Drones for People 


Richard Franklin Bishop


© Copyright 2016 by Richard Franklin  Bishop      

Photo of a single passanger drone.
To find out more about this one person drone Click Here...

Everybody has heard of Otto Lilienthal and his attempts to fly like a bird. His fame grew as he completed 2,000 glider flights between 1891 and 1896; where he died of a broken neck on the last flight that crashed.

And no less renowned were Orville and Wilbur Wright whose heavier-than-air and powered flying machine flew in controlled flight on December 17, 1903.

But, at the rate technology is now advancing, this puts them in back the “Stone Age” as far as mechanical (and now electronic) innovation goes.

The ultra-modern phase of flying has long been in effect; it has been already heavily researched and regulated by several governments. One aspect has been overlooked but not forgotten. That concept is where man is one-on-one with the flying machine that substitutes for the wings we can’t grow.

In the beginning (of the ultra-modern phase) there was the Rogallo Wing patented in 1948 by Francis and Gertrude Rogallo. This simple design was not lost on those Sportsmen and Sportswomen wanting to fly and Paragliders and Hang Gliders were born.

NASA jumped on the idea and funded experiments from 1961 to 1965 with the Parasev design as a possible emergency vehicle for use by Astronauts. The goal was controlled flight with heavier loads. In the evolution that took place in the 68 years from 1948 until the present, modifications were fabricated that added engines to provide powered flight. Now we were full circle with the Wright Brothers; but with the one-on-one concept now carved out of general aviation and more clearly focused.

Kinnie Gibson and his Rocket Belt is probably the most famous solo innovator due to Television broadcasts. Since 1983, he has performed show flights with vertical take-offs and landings in 40 countries and in at least 6 US TV Series and stadium events like the Super Bowl. He and his limited duration Rocket Belt also appeared in at least one Movie of Agent 007, James Bond.

Yves Rossy’s Jet Wing Pack allows him to fly like a Jet Airplane. Since 2004, the Swiss adventurer has been performing flights that have interested many Military organizations (he always turns them down saying his device is for recreation only). The Jet Pack burns kerosene and his flying-suit is flame-proof. On 26 September 2008, Yves successfully flew across the English Channel from Calais, France to Dover, England in 9 minutes, 7 seconds. His speed reached 300 km/h (190 mph) during the crossing.

The next evolutionary step could be the advanced technology behind the design of commercial drones (UAVs - Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and their stable platforms supported by 4 or 6 or 8 spinning propellers. They started out as small flying vehicles which could haul a camera and usually were operated remotely. Now, some are so tiny that they would fit in the palm of your hand. The Military was quick to develop myriad uses for Drones. Commercial interests are close behind and about to pass them up (with different goals, of course).

With the idea that bigger is better, it seems that they could be fabricated large enough to haul one person (or say, 200 lbs.). And manually controlling the Drone by the carried person (let’s call this person the Pilot) should be a “snap” compared to the complicated electronics package that already has been engineered, fabricated and carried as “extra” weight for the “remote control” electronics (but now no longer needed). What we need here is a little “reverse engineering” and a name change. How about MAV (Manned Aerial Vehicle) ?

Their reputation for reliance and gentle flying traits should keep them as a front-runner for hobby and recreation pilots. The stability technology comes from many places, e. g., Lit Motors Inc. is a San Francisco-based company that designs two-wheeled vehicles, including a fully electric, gyroscopically stabilized motorcycle. The staff says:“It would take a small elephant to tip it over.” And then there’s the two-wheeled self-balancing Scooter. And the world-wide popular Segway PT ( battery operated, self-balancing, two-wheeled Personal Transporter).

It was expected that 700,000 commercial Drones would ship to consumers in the year 2015, just ended. And soon, in 2016, the new government regulations for their flight will be finalized. Adding the feature of human flight without “remote” control should be just a “detail” in the text of the regulations.

It’s all there - the mechanical, electronics, and safety technology, the mass production capability plus the regulatory rules.

 Every time I visit Garmisch-Partenkirschen (of 1936 Olympics fame) and look up at the Zugspitz ( 2,962 meters or 9,718 ft.), I see the colorful Paragliders (glide parachutes) descending in spirals, almost waltzing in their pirouettes; some of the more daring operators swinging around fully horizontal in their arc in the altitude-losing Spiral Dive maneuver. Wow ! - how graceful - it seems beautiful to we terrestrials. By being born too late, we have missed (and have forgotten about) the first efforts to emulate birds in their ethereal flight.

But it’s not too late. Personal controlled flight doesn’t have to be esoteric - i.e., secret, mysterious and understood by or intended for only a select few. All you Hang Glider and Paraglider enthusiasts out there. How about taking a ride beneath a Drone under your own control ? If not now, how about it - in about 2 years?


There are some difficulties in the idea of my Story - but I didn't want to kill it off before it was born so I didn't "air" it there in the main text. 

Besides the "Military" and "Package Delivery" uses already jumped- on by industry, there are two avenues remaining with my idea: 

1. A Drone as basic, personal transportation:
When contrasted to the present "state of the art", could the idea of being transported from "A" to "B" (by something that looks for all the world like an overgrown spider) ever "catch-on?" 

2. A Drone as Recreational and Sport flying:

Can you lay a drone over on it's side in a Spiral Dive maneuver ?   Could its movements ever be called beautiful?

Oh well, The Wright's and Lilienthal's stuff didn't look so good at the time - not now, either !"

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