JUN 14, 2018 8:29 AM PDT

Watch: Personal Flying Car Takes Off

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

In June 2018, Kitty Hawk, a company in Las Vegas backed by Google Co-founder Larry Page, invited media reps to pilot the latest version of their “personal flying vehicle,” the Flyer. Rachel Crane of CNN demonstrated the accessibility of the craft, taking it for multiple spins over Lake Las Vegas after a brief training session. No pilot’s license is required to pilot the single-seat electric vehicle, and Kitty Hawk sees it as a milestone on the road to normalizing individual flight.

“The mission of Kitty Hawk is to get everybody to fly every day and get rid of traffic,” Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun told CNN.

The Flyer, credit: Kitty Hawk

In 1903, the Wright Brothers famously took off in the first powered airplane called the Flyer in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The modern Flyer was designed by Chief Engineer Todd Reichert, who broke the land-speed record in 2016 with an egg-shaped bicycle design and has a Guinness World Record and Sikorsky prize in vehicle design as well.

The Flyer is 250 pounds, which keeps it just below the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, rule that this kind of Aerial Recreational Vehicle, or ARV, weigh no more than 254 pounds. They are also called ultralights and are restricted from flying over people or at night.

The Flyer can be piloted with two joysticks reminiscent of early video game controllers. It has 10 propellers and a maximum speed of 20 mph, and its “ceiling” or top altitude is currently about 10 feet. Its battery holds a charge for about 20 minutes.

"It's as easy to use as playing Minecraft," Thrun said.

A helmeted Crane flew the recreational craft at about 6 mph, between about three and 10 feet over the water. A mission control team communicated with her and offered guidance through her helmet during the flights.

Before taking off, she completed a 90-minute training.The Kitty Hawk team hopes to eventually get this class time down to approximately five minutes of instruction. One of the more challenging preparation tasks Crane was given was being placed in the Flyer upside down in a ball pit, where she had to practice unbuckling herself. This experience was designed to prepare pilots for a potential scenario in which the Flyer crashes upside down in the water.

"The joystick is so intuitive, but it's not the most comfortable thing I've ever sat in. You definitely feel the vibrations,” Crane said of her test flights.

Kitty Hawk has been running the Flyer training center for several months and about 1,500 of its employees have now taken to the air. A previous Flyer model underwent 1,200 tests in 2017. Business partners and social influencers will be invited to try the Flyer next, and pre-orders are already available. Kitty Hawks’ plan is to make the early sales agreements with companies such as amusement parks, which would buy a whole fleet of Flyers.

"We want to design something that's truly useful, and that will improve the way people carry themselves around," Reichert said.

Check out CNN’s Crane in flight:

Sources:

CNN

Kitty Hawk

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 25, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 25, 2019
When Marijuana is Legal, Teens See Cannabis Ads
Despite federal policies in place to restrict marijuana marketing to individuals under 21 years old, an overwhelming majority of teenagers are still expose...
DEC 06, 2019
Health & Medicine
DEC 06, 2019
Cell Phone Use Related Injuries on the Rise
Are you reading this on your cell phone? Check your posture and your surroundings! A study published yesterday in Jama Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surge...
DEC 09, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 09, 2019
How Close is SpaceX to Sending Humans to Space?
NASA is one of the world’s most capable space agencies, but a crippling budget prevents it from developing a new space vehicle of its own. Instead, N...
DEC 20, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
DEC 20, 2019
Beware Twitter Bots Spreading False Cannabis Claims
Twitter bots (accounts controlled by software instead of people) are spreading false claims about the medical uses of cannabis, a new study in the American...
JAN 30, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 30, 2020
New Infrared Spectroscopic Method Grants Scientists Unprecedented "Seeing" Power
Infrared spectroscopy is a popular scientific method to identify and study molecules based on their absorption of infrared light. Scientists at the Max Pla...
FEB 22, 2020
Technology
FEB 22, 2020
Computer-Generating Genomes
Our DNA code, that stores all of our genetic information, is stored within our genome. Not only us, but other living organisms such as microbes have their ...
Loading Comments...