Colin Furze Flies the Dangerous Skies

To quote our tipster: “Furze is my hero … You just need to know how to weld and have zero consideration for your personal well-being.” We’re not exactly sure that he has no consideration, but [Colin Furze] definitely pulls off some dangerous hacks. This time? Two-engine hoverbike. We don’t have to tell you to watch the video, do we?

Once you’ve been stunned by the sheer chutzpah of this build, feel free to browse through his “making of” videos as well. You’ll learn that the hoverbike has “barely” enough lift to get him off the ground, with no excess weight for things like steering. So he’s “controlling” the bike by shifting his weight.

You’ll also see videos where he has the bike tethered to a swingset, and held by a friend as he learns to steer the thing a little bit. So it’s not totally reckless. Just mostly. You’ll also see broken fan blades and him spinning out of control more than once. All part of the learning process. We’re just glad he didn’t get a fan blade in the foot.

We love his crazy videos, even if the farthest out on a limb we go is forgoing a decoupling capacitor now and then. (Just kidding: decoupling caps are important.) But note that, even if you’re a famous YouTuber, if you play with fire, you will sometimes get burned.

Thanks [Mechanicus] for the tip.

111 thoughts on “Colin Furze Flies the Dangerous Skies

    1. Evel Knievel would be proud of Colin, but we all know how this story will probably end….
      The cardboard/sheet-metal shielding for the prop blades confirms he did not take the risk seriously.

      Also, he is not technically flying like a real aircraft if less than the prop diameter off the ground. The ground effect seems to be providing most of the lift in the video.

      1. Even some kevlar mesh between himself and the blades would have gone a long way towards contributing to his own safety while still respecting weight concerns. This is just reckless.

      2. Ground effect is helping a heck of a lot with stability, too. OTOH, he never quite said that he was flying like an airplane, and ground effect flight is still damn cool to hack together.

      3. They’re apparently motors from an ultralight aircraft, and the guards came with them. So while something a little more substantial would be nice if he had the lift to allow for it, they’re hardly cardboard either. This is actually the job they’re designed for (although designed for a vertical orientation, so they’re probably not expecting your full weight falling onto them)

    2. That was my first thought. I wouldn’t want to be hit by blade shrapnel when one decides to self destruct.
      It’s the middle ground that’s scary. Too high not to hurt yourself but too low to deploy a parachute.
      Still, I’m quite tempted to have a go. I wonder if it counts as an ultralight or comes in under an experimental aircraft.

        1. I see that wikipedia does have that definition, but I’m not really sure how that excludes ground effect vehicles. Isn’t a GEV supported by the air? Certainly Colin’s hoverbike is only supported by air.

          1. If i hover a ping pong ball in the stream of air generated by a hair drier i wouldn’t then call the ping pong ball an aircraft even though technically its supported only by air.

            I think the distinction here is that the air and ONLY the air is providing the reaction force for the aircraft to keep it up. With Colin’s hover-bike part of the reaction force is provided by the air reflecting off the ground back onto the bike much like the hair drier example.

  1. I suspect that Colin is actually an alien living among us.
    His species all look alike and have fantastic healing properties, in addition to some ability to defy laws of consequence.
    So, what we see in each video is one of many (surviving) Colin Furzians.
    B^)

      1. I think Tesla’s machine from The Prestige would be more his style.
        I always know he’s behind a project, even before I read his name.
        The difference between genius and insanity is only dictated by success.

          1. Hey HAD. Please fix your report comment button.
            It is too easy to press it. There should be a ‘are you sure’ prompt or something. It’s easy to do accidently while scrolling with the phone. As the page loads it ‘clicks’ on it if an image bumps the page.
            Maybe there is a threshold of ‘N’ number of Presses before a comment is taken down but it is easy to do accidentally.

    1. Or the worlds coolest/most dangerous way to mow the lawn.
      Who wants a to use a weed-whacker when a Blade Chopper will do just as well.
      Is this really real? I want to watch it in real life, preferably from inside one of those Mythbusters blast/shrapnel resistant rooms.

  2. you know with a pair of vertical tail fins for drag you could probibly have a modicum of stability in forward flight. you could probibly place them so that leaning one way or the other while in forward “flight” would pitch them such as to give you some yaw control. they need not be heavy, carve em out of a block of foam.

  3. Looks like he mostly stays within ground effect, which is probably why he was able to at least keep it mostly vertical without any controls. Of course the problem of how to stabilize this craft was solved by Sikorsky, but the technical challenge of making helicopter rotor hubs is probably beyond even Colin’s awesome maker skillz. You’d also need a bit more power since the control mechanism takes away some of your engine power.

