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Sunday, January 07, 2007

VTOL

Today's LA Times Magazine crossword asks for "helicopter ability (abbr)" (4 letters), crossing with "actress Rochon" (also 4 letters). The actress turns out to be LELA and the helicopter ability is VTOL, meaning, according to a detailed article in Wikipedia , "vertical take-off and landing". OK, makes sense. However:

VTOL describes fixed-wing aircraft that can lift off vertically. This classification includes only a very few aircraft; helicopters, autogyros; balloons and airships are not normally considered VTOL.

So, strictly speaking, the helicopter definition doesn't fly. But read on and there's some interesting history. The first patented example (1928) of a VTOL apparatus was called the "Flivver". The inventor? Nicola Tesla. Understandable if you're not frantic to know more about this, but, if you're curious, this article is worth a look.

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