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STOL Operations in the City Center
By OSCAR BAKKE
Director, Eastern Region, FAA

The time and circumstances are right to apply STOL aircraft to the staggering problems of metropolitan transportation

In the crisis which faces so many metropolitan centers throughout the United States, the problem of transportation to and from the city center is one of the most perplexing. It has become fashionable to view New York, for instance, as a "city in crisis" and nowhere in this great metropolitan area is the crisis more real and more difficult of solution than in transportation. So in dealing with this subject, I have selected New York City to illustrate a possible application of STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) aircraft technology on the assumption that, successfully exploited in New York, the STOL aircraft can be adapted to almost any other large metropolitan center.

In treating STOL operations in the city center, we are faced with a remarkable historical coincidence. Several important developments either already have or are about to come to a head, each of which requires a reevaluation of direction and emphasis. They might be summarized as follows:

1. Traffic Congestion and Surface Transportation Development in Urban Areas at a Stalemate. There seems to be little question that the transportation planners of metropolitan America are urgently seeking new solutions to this perplexing problem. As greater percentages of our population are concentrating in urban areas and less and less real estate is available for transportation facilities, the classical solutions involving highway construction and surface mass-transit development can no longer suffice.

2. Decline of the New York Waterfront. The esthetic effect of the deterioration of many of New York's piers and docks is matched by the growing frustration of city planners and political leaders, who have no solution or alternative to offer. If some of the waterfront area can be used to complement New York's short-haul transportation service, such a solution would represent a fortunate coincidence.

3. The Air-Transport Revolution in Inter-City Common Carriage. The aircraft has already replaced the railroad train and the bus as the principal mover of persons in inter-city common carriage. In this accomplishment, remarkable improvement in speed, passenger comfort, reliability, economy, and safety have been demonstrated. While the high-speed, high-flying, turbine-engine aircraft, requiring large landing and takeoff areas, has dominated the inter-city transport scene, the development of high-lift aircraft capability of extremely short landing and takeoff represents one of aviation's most notable accomplishments in the past decade, despite the fact that it has not as yet been fully exploited.

4. The End of Federal Helicopter Subsidy. In 1965, at the recommendation of the President, the Congress decided to terminate federal subsidy of the three urban helicopter operations, including that of New York Airways. Inasmuch as the helicopter carriers have not as yet achieved economic self-sufficiency, it is essential that the question be faced whether aircraft designs, other than those involving rotary wing, should be explored either to replace or to complement helicopter operation. Persuasive evidence exists of the STOL aircraft's greater economy; it is cheaper per payload pound in initial cost and it is considerably less costly in passenger seat miles to operate.

5. Immaturity of VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) Designs. During the past decade, the Department of Defense has let 11 or more contracts for the development of various VTOL aircraft, not including helicopters. The concepts embodied in these various designs included the tilt wing, tiled rotor, tiled ducted-propeller, and ducted fan, among others. In recent months prototype or experimental designs have been flown, enabling the aviation community to develop a 

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OSCAR BAKKE (M) came to his position in 1961 after 14 years with the CAB and a year as Director of the Bureau of Flight Standards. In 1956 he was named Director of CAB's Bureau of Safety. During WW II Bakke served as a pilot instructor. He has been an AFR command pilot, and currently holds an Airline Transport Pilot's rating. He has chaired delegations to the International Civil Aviation Organization, and is now vice-chairman of the New York Federal Executive Board.
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