Title:
Single-winged auto rotating toy glider
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An aerodynamic toy (20) comprises a flight body (22) including an enlarged portion (30) and an airfoil portion (32); the body (20) is preferably generally samara seed-shaped. A launching device (24) is used to propel the body (22) into the air for spiral-type autorotation descent. In other forms, the body (22) may be equipped with a battery compartment (68) allowing insertion of a battery (74) in order to illuminate spaced lights (60) carried by the body. A whistle (82) or other noise maker may also be fixed to the body (22) to emit a sound during flight.



Inventors:
Barnes, Theodore D. (Independence, MO, US)
Application Number:
10/997134
Publication Date:
08/17/2006
Filing Date:
11/24/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOVEY WILLIAMS LLP (Kansas City, MO, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An aerodynamic toy comprising a body formed of synthetic material and presenting a forward section, a rear section, an enlarged portion and an airfoil portion, said body having a curvilinear outer defining edge in plan configuration, said enlarged portion forming the forward section of the body and including a trailing segment extending towards said rear section, said air foil portion extending laterally from said trailing segment to the corresponding part of said defining edge.

2. The toy of claim 1, said body presenting a generally samara shape.

3. The toy of claim 1, said airfoil having a part thereof removable so as to alter the flight characteristics of the toy when removed.

4. The toy of claim 1, including at least one light carried by said body.

5. The toy of claim 4, there being a plurality of lights spaced along said enlarged portions.

6. The toy of claim 4, including a battery compartment adapted to receive a battery and, said battery operably coupled with said at least one light to illuminate the light.

7. The toy of claim 1, said body including a launching fixture cooperable with a launching device for propulsion of the body into the air.

8. The toy of claim 7, said fixture comprising a generally rearwardly extending tang secured to said enlarged portion.

9. The toy of claim 1, including a propulsion device operable for launching said body into the air.

10. The toy of claim 9, said launching device comprising a handle having a rubber band affixed thereto.

11. The toy of claim 1, including a noise-making device operably coupled with the body and operable to emit a sound during flight of the body.

12. The toy of claim 1, said enlarged portion and the trailing segment thereof substantially defining the part of said defining edge opposed to said airfoil portion.

13. The toy of claim 1, said synthetic material selected from the group consisting of synthetic resin materials and composites.

14. The toy of claim 1, said body having a length of at least about 4 inches.

15. An aerodynamic toy comprising a body formed of synthetic material and presenting the general shape of a samara seed, said body including a noise making device operable to admit a sound during flight of the body.

16. The toy of claim 15, said body including an airfoil, said airfoil having a part thereof removable so as to alter the flight characteristics of the body when removed.

17. The toy of claim 15, including at least one light carried by said body.

18. The toy of claim 17, there being a plurality of lights spaced along said enlarged portions.

19. The toy of claim 17, including a battery compartment adapted to receive a battery and, said battery operably coupled with said at least one light to illuminate the light.

20. The toy of claim 15, said body including a launching fixture cooperable with a launching device for propulsion of the body into the air.

21. The toy of claim 20, said fixture comprising a generally rearwardly extending tang secured to said enlarged portion.

22. The toy of claim 15, including a propulsion device operable for launching said body into the air.

23. The toy of claim 22, said launching device comprising a handle having a rubber band affixed thereto.

24. An aerodynamic toy comprising a body formed of synthetic material and presenting the general shape of a samara seed, said body including at least one light.

25. The toy of claim 24, said body including an airfoil, said airfoil having a part thereof removable so as to alter the flight characteristics of the body when removed.

26. The toy of claim 24, there being a plurality of lights carried by said body.

27. The toy of claim 24, including a battery compartment adapted to receive a battery and, said battery operably coupled with said at least one light to illuminate the light.

28. The toy of claim 24, said body including a launching fixture cooperable with a launching device for propulsion of the body into the air.

29. The toy of claim 28, said fixture comprising a generally rearwardly extending tang secured to said enlarged portion.

30. The toy of claim 24, including a propulsion device operable for launching said body into the air.

31. The toy of claim 30, said launching device comprising a handle having a rubber band affixed thereto.

32. An aerodynamic toy comprising a body formed of synthetic material and presenting the general shape of a samara seed, said body including an airfoil, said airfoil having a part thereof removable so as to alter the flight characteristics of the body when removed.

33. The toy of claim 32, said body including at least one light.

34. The toy of claim 32, a plurality of lights spaced along said body.

35. The toy of claim 34, including a battery compartment adapted to receive a battery and, said battery operably coupled with said lights to illuminate the lights.

36. The toy of claim 32, said body including a launching fixture cooperable with a launching device for propulsion of the body into the air.

