Aerospace and Defense

A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life

20 July 2018
Source: Kitty Hawk

A next-generation ultralight with the design of an enlarged drone brings the declaration by Dr. Emmett Brown in the 1985 film Back to The Future, “Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads,” a little closer to reality.

Flyer by Kitty Hawk is an ultralight personal flying vehicle. As governed by FAA CFR Part 103 aircraft registration and pilot certification are not required to fly the ultralight aircraft, although it may only be flown over uncongested areas. It is, however, a next-generation personal flying vehicle that is intuitive to operate marking a giant step forward toward making flying part of everyday life for a larger demographic.

Flyer maintains an altitude of just three meters for first rider flights and is governed by a speed limit of just 20 mph. Thrust is generated by electric motors, which makes it considerably more quiet than fossil fuel powered motors.

In an attempt to make Flyer accessible, Kitty Hawk is offering a pre-sale to founder flyers and looking for partners interested in fleets of Flyer for operation in recreational environments around the world.

To contact the author of this article, email

Powered by CR4, the Engineering Community

Discussion – 10 comments

By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and Terms of Use.
Re: A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life
2018-Jul-20 4:31 PM

How many sliced hot dogs will it make when it collides with a crowd?

Re: A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life
2018-Jul-20 5:41 PM

Does it come with a parachute?

(No wing for gliding, no ability to auto-rotate)

Re: A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life
2018-Jul-20 5:42 PM

"partners interested in fleets of Flyer for operation in recreational environments ."

Bumper drones anyone? This should be a non-starter.

Re: A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life
2018-Jul-21 11:16 PM

Battery power??? Weight and range??? Nonsense

ICE's are not necessarily noisy.

I agree with prior comments on gliding capability or a must of auto rotation for a save landing. It is all inspired by the hobby drones. Very limited in the box thinking.

Re: A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life
2018-Jul-22 11:23 PM

This is the wave of the future people. These brushless motors are very dependable as are the solid state speed controls that are available these days. There are some amazing batteries on the market today and I wouldn't be surprised to maybe see one of these fliers being powered by fuel cells with battery backup. It's possible to build quite a bit of redundancy into this type of vehicle. Use your imagination and I'm sure that several other forms of safe transition from powered flight to safe landing in an emergency are such item that comes to mind is back-up motors with independent batteries, allowing for a safe landing.....not to mention something similar to the parachutes that are used in the Cirrus line of aircraft, among others.....I say this because I have been flying RC aircraft for almost twenty years and all of my aircraft use brushless motors. That being said, I have had virtually zero failures of brushless motors. They are much more dependable than brushed motors.

Re: A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life
In reply to #5
2018-Jul-23 11:38 AM

I guess it would be safe to say you'd bet your life on it.

Brushless motors may be reliable, but you have a motor drive to worry about too. The ECS (Electronic Speed Control) for an RC aircraft is a very crude inverter with few parts, hence they tend to be fairly reliable. Larger motor drives while reliable in the sense of running factory machines are very good, would they stand up to an FAA certification process? That's the real question.

I believe these over-sized toys will remain 'experimental' for a long time.

Re: A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life
In reply to #5
2018-Jul-23 5:03 PM

The problem is that good batteries are always in the future. This model has a 12 minute flight time... assuming you are a light-weight. Maybe it's finally a good incentive to get on that diet :) Short of a breakthrough, these things (in a practical sense) are another 30 years out, given our current rate of battery improvement *sigh* Cool concept though.

Re: A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life
2018-Jul-23 7:55 PM

Great Idea.

Filling the skies, with aircraft, the operators of which have:

1. Minimal training.

2. Even less ability.

3. Absolutely no aptitude, to operate in two dimensions, let alone three.

4. A "stuff everyone else" attitude.


Re: A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life
In reply to #8
2018-Jul-23 8:57 PM

"Hey, hold my beer and watch me fly this thing."

Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Re: A Personal Aircraft for Everyday Life
2018-Jul-24 10:33 AM

Fuel cells are probably the answer for a potential energy source. EVs don't work because of human nature. Already in Brissie (Qld. Aust.), I have given several nongs a lift with Electric Scooters. I have loaded them into my ute and dropped them at their work. They "thought" they had enough juice to get to work. Well, it has been empirically proven that "hope" doesn't even cure pregnancy.

So not only do we face a future of streets littered with EVs, whose owners "hoped" they had enough power to get somewhere, but we run a good chance of having drones falling on us at random from the heavens.

We really don't need a HELL. We are quite adept at making our own.

Engineering Newsletter Signup
Get the Engineering360
Stay up to date on:
Our flagship newsletter covers all the technologies engineers need for new product development across disciplines and industries.

Upcoming Events