Artist's Interpretation - Popular Mechanics - August 1964
A favorite topic in the world of Science Fiction is ANTI-GRAVITY. Again, serious study and experimentation has been put into this concept, and there are websites on the net devoted to Anti-Gravity and to Ion Aircraft.
One website where developers appear to have had some success with what they call "lifters" is "American Antigravity". They may be found at -
The topic was referred to Larry Elie, a physicist, as well as a mechanical
and electronics engineer. He writes -
"I am familiar with the work. It is part of my job to keep modestly abrest
Much of that link isn't as much about 'anti-gravity', as it is an
example of an
The first ion-aircraft was an unmanned vehicle built by Magor de
Seversky in 1964. It lifted a few onces of weight. These larger ones can lift
pounds, but their effeciency is very-very low. Also they trail a wire to a
power supply. None has flown on it's own power to date.
They work in a way similar to an ion-pump used to produce a clean ultra-high
vacuum. An injector provides a very high direct-current space charge to the
atmosphere for a few cubic inches, and the charge is attracted to a grid
The flow of ionized air entraps a little more air, and an ionic wind is
created. The air loses it's charge at the grid, but the momentum of the air
creates a small thrust. It is sort of an oversized ionic air cleaner.
The problem is, to ionize air takes several thousand volts, which isn't a
deal (the coil in your car does that too). But the voltage must also be
provided at VERY high currents, perhaps 10,000 times the current of your
This is just to lift a few pounds.
I have seen some calculations, and although I may not have the detail correct, the order is at about .065 horsepower per pound to lift a light plane. About .12 horsepower per pound is required for a helicopter, and about one horsepower per pound is needed for a 100% effecient ion aircraft. That's about 10 times worse than a helicopter. Gas turbines can generate several horsepower per pound, but that is just for the motor, not for the airframe. They would be fuel hogs as well.
During the late 1970's, some Russians investigated using an ionic wind
re-stream the air around a supersonic jet. There, the thrust wasn't an
it was just the re-direction of the air, so a smaller power source would be
enough. I don't think it ever flew. The answer isn't obvious yet. I don't expect to see a successful ion
aircraft in my lifetime."
To those who do web searches, there were two studies that are much more
genuinely "ANTI-GRAVITY" .
In 1973 Eric Laithwaite, a respected British scientist believed he had
something, but it has been debunked (I even tried a very small version of
idea... and saw nothing).
You will find considerable information on
Laithwaite's experiments at -
In the last 5 years, Russian born Eugene Podkletnov has received some NASA
funding for anti-gravity studies (although he is only claiming to reduce
gravity by about a half percent or less).
Additional information on Eugene Podkletnov may be found at -
Anyone who does a search of
patent literature, will find hundreds of 'patented' anti-gravity devices."
Larry Elie holds a Degree in Physics from Eastern Michigan University. He also has earned an Engineering Degree (MS) from Wayne State University.
The holder of about a dozen patents in these fields, he is a scientist at Ford Motor Company's Scientific Research Laboratory for twenty-five years.
Perhaps greater success in the creation of a flying car awaits a breakthrough in technology that, at this time, borders on science fiction. However, many things that could be found only in the comic books two generations ago are commonplace today. Therefore, let us consider some real-life information on "LEVITATION", a topic that is usually of interest only to magicians and sci-fi fans.
Surprisingly, levitation can be demonstrated using a minimum of equipment that is also low in cost and "low-tech" to boot.
Start with a steel ball about 3/4" in diameter and an electro-magnet that has enough strength to draw the ball up two or three inches. The obvious will happen if you turn on the electro-magnet. It will attract the ball and that
ball will be held to the underside of the magnet.
However, add a couple of features to the experiment. On one side place a light source. On the other side place a light detector. Electronically hook the light detector into the power supply to the electro-magnet. Arrange it so that the power will be reduced as the ball starts to block the light detector.
Turn on the power and the ball will be drawn up. As it is drawn up the light detector will reduce the power to the magnet and the ball will start to fall. That will increase the power and the ball will rise. Ultimately the
experiment will reach a state of equalibrium and the ball will hover under the magnet.
You have now demonstrated "Levitation", although it should be added that the editors of Roadable Times cannot imagine to what earthly use this capability could be put in the field of aviation. Who knows though, maybe some clever person can find a way to use the principle demonstrated here to float things in the air.
For more on levitation visit the site entitled "Magnetic Levitation - Science is Fun"
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