Well, we all dream of a flying car. The 1964/65 NYC Worlds fair practically promised us one by now. While ungainly prototypes have popped up now and then, only to be quickly forgotten like a spring snow, there's something new.
You may even get a chance to drive this thing - if you're French and a member of the Special Forces.
The French do a lot of, shall we say, business in countries that are crawling with terrorists. We don't hear much about it because, quite frankly, they don't want to publicize every move they make. Some countries are not looking for that sort of, um, reputation.
So, for example, did you know that there was a French secret service agent held hostage in Somalia about a year ago? The French launched a daring night-time rescue operation that was ruined by the sound of the choppers sweeping in from the sea.
No, this is not James Bond stuff, this is real life. Americans are not the only ones blundering about in third-world hellholes trying to keep their people in one piece.
Frustrated, the French decided to do something about it. And why not? It's not as though terrorism is going away any time soon.
The French procurement office (Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA)) tracked down a startup, Vaylon, led by a fellow named Jerome Dauffy, which previously had tendered the vehicle as a possible addition to the French armed forces. Not only did they agree to come up with a prototype, but they already have delivered it. It runs on ordinary gasoline, with flight costs expected to be roughly €20 - €50 per hour, roughly what one would expect to spend on a light plane.
The vehicle is known as Pegasus. It is designed to take off in 50-100 meters, fly at a height of 3,000 meters and land under 10 meters. That is pretty STOL. The company claims that it can stay in the air up to three hours at 60-80 kilometers per hour. It combines the driveability of a dune buggy and the flight capability of a powered hang glider.
The Vaylon company just supplies the vehicle - the military decides what, if any, weapons to load it with. One can easily see the utility in extracting somebody behind enemy lines or descending upon an enemy in a night-time assault. Or maybe just crossing the bay to that isolated beach you can see invitingly on the fourth of July when everything else is packed!
It's a little unclear if the vehicle will be available for private purchase. However, it seems possible that it will. The vehicle is expected to sell in the neighborhood of €100,000 ($135k).
Watch the video and see if you want one.
From the youtube page:
The Vaylon company develops an innovative solution of mobility able to move quickly on earth and/or in the air, in an autonomous way and in any circumstances (overcome obstacles (rivers, cliffs, dunes...), lack of roads infrastructures, natural disaster).
Light all-roads vehicle, side by side, double type-approval, road/air capacity, STOL (Short Take Off and Landing)
Road speed: 65 mph
Air speed: 35- 50 mph
Altitude: low altitude flight, to more than 3000 m (10.000ft)
Payload: From 160 kg -- 350 Lbs (civil type-approval) to 250 kg -- 550 Lbs
Minimum autonomy depending on configuration and loads: 3h
The Vaylon Pegase will be available in Europe in the second quarter of 2015.