Futuristic engineer built drone before its time
IT WAS the beginning of a new era and not many realised it.
One man did.
It was back in the 1960s that Charles Hudson set about building a machine of the future.
Then it was termed a flying saucer but today they are recognised as drones.
It was an ambitious project but Charles was qualified for the job.
He was a qualified fitter and turner, a marine engineer and a gas turbine technician.
He had spent seven years at sea.
Some of this time with Shell Company tankers out of Singapore.
He was on gas turbine ships sailing from England and Norway.
He also worked on hydroelectric generating sets in New Zealand and diesel sets at Woomera.
Charles Hudson conceived the idea for his flying saucer in New Zealand during the late 1960s and began serious model building not long after.
The first two were unsatisfactory but he continued to work on new models.
The original designs consisted of three engines and no wing.
Then for three years in the early 1970s, he devoted almost full time to his experimental work with a few breaks to raise funds.
Materials cost him about $1500.
For this latter project he was living with his mother in Dalby.
The flying saucer he was working on was made from aluminium with a fuselage made from balsa wood and stainless steel.
It had tennis balls on its landing legs, was a little over a metre in width and was powered by six German model aero engines.
The fans were developed by the inventor and were balanced by an aircraft instrument factory.
The six engines were radio controlled for speeds from idle to maximum speed.
Charles was looking ahead at a five metre model which would be capable of carrying three people.
He could see the craft being used as a personnel carrier in military applications, crop dusting or general field work as a commuter craft in civilian life.
Today Charles' dream has been fulfilled as drones are taking to the sky in great numbers. They are being used for many of the projects he envisaged.
So far people have not yet been transported by them but time will tell.