Commuting by Gyroplane continued
You guys might remember the outrageous Gyroplane story we posted a couple of weeks ago about a super-gizmo that flew and drove a guy from his home in Concord, Ca to his workplace in San Jose. After checking it out, we found he still work to do.
But it turns out there's another group that is real close -- or so it seems, based on the pictures they're sending us, confident proclamations that they're just "days" away, and some email correspondence. See first picture here of the Butterfly gyro, which is the base contraption behind what they're calling the "Super Sky Cycle." The Butterfly gyro is only for flying. See below, though, for pictures of the Super Sky Cycle converted version, designed both to fly and drive. Here's a diagram of how it works, from the company called New Horizons Components, based in Bridgeport, Texas.
Depending on the model, it'll cost you between $20,000 and $50,000, says New Horizon's Heron Souza. And it'll only take you 3 to 5 minutes to convert from plane to car (you just push the blades in), he says. Is he and his company dreaming? Maybe, but they're in rapid development, and there might just be something to this.
When we asked Heron whether he'd gotten state permission for use of these things on the roads, he responded: "Driving will not be a problem as it is registered as homebuilt motorcycle, thanks to Harley Davidson and their political pressures." He said state guidelines wouldn't differ much from federal guidelines, which were the ones he was citing. Though he still hasn't furnished us a full scope of the regulations that he said he'd...
...try to get us.
Anyway, here's a great snippet from the FAQ section of a related site, which has all kinds of other useful information about the gyro, including videos of them flying in the sky.
Q. How does your Super Sky Cycle meet FAA and DOT standards?
A. Since the builder of the Experimental kit is the manufacturer, there are no certification standards. The FAA and DOT standards he must meet are much less stringent than those required for manufacturer-built aircraft or automobiles.
Q. If a airplane flying car towed the wings, what do you do with the rotor blades?
A. They fold and fit on top of the Super Sky Cycle or Super Sky Car.
Q. Does your propeller turn on the ground?
A. A clutch disengages the propeller so it does not turn, and the engine that drove the propeller then drives the rear wheels.
Q. How fast can your flying cars go?
A. The single-seat Monarch gyroplane can fly 70 mph with a 66-horsepower engine. The two-place Super Sky Car, based on the Golden Butterfly or Turbo Golden Butterfly gyroplane, can fly 110-150 mph with a 190 to 300 horsepower engine. Estimated top ground speeds are 60 mph and 70 mph respectively. [Emphasis ours: Wow, this is fast, if true]
Q. What is the advantage to having a Super Sky Cycle flying car?
A. You „hangarš your gyro at home in the garage, and fly it from the airport. At your destination, you don‚t have to rent a carųbecause you brought it with you.
Ok, let's cut to the chase. What's the bottleneck? Why aren't these things around yet? We asked Heron:
Here's his answer:
He said he wants the Sky Cycle to be ready and fully functional by the Oshkosh air event in late July and the Sky Car (a two-seat version) by the Sun-N-Fun event in 2006, but that all is "pending investments that are pretty close to be available."
He said the aircraft drives on the prop, which is not possible on the roads, but that it already flies and drives. The equipment to make the prop stop and run the gears to the rear wheels has been made (the gears are already in place), and that a test has showed that they need a different set of U-joints, to avoid excessive vibration, and those are about to be installed.
"So, it all depends on some money and time (weeks) for the first Sky Cycle gets on the roads and couple of months for the Sky Car to follow up. The new nose gear is been ceramic coated and as soon as it come back and tested we are going to take the machine apart for finishing (anodizing and painting). That done, all goes back together with the engine in place for the first flying tests."
We wish him luck!