As part of a DARPA initiative, Boeing is developing a search-and-rescue aircraft that combines a helicopter's hovering capabilities with an airplane's long flight range
. According to Aviation Week, Boeing will test a 20-percent scale model of the disc-rotor aircraft, called the CSAR DiscRotor, in a wind tunnel sometime next year. The aircraft uses rotor-mounted blades, much like a chopper, so that it can both take off and land vertically. But, once it has taken flight, the aircraft retracts its blades into the disc, and becomes a fixed-wing craft, able to cruise long distances at high speeds with little air resistance. When the aircraft is in this mode, it uses two turboshaft engines to generate forward thrust. The DiscRotor would theoretically be able to reach speeds of 360 knots with a radius of 400 nautical miles while carrying a payload exceeding 2,400 pounds.
Of course, those are only the specs for a concept version of the aircraft, and, as with many DARPA initiatives, it's possible that this project will never even come to fruition. Then again, it sounds a lot less crazy than those mind-control helmets
or that demonic robot dog.