The inventor of the ‘flying taxi’, Michael Robert Dacre, has died after a newly-assembled Jetpod prototype crashed during a test flight at Tekah airstrip, Taiping. Dacre, 53, was British-based Avcen Ltd’s managing director. He died at the scene. Gizmag first covered the proposed flying taxi back in 2004 when we reported that the aircraft was hopeful of commercial flight in 2010.

Avcen Limited Malaysia is based at Patimas Technology Centre in Kuala Lumpur, where development for the eight-seater flying taxi, being readied for release in 2010, was taking place.

Witnesses saw the aircraft make numerous attempts to take off before finally gaining height. But at about 200m, the flying taxi appeared to lose control before falling to the ground.

The Jetpod is a small twin-jet aircraft equipped with VQSTOL (Very Quiet Short Take-off and Landing) technology - requiring just 125m (410ft) to take off and 300m (985ft) to land - and is designed to reduce noise emissions by up to 50 percent. Avcen was hopeful of encouraging short-distance air travel in built-up urban areas via elevated runways above harbors, roads and railway tracks, handling arrivals and departures from ‘park-and-fly’ terminals located in the suburbs.

The crash highlights the enormity of the risks some aircraft inventors are prepared to undertake in pursuit of their dreams.