This program goes back to the year 1959. In 1962, the German Federal Ministry of Defense awarded Dornier a design contract for the Do 31 V/STOL transport aircraft. Under this experimental program, the production program covered a small and a large hovering rig for studying design principles, an airframe for structural testing, and a systems test stand for hydraulic and electric systems.
Both prototypes flew in 1967 and were successfully tested between 1967 and 1971. The Do 31 E-1 was equipped with two engines providing power for cruising flight as well as lift during takeoff and landing via vectored nozzles. To support the cruise engines in hover flight another eight engines were installed in nacelles at the wing ends. By tilting the cruise engine nozzles, the Do 31 was accelerated to the speed of approximately 250kph required for aerodynamic horizontal flight, and the eight lift-producing engines were stopped again after 20 seconds.
The Do 31, which established several world records during its ferry flight to the 1969 Paris Air Show, was the first and so-far only vertical take-off jet transport built in the world.
Dornier Do 31 on YOUTUBE
2 x RR Bristol "Pegasus" 5-2 thrust-vectoring turbojets, 7031kg + 8 x Rolls-Royce RB 162-4D, 1996kg
59 ft 3 in
69 ft 6 in
28 ft 0 in
613.54 sq ft
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At air shows I won wagers with other pilots that I could fly it backwards. I always won. It would fly in circles, backwards and in any other direction,just not for too long. I am the only pilot to ever make a vertical takeoff and landing in it, there will never be another.
As a NASA research pilot,Langley Research Center, I flew the Big Hover Rig in the period 9 /26-10 /22 /69 for 8 flights and the DO-31E3 for 18 flights from 2 /6 to 4 /7 /70. R.C. Innis, research pilot, NASA Ames Research Center, flew both these aircraft the same number of flights. Drury Wood was pilot-in-command. I have great respect for what he accomplished; to my knowledge, he was pilot-in-command for all flights of this great Dornier aircraft.
To my person: I am a freelance journalist from Germany and wrote an article on Drury and the Do 31 for a respected German aviation magazine. Since them Drury is a wonderfull friend to me and I learned a lot about testpilots from him. Drury was very disappointed by some people of the aviation scene over here – and so he ask me for help! On this subject I had the great pleasure to bring his Kincheloe Award personally to the museum where it found its final place beside Drury's Do 31! Drury is 85 years now and still lives Grants Pass. If you interesstet on a picture about the Award in front of the Do 31 please let me know!
Definitely a most interesting aircraft concept. Although not VTOL, the C-130 Hercules with JATO probably comes fairly close to serving the needs which were envisioned by Dornier designers for this type of transport aircraft.
There are a total of three of thess in existence. E1 the non vertical take off version reside at the deutches Mueseum in Munich. E3 The fully capable prototype is at the museum of DOrnier (now EADS) in Oberschleissheim Germany along side the Autobahn Munich Lindau The hover rig was scrapped back in the early 70s.
My father was part of the test program on this aircraft, and I remember vividly watching a couple of hover and flight transition tests from the edge of the tramac in 1967-68.
Think of it as two harriers strapped together with an eadditional 8 lift engines... LOUD!!!
That "Flash Gordon spike" is a flight test boom. It's often fitted to aircraft during their flight test phase, and is used to place the airspeed, angle of attack, and angle of sideslip sensors in undisturbed air.
VSTOL aircraft tend to consume a large amount of fuel while in take-off / hover / landing operation. They also tend to be very loud. (I'm sure you would agree, Mr.Wood) This was, however, an extraordinary aircraft, as previously stated.
I was the project test pilot on this airplane. Flew all of the test rigs and full size over 600 flights. Made the record flights, Awarded Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande and Society of Experimental Test Pilots highest award, Kinchloe. A successful program killed by politics.