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Way back in 1940, Henry Ford uttered the famous words, “Mark my word: a combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come.” In the decades since then, flying cars have been a staple of futuristic science-fiction stories, but when it comes to the real-world application of this concept, there hasn’t been much progress.
Until now, that is. Thanks to a Canadian startup called WatFly, we may be on the brink of flying cars finally becoming a reality, 80 years after Mr. Ford said they were on the way. The WatFly Atlas is the eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft we’ve been waiting for all these years.
WatFly’s Atlas is a game-changer for personal aircraft. Constructed with incredibly lightweight carbon fiber, the Atlas is an extremely efficient and tremendously easy to fly aircraft. If you’re looking for the perfect personal vehicle to arrive in style at your favorite marina or golf course, look no further than the WatFly Atlas.
The Atlas is powered by electric ducted fans with four rotors that produce just 87 decibels from a distance of 15 meters away. A battery pack attached to the wing provides enough juice for a one-hour flight before recharging.
While the Atlas might have a utilitarian appearance, there’s plenty of comfort to be found here as well. According to WatFly, the Atlas’ cockpit provides a generous amount of legroom, and has a 180-degree wraparound canopy of clear glass, allowing you to take in the sights while the in-flight computer takes care of the actual flying and there’s even a rear storage compartment that can fit anything from snowboards to golf clubs.
When it comes to statistics, the WatFly Atlas continues to impress. The aircraft can fly at speeds reaching 125 mph, and it weighs just 285 pounds, thanks to the carbon fiber construction. The Atlas needs only two hours to fully recharge its batteries, and at roughly eight feet by 15 feet in size, it’s small enough to fit in a typical garage stall (or on the back of your yacht). The only minor drawback is that the Atlas can carry just 250 pounds, meaning you’ll be rather limited when it comes to carrying any luggage or cargo.
Just imagine it: no traffic clogging up the freeway for miles on end, no runway necessary for takeoff or landing, and no pilot’s license needed. That’s right — because the WatFly Atlas is officially categorized as an ultralight air vehicle, there’s no need to waste hundreds of hours in flight school to get a license to fly it. Thanks to the aircraft’s computer-assisted control scheme, WatFly says the Atlas will be roughly as easy to fly as piloting a drone. And just in case something does go wrong, the Atlas has an on-board emergency parachute.
Of course, the Atlas won’t be cheap — to be honest, it will probably be several more decades before eVTOL aircraft are actually affordable — but it also might not cost as much as you’re thinking. In fact, the WatFly Atlas is priced competitively with some high-end luxury cars, with an expected price point of just $150,000.
The method to the madness behind this surprisingly low price tag is a convergence of several factors. First and foremost, personal aircraft have much shorter development cycles than commercial planes, thanks in part to the fact that they can be certified for use in a year or less. In addition, the Atlas is a relatively simple aircraft, with no expensive combustion engines or complex powertrains driving up costs.
The other big pricing factor is the fact that WatFly plans on producing large quantities of Atlas aircraft. In fact, the company claims that the Atlas will be manufactured at “automotive volumes,” which would make it the first aircraft to ever be produced on this scale.
Even though the Atlas still hasn’t made its commercial debut, WatFly already has their eyes focused on the future. They say that their next eVTOL will be a two-seat model, and it will include certifications to fly in urban areas — which the Atlas will not, unfortunately. WatFly also claims that their next model will be more affordable and able to fly longer distances.
But first thing’s first, right? Before we get too carried away with discussions of their next aircraft, let’s talk about how you can order a WatFly Atlas of your own. All you need to do is fill out the inquiry form on WatFly’s website and they’ll reach out with details regarding pre-ordering an Atlas, getting access to special events, staking your claim to a limited-run “founders’ edition” Atlas, and more.
The first WatFly Atlas aircraft are expected to ship in 2021, so if you want to be an early adopter of this eVTOL revolution, you should sign up today. ■