We're nearly 10 years into the new millennium, and the stark reality facing science fiction fans is that we STILL don't have an affordable jetpack. Promising technologies like this ion-propelled, remotely-powered unit
seem to pop up from time to time, but nothing materializes on the market. The guys at JetPack International
have built a beauty of a machine that does exactly what you'd hope
- but at USD$200,000 it's still way out of reach for most people. This one might not be, though. It's propelled by super-fast jets of water pumped up through a tube that connects the jetpack to an engine that sits under the surface of a body of water. By tethering the flyer to the ground, this device is able to vastly reduce the weight of the flying apparatus by leaving all the heavy fuel and engine components behind, and since you're flying around above the surface of the water, you've got a much softer landing if you fall. Most importantly, the device looks like exactly as much fun as you'd hope, and because there's nothing too complicated to it, we can't see it costing much more than a jet-ski if it goes into production. Excellent!
July 20, 2008 As the rate of technological advances continues at an astonishing pace there’s probably one question that gets asked more than any other by the average person in the street – or the average person stuck in traffic anyway - why don’t we have flying cars
yet? Well the simple answer is that developing a flying car is hard. But the long wait for the solution to car clogged streets could be coming to an end with Moller International announcing that it is in the process of completing its fourth M200 “Jetson” volantor airframe and it expects to complete forty of these fly-by-wire, multi-engine flying vehicles in 2009.
July 14, 2008 The race is well and truly on to develop a functional flying car, and innovators around the world are finding several different ways to accommodate the needs of a road-registerable flying vehicle. The Moller Skycar
and Cell Craft G440
use complicated quad-turbine tilting jet engines to achieve VTOL and flight capability. The Terrafugia Transition
roadable aircraft have decided to go for a folding-wing convertible aeroplane design, and Larry Neal's Super Sky Cycle
is a simple and cheap modification that turns a standard, safe gyroplane into a road-going trike. And now there's the Parajet Skycar, a Yamaha R1-engined, biodiesel-powered all-terrain dune buggy that's capable of extremely safe flight as a powered paraglider. The Skycar Expedition team plan to take the eye-catching vehicle from London to Timbouctou in 2009, using a combination of flight and driving to battle the tough Saharan terrain. There's a commuter model in the pipeline - and you won't need a pilot's license to fly it.
January 6, 2008 Simple to build, easy to fly, faster than helicopters and arguably safer than anything else in the sky: gyroplanes are a long-overlooked segment of the personal aviation industry, but as innovators like Sportcopter bring the entry price down to family car levels, these fun little aircraft are finally starting to get some of the popularity they deserve. Sportcopter's highly anticipated Super Sport is currently undergoing flight testing - a roomy, weatherproof, fully enclosed twin-seater with space for cargo and a full set of controls and instrumentation for each seat, making it an ideal training craft, the agile little gyroplane is powered by a 2.5 litre Subaru engine producing 190hp and propelling it to well over 100mph with a range of between 300 and 400 miles.
Nearly eight years into the 21st century and we still don't have flying cars… frankly, it's disgraceful. No point complaining about it though - while Dr. Paul Moller continues development of the intriguing and exciting M400 Skycar
, others around the world are also working to turn the cogs that will set the personal flight
revolution in motion. One of them is Italian Gino d'Ignazio Gizio, a helicopter pilot and designer whose Cell Craft designs are reminiscent of the Skycar with a few touches of his own.
While most of us think of the personal flight
revolution as something that will transform a-to-b transport and commuting in our everyday life, others are looking at ways to use existing technology for specific purposes that can go to market immediately. PAM group's Individual Lifting Vehicle (ILV) is an intuitive flying platform that's roughly as easy to pilot as a Segway, shifting your weight as you stand right above the twin propellers. It's not a distance traveler, more of a compact levitation device designed for crop spraying, aerial movie videography, search and rescue and other short-range, low-altitude applications. With a theoretical maximum speed of around 60mph, the ILV could be a very effective tool within its design parameters.
Own your own brand new Cessna for a touch over a hundred grand – it’s an offer many are finding too good to refuse. The Cessna SkyCatcher Light Sports Aircraft
seems to be the right product at the right time – the all-metal, high-wing twin-seater monoplane is easy to fly (or learn to fly), very good looking and at a price point that's within a wallet’s stretch for aviation fans. Plus it has one of the most trusted names in aviation written down the side. Perhaps this is why it’s been selling like crazy since its July launch with the company now reporting orders for more than 850 aircraft.
August 1, 2007 With disposable income levels running high, expensive hobbies like aviation
are coming within the reach of more and more people – and hobby pilots are discovering that small planes are coming down to a price point on a par with a touring motorcycle or midrange car. Owning a small plane has its drawbacks though – storing and transporting them can be difficult, not to mention the fact that you need an airstrip to take off and land from. The Italian Ramphos, however, suffers none of these issues. It’s an amphibious flying boat that’s just as happy taking off and landing on water as on land with its retractable wheels. You can tow it around on a trailer, and like the best of late-night TV exercise equipment, it folds for easy storage. This purpose-built little 2-seater is effortlessly easy to fly, handles like a dream and offers a very affordable, practical and exhilarating way to explore the local lakes and coastlines with maximum thrills for minimum fuss.
July 30, 2007 With rising oil prices threatening to put sports aviation out of reach of the average enthusiast, innovators are looking at how the sport might be preserved for the next generation. Sonex and Aeroconversions are two such innovators and in partnership the two companies unveiled their three-prong e-Flight strategy at the recent AirVenture OshKosh trade show. An ethanol conversion of Aeroconversions’ AeroVee powerplant and efficiency enhancements for the engine took a back seat to the prototype electric Waiex aircraft introduced to an appreciative crowd. With lithium
and lithium-polymer-based battery technologies
advancing by the day - gaining power, reliability, endurance and efficiency while constantly shedding size and weight - the partners believe the time is ripe to adapt the brushless electric engine
for sports aviation use. The AeroConversions electric motor and battery boxes should end up roughly the size of the petrol engine currently installed in the Waiex with a 130mph top speed and 1 hour flight duration expected for the production model.
This has to be one of the most 'futuristic' developments we've seen in some time; a new U.S. patent has been awarded to a company that has plans for a safe, silent personal flight device using electromagnetic ion propulsion as its primary thrust generator and drawing its power wirelessly from earthbound inductive green power broadcast stations. California's Personal Flight Systems are taking a serious look at the future of personal flight, and the technology involved will leave you shaking your head.