Aeronautics: Landing Without Wheels

Everything seemed normal when Test Pilot David W. Howe eased the LA4 "Lake" amphibian toward Niagara Falls International Airport earlier this month. So he radioed a highly abnormal report to the tower: "Bag down and inflated." Seconds later he landed—without wheels—on a cushion of air.

Howe was testing a new air-cushion landing gear (ACLG) developed by Textron's Bell Aerosystems Co. of Buffalo. Based on the British Hovercraft principle (TIME, June 2) and conceived by Bell's T. Desmond Earl and Wilfred J. Eggington, the system employs an elastic bag made of laminated nylon...

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