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Personal Flight


— Aircraft

Drive, float or fly? Your choice with the affordable Ramphos amphibious flying boat

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. Read More
— Aircraft

Electric sports plane the highlight of the e-flight initiative

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. Read More
— Aircraft

The ion-propelled, remotely-powered jetpack

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. Read More
— Aircraft

Gress Aerospace begins development of Personal Air Vehicle

April 20, 2007 We’ve been following developments at Gress Aerospace for several years now, as it has developed its unique control technology for advanced vertical take-off and landing platforms. If successful, the control technology greatly simplifies flying, offers increased stability and functionality and requires a much smaller footprint than a traditional helicopter, hence it has wide application in commercial, industrial, and consumer markets, particularly for transportation and surveillance. The technology allows 6-Axis orientation, and a much smaller platform size in VTOL aerial vehicles. During the past twelve months, Gress has successfully scaled its system from a 15%-scale platfrom to a 40%-scale platform, and now intends to press ahead with a 100%-scale platform, build and testing phase, during the next 36 months. Introduced within the three stage build plan will be a new hybrid power generation package allowing the vehicle increased endurance with minimal fuel consumption. Once unmanned flight has been demonstrated, Gress will target the manned light-aircraft industry with plans have for an automobile-sized single seat VTOL. Read More
— Aircraft

The flying motorcycle - road-registered and available now

April 18, 2007 For more than 50 years, the media have been promising us the personal flight revolution; by 2000 we'd all be getting around in flying cars, cruising down the skyway then touching down, driving home and unloading the shopping. Sadly, most of us are still stuck down here in traffic, but one maverick aviator has successfully taken personal flight into his own hands with a road-registered, high-safety flying motorcycle. Read More
— Aircraft

WINDREAM ONE - transatlantic crossing using natural power

March 21, 2007 Paris saw the official launch of the WINDREAM ONE campaign this morning, a project headed up by Peggy Bouchet and Stéphane Rousson, sponsored by the Theolia Group. This ambitious project intends to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a sail balloon driven by natural and renewable energy sources. The quest conjures up images of great aeronautical discoveries where the courage, perseverance and a slight dose of madness inhabiting the spirit of visionaries and adventurers opened up the skies for future generations. Read More
— Aircraft

AeroTwin engine lands second patent

February 6, 2007 We first wrote about AirScooter two years ago, characterising the company’s low-cost, easy-to-fly, ultra-lightweight coaxial rotorcraft helicopter as “a helicopter for the home". Now the company is making headlines not just for its innovative helicopter but also for the helicopter’s powerplant – the AeroTwin four-stroke aircraft engine. The second U.S. patent granted for the engine includes 23 claims focusing on the innovative lightweight one-piece head/cylinder design and related circulation and cooling methods. The AeroTwin produces 65 hp at 4200 rpm, and has a smooth/flat torque curve ideal for a wide range of sport vehicles and military applications, filling the niche between high-end hobby craft and expensive military UAVs. The company’s hobby models have now been dropped to focus resources on the engine, UAV and AirScooter segments. The knowledge obtained from hobby development contributed to the design and performance of the Company’s six-foot coaxial G70 UAV. Read More
— Aircraft

Eclipse delivers first Very Light Jet

January 19, 2007 Eclipse Aviation delivered the world’s first very light jet (VLJ) customer aircraft earlier this month, intent on clearing the waiting list of more than 2,500 aircraft. Given the company’s current facilities are designed to support the production of approximately 1,000 aircraft a year, it’s unlikely that joining the waiting list for the US$1.5 million Eclipse 500 will get you one this side of late 2009, but the market for very light jets seems to be getting a lot of attention and we suspect this is just the beginning of a whole new era of personal flight. Read More
— Aircraft

Swiss Rocketman develops Rocketbelt with six minute flight duration

October 7, 2006 Exotic Thermo Engineering (aka the Swiss Rocketman, Arnold Neracher) looks set to put rocketbelts seriously on the map in the near future when he unveils a rocketbelt that will fly for a full six minutes. Neracher recently set a record for rocketbelt flight duration when one of his designs flew for a full minute, more than double the traditional maximum, but earlier this week he confirmed that he is constructing a rocketbelt that will fly for six minutes. Neracher is currently testing the new machine under tethered flight conditions with pilot Yves Rossi but did not confirm whether the video posted on his site was the machine he expected to fly for six minutes. A Swiss medical and chemical engineering consultant, Neracher has been working on rocket engines for two decades and even makes his own hydrogen peroxide fuel – it is his knowledge of exotic fuels which is believed to be the secret to the flight duration. His engines and advanced technologies have powered go-karts, bicycles (amazing video here), dragsters, motorcycles and jet belts previously, but if Neracher achieves this goal, and we have no reason to doubt him as he generally hits his targets, the rocketbelt could finally achieve viability and would almost certainly find military application. Building a viable rocketbelt was first attempted by the German Army during WWII as the "Himmelsturmer" (Skystormer) and the first working rocket belt was built by Bell for the U.S. Army in the 1950s. Bell’s rocketbelt created mainstream awareness in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball and raised expectations of consumer versions when it was used in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympics. But 50 years after the Bell Rocket Belt was built, only a handful of people have flown a one, only one commercial version is available (at US$250,000) and only two companies (here and here) have successfully commercialised demonstrations. Neracher will change all that if he can achieve six minutes of powered flight. Gizmag’s Billy Paul recently attended the First Annual Rocketbelt Convention at the Niagara Falls Aerospace Museum in New York, USA. Read his report here. Read More
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