Air Force challenge gives a lift to ‘flying car’ technologies

The U.S. Air Force’s tech incubator has given the go-ahead for 11 design concepts aimed at pushing the frontier for aircraft that can take off and land vertically — and at least two of the concepts have roots in the Seattle area.

Among the teams selected to advance in AFWERX’s High-Speed VTOL Concept Challenge are Jetoptera, based in Edmonds, Wash.; and VerdeGo Aero, which is based in Florida but has Bainbridge Island’s Erik Lindbergh as co-founder and executive chairman. Lindbergh is the grandson of aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh.

AFWERX’s challenge focuses on technologies that the military could use in VTOLs — vertical takeoff-and-landing aircraft that could include next-generation helicopters and other types of vehicles popularly known as “flying cars.” The challenge is being conducted for the Air Force as well as the U.S. Special Operations Command.

The winning teams were chosen from more than 200 entrants in the challenge. Over the next six months, the 11 teams will receive market research investments aimed at advancing their technologies.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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