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Test flight held for small jet modeled after Miyazaki anime (mainichi.jp)
242 points by sjreese on Aug 5, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 69 comments

I thought it was going to be named after "Porco Rosso" (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=85...), to be honest. Talking about "Porco Rosso", I got to briefly visit Trieste for the first time ever this summer, Miyazaki and his fellow animators really did a very good job of portraying everything about the city, from the beautiful light to the Austro-Hungarian buildings from downtown. I had only seen the movie once, about 10 years ago, but I had a strong deja-vu feeling as I was visiting the Trieste waterfront, from where the first ever commercial Italian airplane took off in the early '20s.

Did you know the hotel, in the water, is based on a real world location? I once came across a real life photo of it, with a note about it being used as a reference for the film, but never came across it again - do you have any ideas where it was ?

Thanks for taking a good look, I guess it could be the location, but I honestly remember a smaller island, on a lake, with a hotel on it in the photograph. Maybe it was from a different angle? After all how many lakes in Italy have hotels in them?

Thanks again for trying.

My runner up is the islet of San Giovanni on the same lake: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/122043835.jpg (which is also mentioned in http://www.davinotti.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=v...). In reality it was probably an amalgamate of several reference locations.

This is it! Thank you =]

You are probably talking about lake bled in Slovenia https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Lake_Ble...

or lake skader in Montenegro.


fascinating but I believe we have a winner below!

Tangential; But I know of another one[1]

[1] https://www.google.com/maps/place/Taj+Lake+Palace/@24.575451...

Oh cool, now I know where James Bond was in Octopussy!

Have a look at Aria if you like that kind of thing. They made a point of sending the whole team to Venice, and you can match up the locations you see to those in the real world.

Also you might like https://infinitemirai.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/nishinomiya-h...

I highly recommend 'the wind rises'. It's a beautiful film, with a focus on early aviation, including some great Italian influences.

The animation (esp. flying) was great (as always with Miyazaki / Ghibli), but I thought as a serious film it was ...lacking. Somewhere in the uncomfortable zone of not being a total mess, but not very great either?

The ending was beautiful, in a way, (especially if you've seen Porco Rosso), but on the other hand, Miyazaki had to have a character to spell out loud and clear the whole central ethical dilemma (airplanes are beautiful and the fighter airplanes are the most beautiful things, but they are used as horrible weapons of war). But then what he was doing with the whole preceding two hours if there must be a monologue at the end? It didn't feel like a sign of good storytelling. The other main thing was the romance, which ... eh.

But sure, it's still an interesting film.

But I'd also say NausicaƤ (the manga, haven't seen the film) is more interesting take on some of the same questions, if you notice that Miyazaki tells an anti-war story, yet he is clearly in love with the airships whenever he draws them. The gunship battles look awesome, which in a sense, is also a problem.

Hm, I live 10km away from Trieste, on the Slovene side. I have never heard of this anime but now I am intrigued. Grazie mille :)

And it does look like the anime version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zhLBe319KE

About 35 seconds in.

A lot like, except it can't VTOL but it certainly takes off and lands on very little runway. And except you can't stand up on it, but standing up on an aircraft that's already pitch-unstable sounds like a recipe for a faceplant.

It is a shame VTOL is not incorporated, I can't help thinking it would be pretty easy to add what with available cheap multirotor stabilisation tech... the more I think about it, the more possible it is, and safer.

i always loved the attention to detail on display in the vertical take off in the film

a little foot pedal can be raised and with a swift impression the aircraft gets a downward burst that sends it about 2 or 3 meters straight up and then the engine propels it forward: https://youtu.be/tdAtYXzcZWE?t=27

there is another launch where they just fall out of a larger already moving flying machine.. unable to find a clip online but it's about at an hour and 28 minutes into the film

another awesome launch is when back home in the valley of the wind the glider is hooked up to a slingshot that throws the glider without using any fuel up into the air where the pilot then activates the engine.. unable to find a clip online but it's about at 22 minutes into the film

and another where the pilot runs the glider off a cliff and then flips up on top before launching to speed.. unable to find a clip online but it's about at 15 minutes into the film

as for landing, i'd hardly say vertical, mostly just a short runway

i love this style of landing shown early on, where the pilot flips under the glider and glides low enough to run off the glider: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRZ5JalHjhs

this is a remarkably creative, brilliant and beautiful film

a rare post apocalyptic vision, both socially and environmentally, that retains beauty and hope

i highly recommend it to everyone

The bit where they get the detail wrong is: the VTOL generates a puff of air about the diameter of the wings, once. What it would actually need to generate is a huge blast on the order of a helicopter lifting off, continuously at least for the first few seconds. A single blast would leave it plummeting and it would need to pull some harsh gees to get up past stalling speed before it made a splat on the ground. Looking at the animation, maybe it was doing exactly that - but how did her arms not snap off?

Possible methodology:

- Explosive single VTOL blast.

- Plummeting with the jet throttled to max.

- Wing-in-ground effect lowers effective stall speed so acceleration can proceed skimming inches over the ground.

- Up to speed and lifting away from the ground to full flight.

It sounds crudely plausible, but terrifying and not something to do without mad skills.

miyazaki often subverts physics for aethetics

if you are responding to my mention of attention to detail

i was merely referring to the little foot pedal that pops up for the vert take off

unnecessary for the universe it inhabits and extra work for the animators, but a fun detail for viewers

ah no but don't you both see? A key component of the craft is that it is a glider, in most if not all scenes there is the clear presence of extremely strong wind, which would keep it held in the air - and not just for a few seconds! Look at the landing clip for example, where she hangs off it and the clear indication of strong wind. All that was required was the sudden VTOL blast to get the wing into the air current so it could generate lift.

