As Doc Brown exclaimed at the end of Back to the Future (1985), “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads!”
Jetpack Aviation (JPA), apparently, is also focused on going back to the future. The company is one of several businesses attempting to build and bring to market an actual flying motorcycle, although JPA is the only one that claims to be the first with a prototype that has been successfully test-flown. (Note that much of the written material and media on the company’s website appears to be outdated). Demonstrating Jedi-level marketing savvy, JPA has named its craft the Speeder, and trademarked the name. (It’s very surprising that LucasFilms or Disney didn’t trademark that name long ago – but in this galaxy, not one far, far away).
Three versions of the Speeder are under development at JPA. The Ultralight Version (UVS) is intended for the civilian market and will not require a pilot’s license. To meet FAA requirements for ultralight aircraft, UVS will be limited to carrying no more than five gallons of fuel and a top speed of no more than 60 mph. Clearly, this machine is for fun and recreation only, as it’s not going very far or very fast.
The second version is also a civilian model but will require an FAA pilot’s license. The Experimental Version (EVS) will have no FAA mandated restrictions on range or fuel tank capacity, and this Speeder model will theoretically have a top speed of over 150 mph with a ceiling of 15,000 feet. (Yikes, I hope it comes with a parachute and an oxygen mask). Also, the FAA requires all experimental aircraft to be built, at least in part, by the owner/pilot which means the purchaser will have to travel to the factory and turn a few wrenches while under supervision of JPA engineers.
The third version is meant for military/government/commercial use only. JPA envisions their machine is best suited in a cargo or paramedic role, and has the ability to fly autonomously (without a pilot). The pilot’s seat can be removed and replaced with a cargo pod or fitted with a litter basket (a stretcher for injured personnel). At the end of the video below, an autonomous Speeder with litter basket and medical supplies is shown flying in tandem with a piloted Speeder, presumably a paramedic at the controls.
All three versions are VTOL (vertical takeoff or landing) capable, with two jet turbine engines at each corner of the vehicle for redundancy and safety, for a total of eight engines. (None of the images I’ve seen show these redundant engines. Apparently the images represent earlier concepts of the vehicle). The jet turbine engines can run on kerosene, JetA, or diesel fuel.
Any of you Skywalkers ready to buy? All you need is a $10,000 deposit to get on the preorder list. The final price is subject to change, but I’ve seen two different numbers: $381,000 and $695,000 for the civilian version. The price for the military/government/commercial model is listed on the website as TBD.
“The Speeder – Agility Prime [ May 2020 ] Virtual Trade Show” (4:00):
Question Of The Night: What kind of flooring do you prefer? (e.g., wood, tile, carpet, cork, concrete, other). And for which rooms? What’s your favorite?