SoloTrek is a new kind of flying machine that you strap on and fly. This compact aircraft lets you takeoff vertically and land literally anywhere. Using readily available fuel, SoloTrek can hover for up to 2 hours, reach speeds of up to 70 knots, and traverse distances of up to 120 nautical miles.
It weighs 325 pounds and has so far succeeded in making a 19 second test flight (which is better than the Wright Brothers did on their first try). ?We have to walk before we can run,? says inventor Michael Moshier, who is a former Navy pilot and aerospace engineer. ?We?re getting more confident, and not yet taking it too far before we get too comfortable.?
The 8-foot-tall SoloTrek Exo-Skeletor Flying Vehicle has a gasoline engine that drives two large fans. The pilot flies it in a standing position and controls its movement with two joysticks. The machine is designed to go 80 mph and fly 150 miles on one tank of gas. Moshier plans to add a global positioning system for navigation and a parachute-equipped ejector seat.
The device could be used a variety of ways, from flying soldiers over land mines or impassable roads to being used by traffic reporters and tourists. The Defense Department is giving Moshier $5 million over three years to develop it. Moshier says he is on schedule to deliver a prototype to U.S. Special Forces by the end of 2003.
Whenever Moshier and his 10 employees at Millennium Jet Inc. test their device in front of the company?s headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA, they draw astonished looks from passers-by.
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