I hope we can all settle on this explanation and agree they are visionaries. ;)

I really enjoyed your comment as I also took an interest in these features, great film.

The difficulty with VTOL isn't just stabilization, it's weight and thrust. The multirotor drones that have become popular in the last few years are only feasible because they use small electric motors and have very high thrust-to-weight ratios. (see e.g. the square-cube law)

Looks like this has been an ongoing project for a while.


It has been going since before YouTube was created. I remember downloading the .MOV files from their web site back in 2003. PetWORKs is the company/creative group behind the project.


Yes, the Moewe/Open Sky project has been going on since 1995. There was an RC model, a large glider, and then this full-sized one with a jet engine. This one first flew around 2013, but now they have more control, can get more altitude, and can fly around the pattern.

Sadly, it needs too much runway to land at summer comiket.

That design, while interesting and reminiscent of all the flying wing experiments and developments over the years, scares the ever loving hell out of me. I say this as a person working on a personal wing device also without a large vertical stabilizer control surface. Brave soul, and I fully applaud giving it a try!

I watched the video mentally screaming at the lack of protection, not even a full helmet. I'll join the applause!

I love when writers, novelists, artists dream up something then a group of crazy engineers come along and build it.

I'm still waiting for my hoverboard.

An anti-gravity generator is needed. A lot of people would like to see that :-)

A Higgs manipulator.. We'll get there, we made the first steps.

And the 3rd person version:


Love how the pilot did without a parachute.

The bike helmet is the icing on the cake for me.

safety is a top priority, you never know when you might get in a low speed collision while flying a jet

To be fair, that thing could probably do a 40 km/h faceplant during take-off or landing.

In which case you might want a full face helmet and some armor. The bike helmet is either pointless in the case of a catastrophic failure or not enough in the case of a survivable accident.

It does hold the gopro pretty well, though!

Can I be the first to note that being strapped to a large jet engine like that has got to be terrifying?

Unless you are a teenage princess.

> Can I be the first to note that being strapped to a large jet engine like that has got to be terrifying?

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I think its only terrifying until you reach glide altitude, and then turn it off .. and then .. I think the whole thing is probably fun as hell.

Unfortunately the design of this aircraft means its glide ratio is probably not that good.

It can't possibly have an airfoil. That's got to be a purely symmetrical airfoil shape, otherwise it'd be flipping him over forward violently. I didn't believe this design at first sight, and when I saw it actually flying I was amazed at how dangerous it was. It's basically an air surfboard. Astonishing. The weight distribution is nuts, I can't see how he'd possibly regain control if it flipped backward or forward even once. It'd just tumble out of the sky with you on it.

You would use an airfoil suitable for flying wings. They tend to curve up at the back. One of my gliding instructors used to fly this flying wing with reasonably good performance (35:1 glide ratio):

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marske_Pioneer

Note the comment about the narrow centre of gravity range. The instructor said that wearing his heavy boots would change the flying characteristics enough that he could notice.

So such things exist and are at least somewhat practical.

and loud


Would have liked to see it landing. And the caption said the guy is 50. Wow! He looks like 30.

You can see the landing here: http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608010046.html

Looks rather gentle.

Huh, no. The marionettes lines, chin wrinkles but also the deep glabella wrinkle (aka 'deep frown') indicate this person is unlikely to be 30. You can see it on http://imgur.com/a/OuFkK

Anyway, a beautiful video, very inspiring.

Love to see the landing too. Landing shock might get too hard.

Should have used a parachute.

You can by emergency parachutes intended for paragliding, at 300 USD it is worth it.

No use at that height. The minimum I've seen in base-jumping is around 30 meters with instant chute deployment and perfect reaction time.

Pretty amazing. I'm worried about the positive feedback in the controls though... shift weight back to pitch up, which is going to cause more weight to shift back. Definitely a stall hazard, and a tough one to get out of.

"if i move up the front, the nose goes down because the weight is on the nose. if i slide down the nose goes up because the weight is on the tail. to make a turn, if i tilt my body this way the force is on the side"

yaikes, this thing seems to be all manual based on weight disposition! Makes it quite a bit more challenging in my opinion.

If you look, the wing flaps move much more than would be possible with mere shifting bodyweight. So clearly it's sensor based, not purely manual.

Looks like there are ropes attached to his harness that control the flaps as he leans to either side.

Makes it seems a lot of fun to ride too! Like a flying skateboard!

Hang gliders are piloted in a similar fashion.

I'm curious how you pull out of a dive in something like that.

Can you stabilize this sort of craft with gyros or something? Or is it pretty much a flying death trap?

Gyros would probably weigh too much. I wouldn't call it a death trap, but it's probably a fair-weather light-use aircraft.

Aw. You have to lie down on your stomach to pilot it?

Video link?

Japan gotta be the only place to find somebody crazy enough to pilot that thing.

I don't even have my pilot's license, but if that thing was in front of me, I'd ask to ride. Bear in mind that in the early days of flight, we had people who were willing to play tennis on the wings while a plane was flying below them. Not being flown, flying. They were the pilot and copilot.

Moller worked on a flying car for, what, 25 years? And they wouldn't even let him fly it without a tether to a crane :(

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