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A start-up engineering firm backed by Google co-founder Larry Page has released footage of its prototype electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft in flight over a lake in Northern California.
The Kitty Hawk Flyer — developed by Mountain View, California-based Kitty Hawk Corp. — is powered by eight electrically-driven rotors mounted on the underside of a web-like airframe. In the center of the frame is the “pilot” seat, which looks a lot like a jet ski or motorcycle seat. The aircraft’s controls are built into two handlebars at the front of the seat.
At the bottom of the frame are two large pontoons — as this first version of the aircraft is specifically designed to fly over water.
The co-lead engineers on the Kitty Hawk Flyer are Cameron Robertson and Todd Reichert — who both worked on the AeroVelo project that won the AHS International Sikorsky prize for human-powered flight with the “Atlas” aircraft.
The company said the Flyer can automatically hold an altitude of up to 15 feet, and is classified as an FAR 103 Ultralight, so it doesn’t require registration or a pilot certificate. It said the aircraft is for recreational use only, and can only be flown in uncongested areas.
According to Kitty Hawk, the aircraft will be available for sale by the end of this year — with a different look and feel to that shown in the video.