According to famed test pilot Captain Frank T. Courtney, this is what airplanes would look like once we perfected their design. In addition to expandable wings and free-wheeling propellers (in case the motor failed), Courtney recommended making amphibian landing gear a standard feature for airplanes. Not all areas had a usable runaway, and landing on rough ground took such a toll on airplanes that it only made sense to make them capable of taking off and landing in water. Although seaplanes had already existed for the past several years, engineers had difficulty making a folding device that was strong enough to lift the wheels, but light enough to keep the plane airborne. He recommended scrapping previous designs and staring anew, perhaps by substituting wheels with endless treads. Once an inventor figured out how to reduce the resistance of tread landing gears, engineers could feasibly combine pontoons and treads to facilitate takeoffs and landings. The perfect seaplane would also have a device that would speed up takeoffs by minimizing water resistance against the hull. Previous designers suggested that hydrovanes, which resemble Venetian blinds, could provide a bit of lift by tilting upward during takeoff, but Courtney warned that fish or seaweed could clog the panels.
Read the full story in "10,000 Aircraft Patents Leave Big Problems Unsolved