Monday, February 14, 2011

Floating Airports - 1952

From the December 1952 issue of Mechanix Illustrated:
The main structure resembles an elongated aircraft carrier with an open flight deck above and an enclosed hangar deck below. In the ends of the latter are repair and storage space for planes. Each two-plane compartment is separated from the next by an elevator shaft. Workshops and-service facilities are spotted in projecting arrowhead islands along the entire length of the hangar deck.

The islands also contain sub-surface engine rooms in which powerful diesels are mounted to drive water propellers. These operate automatically to keep the airstrip headed into the wind and are governed by a master wind-vane -on the forward deck. The incoming plane touches down just inside the after end of the flight deck and is halted by arrestor gear at the first island. A deck handling tractor then couples to the nose-wheel gear and tows the plane to the "down" elevator. Painted tracks on this portion of the deck help keep it in alignment.

Descending to the hangar deck, the plane is towed off the elevator and forward into the "depot", area. Here, completely under cover, the passengers deplane or emplane and the ship is serviced. It is then towed forward to the "up" elevator and ascends to the flight deck again. The tractor then tows it clear of the elevator and the plane's undercarriage is engaged to the catapult traveler. A variation of the new British steam catapult accelerates slowly and smoothly and whips the plane into the air for the next leg of its flight.

Adjoining the depot area in a large central island are the passenger accommodations. If the traveler wishes to go directly ashore, he is directed to a door on his right. This leads through a thwartship passage to the taxi waiting room, customs shed, etc. Fast water taxis are tied up to - an open boat landing. In another section, helicopter taxis load in a pair of elevator shafts and are then whisked to the flight deck above to take off for various points in the city. Should the traveler find it necessary to wait for another plane, he turns to his left. Here he finds a spacious and comfortable lounge, flanked by an information booth, airline offices, newsstands, etc.

A city like New York could anchor a whole string of these airports in nearby Long Island Sound, the Lower Bay or even in the Hudson River where landing approaches and take-offs could be made over uninhabited stretches of water. Accessibility would be at least as good as that of the present airports and with helicopter taxi service, it. -would be better. Most of the other great centers of our country are similarly situated. Why don't we build floating airports to make air travel safer and save our cities?