Designed by Robert D. Hunt, this gravity-powered hybrid aircraft “operates on the principles of buoyancy, aerodynamic lift, and gravity.” Video after the jump.
In order for the GravityPlane to become airborne, gas bags inside a pair of rigid, zeppelin-like structures are filled with helium from storage tanks inside the vehicle. This causes the aircraft to become lighter-than-air, and it rises from the ground
Compressed-air jets on the sides of the craft add further propulsion, pushing the vehicle skyward and decreasing the craft’s overall weight by releasing the stored air which acts as ballast. Once the craft reaches the altitude where the helium is no longer lighter than the surrounding air– theoretically as high as ten miles up– it is unable to climb any further. Some of the stored compressed air is then expanded into the dirigible areas, decreasing the buoyancy effect of the helium and starting the aircraft’s descent phase