07 February 2011

R.I.P. - Uncle Frank Malvestuto - turbo wing & heli-skimmer?

My Uncle Frank died right before christmas,
and yesterday was his wake.

uncle frank - malvestuto

He was pushing 90 and had some serious ailments,
so although sad, he lived a full life.
A full life is an understatement,
he met my "Auntie Debbie" and had 4 kids with her starting in his 60's!
(David, Evan, Casey & Mia)
This was actually his second set of kids!
(Leisa, Steve & Rita + grandkids)

I was young but old enough to remember when she brought him into the family,
this was in the late 70's.
This is how I remember him from that time, his company called Heli-Skimmer,
she was a photographer/videographer and he swooped on her!


Uncle Frank was an astoundingly intelligent guy,
working for NASA (during WWII!), Lockheed and Martin Marietta.
A quick search will find he specialized in supersonic experimental aircraft.
Turbo Wing Introduction "The Inventor"
Martin Marietta X-24A - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Martin Marietta X-24B - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
basically helped pave the way for the space shuttle with 1000+mph hot rods!

Anyway this is his claim to fame -
the Turbo Wing.
turbo wing

Here's a link to the patent...

High-lift, low-drag, stall-resistant airfoil - Patent 6732972

This video is great yet depressing.
Most likely this will be the future we may  NEVER see...
(get past the 2 minute mark for actual moving vehicles!)

Typical of most eccentric inventors,
Frank was rabid about protecting and promoting the turbo-wing idea.
Also typical with many eccentric inventors,
money was always the carrot at the end of the string.

The wake proved that this didn't change the respect for him as a father/family member.

Being in the extended family I'd hear of the trials and tribulations the Malvestuto's went through,
as the business of marketing the turbo-wing idea was tougher than the actual engineering.
Many years he spent trying to get the million dollar deals,
not only in the US but abroad.

In the 80's, my mom worked in their office near Shelter Island.
The renderings and models - boats, planes, even cars...
while amazing, became almost normal to me.
I expected to see these all over the place!

Turbo Wing Watercraft "Main"

Turbo Wing Aircraft "Concept"

This is the catch-22 that a patented idea produces.
What do you do with a proven idea,
that can change transportation with faster speeds, fuel economy and performance?
He could have sold out a number of times for a decent sum,
but he always held out, waiting for the real deal,
the deal that would see the actual production and use of the turbo wing.

turbo cessna

This is what happens when someone is passionate about the idea over the money.
If you ever watched Who Killed the Electric Car? - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,
you may believe or at least contemplate certain conspiracy theories.
The transportation and energy industries have (probably) killed many competitive ideas

Great American streetcar scandal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Free energy suppression - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

to protect and promote their own,
that's just the way it is with big money and contacts.

I think that was Uncle Franks biggest fear,
selling his patent to, for instance, Lockheed, and having it just sit on the shelf, unused.
As a result a worldwide patent would prohibit
any further testing or improvements, anywhere, without permission -
locked away.

But would it have been?
Boeing and Bell Helicopters seem to have gone around the patent with their V-22 Osprey...
Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I remember discussing with him how wrong he thought this idea was!
(Nothing cubic $$ can't fix though!)

Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey

But than what do you do?
Die with it?
Obviously Frank was planning on living to 100+,
when the patents would run out!

Here are some other of his patents we may or may not see...
High-lift, Low-drag Dual Fuselage Aircraft invention
air super tanker

Hybrid winged airship (dynastat) - Patent 6581873

One regret I'll have is not asking him what he was planning to do with all this.
Back in 7th or 8th grade we did a science fair project,
and Uncle Frank whipped out a remote control model with a turbo wing.
Unfortunately it was way over my teachers head!
Such a cool model though...
In the end it's always about money,
and it was tough for me to get involved.

Who knows what will happen in 2017 or so when the patents expire,
I'd love to see the Turbo Wing actually used!
Keep a look out...

R.I.P. Uncle Frank!



  1. Sorry to hear about your uncle, He sure did some significant things in life. R.I.P.

  2. Sorry to hear of your uncles passing, it was through the a different site i came across his Turbo Wing concept, leading me here.

    A novel concept and definitely a pity it didn't see commercial uptake.

    Perhaps in this new era of UAVs and rapid mobility, it will see a revival.