De Lackner DH-4 "Aerocycle" flying platform was the first of several one-man flying machines the Army evaluated during the late 1950s and early 1960s. It had a top speed of 120 km/h and was surprisingly stable despite its rather ungainly appearance. Four small air bags served as a landing gear, though this system was ultimately abandoned in favor of helicopter-type metal skids:
Hiller VZ-1 "Pawnee" (1955)
The craft was intended to explore both the practicality of the ducted fan as a propulsion unit and the potential military value of the flying platform as a reconnaissance and transport vehicle. The Army was favorably impressed by the VZ-1's performance and ordered a couple evolutionary prototypes built.
Chrysler VZ-6 (1959)
In 1957 Pentagon asked plane and car manufacturers to submit bids for a "flying Jeep." Chrysler was one of the companies to take up the project:
A few other "air-jeep" concepts from this time: Piasecki 59 / VZ-8P
Here is the Flying Platform VAK-191 test:
The most unusual was perhaps "Convair Model 49" from 1967: (maybe young George Lucas saw it, and got inspired in a certain direction?)
Lighter fare takes off better:
Keeping it simple keeps it in the air
According to Popular Mechanics, there are currently two models competing for attention of the market: both are about as bare-bones as a flying machine can get: an engine to spin two sets of rotor blades, and a chair hanging underneath. $50,000 is all it takes to cast off your Earth-chains.
But wait! Recently there were some good advances in the "Personal Wings" category:
"Gryphon" is not exactly personal flight vehicle, but rather an empowered parachute. It's been designed by ESG (Elektroniksystem-und-Logistik-GmbH). The Gryphon enables parachutists to fly through the air at a high speed before opening their chutes, so they could be dropped miles away and fly to their intended targets.
And finally, someone who got tired of waiting for big corporations to come up with R&D and justification for personal flight:
Yves Rossy from Switzerland developed wings which allow him to fly - spectacularly! (mainly because of 4 attached model-engines) With these, he can fly at over 200km/hr and conquer mountain summits.
"During the flight, Yves's body becomes the likes of a bird and, other than a gas handle, Yves does not ride his wings but truly flies them, using various light body movements that he has learned to handle with perfection. These body movements are equal to those that birds use to fly..."
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