Why Dark Knight's Flying 'Bat' Wouldn't Fly by InnovationNewsDaily

When the Dark Knight rises to defend Gotham once more, he literally takes to the skies in a flying vehicle known simply as the Bat.

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By TheDon - 7/31/2012
In my search for comic book news i came across a fun article about the "The Bat" and how it works...or doesn't.


Why Dark Knight's Flying 'Bat' Wouldn't Fly

By Jeremy Hsu, InnovationNewsDaily Senior Writer | LiveScience.com

When the Dark Knight rises to defend Gotham once more, he literally takes to the skies in a flying vehicle known simply as the Bat. The new nonlethal weapon in Batman's arsenal can hover like a helicopter and pull off aerial maneuvers worthy of "Top Gun" fighter jets — a combination that may seem almost too good to be true.

That amazing spectacle should come as no surprise in a Hollywood film about a billionaire superhero with access to top-secret military technology. But making the Bat fly in today's reality would prove a lot trickier, said Mitchell Burnside Clapp, a program manager for the U.S. military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

"The problem with a vehicle like the Bat is that it's going to have to generate enough thrust to hold itself off the ground," Burnside Clapp said. "The main thrust appears to come from the belly rotor while the other devices seem to be applied more to maneuvering."

Burnside Clapp looks to the future of aircraft technology as manager for DARPA's Disc-Rotor Compound Helicopter program. He previously served as an Air Force Reserve instructor at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and worked at several private aerospace companies. In this case, he has also seen "The Dark Knight Rises" (Warning: plot spoilers ahead; no character spoilers).

Making the Bat fly

Downward thrust from the Bat's belly rotor must at least equal the weight of the Bat to achieve the hover effect, Burnside Clapp explained. Helicopters create such lift by having long rotor blades extending well beyond the main aircraft body — the blade sections close to the main rotor hub do not create much lift because they don't move very fast relative to the air.

But helicopter lift also depends on accelerating air downward through their spinning rotor blades. That becomes a problem if the rotor sits underneath an aircraft such as the Bat (although Lucius Fox, Batman's gadgets master in the Christopher Nolan film trilogy, mutters something about solving air recirculation issues in the Bat's design).

Putting the main rotor beneath the Bat also leads to some stability problems — "think of the problem of balancing a broomstick on your palm" to get an idea, Burnside Clapp told InnovationNewsDaily. By comparison, rotors act as a restoring force for stability when they sit on top of helicopters. [V-22 Osprey: Controversial Dream Machine]

Assuming the Bat weighs about as much as modern helicopters, the Bat's rotor would still need to have "enough air to push a several thousand pound vehicle upwards," Burnside Clapp said. Such force would easily knock a standing person down, which would have changed certain "Dark Knight Rises" scenes in a fairly dramatic fashion.

Leaping the technology gap

Still, some technologies could make hovering vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft work in the confined urban canyons of Batman's Gotham City. Shrouded rotors distributed around the Bat vehicle could prevent the downwash from flattening everyone around it, Burnside Clapp said.

Enough power can make almost anything fly (maybe even a prohibitively expensive flying aircraft carrier). Helicopters represent a power-efficient way of providing lift, followed by the less efficient "vectored thrust" aircraft such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

By comparison, the Bat's unusual design would lead to huge power demands — but perhaps not unsolvable demands, according to the technological leaps of fancy in "The Dark Knight Rises."

"The Bat, in the film, would need an unbelievable amount of power," Burnside Clapp said. "Now if you had a fusion reactor big enough to power a city that was small enough that you could carry it around in a medium truck, then …"
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26 Comments
TayDee - 7/31/2012, 11:24 PM
Who gives a shit. The Bat was awesome!!!
Supes17 - 7/31/2012, 11:28 PM
It's......
a..
[frick]ing...
MOVIE