37. The toy of claim 36, said fixture comprising a generally rearwardly extending tang secured to said enlarged portion.

38. The toy of claim 32, including a propulsion device operable for launching said body into the air.

39. The toy of claim 38, said launching device comprising a handle having a rubber band affixed thereto.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is being filed contemporaneously with application for U.S. Design patent Ser. No. ______, entitled SINGLE-WINGED AUTOROTATING TOY GLIDER, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is broadly concerned with improved aeronautical toys for the amusement of children and adults. More particularly, the invention is concerned with such toys which include a flight body including an enlarged portion and an airfoil portion, and wherein the preferred body is generally in the shape of a samara seed. The flight body may be launched or thrown into the air, and during descent the shape and weight distribution of the body induces a desirable spiral-like autorotation of the body towards the earth.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Children have long enjoyed balsa wood or other types of toy airplanes and gliders which may be hand launched into the air. One such type of toy mimics an aircraft and has a balsa wood fuselage which is slotted to receive a wing. The wing may be adjusted fore and aft in order to increase or decrease possible altitude and/or length of flight. Such toys may be simply thrown into the air or may be launched by a stretched rubber band.

Additionally, some prior toys have wing or tail sections which deploy after launching. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,836,817 describes a folding wing toy glider having complemental wing sections which are folded together for launching and which deploy thereafter, creating a desired flight effect.

These prior toy gliders and the like are not constructed to provide a predictable flight pattern. Indeed, the sometimes unpredictable flight pattern of the prior toys can cause the toys to overfly a playground or other designated area, which can be troublesome. For example, if a toy airplane is launched and inadvertently flies beyond a playground into a roadway where auto traffic is present, a dangerous condition may be created. There is accordingly a need in the art for an improved aerodynamic toy having a predictable return flight characteristic.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention overcomes the problems outlined above and provides an aerodynamic toy comprising a body formed of a synthetic material and presenting a forward section, a rear section, an enlarged portion and an airfoil portion. The body has a curvilinear outer defining edge in plan configuration, and is most preferably in the general shape of a samara seed. The enlarged portion of the flight body forms the forward section thereof and includes a trailing segment extending towards the rear section. The airfoil portion extends laterally from at least the trailing segment of the body and defines the corresponding part of the curvilinear defining edge.

The preferred samara-shaped toys of the invention may have a number of additional or alternative features. For example, the airfoil may include a removable part which will change the flight characteristics thereof. Also, the body may carry one or more lights along with a battery pack for illumination thereof, and/or the body may have a luminescent outer surface or coating. A whistle or other type of noise maker may be secured to the body so as to create a noise during flight thereof. The preferred toy also includes a launching device, preferably in the form of a handle and a stretchable rubber band.

In use, the body is grasped and affixed to the launcher rubber band. The band is then stretched and the body is released, thereby propelling the body into the air. During descent of the body it autorotates in a nose-down, predictable spiral fashion.

Other aspects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments and the accompanying drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred embodiments of the invention are described in detail below with reference to the attached drawing figures, wherein:

FIG. 1 is an exploded isometric view illustrating the various components of a preferred aerodynamic toy in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the preferred toy, including the launching device;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the toy, wherein the preferred peripheral lighting apparatus is illustrated in phantom;

FIG. 4 is a side view of the toy;

FIG. 5 is another side view of the toy, opposite that shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is an end view of the toy, viewing from the forward end thereof;

FIG. 7 is an end view of the toy, viewing from the rearward end thereof;

FIG. 8 is a vertical sectional view taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 3, and illustrating the details of a preferred lighting arrangement;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 10 is a top view similar to that of FIG. 3, but illustrating an alternative embodiment making use of a different type of launching tang.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Turning now to the drawings, an aerodynamic toy 20 in accordance with the invention includes a body 22 adapted for flight, and a propulsion device 24 (FIG. 2). Broadly speaking, the body 22 presents a forward section 26, a rear section 28, an enlarged portion 30 and an airfoil portion 32. Overall, the body 22 mimics or has the general shape of a samara seed, such as those produced by certain types of maple and elm trees. As such, the body 22 has a curvilinear outer defining edge 34 in plan configuration, namely an edge part 36 defined by the enlarged portion 30, and an opposed edge part 38 defined by airfoil portion 32.

In more detail, it will be seen that the enlarged portion 30 effectively defines forward section 26 and is in the form of a smoothly arcuate head 40 having a leading nose 42. Additionally, the overall enlarged portion 30 includes a trailing segment 44 extending towards rearward section 28. The segment 44 is smoothly tapered and is of decreasing width and thickness from the head 40 to its termination at rearward section 28. As illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, the inner margin 46 of the portion 30 progressively extends from head 40 towards rearward section 26 along the length of the body 22. Also, the portion 30 is symmetrical in a vertical plane, i.e., as shown in FIG. 4 the portion 30 is preferably formed by mating half-sections 30a and 30b along a center line 48.

The airfoil section 32 extends laterally from the trailing segment 44, and is in the form of a substantially flat plate-like element 50 which is secured to the portion 30 and, as indicated, defines edge part 38. The interconnection between the element 50 and portion 30 is best depicted in FIG. 8, where it will be seen that the half-sections 30a, 30b cooperatively define an elongated, inner groove 52 along the length thereof, with the element 50 being situated within groove 52 and adhesively or otherwise secured therein.

