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News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

This Crazy New Tech Contest Is Set on Finally Making Jetpacks a Practical Reality


President Franklin Roosevelt's aviation chief had a New Deal plan to get everyday Americans up in the air. But he needed help.

So Eugene Vidal sparked a competition among the nation's tinkerers, engineers and aircraft makers. His challenge: build a "rugged, safe and simple" aircraft that would be as easy to drive as a car and cost roughly the same, about US$700.

"In a short time," he predicted, "America will become a nation of pilots."

It didn't. But more than 80 years later, a new wave of flight buffs is doubling down, arguing that breakthroughs in propulsion, materials and autonomy have opened up a new path to that old dream.

On Tuesday, a group called GoFly, funded by aerospace giant Boeing, launched a US$2 million competition to spur the development of jet packs, hoverboards, human-bearing drones, flying mopeds and assorted other flying objects for personal use.

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