Akerman Tailless - (scan - 1997)

Experimental design and construction started 1934 by students at Minnesota U. under Prof. John Akerman's supervision as outcome of WPA project through which government provided income-producing work during Depression. Assigned tail number X-14880, has single seat and is powered by Jacobs engine bearing serial number 15. Surface, covered with both metal and fabric, is silver-gray. Differed from other so-called "tailless" airplanes of the time in that similar machines were equipped with long wings swept back to such a degree that they actually functioned as dual tails. Control surfaces at wing tips became, in effect, tail-mounted rudders.

Akerman has a fairly straight wing. Achieves lateral control by movable planes on each wing tip and by unique system of elevons and movable flaps. According to Akerman, contemporary delta-wing aircraft use similar control principles. Because of these and other unique design characteristics, aircraft has been called missing link between sharply swept wing and delta wing of American aircraft.

Made only one short flight--very short. Because of University's concern over lack of liability insurance, no firm plans made to flight test aircraft. Akerman, a WWI pilot, became impatient and decided to try first flight himself even though his license to fly was questionable. Plan was to start down runway at Wold Chamberlain Field (Minneapolis-St. Paul) and decide, during the run, if to continue and become airborne. Reasoning was that if it handled well, he would make short flight to evaluate aircraft. Was noticed going out to end of runway by a newspaper man. Media had become interested in the aircraft and when it would eventually fly. Hanging from running board of a car, a cameraman followed the aircraft from alongside the runway. Akerman was alarmed and became briefly airborne to avoid a collision but did not take off. He was furious be to no avail. The aircraft was unfortunately not flown again and was stored at the U of Minn and remained there until turned over to the Museum.

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