““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Think VlJs are cheap? Consider these alernatives
They may not take you coast-to-coast, or even to the next state, but two new personal aircraft could offer you a whole lot of fun for your money.
For the price of a well-equipped family sedan (about $30,000), the single-passenger (providing that passenger is also the pilot) Mosquito XE helicopter can whisk you away at speeds up to 80 mph. The diminutive chopper comes in an "easy-to-assemble" kit that requires about 250 hours to put together. (You can also purchase it built and tested for an additional $5,000.)
To operate the XE model (weight limit, 240 pounds), you'll need a fixed-wing pilot's certificate at the very least; but due to a quirk in FAA weight classifications, the float-equipped XEL version qualifies under the agency's ultra-light-aircraft criteria, and therefore requires only a sense of adventure. According to the miniature helicopter's designer, 115 Mosquitoes have been sold since its introduction in 2001, the vast majority in kit form.
Or maybe you're in the mood to spark a rash of UFO sightings in your very own flying saucer. The concept of the Moller M200, which is lifted by a ring of ducted fans, seems like something right out of The Jetsons-so much so that the company has chosen that name for its personal flying disc.
Promotional material for the M200 Jetson-which includes room for you and a guest-claims a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 75 mph. According to company founder Paul Moller, the M200 is the "ultimate all-terrain vehicle," skimming 10 feet above the ground, sand or water, and is simple enough for a child to operate. One use Moller envisions for his creation is as a ship-to-shore taxi, carrying people between the yacht and the beach.
Two versions of the craft are planned: the fully assembled M200G, which is limited by FAA regulations to a flight height of 10 feet; and the M200E, which is offered in kit form. Once completed and certified airworthy, the E version could be flown by certified pilots to altitudes of up to 5,000 feet. Deliveries of the craft-priced from $95,000 to $140,000, depending on the avionics-are expected to begin in mid-2008. The company said its first year's production run of 40 is already spoken for.