The electric Icarus
Nasa have just unveiled a plane they have called the Puffin (I have avoided the obvious jokes). It was announced at an American Helicopter Society meeting in San Francisco. The word helicopter gives you a clue – as it is capable of hovering. The statistics for this single-person mode of transport are that it is 12 feet high, has a wingspan of 13.5 feet, theoretically can cruise at 150 miles per hour and it is suggested reach speeds of more like 300 miles per hour. Some have suggested that it is akin to an Iron Man outfit, as in the recent movie. However, this one is electric rather than rocket propelled.
The ‘cockpit’ is made from carbon composites, weighing 135 kgs, but in addition another 45kgs is accounted for by the lithium phosphate batteries. These are described as state of the art (expensive) and provide a range of about 80 km (50 miles). Initially, no doubt, the target market is covert military operations and so it may be some time before it sees the light of day in the domestic market. See the vodpod on this page for a news broadcast from ABC covering the story.