Science: Horizontal VTOL

Airplanes are slowly outgrowing their need for long runs on the ground before getting into the air. The reason is jet engines, which deliver so much thrust that they can lift themselves and an airframe vertically, without needing take-off help from the lift of a fast-moving wing.

The latest VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) airplane to do this trick successfully is Bell Aircraft Corp.'s X-14, whose pictures were made public last week. Unlike Ryan Aeronautical Co.'s X-13 (TIME, May 20), which stands on its tail while taking off, the X-14 takes off in normal horizontal flying position. Its two jet engines blow...

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