Google Co-founder Larry Page is putting hundreds of millions of dollars into developing a feasible flying car but it looks as if SkyRunner, a small company based in LA, has already beaten him to it.
The SkyRunner MK 3.2 all-terrain vehicle has just been awarded S-LSA classification by the US Federal Aviation Administration. This means that it is officially recognised as a light aircraft.
"This is one of the most significant milestones in our company's history," said Stewart Hamel, SkyRunner's CEO and Founder.
Developed and honed through input from a host of very different sources -- from the US military and extreme sports fans to light aircraft enthusiasts, off-roaders, and social media -- the SkyRunner, at first glance, looks like an off-road, go-kart or UTV with room for a passenger behind the driver.
Built with an exposed tubular steel exoskeleton and with carbon fiber and aircraft-grade aluminum panels, the only clue to its true capabilities is the large rear-mounted propeller.
When the going gets too tough, it can deploy a parachute wing and take off to a height of 10,000 feet and maintain a speed of 45mph (about 72 km/h). Once in the air, toggle left or right to steer and drop or raise the accelerator pedal to ascend or descend.
Though only this week attaining full certification, the SkyRunner has been in development and testing for several years, winning a host of fans in the process. For example, Dan Johnson, President of the Light Aircraft Manufacturing Association, called the vehicle:
"A full-on macho pulse-pounder that catches the interest of people."
And now that it is fully certified, full-on production can begin and a backlog of existing orders can be cleared. "This airworthiness certification is monumental, as it now triggers serial production, creates jobs, and makes for happy customers," said Daryl Ballard, SkyRunner Shop Foreman.
A stock SkyRunner retails for $119,000 but there are also a host of optional extras, from carbon fiber racing seats ($1,899) to a set of augmented reality driving and flight goggles that offer a head up display and facial protection ($750).
And for those that live in areas that suffer extremes of weather, from torrential rain to heavy snow, the car can also be specified with pro caterpillar tracks for an extra $5,200.