By John Herrman
Posting in Design
A universal childhood dream is now officially sanctioned--and will soon be available for purchase.
The last time a flying car had a shot at making an impact was in 1956, when the precursor to the FAA deemed the iconic Taylor Areocar safe for flight. Even without tangled masses of red tape holding it back, Moulton Taylor's dream machine never saw large-scale manufacture. Today, its spiritual successor, the Maverick Sport, might just stand a chance.
The craft has recently received endorsements from authorities of both road and sky, meaning that the classic retrofuturistic dream of a dual-mode flying car is well within grasp. Logan Ward reports for Popular Mechanics:
On September 28, 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a Light Sport Aircraft certificate for the Maverick Sport, the latest version of the flying dune buggy developed by Steve Saint and his crew at the Indigenous Peoples Technology and Education Center (ITEC). Last June, the vehicle received a license plate from the Florida Department of Transportation.
This means what it sounds like it means: that the Maverick Sport is a street-legal, air-legal vehicle. So, how'd the Indigenous Peoples Technology and Education Center (I-TEC) guide their creation through the narrow, winding halls of state and federal transportation institutions? Quite cleverly:
Rather than seek Federal Highway Administration certification for their vehicle—a process that requires boatloads of money for crash tests, among other things—they've designed it as a kit car. These can be licensed in most states...And as far as the FAA is concerned, the Maverick Sport is officially a powered parachute. The Sport Pilot license required to fly it is much easier to obtain than a standard pilot's license.
For the first certified Maverick's vanity plate, "FLY CAR" seemed an appropriate choice.
As for the hardware, it's a lithe, 900lb vehicle reminiscent of a dune buggy. Its creators say that it can accelerate from 0-60 in under four seconds, though its airspeed is limited to 40MPH. Its flight feature depends on a large, stowable glider wing and a rear-mounted propellor for thrust. The Maverick Sport should be available for purchase in time for AirVenture 2011, a yearly air show held in July. The price? A cool 80 grand.
As you could have guessed, the Maverick Sport has a unusual creation story. The mastermind of the project, a missionary named Steve Saint, created the Maverick not to indulge some kind of sci-fi whim, but to solve practical transportation problems in the developing world. From CNN:
"What we're doing here at I-Tec is we're reinventing the technology so it fits the people so that they don't have to become like us," Saint said. "And it's taken a while. I retired from business 16 years ago, and people don't pay you to do this, and my wife Ginny and I just decided, 'hey let's do this.'"
The Maverick flying car is just one piece of the puzzle for I-Tec. "We've been working on this particular project for six years," Saint said. "But it's just one, the bigger thing that we do is developing health care technology and tools and training systems so that we can train people that live out in the jungle areas, that don't have any formal education, and don't have access to doctors or nurses or midwives, or optometrists, or dentists, teaching them how to take care of these needs for their own people. That's really what we're doing."
The achievement of Saint's ultimate altruistic goals will involve first commercializing the product in markets like North America and Western Europe. (Scale will be the key to driving costs down for emerging markets, he says.) The technology is new and its legal use is heavily caveated, but Saint is optimistic, and sees the Maverick's potential uses as extremely diverse, from security to recreation to search and rescue.
It's tough to envision such wide use while the glider car is at an $80,000 price point, but it wouldn't take much of a reduction to turn this into an attainable tool--or toy--for countless individuals and organizations.
I mean, really, it's a flying car. It'll sell itself.
Oct 27, 2010
The flying maverick sport car is legally allowed and I would like to appreciate the manufacturer of this car Mr. Steve Saint and his crew. http://www.findlawyersonline.net/
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DoctorEigenFlow, You TOOL. "Well, yes, sure shanedr, but... ANY paraglider can do that. etc...." DoctorEigenFlow proves why some animals eat their young. shanedr : thanks for posting something sensible.
I saw several of these in flight back in May and wondered what they were. Pretty cool but too high for my budget.
an 80 grand price tag puts it out of reach for third world country citizens it is supposed to reach. in fact it puts it out of reach for most western world citizens. c`mon, were still in a recession.
Well, yes, sure shanedr, but... ANY paraglider can do that. I found many excellent paragliders online just now for $2500. Add the engine assembly for another $500. Add a motorcycle that you can mount sideways on a collapsible frame and sit on for another $1000. Now using the magic of math, I see about $4000. there. That $80,000. 'car', could get a twenty man team into an area to serve a mission of some kind. Add another $250. ea., for high quality walkie talkies and a goose down suit... done!
Talk about negativity! This vehicle is not meant for highway take- off. It's designed to take-off from a small section of flat terrain, fly cross country to another section of flat terrain and land, repack its glider wing and then proceed cross country or by a road to its destination. Perhaps the key word is cross country. In rough country sometimes you have to travel miles by road around rivers, canyons and other terrain to get somewhere that is only a few miles by air. The Maverick can easily do that, saving fuel and time. It is not for transporting cargo, but just a few people. It is ideal for Australia's Outback, North Africa, archipelago's of islands, etc. Anywhere roads are scarce and travel is difficult. It's sole requirement is a flat place to land, it doesn't even have to be very smooth, and not much of that. It is an ideal solution to travel in primitive areas. Which is exactly what the article says it is.
Drug runners will most likely love this for getting their stash safely across the mexican border. Agreed that not much real potential for the average Joe lies here.
But like most "flying cars", it's of limited practical use. The reality is that most of the attributes that make for a decent aircraft are diametrically opposed to those that make for a decent automobile.
Kind of a waste since it only goes 40 in the air! why not just drive unless it is a terrain thing and then it better be low terrain as the service ceiling will not be too good.
I guess the skies are not congested enough. This car could be an air-traffic controller's nightmare.
My question is, assuming that you can do a runway take-off, how much runway do you need? Can you raise the mast that I see in the first picture, accelerate on flat ground to 40 mph and just take off? Wikipedia has this info about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_People%27s_Technology_and_Education_Center
Rather a disappointment. It's a 4 wheel powered parachute. Also, Is there a subliminal message in using the same model name as Ford's late econo car from the 70s? Enjoy... VP
This is nothing like the collective dream Americans have had for a 'flying car'. You cannot achieve verticle take off and landing with this, you can not fly in heavily urban areas, or between buildings, or land in your driveway. In fact, paragliders are NOT allowed, to fly in congested urban areas. From the pic, it also looks like the wing is not automatic and its significant width means it cannot land on a highway while there is any other traffic. THIS then, is a toy, an $80,000 toy, and much like the Scaled Composites/Virgin SpaceShip... just another 'interesting' form of transportation, that the common man can marvel and smile at.
I have flown in something like this in an open dunebuggy style quite a few years ago. I was a great experience but an expensive toy at $20,000 (for the 2 seater) If I thought I could get something like this for highway driving when not flying it would be even better.
Price is set to recoup (as quick as possible) the initial cost of taking it to market. To my mind, whilst great to see these coming to market, it's a long way off mainstream - perhaps the beginning of something...I doubt it. Given how the UK CAA tend to step in when something wants to take-off, they'll probably ensure that's it remains an cool and expensive fun machine.