Thursday, October 14, 2010

"What Are You Doing, Maverick?!"

The Maverick flying car I've blogged about in the past has been all over the news lately for having trumped the competition by being the first to market with a viable land/sky vehicle (it's ASTM certified S-LSA #110), at a viable price ($84,000), and in a functional, and dare I say it, wildly fun way.
Maverick climbs out with gusto
Technically, it's classified in the powered parachute category (PPC), eminently logical since that's what it is!
Maverick is in essence a four-wheeled dune buggy with a big pusher prop, rugged off-road suspension, and an easily-deployed paraglider-like canopy that gives the car it's airborne capabilities, but stows neatly on top of the car when more earthly thrills, or a visit to a third-world native village to do good works, (it's designed "mission"), are desired.
Dan Johnson put up a broader post on it recently, but I didn't want to miss the chance to share this fun video again of the Maverick in action.  Very impressive the way ti handles the sandy road, and there are other vids of the test program and airshow visits too.
Since it's approved by the DOT (Dept. of Transportation) for travel, you're good to go on land and in the air.
As far as the water, I'd assumed it couldn't be fit out with floats due to the difficulties (impossibility) of launching a wet para-canopy.  Au contraire, airheads.
Two for the road
In fact, there are floats too, for "river crossings".  Given the unimproved terrain capability the Maverick was designed for, this is an important capability.
I thought about this for a couple seconds then had a Homer Simpson "Doh!" moment: We don't' need no steenking parasail canopy at all!  Just drive the vehicle onto the floats and boat over, using the prop for thrust, to the other shore or around a calm bay or lake.  Launches on water with the para-wing on land should be possible too...but I would imagine tricky, which means lots of folks will be trying it.  Should make for some interesting YouTube moments down the road.
It's no doubt illegal to drive a prop-boat around on some lakes but that's another galaxy to explore on the local level.
Anyway, now I can say, "Maverick: for land, sea and sky".  Even cooler.
Maverick without it's Ninja suit
Another attraction for non-pilots should be how easy it is to transfer skills they already have: steering with a wheel and using a foot pedal for power.
As diehard PPC pilots will tell you, a few hours of basic airmanship training are all it takes for this Everyfolk vehicle to be safely flown.  Of course, complete Sport Pilot training is required to fly it legally, but while you're training, nothing to keep you from blasting around in the boonies, eh? 
Wired Magazine reports that Itec, the parent company, says government and law enforcement agencies are looking into the Maverick.
Seems logical with all the viable applications for this simple flying vehicle: fence line perimeter patrol for ranchers; spotting fires; patrolling pipelines and power lines; flying out to car rallies in the boonies, of course; and civil air patrol spotting at a much lower cost...being able to lope along at what are near-stall speeds for typical GA airplanes could be a real boon for search and rescue.
With the immense popularity of paragliding and the natural, if not entirely accurate, association people make  between parachutes and safety, the Maverick could be a real sleeper that attracts a lot of buyers.
   ---photos and video courtesy Itec

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