If you've ever wanted to ride a hovering motorbike like the ones featured in Return of the Jedi, you'll soon be able to get one step closer to your dream – provided you have the spare coin lying around.
A California company called Aerofex has come up with the Aero-X, a two-passenger vehicle that's something like a hovercraft crossed with a jet ski, and it says it plans to start shipping them to customers in 2017.
"By reducing costs and simplifying training, Aerofex will make flight an affordable reality for businesses ready to employ a multitude of low-altitude applications and for consumers eager to take to the sky," the company claims.
Just to be clear, by "affordable" they mean it will cost you $85,000.
Still, it sounds like you'll be in for a hell of a ride for the money. Aerofex claims the Aero-X can achieve an airspeed of up to 45mph (72kph) while hovering at an altitude of up to 12 feet (3.66m) above the ground – although Aerofex suggests most riders will feel comfortable at around 5 feet.
The vehicle itself is built from molded carbon fiber and fiberglass composite materials, and is held aloft by twin ducted fans, positioned at its front and rear. The fans are powered by a rotary engine that can generate 240 horsepower at 5,000rpm.
"Like a hovercraft it uses the benefit of the surface below it to provide lift, but unlike a hovercraft it does not rely on that surface for stability, so it is able to fly higher," Aerofex says.
Piloting the Aero-X feels natural, the company claims, but it takes some skill. All buyers will be given a weekend training course to learn how to maneuver. Also, the vehicle isn't suited to every terrain. To really put it through its paces, you'll want to take it to a wide-open, undulating terrain, like a desert.
"It is not well suited to mountainous terrain or where big shifts in altitude occur," Aerofex says. "One way to think of it is as hovercraft – if you wouldn't go there on a hovercraft, then you wouldn't want to on the Aero-X either."
Oh, and about that price tag: you have plenty of time to save up. To reserve an Aero-X today, you need only plunk down a $5,000 deposit, then start hoarding Dogecoins. In three years' time, you'll surely have enough to take deposit on your Aero-X and buy a six-pack with the change.* ®
* The Reg intends this article for informational purposes only and it does not constitute financial advice.