How It Works

An early prototype of the V-22 Osprey – 40 years earlier!

The world’s first vertical takeoff passenger liner.

Although regular readers will remember the incredibly hi-tech V-22 Osprey military helicopter we featured in issue three, this historic video reveals that VTOL technology in its infancy. Like the Osprey, Fairey Aviation’s Rotodyne was an aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing while carrying a large payload. Whereas the Osprey admittedly has state-of-the-art tilt rotors, the Rotodyne featured a combination of static rotor and turboprop engine – and all more than 40 years before the Osprey.

  • Lyndon

    Oh what could have been. Why on earth did this project ultimately get nowhere. If you look at aircraft being developed in the ’50s and early ’60s they are amazing. They were extremely innovative back then. Now however all aircraft, especially civillian, look the same. Where did it all go wrong ? I suppose in Britian we can blame Duncan Sandys, BOAC and witless governments. Mind you we were skint after WWII.

  • Yet another item in the long and tragic list that has seen so much of the UK’s technology base disappear.

    Aircraft, Space, Automotive, Motorcycles – world winners all once upon a time, but mostly trashed by a combination of witless politicians and bad management.

    The legacy is still with us today; witness the late and over-budget F-35: a project little better than the Hawker P1154, cancelled nearly half a century ago.

    For an example of what the UK could do in years gone by, travel to the Isle of Wight to see the sad remains of the rocket testing area by the Needles. There’s a museum that reveals how high-thrust orbital engines once thundered across the English Channel, and how the UK decided to ditch its space effort after – after! – orbiting its first satellite, Prospero. It’s still up there, 39 years after launch.

    Argh – it makes you weep.