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Friday, 10 October 2003


Have you ever felt down in the dumps? In need of a bit of a lift? If so, Theodore F. Wiegel’s Human Free-Flight Catapult (United States patent 5,769,724) may be just the thing for you. Wiegel’s device, which is intended as an amusement ride, catapults a human rider into the air in much the same fashion as ancient armies would hurl large boulders over the walls of castles. As the abstract puts it:
“the ride provides many of the sensations and thrills encountered by fighter pilots launching from the decks of aircraft carriers without the requirement for flight training or the associated dangers”.

The ride essentially consists of a siege type catapult and a releasably connected launch pod. When in the launch position, a release mechanism is triggered by the operator and the rider is catapulted into the air at a physiologically safe rate of acceleration along a predictable free-flight arc. When an acceptable elevation is reached, the rider is separated from the capsule and gently brought back to earth using an automatically deploying parachute or similar device. An alternate embodiment envisions the use of a similar device to project a conveyance vehicle along a horizontal track similar to a stone skipping across the water.

The IPKat does not wish to be IPKatapulted anywhere and finds it hard to understand what pleasure may be gained from this pastime. But he can think of one or two people whom he'd quite like to watch as they sail up, up and away ...

Other catapults here, here and here
Click here to find out how catapults work and here or here to build one
Other free-flight techniques here, here and here
Catapult culture: here’s the catapult in humour, in song and in literature

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