Safety Not Guaranteed: Flying Motorcycle Might Be Coming Soon

According to [Victor Tangermann] over at Futurism, JetPack Aviation is showing a prototype of its P2 Speeder flying motorcycle and it looks both awesome and — to quote Ralph Nader — unsafe at any speed. The prototype can lift 1,000 pounds, travel at up to 500 miles per hour, and cover up to 400 miles. We assume those things are not at the same time, of course.

As you might expect, the thing isn’t FAA-approved yet and we wonder if it ever will be. The company plans remote control flights later this year and, even later, actual piloted flights. You can see more from Mayman Aerospace which is related to JetPack (which, of course, makes jet packs).

We’ve seen this design for a few years now (see the video below). We’ve also seen other flying car designs and the link that never seem to actually get beyond the artist’s rendering stage. Will the P2 be different? Who can say? If you are old enough to recall, there was a time when every year was touted as the year recorded home video was coming, but it never materialized. Until it did with the VHS and Beta tape decks.

So all these flying concepts may or may not — um — get off the ground, but eventually, one of them will. After all, jet packs seemed like science fiction and they are still pretty rare and limited, but JetPack did manage to get something working.

50 thoughts on “Safety Not Guaranteed: Flying Motorcycle Might Be Coming Soon

    1. Accidents turn organs into ketchup instead of being reusable?

      Does the world really use such %/$%””=!”?!)”(@”!

    2. having flown ultralights (planes, PPGs, and autogyros) for 30+ years, some of the worst accidents Ive witnessed or heard about happened below the 50ft line. Unless microairships take over, guaranteed trips to the hospital come with pretty much all flying over ~10 feet high or over ~20mph

      300-500ft is the floor for most ultralight ballistic chutes. As far as Im concerned, EVERY one of these flying machines should have one and their flight protocols should be to attain and maintain altitude above their equipment’s rated deployment point.

      1. Lower than that, most casualties happen at the ground… if we can just take the ground out of the equation so there’s nothing to hit, air travel would be 99.999% safe.

        Sounds like ballistic chutes could be better though, need a “zero-zero” iteration. I mean do you really really know you’re in trouble until the ground is a lot closer?? I bet a lot of pilots are thinking they could land on that nice field right there, until they’re on top of it with no power for a go around and it’s grape vines or something.

        1. A ballistic chute won’t do a lick of good if a sudden air gust decides to flip your hang glider over in the middle of the landing process. I lost a good friend and mentor that way.

          This was a “give us investment money” puff piece.

    3. Holy $#!t Batman

      I’ve been riding for decades. Stopped riding the sport bikes in my late 20s. But was able to ride some pretty fast bikes over 150 mph on the autobahn in my day. So a flying motorcycle at airplane speed a child’s dream come true. Now that’s not a realistic idea of a daily driver but the ability would probably be there. There danger level is always there. There are still people who are afraid of driving cars, motorcycles and riding bicycles. So an initial fear of a flying motorcycle is to be expected. But my inner child is ready for the reality to get here. So even if I have to wait until my old age I will get on a flying motorcycle.

      1. I think that riding a “flying mortorcycle” at 150 MPH is probably safer than a standard motorcycle on a highway at the same speed. First, the lanes are bigger. Second, there are more escape routes from any potential collision. Third, if done at a safe altitude, it’s a lot easier to recover from an external influence that displaces you from your intended trajectory. And fourth, it gets even safer if you have an emergency parachute you can deploy if things really get out of hand.

        To all the people who say “thank god people can’t just go flying their cars around today”, I would direct them to 14 CFR Part 103, which is what allows people in the US to fly vehicles with certain restrictions, without any license, type certificate, or even required training.

  1. Wasn’t this type stuff done in the distant past by one of the jet type labs, maybe Nasa? Seem to remember some sort of rocket platform with a pilot on top. Anyway, unless it is electric, good luck.

  2. I wouldn’t bet my life on it… but give me a ballistic parachute in a backpack, so that I can bail out if the thing malfunctions, then I’m interested. Does such a thing exist?

    Besides the obvious risk to the riders, you wouldn’t want one falling on you… but for rural areas I could see this sort of thing being lots of fun, and useful too.

  3. “The prototype can lift 1,000 pounds, travel at up to 500 miles per hour, and cover up to 400 miles.” Regardless of the plausibility of any of their claims, what the linked article actually says is “The company says the final iteration will be able to lift 1,000 pounds, cover 400 miles, and reach speeds of over 500 mph…”

    There doesn’t seem to be any information about whether their prototypes can do anything at all, beyond softballing breathless interviews and press releases referring to a “working prototype”.

