Planet Satellite

1948

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Planet Satellite

Planet Aircraft Ltd formed 1946 to build outstandingly advanced Satellite 4-seater made of magnesium. Prototype made by Redwing at Croydon, but structural problems led to ARB refusing permission to fly 1948.

Comments
Marc de Piolenc, e-mail, 06.09.2020 04:15

The use of magnesium was new then, but there were aeronautical alloys that would have done the job. Seems that material processing produced sheets that did not have the strength determined in the laboratory. A machine (too) far ahead of its time.

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ChukyChez1, e-mail, 29.12.2016 22:04

I have plans drawn by M. G. Adams, Clayton Bay, S. Australia. E-mail me & I would be glad to send it to you.

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rosie, e-mail, 04.12.2013 13:38

i have drawings and build instructions on the planet satellite G-ALO1and lots of photos about it for sale24 /11 /1948 dated
i believe that there are no drawings on this

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Brian Johnston, e-mail, 27.05.2012 19:35

I must say I would have major qualms about flying in a magneswium alloy aircraft! It is probably the case that the alloy used is not flammable, but remembering school chemistry lessons, having demonstrations of how fiercely magnesium burns, I would need a fair bit of convincing!

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mike, e-mail, 04.07.2010 23:23

Anyone have the original plans?

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Cholet, e-mail, 16.09.2009 14:02

The Planet Satellite designed by Major J.N. Dundas Heenan was a futuristic looking four-seater built of magnesium alloy in a true monocoque "teardrop" shaped fuselage with no internal reinforced structure[1]. The Satellite was powered by a 250 hp de Havilland Gipsy Queen 31 mounted amidships driving a two-blade Aeromatic "pusher" airscrew in the tail. Other notable features included "butterfly" tails and a retractable tricycle undercarriage, with the nosewheel retracting into a reinforced keel that ran the length of the underside of the fuselage[1].

Breaking with conventional design and manufacturing conventions, Heenan declared in the July 1948 Aviation News issue, that the 400 drawings made were in stark contrast with the standard of approximately 3,000 drawings required for a project of that complexity[2]. Financing for the Satellite was equally novel with a partnership established with the Distillers Company Ltd. (makers of Gordon's Gin and Black Label Whisky) wherein the Planet Aircraft Company operated as a subsidiary of a liquor company.[3]

Built in the Robinson Redwing factory at Croydon, Purley Way, Surrey in 1947, the first prototype was taken to Redhill in 1948. The sleek light aircraft appeared at the S.B.A.C show at Farnborough in September 1948 and received the registration G-ALOI in April 1949.


[edit] Testing and evaluation
The Chief Test Pilot at RAE Farnborough, Group Captain H.J. Wilson (holder of the World speed Record in the Gloster Meteor), after several long runs down the runway, managed to get the Satellite airborne at Blackbushe. The first "hop" was followed by the collapse of the undercarriage. After repairs, the prototype was flown off the ground and after reaching an altitude of barely 20 ft was put down on the ground gently but nonetheless, the main keel had been cracked by the force of the landing. The conclusion of the Air Registration board investigating the "accident" was that the aircraft was badly understressed and would necessitate a complete redesign. [3]

The manufacturers had already begun the production of a second prototype and despite an investment of £100,000, chose to wind down the program with no further attempts to fly the Planet Satellite.

The second prototype, registered G-ALXP was abandoned but the completed fuselage was incorporated into the Firth Helicopter, built in 1952 at Thame. The single "flying" Satellite languished at Redhill until 1958 when it was unceremoniously broken up.[4]


[edit] Specifications (Planet Satellite)
Heavenly Body[3]

Span: 33 ft 6 in
Length: 26 ft 3 in
Height: 9 ft 3 in
Wing area: 153 ft²
Aifoil: NACA 23000 series
Weight (unloaded): 1,600 lbs
Gross weight: 2,905 lb
Maximum (estimated) speed: 208 mph
Cruise (estimated)speed: 191 mph
Maximum (estimated) range: 1,000 miles
Absolute (estimated) ceiling: 22,000 ft
Climb (estimated) rate: 1,450 ft /min
Wipedia

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