Is it possible for a one-person electric plane to take off vertically and fly 300 mph? NASA says yes, and shows us how it’s done with Puffin, a single-passenger aircraft that’s 10 times quieter than the most hushed helicopters. The design, accomplishing the same goal as a jetpack with a cockpit, could be the closest man has ever come to flying like a bird.
Using today’s technology, Puffin can cruise for 50 miles, but aerospace engineers at NASA say that range could triple by 2017. Take a look at the video, where the craft gracefully lifts off, cruises with its pilot in a prone position similar to a hang glider, and then slowly backs into a soft landing.
If this isn’t a bunch of hooey, call us amazed. Let’s wait until we see it flying before we get too excited.
We’re in an era where VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft designs are routine, and electric power has been tapped to almost the limit on land cruisers. Now, to combine the brilliance of the two for some airtime magic, NASA is preparing what is a super-quite single-person VTOL aircraft dubbed the Puffin. The hover-capable electric flyer that is more or less like a flying suit or a jet pack, but with a cockpit, could make a superman out of us.
The 3.7-meter long, 4.1-meter wingspan craft, the Puffin in stationary position on land rests on its tail that splits into four legs. For take-off, the flaps on the wings of the craft tilt and the upward facing propeller rotors spin helping the Puffin to take-off the ground vertically, hover in the air for a bit and then lean over to fly horizontally like a bird.
Capable of cruising at about 240km/h and dashing at more than 480km/h, the electrically propelled Puffin, which is to be revealed officially today, January 20, at an American Helicopter Society meeting in San Francisco, can soar up to 9,150-meters (over 30,000 feet i.e.), before the limitations of the craft’s battery force it to descend. The batteries used limit the Puffin’s power, but seeing the growing technology and the work makers are putting into improving their batteries, it is evident that in the near future this power could increase drastically.
Essentially a no emissions flyer, the Puffin is thought to be the most environmentally friendly flying craft out there. The Puffin can be the coolest thing to suggest the electric future of personal transportation in general and flying in particular. Yes, for the environmentalists solar panels could have been an added feather to the cap, but for the critics, the Puffin could be unrealistic venture. If NASA can be the first to make it to the moon (I ruled out the conspiracy theory for a while), then this VTOL could be the easiest thing for them. NASA, I always thought of flying, but now I am ready to fly!