Science: Deflected Thrust

Latest entry in the VTOL (Vertical take-off and landing) competition is the Bell X-14, which achieves vertical flight in a horizontal flying attitude by means of a Venetian blind. The X-14 has two Armstrong Siddeley jet engines that give more than 3,500 lbs. of thrust, their hot gas shooting out horizontally under the fuselage. When the X-14 is rigged to take off vertically, a system of vanes like a Venetian blind deflects the gas downward. The thrust, acting upward, lifts the craft off the ground.

During this maneuver, the normal control surfaces do not work because there is no flow of...