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What Happened to the Invention of Personal Aircraft Devices?

Updated on February 5, 2012
Ultralight jet-powered hang glider/aircraft
Ultralight jet-powered hang glider/aircraft | Source

Now that hybrid and alternative fuel cars are the rage today, what happened to the invention of personal aircraft devices?

The technology is there with mini-helicopters, small kit planes, ultralight jet-powered hang gliders/aircraft, and jet packs being made available. Personal aircraft devices were supposedly the future of modern technology but that hasn't been the case thanks to a combination of politics and meddling corporations.

GEN H-4 mini helicopter
GEN H-4 mini helicopter | Source

Personal Aircraft Devices Now Available

Small aircraft inventors and designers have been dreaming for years when personal aircraft devices would someday replace the car as a means of transportation. With advanced technology evident today, personal air travel is readily available in the form of mini-helicopters, small kit planes, ultralight jet-powered hang gliders/aircraft, and jet packs!

GEN H-4 -- is a mini helicopter that looks like a gym equipment with a large helicopter at the top is sold for $32,000 in a kit. The Japanese company GEN says that they will teach anyone in 2 hours how to fly their equipment. Unfortunately, the helicopter is only available in Japan for now.

Small Kit Planes -- is a small airplane that seats one or two adults, depending on the size. Small kit planes' prices range from under $10,000 to over $100,000 depending on the quality of construction and features. There are various small kit plane companies around the U.S. such as Zenith Air, Kitfox, and Velocity Aircraft, just to name a few.

Ultralight Jet-Powered Hang Gliders/Aircraft -- is similar to a small kit plane but the equipment resembles a hang glider with an engine atop the seating area. The pricing is about the same as a small kit plane starting at around $9,000 to more, depending on the features.

Jet Packs -- were popular during the 1960s and were only seen in the movies (The Running Man, Return of the Jedi, and Spy Kids). The Jet Pack, also known as a "Rocket Belt," is worn like a backpack and can propel an individual in the air for as long as 19 minutes, plenty of time to get to safety. Three companies Jet Pack International based in Colorado, Technologia Aerospacial Mexicana (TAM) of Mexico, and Martin Jetpack of New Zealand, sell the device starting at $150,000 or more.

Martin Jetpack
Martin Jetpack | Source

Regulating the Skies

The future of traveling through the air is mainly regulated by the Government. Behind the scenes are the private corporations such as the oil companies, car companies, and aircraft companies who want to prevent any "personal air transportation" for as long as possible.

Imagine if every household had a personal flight device(s) there would be no use to take an airplane or car or other mass transportation to get where you're going. The commercial airlines, the car companies, and the oil companies would be in an uproar!

Long distances would be out of the question but taking a flight of 45 minutes to an hour from Los Angeles to San Francisco or from New York city to Martha's Vineyard would be more manageable and quicker than traveling for hours by car. A mini-helicopter or a jet pack would be suitable if someone needed to get from Orange County, California to downtown Los Angeles within minutes, bypassing the snarling traffic jam on the 110 or 405 freeways.

The technology is there but the corporations don't want people to have these devices, at least not just yet.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tower in the distance at Dulles International Airport
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tower in the distance at Dulles International Airport | Source

The Future of Personal Aircraft

Inventors and designers knew how fantastic their inventions were but they did acknowledge there were some limitations that came with it.

  • Fits Two People at the Most--Most contraptions only fit one or two persons. In the age of the "minivan and cars fitting as much as 7 people", it won't work if family members want to tag-along.
  • Affordability -- The car still beats the personal aircraft device as a necessary means of transportation. Until a personal aircraft becomes affordable and the insurance rates are manageable, the ground will become more of a necessity than flying through the air.
  • Training -- All of these flight devices involve extensive training due to the risk involved. While the other devices take a few days or hours to complete training, flying an airplane has more requirements which includes pilot school, flight hours, and other extensive training.
  • Good Guys can have it, But So can the Bad Guys -- Imagine what a nightmare it would be for law enforcement and the military if the "bad guys" got a hold of this equipment to use it to commit a crime or to get away! Authorities will not only have to guard the roads but the sky as well!

There is no timetable when these devices will become affordable and readily available for the masses. Until inventors and regulators can find a way to compromise, these personal aircraft devices will only be available for the wealthy.


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