy in a jet pack,” the pilot said.
Minutes later came another report, this time from a pilot approaching LAX in a Jet Blue airliner: “We just saw the guy pass us by in the jet pack.”
So began one of the most intriguing aviation mysteries Los Angeles has confronted in years.
Those sightings occurred Aug. 30. The case took another twist Wednesday when a China Airlines pilot approaching LAX reported seeing a jet pack flying at an altitude of 6,000 feet. That’s more than a mile up.
The FBI is on the case, as is a good chunk of L.A.’s aviation community, which has been buzzing about the sightings.
Though jet packs make frequent appearances in popular culture and movies — think Sean Connery’s James Bond and Disney’s “The Rocketeer” — they are actually very rare.
There are only a handful of companies around the world that make jet packs, including a winged device created by former Swiss air force pilot Yves Rossy, which requires him to be hoisted in the air by a helicopter or balloon before he can take off. There is also a type of hoverboard made by French firm Zapata and flown only by its inventor, Franky Zapata.
Locally, Chatsworth-based JetPack Aviation has created five jet packs that are worn like backpacks. But they’re not for sale, and Chief Executive David Mayman said none of his competitors’ products are sold to consumers, either.
It’s possible that Wednesday’s sighting near LAX was indeed a person flying with a jet pack. But the reported altitude makes such a flight seem “highly unlikely,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the Vertical Flight Society, a nonprofit professional organization.
Mayman said his company’s jet packs are technically capable of soaring to heights of 15,000 feet. But because of fuel constraints, they can actually reach only about 1,000 or 1,500 feet off the ground safely.
“To fly up to 6,000 feet from the ground, to fly around long enough to be seen by China Airlines and then to descend again, you’d be out of fuel,” he said.
Mayman said he knows it wasn’t any of his company’s jet packs because he knows exactly where they are — plus, they are disabled when not in use, so grabbing a pack out of storage wouldn’t be possible.
Instead, he suggests a more likely scenario, an electric drone — perhaps with a mannequin attached.
Thomas Anthony, director of the USC Aviation Safety and Security Program and a former Federal Aviation Administration criminal investigator, said the strongest evidence that the LAX sightings is a person with a jet pack — as opposed to a balloon or drone — came from the American Airlines pilot, who reported seeing the object at 3,000 feet over Cudahy.
The pilot stated he saw “a guy in a jet pack” 300 yards to his left and flying at about the plane’s altitude.
“That is quite close,” Anthony said.
He said federal investigators would immediately look at the limited number of jet packs that exist in the U.S. and overseas.
“People in that community will know who has bought these packs,” he said. “If someone is doing this, they are going to have to take off and land somewhere, and there is going to be noise.”
Anthony said he doubts the culprit is using an airport to take off and that investigators should look to out-of-the-way industrial spots for clues. The FBI suggested the jet pack was flying in a section of Southeast Los Angeles County near Cudahy and Vernon that is dotted with commercial and manufacturing businesses.
The flying range of jet packs is pretty limited, Anthony added, so it’s unlikely it traveled any great distance.
After the China Airlines pilot’s report Wednesday, the LAX control tower called in a law enforcement aircraft to investigate.
The aircraft was flying about seven miles from where the pilot said he’d seen the jetpack, according to radio communications.
But when the craft arrived, no signs of the jet pack remained.
A jet pack could be operated as an ultralight — meaning it would not be registered and its operator wouldn’t need a pilot’s license if it meets fuel capacity, weight and speed requirements, according to the FAA. Ultralight aircraft are permitted to fly only during the day and are barred from flying over densely populated areas or in controlled aerospace without FAA approval.
Anthony and others say it’s imperative that the FBI investigate the sightings for safety.
“This does represent a very significant compromise of the airspace,” he said.
If a rogue pilot were flying at 6,000 feet without a transponder or radio, Anthony said, that would put him or her in the path of commercial airlines maneuvering over Los Angeles.
Airliners are designed to withstand getting hit by small objects. But a big metal object is another matter, especially if it were sucked into an engine.
“The engines aren’t designed to consume something large and metal, or something with fuel that’s going to burn or explode,” Hirschberg said. “That could be potentially catastrophic for an airplane. You could potentially have an engine explode and bring down the airliner and potentially hundreds of people could die.”
So is what has been reported near LAX really a jet pack?
Some experts say it’s possible.
In February, a pilot in Dubai reached an altitude of 5,900 feet flying a Jetman jet pack powered by four mini jet engines with carbon-fiber wings. The pack’s builders say it can reach speeds of nearly 250 mph. After a number of dip and roll maneuvers, the Dubai pilot descended to the ground using a parachute.