3
$\begingroup$

This question is looking for a precedent in aviation related to the futuristic idea of maintaining a permanent fleet of solar-powered aircraft in the upper atmosphere on the sunny side of Venus (which has Earthlike temperatures and pressures and 24/7 strong sunlight). See https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/65119/could-an-acid-proof-solar-powered-aircraft-stay-aloft-on-the-sunny-side-of-venu

While I'm aware of planes flying in a tight formation, in-flight refueling, the idea of one plane carrying another plane, and the idea of a plane towing a glider, this question takes these concepts a bit further.

The application is to hard-dock two planes while in flight so that one of them can be powered down and serviced while the other plane provides thrust, control, and even lift.

Ideally, for this application, "service planes" should be able to service each other as well as other kinds of non-service planes.

Has any aspect of this idea ever been seriously studied or even demonstrated - perhaps for some other similar kind of application in aviation?

enter image description here enter image description here

$\endgroup$
1

3 Answers 3

3
$\begingroup$

There was a case when one F-4 have been used to push mechanically another F-4 that was damaged and out of fuel, hence providing thrust (Pardo's push). The damaged F-4 was "powered off" in the sense the engines have been shut down and "serviced" the way it has been moved far enough (142 km).

This looks quite close to that has been asked.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

If you define aviation to include space craft then yes, the Lunar Module and Command Module of the Apollo era routinely hard docked with each other in flight.

There was also the Apollo Soyuz docking project which brought together two craft from different programs.

If you further extend the idea to include "stations" both the Space Shuttle and the Soyuz docked with the ISS (which is technically a moving object) to refuel and re-supply it regularly. The Apollo system was also used to get to and dock with Skylab

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ Good point - I did not think of that. While docking is space might be easier in some ways, its still relevant experience. $\endgroup$
    – phil1008
    Jan 11 at 23:14
1
$\begingroup$

The concept of Airborne Aircraft Carrier has been proposed in the past. Beginning with Airship. There were many attempts to launch and recover small aircraft between 1933-1935.

Boeing 747-AAC (Airborne Aircraft Carrier) was proposed to launch and recover up to 10 microfighters. It never went to reality.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It sounds like in each of those cases, the docked aircraft would be substantially smaller than the AAC? $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Jan 11 at 16:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .