Nov 182011

Cierva C30 Autogiro

At some point  in 2001, I was playing a great game on my PC called Crimson Skies.  It was created by a company called Zipper Interactive.  The main character, Nathan Zachary, is a air pirate in an alternate history version of the 1930s.  Instead of a pirate ship, he flew around in a heavily armored and armed Zeppelin.  The airship had a hanger full of an airplanes to modify and fly in game missions.

One of the oddest planes was the Autogiro.  It was like something out of a science fiction story because it combined the body of a normal airplane and the spinning rotors of a helicopter.  Recently, I was very surprised to find out that these planes actually existed!

Patrolling the skies over Wembley Stadium (1935)

One of the autogiros was created by a Spanish civil engineer, pilot and aeronautical engineer named Juan De La Cierva.   De La Cierva, made many aircraft, but in 1933, he built the very unique Cierva C-30 autogrio.  One might look at the C-30 and see an early helicopter,  but his main goal was to create a safer aircraft.  If the engine shuts off, wind resistance will continue to spin the rotors providing lift and the craft will land gently like maple seed pod does.  Autogiro means “self rotation”.

At one point, these aircraft nearly became the first flying car due to their safety and ease of use, but De La Cierva’s sudden death in 1936 ensured that the idea would not catch on.


Cierva C-30 Autogyro

Manufacturer: A V Roe & Co Ltd (Avro), Lioré-et-Olivier and Focke-Wulf.

Years Manufactured: 1933-1936

Created by: Juan De La Cierva

Number Built: 148

Crew: 1 +1 passenger

Max Speed: 110 mph

Length: 19 ft

Height :11 ft

Weight 1,800 lbs loaded

Engine: One 7-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 140 hp, drove both the front propellor and the top rotor.


Nov 172011

Humpty Dumpty 1947

I have always been a great fan of Pinball machines.  I remember when I was very little, watching big kids playing a mysterious game at the local arcade.  It had crazy blinking lights, bells, strange hammer sounds and the big kid playing it looked like he was about to push the whole thing over with the violence of his movements.  I wasn’t even tall enough to see what was going on under the glass!  Once I got old enough to reach the flipper buttons and see the playing field, I was completely hooked.  I must have spent $100s a year in quarters up until the point that most of the arcades disappeared.  Luckily, in recent years a few new arcades have sprung up and I can enjoy playing again!

Humpty Dumpty Under the Glass

When I looked into the history of these machines, I was surprised to find that they have been around for a long time.  The evolution of the pinball machine took at least 300 years to get to from a simple bowling game to the complex ones we have today.  By the 1930s,  the machine had gotten; spring launchers(1871), coin operated(1931), electrified (1933),and  reactive bumpers(1933).

In 1947, Gottleib (Chicago, IL) released the next step with the inclusion of flippers in their game, Humpty Dumpty.  At first, Humpty Dumpty was too low powered and needed 3 of the 6 flippers to get to the top, but with a few tweaks, only 2 were needed.   The flipper idea really took off and soon other companies were offering kit to convert older machines to use flippers. With this innovation and others, Gottleib was able to top the market for many years.

Manufacturer: Gottleib (Chicago, IL)

Model:  Humpty Dumpty

First Producted: October, 5 1947

Flippers: 6 flipper bumpers

Production Run: 6,500

Design:  Harry Mabs

Artwork: Roy Parker