Famous flying-car inventor Paul Moller, who was fined in 2003 by the US authorities for selling "fraudulent unregistered stock" on the internet, is now selling his personal flying saucer prototype on eBay. Our advice: buyer beware.
According to Moller, the online auction is an opportunity to acquire "a piece of aviation history that is absolutely unique”. The eBay listing states that "the M200X volantor was the first VTOL aircraft of its kind (flying car) to fly successfully and did so repeatedly during the 1980s".
Anyone considering a bid should perhaps consider what the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said of Moller's $5m-worth of online stock issues in the '90s and early this century:
"Moller... made false and misleading statements... Moller also misled investors... [and made] misrepresentations and omissions knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth."
Moller accepted without complaint the SEC's view in 2003 that his company owned no intellectual property of any value.
As of publication, it appears that various incognito bidders have pumped the eBay saucer price to $20k - but the reserve is not yet met.
Here's Moller's rather unconvincing vid of a test flight in 1989:
(You need Flash and YouTube permission to see it.)
Moller said last year that he was starting production on an M200 saucer intended to stay within ten feet of the ground in order to avoid FAA certification issues. This was to be available this year. In press releases, the company says it is "in the process of completing its fourth" M200, and it is "on track" to complete 40 of them in 2009.
In the latest company newsletter (pdf), Moller says:
The two additional M200G airframes are now complete and awaiting outfitting with engines, electronics, and undercarriage. A third is under construction. The quadruple redundant stability system is progressing well under the direction of our in-house electronic design consultant. As a critical path element to the completion of any of the M200-class vehicles, it is one of our top priorities in addition to engine production.
The accompanying pic, captioned "M200s in foreground" shows the original M200 and two discs of moulded plastic with holes in them, presumably the "additional airframes" which need nothing more than paint, seats, engines, electronics, canopies, undercarriage and critical, yet-to-be-produced stability system to be ready.
According to Moller, the "Smithsonian Institute"* have "expressed interest" in his machines, but he didn't think anything prior to the M200 was worthy of exhibition. But he will now sell the original M200 on eBay rather than handing it over for posterity.
We wouldn't normally give Moller any more coverage, but there's just a chance that someone might genuinely be thinking of bidding, so we thought we'd offer a bit of background. ®
*This mysterious body may well have done so. The US National Air and Space Museum, where the Wright Brothers' biplane and many other famous aircraft are on show, is of course run by the Smithsonian Institution.