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Superman Had It Easy
December 3, 2006 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Hovering in History
From the HZ-1 Aerocycle, which looks like someone standing on top of a blender, to the VZ-8P "Airgeep" to the WASP X-Jet aka The Flying Pulpit and the collapsible Rotorcycle as well as the Inspector Gadget-esque Hoppi-Copter, the Army has dropped a ton of R&D money on personal flight machines. Of course, the newer iterations of personal flying machines are no less fascinating, like the SoloTrek, but it seems the Dream of Personal Flight will remain a dream for a while longer.
posted by fenriq (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Your Flying Pulpit link comes back forbidden. Which is a shame because it gave me a great idea for this new ministry I want to start. One where hover above my parishioners and provide spiritual guidance over the roar of turbocharged ducted fans.

Great FPP though.
posted by quin at 4:54 PM on December 3, 2006


Nice post. A job well done. There goes my night.
posted by winks007 at 4:55 PM on December 3, 2006


Damn, the flying pulpit shot did that for me once and then loaded. Sorry.
posted by fenriq at 4:58 PM on December 3, 2006


I liked the rational behind the police jetpacks in the movie version of Minority Report. The transportation module is the uniform, and blends with the human (sirens and all).

That said personal flying devices will probably never as preferable to consumers as something more car-like. People need the cocoon-like illusion that they have some protection.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:00 PM on December 3, 2006


Fenriq: the wikipedia image link works fine.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:02 PM on December 3, 2006


The Flying Pulpit, and a bunch of other stuff, can be seen here.
posted by fenriq at 5:04 PM on December 3, 2006


Oops, too late, thanks Burhanistan.
posted by fenriq at 5:05 PM on December 3, 2006


Wonderful post.
Although all it does is hover (and zip along at a high rate of speed) I really liked the Wasp in the film The Island.

The movie -not so much.
posted by squidfartz at 5:08 PM on December 3, 2006


I live just a mile or so away from Altcar, where I see people flying microlights all the time.

They sure look like a dream of personal flight realized to me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:11 PM on December 3, 2006


If we are giving it up for the best jetpack, you have to acknowledge that the Rocketeer's steam-punk looking kit was pretty bad-ass. (I always dug the helmet too.)
posted by quin at 5:15 PM on December 3, 2006


I'm very glad that the idea of putting the rotating blades of open air vehicles below the occupants never caught on.
posted by gsteff at 5:28 PM on December 3, 2006


I'm very glad that the idea of putting the rotating blades of open air vehicles below the occupants never caught on.

Still, in some vehicles, try not to lean back too far.
posted by IronLizard at 5:56 PM on December 3, 2006


I'm wondering when the auto-stabilizing technology of the SegWay will be adapted for personal air travel. With a vectored, auto-levelling exhaust fan, controlled by your lean angle, you'd be much less likely to end up jet-over-heels, with your giant turbine assisting gravity.
posted by Eideteker at 6:26 PM on December 3, 2006


Fuel prices are going to go up fast enough that these devices will never be economical enough to develop for mass production.
posted by grobstein at 6:39 PM on December 3, 2006


Eideteker, unless there's a software glitch.
posted by fenriq at 6:51 PM on December 3, 2006


Untested, but looks more promising than others...

http://blog.wired.com/tableofmalcontents/2006/11/andreas_petzold.html
posted by hllclmbr at 7:10 PM on December 3, 2006


Welcome to the social, etc.
posted by moonbird at 8:44 PM on December 3, 2006


Seriously, this is an excellent post. Good work!
posted by moonbird at 9:08 PM on December 3, 2006


Love this stuff — from 007's Little Nellie to the arachnoid Cherry Picker (GEN H-4, actually).
posted by rob511 at 9:40 PM on December 3, 2006


As long as we are going to discuss personal aircraft, we should also mention the Moller skycar. While he did, apparently, actually have some minor success with the XM-4 (!), the long awaited M400 is still so much vaporware. So much so that moller.com now comes up as 404.

Which is a real pity. He seemed to have an honestly interesting design, but reality seems to suggest that it was never going to happen. Still, for all the bad press and ill will he's generated over the last 10 years by saying it's just a 'year or two off from production', I still maintain a small beacon of hope that he pulls it off.

Or failing that, some deep-geek who has been waiting gets sick of it and just builds one himself, (not unlike the guy without any aeronautic engineering experience who built the super slow bush plane that no one believed would work).

We will have flying cars*. The desire has just been in our culture too long, the real question is, who will actually be the first to pull it off?

*They may not be affordable or accessible to the masses, but eventually, they will exist.
posted by quin at 9:47 PM on December 3, 2006


I'd link to the "guy without any aeronautic engineering experience who built the super slow bush plane" but my googlefu has failed me. I know I watched a really interesting documentary on Discovery about him though.
posted by quin at 9:50 PM on December 3, 2006


quin, I wasn't aware that Moller had folded up shop, that is a bummer, he was one of the best chances for a widely available personal flying machine.

Peter McDermott, yes, those are personal flying machines but you can't land in your driveway and park them in your garage. The dream of personal flight, for me at least, is to be able to launch from home, fly to my destination and land without needing an airport.
posted by fenriq at 8:52 AM on December 4, 2006


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