DARPA’s Vertical Takeoff and Landing Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program is the latest attempt to combine the versatility of vertical flight with the efficiency of forward flight by pushing beyond the long-standing speed limit on conventional helicopters of about 160 kt. By setting performance goals but no mission objectives, DARPA sought to attract novel and diverse approaches to the challenge. In Phase 1, four teams were funded to take four quite different concepts to a ...

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