They have been a staple of science-fiction films for decades, from the iconic speeder bikes in “Return of the Jedi” to the jet bike from “Looper.”
Now a California company said it’s taking orders for a real life flying motorcycle powered by five modified jet engines on the base of the aircraft.
Dubbed the “Speeder,” the $380,000 vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft will reach at least 150 miles per hour, have a 45-mile range and be able to travel as high as 15,000 feet when it debuts next year, according to David Mayman, the CEO of JetPack Aviation, a company that creates and sells personal jet packs.
The speeds and heights may sound far-fetched, but company officials said they are already testing a one-third scale prototype. The plan, they said, is to roll out 20 full-size Speeders ready for customers next year.
For those bold enough to ride one, the aircraft comes standard with a safety strap.
“This is a compact machine, like a motorcycle, that can take off vertically from your front lawn or driveway and land on the other side of the city in a similar position,” said Mayman, who famously made a jet-pack flight around the Statue of Liberty in 2015. “That kind of convenience and size is what we’ve all dreamed about, but this idea has always been treated like science fiction.”
Increasingly, flying cars, motorcycles and other personal craft are no longer the stuff of imagination. The Speeder is the latest entry into the race to create autonomous flying vehicles, with companies such as Uber, Airbus and Volocopter already developing them. In Dubai, police unveiled a flying motorbike known as the Scorpion in 2017.
Unlike with conventional aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration does not require a pilot’s license to operate a “powered ultralight” craft. The agency’s rules require instead that ultralights operate during daylight hours in open areas and limit their use to sport and recreation.
Mayman said there will be both recreational and military and civil uses for the Speeder. In military settings, the aircraft could be used to transport heavy loads or move soldiers on and off the battlefield, especially in areas too dangerous for helicopters.