    1. Absolutely, ducted fans are the way to go…

      Remember the ones they made in an episode of mythbusters, from styrofoam?

      That would add a significant ammount of lift, and maybe a few kg’s to the weight…

      1. If these are for powered parafoil used, then the ducts don’t help. They would get similar thrust in a smaller diameter, but there’s a person attached right there, blocking the inlet. So they need a prop large enough to not be affected by the blockage, and with it they get enough thrust. If there’s enough thrust there’s no need to add the weight of a duct.

    1. Did you see his previous large project? He dug a bunker into his backyard. I think he lives in an abandoned mock town like they used for nuclear bomb testing. Or maybe an aged care estate where everyone is deaf.

      1. He lives on an ordinary street in Stamford, Lincolnshire. Apparently his neighbours don’t mind too much, as he does most of his noisier things in a workshop on a farm a few miles away.

  4. So he doesn’t have enough lift for control surfaces but he does have enough for a rocket launcher? Glad to see he has his priorities straight! :-)

    Why is one engine upside down compared to the other? An attempt at counter rotation?

  5. now that furze has shown he’s not afraid of flying he should build an ionic lifter craft large enough to carry him. there have been steerable variants made with pivoting lifter sections which would be ideal for a vehicle.

    1. Lifters don’t have the trust to weight to scale up properly, many have tried for decades but have struggled to lift much more than a small rodent, while being externally powered. A self powered, 80kg payload lifter is most likely impossible.

      You can increase thrust by increasing density of the elements, but at a point they arc over and you loose thrust completely.

      Cool tech, but unfortunately not much more than a fun HV experiment.

  6. Honestly… I came to the comments to bitch about how stupidly reckless this is, but I can’t.

    So cool! You might (probably will) die or maim yourself man, but why not try to do something amazing? You flew on something you built yourself. Congrats and good luck.

    1. “A parachute not opening… that’s a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine… having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that’s the way I wanna go!”

      This guy is going to work his way into Frank Drebin’s heart….

        1. You’ll need the rear drive of a BMW or Moto Guzzi motorcycle. The gearbox output shaft connects to a universal joint, thence to a shaft which has a pinion at the end, connecting to a crown wheel. Well capable of transmitting 60 or more HP.

    1. I was thinking along the same lines. One MASSIVE jet engine for huge amounts of thrust with ducts taking that thrust and pointing it downwards. Some heavy duty servos to aim those jets and you get some stability control and the ability to move forwards with ploughing the ground in front of you as you pass. I feel the need… The need for A Kickstarter!

  7. So…. This is amazing. I’ve always wanted to do something like this.

    After reading all of the comments, yes… it is certainly a death machine. But how could this be improved? Would there be any benefit of having a stronger, central engine with axles going out to each propeller? If any of you guys could do this, how would you do it differently?

    I like the idea of how it’s just… two engines. This is to quadracopters like the hoverboard is to segways…. it totally relies on human weight distribution for stability and steering.The simplicity definitely opens up some possibilities

    1. ” But how could this be improved? ”
      Just my random musings,
      as mentioned earlier, ducted propellers
      If it is too weak to even allow a seat, MORE POWER! B^)
      I have no idea, if the propellers are even the right type for this… (more blades?, longer blades? different pitch? different RPM?), (put some science behind it)
      My guess is that the losses incurred by using gearboxes and bearings from a central engine would require a larger (heavier/thirstier) engine, besides, having a bit a variance between the two engines (separate throttles) could increase maneuverability.
      Maybe if the engines/props were angled slightly outward from the pilot (maybe they already are) would add a touch of stability.
      engine control through a MEMS equipped microprocessor

      And, as all hover board videos show, he HAS to demo it over water! B^)

    1. If you watch even more closely in this shot, toward the bottom-right corner, you can see the “Single string Tether Test” descriptor, that you didn’t manage to notice.

    1. There was an active control system, and it was wearing a tie. The man is clearly a genius at driving unstable vehicles and there are plenty of indications in the films that he takes a careful step-by-step approach to the learning process. Still very dangerous though.

  8. My $0.02 worth. With those 2 engines and some proper engineering advice he could have built easily built a STOL aircraft capable of 100mph+ cruising speeds with near all weather capability. VTOL is way overrated and will be impractical for decades to come. A strong gust of wind would have toppled him over in an instant.

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