The preferred airfoil section 32 is equipped with a part 54 which is removable from the element 50 as a whole, as illustrated in FIG. 4. That is to say, the part 54 is cut out from the element 50 and is normally secured in place via a simple tongue and groove connection 56 (see FIG. 9). However, if desired, the part 54 may be detached from the element 50 leaving a recess 58. As explained more fully below, removal of the part 52 significantly affects the flight characteristics of the body 22. It will be appreciated that alternative releasable forms of connection may be provided for part 54 (e.g., mechanical fasteners, adhesive, lines of weakness, etc.), although it is most preferred that the connection permit the part to be reinstalled as part of the section 32.

In preferred forms, the body 22 is equipped with a plurality of lights 60 along the length thereof, which can be illuminated during flight. Preferably, the lights 60 are provided along the length of the segment 44. Referring to FIG. 8, it will be seen that each of the lights includes a vertically extending lens 62 which is situated within opposed apertures 64 provided in the parts 30a, 30b. A diode 66 is coupled with lense 62 and is operable for directing light through both ends of the lens. In order to provide electrical power to the respective diodes 66, the head 40 of the portion 30 has a battery case or compartment 68 formed therein. The compartment 68 includes a pair of battery contacts 70, 72 for deriving electrical power from a small watch battery 74 which may be placed within the chamber 68. To this end, a removable, bifurcated battery clip 76 is provided which receives the battery 74 and snaps into the compartment 68; the compartment 68 has endmost shoulders 78 which cooperate with clip 76 to hold the battery 74 in place. A series of electrical leads 80 are provided between the battery contacts 72, 74 and the individual diodes 66, so as to provide lumination power thereto. If desired, the lights 60 may be continuously illuminated or a timer circuit may be used to intermittently turn the lights on and off so as to “blink” during flight. Because of the flight characteristic of the toy 20 and the spacing of the lights along the length body 22, the light pattern emitted during descent will have the appearance of a number of concentric circles. Preferably, adjacent lights are colored differently to further enhance this visual effect.

An additional feature of the invention is the provision of a noise maker carried by the body 22 to emit sounds during flight. In the embodiment shown, an air whistle 82 is mounted on the trailing segment 44, near the center line 48. The whistle 82 is designed to create a whistle sound as air passes through it during flight of the body 22. Of course, other air or power-operated noise makers can be used in lieu of the whistle 82.

The body 22 is also equipped with a launching fixture 84 preferably located on the enlarged portion 30. The fixture 84 is preferably a rearwardly extending clip or tang 86 as shown.

The overall toy 20 includes the propulsion device 24 which is cooperable, with fixture 84, for propelling body 22 into the air for return flight to the ground. The device 24 is very simple and includes a handle 88 with a rubber band 90 secured thereto and presenting an endmost bight 92. Alternative suitable propulsion devices (e.g., pneumatic launcher) may be used, or the toy may simply be thrown manually into the air.

The body 22 is preferably formed of conventional synthetic resin materials such as polyester or polycarbonate, or may be formed of composite materials such as those used in the fabrication of aircraft components. Generally, the body 22 should have a length of at least about four inches and is preferably longer, e.g., at least about eight inches. Because of the construction of the body 22, it will be appreciated that enlarged portion 30 and especially head portion 40, form the heaviest part of the body. However, a more equal weight distribution can be provided if desired.

In the use of toy 20, a battery 74 is loaded into compartment 68 and maintained in place therein via clip 76. This causes the lights 60 to become illuminated as previously described. Next, the bight 92 of rubber band 90 is positioned over fixture 84 and the band is stretched to close to its elastic limit by grasping the body 22 and pulling rearwardly from handle 88. The body is then released, and the latter is launched into the air by the stretched band 90. Once the body reaches its full height and distance owing to the propulsion provided by the band 90, the airfoil portion 32 comes into play, causing the body 22 to rotate or spiral downwardly towards the earth, normally in a nose-down orientation.

If it is desired to alter the flight characteristics of the body 22, the part 54 may be removed from the element 50. This creates a more rapid descending flight of the body 22, and may cause it to gyrate and move in a somewhat different fashion. Although not shown, it will be appreciated that a variety of flight characteristics can be imparted to the body 22 by differently configuring the airfoil element 50. For example, axial or transversely extending ridges may be provided on the element 50 which would have the effect of changing the descending flight characteristics of the body.

FIG. 10 illustrates a body 22a in accordance with the invention which is in many respects identical with the body 10, similar or identical parts are identically numbered except for the use of a differentiating letter “a.” In this case the fixture 84a is in the form of a simple notch 94 formed in the head 40 of enlarged portion 30a, instead of the outward projecting tang 86.

The preferred forms of the invention described above are to be used as illustration only, and should not be utilized in a limiting sense in interpreting the scope of the present invention. Obvious modifications to the exemplary embodiments, as hereinabove set forth, could be readily made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the present invention.

The inventor hereby states his intent to rely on the Doctrine of Equivalents to determine and assess the reasonably fair scope of the present invention as pertains to any apparatus not materially departing from but outside the literal scope of the invention as set forth in the following claims.