    1. It doesn’t say the 500mph is in level flight. Quite a lot of things can hit speeds of up to 500mph if they don’t have much in the way of wings and have far enough to fall.

      They make a jet-pack that has 395lbf of thrust with 2 engines, so conceivably it would have 1580lbf with 8 and the whole lot with some fuel could weigh 580lb.

      There doesn’t appear to be much of a screen, I wouldn’t want to do 2 hours facing into a 200mph wind.

    2. My concept lifts 1500lb, goes 600mph and has 1200 mile range….
      My prototype has achieved scale altitude of 500 feet, scale speed of 200mph and scale endurance of 2 minutes until the lego pilot ejected for reasons of his own, he didn’t have a parachute, but I guess he knows he bounces.

    3. Day and a half later and the article stands uncorrected.

      It’s one thing for HaD to spread this blatant vaporware, investor-bait garbage under the flimsy guise of “tech news”. It’s another for HaD to completely misquote the article, and thereby further exaggerate the already exaggerated claims.

      Also disappointed nobody in the comments has claimed they coulda made their motorcycle fly with a 555…

  4. What people don’t realize is that the troposphere is a very unfriendly place to be. If there are 100,000 aircraft (whether rotorcraft or not) driven by unskilled people everyday you will have 50,000 eventual fatalities IMHO. I’ve been in clear air turbulence at fairly low altitude that nearly flipped the plane inverted and have stood in a microburst that knocked me off my feet. Those pretty puffy, calm and tall clouds that look like they would be fun to fly through are called towering cumulus clouds that have chimneys that can lift you 10,000 feet in a minute or smash you downward as well. The chimneys contain rain and frozen hail that circulates within the clouds and never hits the ground. Virga.. (careful how you spell that). Just because it has propellers instead of wings doesn’t mean that the laws of physics and the atmosphere risks don’t apply. And no, a computer auto pilot won’t protect you from anything. Then again there’s prop strike (birds, etc.) and motor failure, graveyard spirals, etc. The biggest reason small planes are safe is because pilots are very well educated in weather issues and when conditions are bad they don’t fly at all. Next, you have people who want to hotrod and show off. Their last words are ” hey Jim, watch this!”
    No matter the predictions from popular mechanics from the 1940s until today, it’s going to be a long time before the average person has a sky speeder.

    1. The AI will cover accident avoidance. It’ll be part of the insurance plan. We’re easily 5 years from seeing these in US airspace, considering the S.L.O.W. pace of the F.A.A.

      1. Not necessarily AI. In unmanned drone development for delivery services, there is already a traffic control system (Unmanned Traffic Management, or UTM) for selected airspace below 400′, that involves 4-dimensional slots – you reserve a piece of space-time that ensures that nobody will be closer than a specified separation from you, within a specified time slot. There may be some AI involved in maintaining your adherence to your flight plan, but the control system is centralized. Coordination is over the cellular network. I can see this being expanded to manned vehicles as well, but most likely, nobody will be allowed to fly freely in this airspace, ever. I expect this will require further restriction on Part 103 (ultralight) flying, to keep THEM out of this airspace, if only by clarifying the definition of “congested areas” in 14 CFR Part 103.

      1. Not trying to be argumentative, but there are aircraft that use jets directly for lift. I can only think of the VTOL fighter aircraft that transition into forward flight, but they do exist.

  5. What all these companies forget is a safe and practical vehicle for personal flight was already invented in the 1980’s. The Williams Aerial Systems Platform or WASP. AKA The Flying Pulpit.

    It used a slightly modified Williams microjet, like was used in cruise missiles and the BD-5 jet airplane. The changes made were to make it work better vertically.

    The WASP and WASP II had the single engine mounted vertically inside, with a platform to stand on beside it. the housing also shrouded the sides of the platform.

    Flight controls were simple. Two vertical twist grips. One controlled the throttle, the other controlled vanes in the exhaust stream for rotation/yaw. Directional control was by leaning.

    Flight time was in excess of 30 minutes and speeds were quite good.

    If made today with current lightweight materials the flight time and range could be extended or the payload increased, or a combination of them.

    Safety could be made better with a compressed gas ejected parachute for the pilot and a rocket ejected one for the flying platform. Such a parachute for a person has already been tested and proven years ago by a motorcycle stuntman who rode a bike off the edge of a rock quarry and parachuted safely to the bottom. (The motorcycle wasn’t given a chute so it smashed.)

    A flying platform like the WASP would have many uses. For SAR it could get a paramedic into places impossible for a helicopter to land and dangerous to be lowered by cable from a hovering helicopter.

