In 1983, the idea of traveling at unsafe speeds through the forest on a rocket, equipped with anti-gravity and a belly gun, became permanently ingrained, sealed and preserved in my young mind. Growing up in a forest didn’t help deter that dream and neither does this video. Aerofex, from Manhattan Beach, California, has been testing tandem-duct aerial vehicles since 1988 and has successfully run trials in the Mojave desert proving the speed and stability of their most recent prototype.
Initiate Thrust Controls… Go
Aerofex founder Mark De Roche is an Aerospace engineer whose expertise lies in integration of complex systems and ducted-fan propulsion. He’s set on providing a more economical means of flight and, yes, we love his approach. The prototype can reach speeds of 30mph (48 km/h) and heights up to 15 feet (4.5 meters). They use molded composite structures for the build and they’re currently working on a gust alleviation system, fail-safe capabilities, and techniques to reduce momentum drag in forward flight.
On this last flight of the test-bed before rework, the favorable downwash of ducted fans is clearly visible. Dust and debris are pushed away from the pilot, even while flying close to the ground. The ducts prevent tip vortices from forming and isolate the fans from the external flow field. The latter quality permits unperturbed flight around obstacles and when transitioning indoors.
Transitioning indoors! Forget that, I’m taking this on a storm trooper hunt in the woods. Crank the forest scene from Return of the Jedi ALL THE WAY UP and watch this next one.