Of course it didnt [frick]ing fly! They used rigs and shit
DioFoRio - 7/31/2012, 11:39 PM
Why a man wouldn't really dress up as a bat and fight crime if he was a billionaire by Billionaires Would fill the void with Poontang Daily
JatevinM - 7/31/2012, 11:51 PM
Why in the hell does it matter?
Knightrider - 7/31/2012, 11:54 PM
Wow another article like this where comparing real life to a film. Well just re-watched Iron Man and can't enjoy it now because now I know the suit wouldn't fly.
Himura - 8/1/2012, 12:33 AM
I guess when he watched the original Superman movie, he did not believe a man could fly.
AmazingFantasy - 8/1/2012, 12:41 AM
Really...
Jollem - 8/1/2012, 1:30 AM
well, the h.u.d. deal for iron man was not how it would actually work i thinks. it does look cool and makes for some entertaining face time.



wouldn't he only be able to look out of the eyes? put a halloween mask on. see what im sayin'? why would light be displayed all over he face?
didn't make me enjoy the iron man movies any less
Protonite - 8/1/2012, 1:35 AM
"WAAAAAHHHH!!!! I don't like TDKR because THE BAT cannot fly in real life."

You'd do well to avoid all future CBMs, then.
Knightrider - 8/1/2012, 1:37 AM
@Himura that is pretty funny. I can imagine then sat there never enjoying anything because it is never 100% fact.
superotherside - 8/1/2012, 6:07 AM
Cool article.
JasonCYates - 8/1/2012, 7:03 AM
Someone should tell these guys it's just a movie.
Cross - 8/1/2012, 7:18 AM
it's funny to watch these nolanites. When ever someone points a flaw they go like "its a [frick]ing comic book movie" and rest of the time they will be like "the most realistic movie of all time". Pfff theres nothing realistic about a man who sees more logic in dressing up as a bat with his magical gadgets to fight crime instead of improving the law and police department with his wealth.
poop23 - 8/1/2012, 8:28 AM
What I want to see is those insurance people who estimated the cost of damage in the avengers movie to examine this one as well.
poop23 - 8/1/2012, 8:36 AM
@Cross that reminds me i bit of how nolan supporters were getting defensive over catwoman's look, saying that dressing more catlike is unrealistic. And repeatedly pointing out banes back zits as a sign of him going on steroids
poop23 - 8/1/2012, 8:38 AM
I do however think the 'bat' should be left alone, it was awesome and thats all that matters
kevberg - 8/1/2012, 8:45 AM
Sorry, But the BAT is friggin ugly. It simply is.

In the interest of respect for all the crap TDRK has been taking, i didn't want to comment, but unlike the tumbler, this thing is godawful.
Its clunky looking and didn't look like it could fly in the movie.
thatdylhooper - 8/1/2012, 8:57 AM
You guys are all idiots, either bad talking the article(which was good) or bad talking each other, GET A LIFE, GO OUT AND HAVE SOME HUMAN INTERACTION
DanteSparda - 8/1/2012, 9:08 AM
LOL so this guys took the time to explain why the Bat couldn't fly, but didn't bothered figuring out how the Helicarrier in Avnegers flew? Or how the Joker's truck was fliped up side down in The Dark Knight?

I kind of agree with thatdylhooper comment, but seriously about any fictional flying vehicle in movies wouldn't really fly in real life so I don't really see the point of this article, tought it would be cooler if they just estimated the price to build a "Bat" in real life (like that article of how much would it cost to build the Iron Man suit).
marvel72 - 8/1/2012, 9:15 AM
the bat was alright,i liked the scene where it was being chase by the missles.
musashi - 8/1/2012, 10:48 AM
Wow that's great! Now please explain to me why Superman can't fly or be from another distant planet and look like a human being :-P
CampBlood - 8/1/2012, 11:22 AM
i think the bat should have used a 3 point thruster system that combines the back jet of a f-35 vtol and the two front thrusters of a moller skycar
UrbanKnight - 8/1/2012, 2:49 PM
It flew just fine in the movie.
Matfin93 - 8/1/2012, 5:14 PM
I give 0 [frick]ks about this post
It's a [frick]ing movie!
EarOne - 8/2/2012, 5:22 AM
y'know...all these nit pickings..blame Chris Nolan for em. why? cuz, he's succeeded in putting Batman and his world in OUR world. He's made his batman movies (the first two) THAT realistic that the audience can't help but making sure it IS as realistic as it could possibly get.

and this latest debunk just shows all that's wrong with this latest installment.
scrappybuttons - 8/5/2012, 12:36 PM
My god I hated that stupid bat...

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