All Jetsons, Star Wars and Star Trek references aside, personal flying vehicles are already here. And you’ll be seeing some in the skies sooner than you think.
Millennium Jet’s SoloTrek XFV, for example, is a step-in and strap-on, stand-up flying machine. The single-person vehicle resembles a cross between a high-tech roller coaster ride and a small helicopter. The pilot hops into the footrests and ergonomically designed backrest and moves the vehicle with two handles at a flexed-arm height. This gets you going up, down and sideways.
Where you lift off and touch down will be up to you; the XFV runs on unleaded gas and has VTOL capability — as in, vertical take off and landing. Top speeds will hover around 80 mph and cruising altitude is anything less than 100 feet, although the XFV has yet to make its maiden voyage (scheduled for sometime in mid-2000). The cost has not been announced, but Millennium Jet, based in Santa Clara, Calif., says pricing will be “equivalent to that of a high-end sports car.” Operators must have a pilot’s licence. Check out www.millenniumjet.com for more information.
Moller International’s M400 Skycar, on the other hand, has seats for you and three passengers, along with eight engines and three onboard computers for flight management. Like the SoloTrek XFV, it runs on gas and has VTOL capability; however, taking off and landing is only at FAA-approved “vertiports.” A pilot’s licence is also required.
At first glance, the M400 resembles more of a jet fighter than a flying minivan. It has a fibre-reinforced plastic airframe and has flown to heights of 40 feet. Top speeds are 600 mph. The M400 has done some prototype flying, while the M200X (two-seater) has made more than 200 successful flights. For US$5,000, you can reserve an ordering position for the M400 while it gets FAA-certified for public use — probably in two years. Pricing will be around US$1 million; Moller International of Davis, Calif., says as more are produced, the price should drop to that of a luxury car. Visit www.moller.com.