Birdie, Birdie In the Sky.......
April 23, 2007 10:26 PM   Subscribe

The Super Sky Cycle is a convertible gyrocopter that lets you fly at better than freeway speeds, land in 20 feet, be driven home as a motorcycle, and fit in your garage. It is available now for a mere $37K. Check out the flight vid, the cool MacGyver soundtrack is extra though.
Note, yes, "Super" and "Cycle" might be stretches in the name of this product. But it is still pretty damned cool. via
posted by fenriq (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
that's knight rider, dog.
posted by tumult at 10:30 PM on April 23, 2007

You can land in 20 feet, but you need a long straight stretch to take off.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:45 PM on April 23, 2007

If it makes you feel any better, I thought it may have been the MacGyver soundtrack before remembering it was Knight Rider.
posted by puke & cry at 10:45 PM on April 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, that video is a little too edited for my tastes.
posted by puke & cry at 10:45 PM on April 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

OK, ok, the video's over-edited and I don't know the specifics or legality of owning one...

...but I WANT it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:50 PM on April 23, 2007

This (YT) would have been SUCH a perfect soundtrack for this clip. Sigh.
posted by aliasless at 11:08 PM on April 23, 2007

Yeah, like I'm gonna fly in anything I personally assembled. I can just see my buddy holding up some part as I reach about 10 feet off the ground.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:09 PM on April 23, 2007

I heard about three bars of the soundtrack before I turned it down but I do stand corrected. I do have some mental blockages in regards to David Hasselhoff too (something about a recursion).

Also, I live about a mile from a small public airport that this thing would be totally perfect for. I even have a garage.

But it needs two seats and some gun and rocket mounts before its complete.
posted by fenriq at 11:23 PM on April 23, 2007

but you need a long straight stretch to take off

Really? The only lift comes from the top rotor, right? If so, shouldn't vertical take-off be the norm?
posted by zippy at 11:32 PM on April 23, 2007

Am I elitist for thinking a vehicle with three wheels isn't a motorcycle?

Anyway, pretty cool...though if the rotor (which did they call it a "propeller" in the video?) doesn't fold, I give it about a 15 minute life span on any stop-and-go highway.

Interesting, none-the-less. If it can be powered by a Norton Atlas 750 engine, I'll consider it (lifespan of airframe with that shaker in it: 36 seconds).
posted by maxwelton at 11:33 PM on April 23, 2007

That's it. The totally awesome future we've dreamed about it is here, today, as long as you have absolutely no sense of self-preservation.
posted by moss at 11:34 PM on April 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

When they say "propeller" they are talking about a motherfucking propeller, the one behind the pilot that pushes the thing forward through the air, causing the overhead rotor to spin and give lift. No vertical takeoff. It's a regular goddamn gyrocopter.
posted by blasdelf at 11:45 PM on April 23, 2007

Really? The only lift comes from the top rotor, right? If so, shouldn't vertical take-off be the norm?

Yeah, it looks like a helicopter to me too, but I guess some forward thrust is needed.

From Wikipedia (gyrocopter):

"Unlike a helicopter, the rotor of an autogyro is driven by aerodynamic forces alone once it is in flight, and thrust is provided by an engine-powered propeller similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft. "

Notice there's no back rotor like you have on a helicopter to compensate for the spin. That back propeller is for forward thrust. Imagine when/if these gyrocopters/flying cars/nutty vehicles actually become popular, what a nightmare it'll be. If thousands of people die every year from cars (which are relatively simple in comparison), what'll happen when your 16-year-old steals the keys to the aircar? Death would be falling from the sky hundreds of times a day.

Even if the technology is there, even if they're cheap, I can't see flying cars ever being used in large numbers by the general public. There's just too much inherit danger.
posted by zardoz at 12:06 AM on April 24, 2007

There's just too much inherit danger.

Agreed. I wouldn't want my next-of-kin bumping me off just to inherit my ride. 'cuz they would.
posted by katillathehun at 12:13 AM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Touche, katillathehun, touche.

Make that "inherent".
posted by zardoz at 12:36 AM on April 24, 2007

Oh my fucking god, my life is complete. On second thought: please send 37K to the following address immediately. . .
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 1:15 AM on April 24, 2007

Wonder if the thing comes complete with lessons on how to fly it. Driving a gyrocopter might just be a tad different to flying a motorcycle...
posted by electriccynic at 2:24 AM on April 24, 2007

Meh. Where's my goddam jetpack?
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:04 AM on April 24, 2007

These things will never be common. Three words explain why:

Air Traffic Control

Hundreds, nae, thousands of bad drivers flying at very high speeds in every direction in a city. There is just no conceivable way to deal with that. There are no roads in the sky, no lanes, and no way to make any. People will just go whichever the hell way they want. Any accident whatsoever will probably take both participants out of the sky and likely kill them.

People often suggest some sort of wireless traffic network, perhaps ad-hoc. These people have never worked with wireless networks. 'Reliable' is not a word that comes to mind.

I know everyone wants their flying car, but seriously, it just won't work. Not now, and probably not ever. Maybe a few people could have them and fly them in the manner of small airplanes now, but not as common transportation like a car.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:12 AM on April 24, 2007

Imagine when/if these gyrocopters/flying cars/nutty vehicles actually become popular, what a nightmare it'll be.

