You probably also heard about how a plane landed on the roof of Dubai's Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel for the first time in history. The well-known skyscraper nicknamed Sailboat has a helipad at a height of 210 meters above the ground, i.e. a landing area for helicopters. However, the helipad is an extremely small space for the aircraft to land.
A very good idea
It all started with Brad Damm, CubCrafters Vice President and Director of Communications. This brand from the American state of Washington manufactures Carbon Cub aircraft. And it was with this plane that the Polish aerobatic pilot Lukasz Czepiel managed to achieve an unprecedented stunt with a landing in a very small space.
Brad Damm was well aware that despite the great features of the aircraft , the Carbon Cub would need to be redesigned from the ground up. And who else should undertake such a demanding task than engineer, aviator and well-known experimental aircraft builder Mike Patey. When he heard about the idea that was born in the minds of the Red Bull team, he said: "Look, I'm crazy busy and my life is very hectic. But this sounds too awesome not to give it a go.”
Titanium, carbon and extremely light weight
And so they set about planning and remodeling together. They only had a few months for the whole project. Landing on a surface of only 27 meters was guaranteed to be the most difficult challenge. In order for the machine to be capable of this at all, the engineers had to make the already very light aircraft an even lighter machine. Wherever possible, they replaced the aircraft parts with titanium ones. The exchange also concerned the wheels, which, like many other parts, were custom-made. The resulting weight of the piloted aircraft was only 425 kg.
One of the important issues that needed to be resolved during the rebuild was the stopping of the aircraft. And this also with regard to the huge turbulence around the hotel building.
A conventional type of Carbon Cub aircraft would be in danger of tipping over the nose when landing and then braking. There are fuel tanks in the front part of the plane, which would tip the plane over with a sudden change in movement. So in a modified aircraft, a completely new fuel tank is placed in the rear of the aircraft. This achieved the desired effect of keeping the weight of the aircraft on the tail. In addition, the redesign of the shape of the tank ensured the pilot safe maneuverability with only the necessary minimum of fuel.
Mike Patey and his team placed a special bumper on the bottom of the rear of the Carbon Cube to prevent the tail of the aircraft from hitting the hotel structure when landing on the helipad, for example due to a change in wind strength. They had it custom-made from carbon and thus achieved maximum lightness and strength.
It remains to take off
In addition to the landing, the subsequent takeoff also had to be solved. The plane was thus given a nitrogen bomb to make the plane lift off more quickly. And the propeller was also replaced. The standard one was too short for the purpose of increasing the performance of the aircraft.
In the end, all that remained was to dress the plane in Red Bull colors. And then Lukasz Czepiela could boldly throw himself into a breathtaking piece that no one had ever done before.
Watch the video of the helipad landing here:
Photo source: Red Bull