Aircraft

Kitty Hawk's electric Flyer takes to the air in slick promo video

Kitty Hawk's electric Flyer ta...
The Kitty Hawk Flyer being flown by Cimeron Morrissey in the company's slick promo video
The Kitty Hawk Flyer being flown by Cimeron Morrissey in the company's slick promo video
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Footage for The Flyer promo video was captured at a lake in Northern California
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Footage for The Flyer promo video was captured at a lake in Northern California
The Kitty Hawk Flyer being flown by Cimeron Morrissey in the company's slick promo video
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The Kitty Hawk Flyer being flown by Cimeron Morrissey in the company's slick promo video
The Kitty Hawk Flyer features 8 rotors, joystick control and can achieve a top speed of 25 mph
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The Kitty Hawk Flyer features 8 rotors, joystick control and can achieve a top speed of 25 mph
Kitty Hawk says that its Flyer is safe to fly, easy to learn and legal to use in the US and doesn't require riders to have a pilot's license
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Kitty Hawk says that its Flyer is safe to fly, easy to learn and legal to use in the US and doesn't require riders to have a pilot's license
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Silicon Valley startup Kitty Hawk – backed by Google's Larry Page, who also threw his weight behind a rotor-based flying car a few years back – has released a video showing off the prototype of an upcoming all-electric personal flying machine it's calling The Flyer. The company says that users won't need to secure a pilot's license to fly the eight rotor vehicle, and promises a swift learning curve.

Details are scant at the moment, but the Flyer's hashtag-shaped pipe structure is topped by protective webbing and has two rotors attached to each pipe for a total of eight. A pair of short pontoons cater for take-off and landing on water.

A user safely sits above the webbing in a single seat and steers the craft with U-shaped handlebars. There looks to be a control board inbetween the grips, with a start switch to the right and some sort of display in the middle. The screen doesn't show anything in the promo video but will likely show system status information at the very least.

The star of the promo video, Cimeron Morrissey, says that riders "mount the seat and lean forward, just like you would on a bike. The controls are built into a set of handlebars and work similar to buttons and joysticks on a video game controller. It takes off and lands vertically, like a helicopter."

The Kitty Hawk Flyer features 8 rotors, joystick control and can achieve a top speed of 25 mph
The Kitty Hawk Flyer features 8 rotors, joystick control and can achieve a top speed of 25 mph

She also reveals that pitch and yaw, as well as throttle, are all controlled from the handlebar grips and the Flyer can reach speeds of up to 25 mph (40 km/h). No other specs or performance information have been released, so we'll have to wait for the next project installment for batteries and range details.

Kitty Hawk says that its Flyer is safe to fly, easy to learn and legal to use in the US, and doesn't require riders to have a pilot's license. As it's classed by the FAA as an ultralight aircraft, it "may be flown in uncongested areas of the US" for recreational purposes, but has been designed for water use only. The company currently has no plans to ship outside of the US.

The version seen in the images and video is not market-ready, and Kitty Hawk reckons that a more polished production version of The Flyer will go on sale by the end of this year. No price has been given at this time, though a US$2,000 discount for those who sign up for membership ($100 for 3 years) is quite suggestive.

Speaking of polished, have a look at the promo video below to see the prototype in action. It definitely views more like an advertisement than raw prototype test footage, but appears to show the Kitty Hawk craft flying over a Northern Californian lake and performing slick maneuvers.

It's not quite as jaw-drop impressive as Franky Zapata's hoverboard record flight we witnessed last year, but will doubtless be a much quieter and greener way to zip from shore to yacht and back again. Assuming it ever gets to production.

Source: Kitty Hawk

Introducing the Kitty Hawk Flyer

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12 comments
Paul Anthony
Looks like you're gonna get wet. In that case a Sea-Doo would be faster and probably more fun.
Paulinator
It seems like a good way to get up and look around, but powered lift isn't the best way to get somewhere. Part 103 says that the power-off stall speed can't be lower that 24 knots. This thing has a power-off stall speed that would do Wiley Coyote proud.
guzmanchinky
That looks so fun. Now, how far, how high, what kind of safety?
sk8dad
Wow, that promo is so bourgeois.
JeffK
This looks like huge fun to me, enjoy the water but I'm not an adrenaline junkie and, even discounting initial cost, boats are expensive and time consuming to maintain. This ought to be much quieter than a personal watercraft, thus less annoying to those who enjoy a quiet day on the beach or water. Being airborne also eliminates the possibility of colliding with submerged rocks, drift logs, etc.
I suspect that the Kitty Hawk relies on ground (or water) effect to stay in the air which would limit it to about a ten foot ceiling. If that is the case, then safety would amount to staying over water, though of course not everyone will. Adding an electric trolling motor with separate battery would ensure that you wouldn't be stranded in the event of electrical or mechanical failure.
Daishi
It looks easier to balance/fly than Franky Zappa's flyboard. The coolest thing I have seen in personal flight is the Jetman rig but they jump out of a helicopter to get altitude first.
Fairly Reasoner
Thanks for not calling it a "flying car," as most every other news service has done.
Brian M
The most important information on any of these devices is endurance. Just about anyone with DIY skill and ability to study, can produce one of these - so that's not news!
What would be news is a good usable flight time. Say 30 minutes plus.
KaiserPingo
A more aerodynamic design, would help !
Penguin
Mmmmaybe. I can't imagine the endurance being that great and it'll be expensive. Bang-for-buck fans might want to wait.