People have been trying to mass-produce personal flying machines for as long as people have been making cars. Quite a few industrialists have envisioned every household having their own flying machine (I remember reading that Gore Vidal's father invested in such a scheme). I guess the closest we got to this was the biplane.
posted by humblepigeon at 4:01 AM on April 24, 2007

Are there any videos of it in motorcycle mode?

This one looks like the inventor (if that's who that is) isn't too concerned about safety. Is it just the perspective or did he almost decapitate most of the onlookers?
posted by DU at 4:27 AM on April 24, 2007

I had an engineering professor who claimed that affordable, efficient helicopters designed for personal use had long been possible, since at least the 70s, but that there was no conceivable way to ensure safety and the sky was just too big for police to deal with/patrol.

The man's keeping us grounded!
posted by es_de_bah at 4:44 AM on April 24, 2007

This isn't new. The Bensen Gyrocopter was available via mail order (advertised in the back pages of Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Mechanix Illustrated at least as far back as when I started looking at Dad's magazines in the mid-1960s.

It's be a lot of fun to bop around at low altitude in one of these under VFR well outside of any airport patterns on a pretty summer day, but at $37k, thankfully commuting would stay in the idea stage for most people, nearly all of whom would think twice about a 20-minute ride at 60 kts exposed to the elements -- if it's less than short-sleeve weather, you're gonna suffer for your art, as any motocyclist could tell you.

Holding in abeyance the tremendous traffic-control problems others have alluded to, of course.
posted by pax digita at 5:44 AM on April 24, 2007

Some of the videos on the website show what looks like a ~50ft takeoff with the gyro blade spun up beforehand via a belt drive. Apparently the prespin is an optional extra -- the 'Metro Launch System' -- for $1300 for some of the other models they sell, but is standard with this one.

An available option on this one is called the 'gyro recovery system (parachute)' for $3700. Yikes! Following their lead, I guess you could call your car airbag a 'brake recovery system.' But with an airbag someone else has alpha-tested it.
posted by Killick at 5:45 AM on April 24, 2007

I don't give a tinker's damn if it's unsafe.
I'm American; I want it; I'll have it.
posted by Dizzy at 6:01 AM on April 24, 2007

I like the fact that this gyrocopter crash video was one of the 'related' videos to pop up on youtube after watching the flight vid of this thing.
posted by delmoi at 6:51 AM on April 24, 2007

For the folks who are worried about how dangerous this is, gyrocopters are very safe.

Thrust is generated from the propeller behind the machine and the rotor up top is non-powered (except for the spin up belt drive).

The gyro's safety comes in because the rotor will continue to spin and bring you down to the ground under control and more safely than a parachute.
posted by fenriq at 8:08 AM on April 24, 2007

The gyro's safety comes in because the rotor will continue to spin and bring you down to the ground under control and more safely than a parachute.

Fenriq, apparently you have have not watched delmoi's video post.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:48 AM on April 24, 2007

I don't see even one cupholder.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:10 AM on April 24, 2007

I agree gyrocopters are very safe aircraft as long as they don't collide with anything -- another a/c, the ground, power lines, trees, etc. But they're very safe aircraft.

"Very safe" is nice, but you still have to have practiced routinely how to recover from a "departure from controlled flight" (screwing up and losing it in midair, sudden crosswinds, other sorts of nasty surprises often arising from momentary loss of sitch awareness) and how to autorotate (basically a controlled dead-stick descent) so that you do it correctly for real In The Event.

Now, how many people have you ever met who bothered to practice skidding and recovering from skids while learning to drive? I know I didn't, and a rigorously scientific poll (asking three co-workers) whether they did got me disbelieving stares. Now, if you're going to market this to folks as "Fly to work! It's as safe as driving and more fun!" are you going to add "...of course, you need to practice for when it isn't..." and appropriately give starry-eyed would-be private pilots appropriate sober pause?

People may still think that flying an aircraft isn't any harder than driving a car, but I argue that the skills, though similar, are not identical or transferable. When they argue I'm wrong, I ask them to Google "davey allison crash" and read what happened, and ponder that Allison was a fairly bright guy with arguably above-average reflexes and good SA but who didn't have much stick time.

The cost-of-entry for this, the seductive "Oh, it's easy!" factor ('cause it is if everything's just right), and the fact that you are, after all, flying higher than you'd care to fall regardless of the putative safety features remind me of the sobriquet assigned to the Beechcraft Bonanza: "The Fork-Tailed Doctor Killer."

On preview, we'd need a Japanese-speaker to listen to the audio to confirm: What I saw on Delmoi's video looked like a normally functioning bird but a pilot-error-induced departure from controlled flight. It looked like the pilot might have been trying to demonstrate either recoverability from a dive or attempting an inverted ("outside") or Immelmann loop at waaaay insufficient altitude. Mr_Zero and fenriq, in autorotating, the pilot does not rpt not do the sort of radical manuver you see here -- you might put a helo or a gyro in a turning dive to preserve rotor RPMs until you build up some airspeed, but this looks like a stunt gone way wrong.

(not an aviator, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night)
posted by pax digita at 10:25 AM on April 24, 2007

Mr_Zero, yeah, I think the pilot actually meant to do that. But it is noted that mechanical trouble while in flight is much more of a bummer than on the side of the road.
posted by fenriq at 10:56 PM on April 24, 2007

pax, yeah. I watched bunch more vids and there was one of the guy with a powered and controllable rotor who could hover. And funny, I know the Immelman from playing Skyrates.

And yeah, I'd always considered them to kind of pokey in flight. But so what? Flying is flying.
posted by fenriq at 11:25 PM on April 24, 2007

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