The NASA Puffin: Prepare to Want One


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The Puffin is a NASA developed personal aircraft and you're about to want one. It has vertical take-off and land (VTOL) capabilities similar to the V-22 Osprey, but instead of an entire platoon, it's built for one. With the help of an over boost function, it's capable of speeds of up to 300 mph and has a range of up to 50 miles. It lands upright on its tail like a helicopter, but flies prone like a plane. See the video after the jump for a demonstration.

The awesome doesn't stop there either. It has a wing span of 13 ft and because of its carbon composite construction and electric power it's extremely light. Total weight including the lithium ion batteries is only 400 lbs., and because it's powered by two electric motors turning 7.5 ft. diameter four blade rotors, rather than jet engines or internal combustion engines, power is not dependent upon air density. This means that the Puffin's maximum altitude of 30,000 ft. is limited only by battery life.

As you've probably gleaned from the CGI pictures and video, the Puffin is not yet a reality. NASA unveiled the idea in January at the American Helicopter Society meeting in San Francisco and is planning a one-third scale test for this month.

-Jamie Wolfcale