While Moller International’s flying car (DE July `99) opened a range of travel possibilities for the family of the future, tomorrow’s lone traveller may be better served by a vehicle developed at Millennium Jet of Santa Clara, California.
After three years of top secret development, the company has announced an agreement with NASA to test its SoloTrek XFV (Exo-Skeletor Flying Vehicle).
Capable of vertical take off and landing, operation in confined spaces and efficient cruising speeds of 80mph, Solotrek performs very much like a helicopter. However, unlike a helicopter, it will be easy to store and maintain and able to land on an area the size of a dining table. It is claimed also to be considerably cheaper to buy and to run.
A four cylinder, two cycle aircraft engine with few moving parts produces 130hp using unleaded petrol. The engine has two spark plugs per cylinder and four independent electronic fuel-injection systems. Directly connected to a system of driveshafts, universal joints and gear boxes, the engine drives two counter rotating ducted fans. Located above and behind the pilot’s head, these fans provide the thrust required for both hover and forward/backward flight. The injection moulded plastic fan blades are rigidly fixed to the central hub, and thrust is redirected from straight down (during hover) to a pre-specified amount of tilt for forward flight. This is typically only about 5 degrees to 10 degrees which means that in order to maintain altitude during forward flight, the engine power needs only to be increased by approximately 0.5%.