Ah, yes. Remember the cartoon The Jetsons? The intro shows the family zipping around in their carlike aircraft just the same as we do now in cars, trucks, motorcycles and other types of road transportation. I never imagined that a flight craft would be invented within my lifetime that was small enough and fast enough to be considered as a means of directly from your home to the parking lot at work, or the grocery, or the gym…. And I mean a type of flying “vehicle” that does not need a runway to take off or land, nor require a large amount of space to land (i.e. the blades on a helicopter). Additionally, a creation that also does not necessitate a pilot’s license which costs thousands of dollars of schooling – not to mention having to log enough flight hours to keep a license valid.
Looks like I may be wrong, and I am perfectly fine with that.
A man in Australia has build a working prototype of a hoverbike which can – theoretically – fly at 173 MPH and a height of 3,000 metres. Chris Malloy has constructed his Hoverbike out of a motorcycle. Although he has done some hovering, currently tethered to the ground, he has not yet taken the flying bike out for a real cruise – Chris is currently still unsure of the overall safety. “We do not know 100% what might happen during testing,” he said. “The straps are there to cover the unknown.”
Malloy Hoverbike Scale Model
The bike consists almost solely of a pair of massive propellers, powered by a central 1170cc four-stroke engine with a seat on top. The fuel tank contains enough juice to give it a range of 92 miles at a cruising speed of 92 mph.
How do you control the Hoverbike?
According to Chris’s FAQs page on his website, Hover-Bike, he states:
• To lift off into a hover, one needs to increase the thrust via a throttle grip with the right hand – exactly the same as the throttle on a motorbike
• To fly forward a combination involving an increase in thrust and the deflection of air from the front control vanes (twisting the left handle grip) will tilt the total thrust vector forward resulting in an acceleration forwards (twist back to go backwards)
• To to make the bike roll (turn) left and right, all one needs to do is push the handle bars down on the side you wish to turn (handle bars work just like a bicycle, but with an extra axis so that they rotate up and down a little) – you could lean in the appropriate direction just like a motorbike, but this is proving to be not as sensitive as one would expect or like.
• Yaw (nose left or right) is via control vanes front and rear and actuated by turning the handle bars – just like a bike
The FAQs page also answers such questions as:
• How safe is the Hoverbike?
• How stable is the Hoverbike?
• Why is it strapped to the ground during flight tests?
• How high/fast has it flown?
• Why a two blade propeller?
• How heavy can you be to fly?
• When will I be able to buy a Hoverbike
• How much will it cost
• Do you need to have a pilots license to fly the Hoverbike?
• How can I get involved?
The current prototype doesn’t have much in the way of safety features, but Malloy plans to add a pair of explosive parachutes to the frame, or just require the rider to wear a parachute, as well as covering the currently-exposed propellers with a mesh to stop limbs from being lopped off. Malloy also hopes to implement gyroscopic controls with on board overrides to stop the craft from tipping over.
Happily you won’t need a pilot’s license to fly one, as the Hoverbike is officially classified as an ultralight.
Well, slap a chute on me, I’m ready to take it for a spin, er… a flight!
Here are some photos from Chris Malloy’s website, Hoverbike.
Chris Malloy’s website: Hoverbike
Huffington Post: Man Builds Hover Bike: Can Fly At 173MPH And 3,000M Without A Pilot’s Licence
Wired: Prototype hoverbike could soar to 3km altitude at 173mph