Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

Gravity powered aircraft flies with no fuel


January 20, 2004

Image Gallery (4 images)

January 21, 2004 The concept of sustained flight without the use of fuel seems far reaching even by today's advanced aviation standards. Even more so when you consider that aircrafts should ideally be able to carry heavy loads of passengers and cargo. However one innovator's astounding new designs could transform the air transport industry of the 21st Century if they turn out to be valid

Former nuclear designer, Robert D. Hunt of Hunt Aviation Corp has come up with a new "gravity powered aircraft technology" that he claims can accomplish sustained fuel-less flight. Hunt has designed a new hybrid aircraft: a "gravity-powered aircraft" which is a fixed wing, ridged skin airplane made of lightweight and modern composite materials. By October 2003, Hunt Aviation Corp had already begun the first phase of prototype construction, assembling a consortium of aviation manufacturers and suppliers that wish to support the revolutionary aircraft technology.

Interestingly, because this hybrid plane uses technology of gliding and aerostatic lift, the idea for sustained flight actually has more in common with the older technology of Leonardo Da Vinci's first primitive hang glider, than it does from the Wright Brother's engine powered airplane only a century ago.

The "Gravity-Plane", as Hunt Aviation likes to call it, uses gravity's dual properties - buoyancy which creates an upward motion in order to gain altitude, and gravity acceleration which creates a forward and downward gliding motion. The two motions combined form the heart of Hunt's new gravity powered technology, a technology that could make for a much healthier and cleaner environment.

Lighter-than-air (Aerostatic) lift may be explained by the principal of buoyancy, also known as the Archimedes Principal. Gravity exerts a greater pull on more dense materials than on less dense materials, which causes buoyancy. For example, a bubble rises in water and helium rises in air because they are less dense than the surrounding "lifting" fluid.

In the Hunt Aviation's "Gravity-Plane", buoyancy is created by gas bags filled with helium within two large rigid pontoon shaped lifting bodies. This buoyancy lifts the "Gravity-Plane" to high altitudes to create lighter-than-air lift.

Despite being a better "lifting gas" than Helium, Hydrogen is generally not used in this way because it is combustible. Inert Helium, widely used in lighter-than-air airships, can now be used to attain altitudes of over 100,000 feet and may be built very large to carry heavy loads of passengers and cargo approaching 1,000 tons according to Hunt. By comparison, a U. S. military C-17 heavy lifter only carries 70 tons.

Even better than Helium , according to Hunt, is the idea to use a vacuum-lift system in the hybrid aircraft. During normal operation of the aircraft, lift is provided by the vacuum contained within rigid cells. As a precautionary measure, the new hybrid aircraft will use a Dual-Aerostatic-Lift system that will include the use of vacuum-lift and the use of a lifting gas. The lifting gas is expanded into collapsible gas bags, in the event of rupture of the vacuum-lift cell wall.

Obvious benefits of the technology are that the aircraft does not require fuel, which is aviation's main cost. This also makes the aircraft safer in terms of fuel burning or exploding. Furthermore, having no waste emissions or noise, the aircraft is extremely environmentally friendly. "Hunt's invention is the first practical use of gravity to provide a motive force by forming a continuous cycle out of two forces of gravity with the result being, for the first time ever, self-sustained fuel-less flight and this is a tremendous and historic accomplishment", stated Gene Cox, President of Hunt Aviation Corp.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

The linked website for the plane is truly awful however a lot of comments here seem to be misunderstanding how it works - take a look at their (poor quality) video on the website for more information. It looks like this has been kicking around since 2005. It looks like a great idea but if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is...


This is of course fantastic. I have always thought this would be possible when light enough yet strong enough materials were available. However, The obvious question is speed. Nothing has mentioned that yet. Though certainly it would out run a blimp, just how fast can one expect to go average with a full payload?

Facebook User

I have a feeling that this is a crazy idea. Air pressure at sea level is 14.5 lb. per sq. in. An amount of air equal in weight to the craft must be evacuated from the the pontoons in order to obtain buoyancy. By the way, buoyancy has nothing to do with gravity, but is related to the weight of fluid displaced.The structure must be rigid enough to withstand the crushing pressure on every square inch of the outside skin. Surely the structure would be too heavy in order to be strong enough. The Helium part of the idea is obviously tried and tested, but how is the craft directed? Wind is always a problem for dirigibles, even with the use of motors. Think what happens to a balloon in the wind. Also forward speed is necessary for control surfaces to be effective. Back to the drawing board!


Hardly revolutionary. Many hang glider pilots employ a hot air ballon to lift them at the beginning of a flight, particularly aerobatic pilots. All this is is combining a dirigible and a glider. Plus there\'s the fact that a vacuum balloon is still somewhat questionable in viability because of the structural strength the envelope would require

Facebook User

It\'s necessary, aproximately, 1 cubic meter of helium to generate impulsion of 1Kg. For example, if a plane carries 100 people inside, it will be difficult to have something with less than 10 tons of weight , plane people. This means, more or less, 10.000 cubic meters of helium at normal pressure and temperature conditions. Imagine a box with 100 meters long, 10 meters height and 10 meters wide full of helium. That\'s what we would need aproximately. Considering the geometry of this plane, we can think in two boxes, each one with 100 meters and 7m x 7m of profile. Is it feasable? I guess it is. Is it efficient? How fast would it climb? Auxiliar egine to climb? What would be the speed of the best glide ratio? How many times the plane would have to climb to go down again? Anyway, its an interesting concept.

João Sequeira

Complete nonsense.

1st If the aircraft is \'permanently\' buoyant then how will gravity pull it? And on top of that the jet stream will blow it around like a leaf in the wind. There is a reason a blimp is shaped the way it is with power props and NO wings. Wings would act like sails and an air sail ship would be a better idea than this.

2nd If helium or hydrogen is used to \'make\' the plane buoyant then to deflate the helium bag, so gravity can do it\'s thing, they need a compressor which will use fuel. So it still needs a fuel powered engine but instead on using it efficiently to power props (like on a blimp) it would be used on compressing helium.

3rd You would constantly need to compress and decompress the helium to gain altitude and then fall, to have speed and control, like a big wave motion up and down up and down, wasting tones of fuel decompressing the helium every time for lift.

As I said, complete nonsense.

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles