LIFT Aircraft Unveils Personal Multirotor Aircraft For Fun Flights

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We were promised jetpacks, but let’s be honest, they’re just plain unsafe. So a nice drone ride is probably all we should reasonably expect.

Lift Aircraft is the latest to make a play for the passenger multirotor market, theoretical as it is, and its craft is a sleek little thing with some interesting design choices to make it suitable for laypeople to “pilot.” The Austin-based company just took the wraps off the Hexa, the 18-rotor craft it intends to make available for short recreational flights.

The likes of Uber, Airbus and Porsche tinker away on their respective passenger and transportation drones, a lesser-known startup is taking an altogether different approach. Instead of getting mired in the logistics and regulatory frameworks of city-wide drone rides, Lift Aircraft wants you to use its 18-rotor “Hexa” aircraft. The large drone which weighs 432 pounds and is capable of 10-15 minutes of continuous flight with a single passenger.

Flights could range as high as 1,200 feet, depending on the locale, and the semi-autonomous flight control system is designed to be operated safely with a joystick. Like other ultralights, the Hexa will be limited to a maximum airspeed of 63 mph. The craft is equipped with several safety measures, including a ballistic parachute that would be deployed autonomously in the event of an emergency, air-cushioned floats for water landings, and a remote-control system that makes it possible for a trained pilot to fly the plane from a distance.

Lift is promising flight experiences at hubs located in “scenic, uncongested areas” in 25 cities across the US. Because the Hexa doesn’t count as a “real” aircraft (it’s a “powered ultralight”) it doesn’t require a pilot’s license. However, you also can’t go past a few hundred feet of altitude or fly over populated areas.

Though it’s offering advanced flight reservations, Lift has yet to pin down its first location. CEO Matt Chasen, admitted that the communities around its hubs will “need to get used to having large drones flying around” that “aren’t very loud, but…also not whisper-quiet, either.” Still, he’s confident that his company’s lighter craft and focus on fun experiences over transportation gives it a headstart over other passenger drone-makers. Once Lift builds up experience with its fixed-site operations, the company just might branch out into point-to-point travel.