#268: Takeoff tracks

It costs a lot to get planning for and to build an airstrip from scratch. Given that thousands of miles of straight railway track lie around most of the time doing absolutely nothing, I’d like to propose some reuse of our underemployed transport infrastructure.

Today’s invention is to allow straight sections of railway line, in unpopulated areas, to be used as a take-off and landing strips for light aircraft.

Amy_Jacobs_plane619.jpg

Obviously this would require small modifications to existing planes (eg a detachable sled), and a mechanism put in place to ensure that they operate on sections of line which aren’t just about to be used by other services.

This approach could work for gliders too. If a railway engine were equipped with a winch, the combined speed of the engine and winding speed would be more than enough to get a glider aloft.

Landing…well that could certainly prove trickier. Descending smoothly onto a flatbed car, already moving at speed, would however be well within the capabilities of most private pilots.

This whole approach could be funded by landing fees and help pay for improvements in the world’s neglected railways.

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