    For military use they could enable an assault team to fly in via multiple routes without putting a helicopter and crew at risk. If one gets shot down it would be a loss of one soldier VS an entire team, helicopter, and crew. To secure a building, soldiers flying WASPs could simultaneously set down on all sides of a building and the roof, possibly even breaking into upper floors via windows if the WASPs have autopilots to maintain a stable hover. Auto-piloted WASPs could bring large amounts of supplies (cargo capacity + weight of typical human pilot) to anywhere within their range.

    So why when the ideal vehicle was designed and built almost 40 years ago, do people want to reinvent the personal verti-jet? So far the best of the lot is the Zapata Flyboard Air, which looks like it takes a lot of practice to fly, and excellent leg strength. There’s no way it can have the carrying capacity of a WASP. Richard Browning’s jet suit requires superb arm and shoulder strength. It and the Flyboard Air require strapping a lot of equipment to the pilot’s body. Flying a WASP was step on, start the engine, fly.

    Take the old and proven design then update it with current technology to make it even better.

    Back in its time, the WASP was well enough known a vehicle like it made an appearance in the short lived TV series “The Powers of Matthew Starr”. What was in that episode of the series was obviously inspired by the WASP, and also obviously a prop suspended by a crane. It would’ve been really cool if Williams had provided a real WASP and pilot for the episode. ISTR the plot involved the flying platform being fake and Matthew levitating it with his telekinesis.

    1. Ideal for what?
      The gravity suit seems much much better suited to a great many things than a flying platform you stand on no matter how modern the incarnation of that idea, not that I’m against a modernized version, I’m sure it would have some uses.

      Ultimately though a flying personal car/bike is ‘never’ going to happen – too noisy, any unreliability will cost more lives and cause more damage than just the pilot, the fuel costs will be astronomical, and many folks can’t even be trusted to drive safely…

      There really isn’t anything on the horizon to make such a thing safe and practical enough for it to be anything but a toy for some time to come. The gravity suit type concepts on the other hand might start making more of an appearance in day to day life as while its noisy and far from safe the risks to anything but the pilot are low – the mass of a human with very little added isn’t sufficient to cause much damage in an accident most of the time, its also very agile and needs almost no space to land – still its not a practical day to day transport..

    2. The Wasp had one turbine, the flyboard air has five turbines. Which do you think has a lower chance of catastrophic failure?

      All of your complaints about the flyboard air indicate that youve no knowledge of the [Zapata EZFly]( which is essentially your WASP updated with a safer 5 jet config.

      Dont get hung up on the flight time differences. Thats an issue of fuel tank size and FAA regulations the WASP wasnt subjected to limiting modern efforts to 5 gallon capacity.

      At 0.47 lb/lbf·h (13.31 g/kN·s) and 630lb of thrust 30 min in the wasp would have burned around 158# or ~23 gallons of fuel.

        1. Crash? He had a dropout while trying to land on a refueling boat and ended up in the drink. Far cry from a catastrophic failure. Hell thats how he ended many of his early flights intentionally.

    3. If military procurement and senator pork barrelling couldn’t find this solution a problem, then I guess it’s gonna stay as just a cool movie prop and toy for years.

  6. “Flying [personal vehicle] coming [timeframe from 2 to 5 years]” would have brought us the autoplane literally a century ago, as in 1917 Curtiss announced his iteration, that never really flew but made a few hops. Thus Curtiss can be seen as the inventor of the overhyping and underdelivering flying personal vehicles. Source and more examples of early soon-to-be flying cars:

  7. pause at 0:39
    was that really the best place they could comeup with to mount those two jet turbine air intakes? get they want downward thrust at center mass, but ductwork maybe?
    Pause at 0:58 so there are FIVE jet turbines mounted ALL TOGETHER in the middle of the craft…that will be a wobbly bit o fun wont it. No need to spread those out at all.

    and finally, While the artists masturbatory efforts did imply two small turbines at the tail acting as forward thrusters…they never animated them in ignition, not even at 0:30 when the craft accelerates forward quickly.

    Back to the drawing board!

  8. People can’t even handle cars and not even regular motorcycles (been driving cars and motorcycles for 30 years)….

    Let’s add even more things, people can crash…

    Also, a 400 mph+ 50ft off the ground having a catastrophic system failure and slamming into a highway or a house… Fun times ahead… I’ll make popcorn..

  9. Having taken a motorcycle over 160mph, I can safely say if that vehicle was take to 500 mph there would not be a rider on it when it landed. Not near aerodynamic enough to even get to 200. If it looked more like a Hayabusa then perhaps.

  10. Just imagine the idiots on the road using these or other flying debris. The people in the ground will now have to worry about debris from accidents falling on them and potentially killing people in the ground. Flying vehicles should never be allowed until they are fully autonomous and takes the human element out if it. People are idiots behind the wheel.

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