The smell-o-vision iPod

How to safely land a plane — by blowing one of its wings off

An inventor in Bangkok has just patented a new way to safely crash-land a plane: By blowing one of its wings off and sending it into a spiralling dive, which — he claims — would give it a helicopter-like soft landing.

Here’s how it works, in his words:

A signal from the altimeter will detonate the explosive charges, with the thrust forward 1, causing a controlled separation of the wing, and the thrust needed to cause a very strong force in the rearward direction of this wing. The explosive devices will provide enough to break the wing from the airplane at the fuselage 2. This force will then, make the whole airplane spin on a horizontal plane and in the direction of the missing wing 3. This spin will cause the following: [0006] (1) The spin will cause centrifugal force between the wing that remains intact and the fuselage. Thus maintaining the horizontal plane of the airplane while in a spiral spin. [0007] (2) The spin will cause the intact wing to work in the same manner as the rotor of the helicopter, producing lift, so that the airplane slowly decreases altitude, instead of a free fall descent.

“Attention, passengers. In the event of a need for a crash landing, please return to your seats, fasten your seat beats, and stow your tray tables — before we rip the left wing off and turn this airplane into a shrieking, plunging PINWHEEL OF DEATH.

(Thanks to the New Scientist Invention Blog for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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