We take for it granted that we can fly from one side of the world to the other in a matter of hours, but a century ago this amazing ability to race through the air had only just been discovered. What would the Wright brothers—the pioneers of powered flight—make of an age in which something like 100,000 planes take to the sky each day in the United States alone? They’d be amazed, of course, and delighted too. Thanks to their successful experiments with powered flight, the airplane is rightfully recognized as one of the greatest inventions of all time. Let’s take a closer look at how it works!
In aircraft instruments, gyros are used in attitude, compass and turn coordinatiors. These instruments contain a wheel or rotor rotating at a high RPM which gives it two important properties:, rigidity and precession. The gyro can be electrically or vacuum pressure driven by a special pump on the engine.
Constructions wise the gyro is fixed in the instrument by rings or gimbals and these give the gyro certain motions of freedom. It is these motions or movement in each planes which allow for certain characteristics used in these instruments.
Aim a gyroscope’s axis at true north, and it will continue to aim there, no matter what orientation is taken by its outer frame. This is the basis for gyro-stabilizers used to keep a plane flying level. Inventor Lawrence B. Sperry, who developed the first such stabilizers for ships, first wowed the public with his three-way flight gyro-stabilizer at the International Airplane Safety Competition in Paris in 1914. This gyroscope’s inertial rotation controlled movement, along the plane’s three axes of movement – yaw (nose right or left), pitch (nose up or down), and wing – to – wing roll. Sperry thrust his arms in the air, releasing the controls; the gyroscope worked like an automatic pilot.
Juan de la Cierva y Codorníu was a Spanish civil engineer, pilot and aeronautical engineer. His most famous achievement was the invention in 1920 of the Autogiro, a single-rotor type of aircraft. In 1923, La Cierva invented and created the first gyroplane. “La Cierva C4”: the first flying aircraft that cannot stall. January 9th. 1923 marked the first officially observed flight of an autogyro. The primary enemy of aviators was defeated. Until that time, rotary-wing aircraft designers failed because of a rolling moment (in other words, the tendency of the rotorcraft to roll over) regularly encountered when the aircraft began forward movement. The heart of the problem was due to the dissymmetry of lift (increase of lift of the advancing blade and decrease of lift of the retreating blade). Cierva’s successful design, the C4, introduced the articulated rotor; blades hinged and allowed to flap. The missing link was connected; it was possible to design successful rotating-wings!
Similar technology helps point the Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990. A wheel inside each of six gyroscopes spins at a rate of 19,200 revolutions per minute on gas bearings. Electronic sensors in the gyros relay information about even slight movements of the scope to Hubble’s central computer.