Introducing the Puffin: An electric-powered “flying suit”

Here is a video about an interesting design or idea that was set to be unveiled this week at an American Helicopter Society meeting in San Francisco. The Puffin is an experimental one-man electric helicopter or “flying suit” from NASA’s Langley Research Center and as Scientific American magazine recently noted:

As a pilot prepares to take off, flaps on the wings would tilt to deflect air from the 2.3-meter-wide propeller rotors upward, keeping the plane on the ground until it was ready to fly and preventing errant gusts from tipping it over. The Puffin would rise, hover and then lean over to fly horizontally, with the pilot lying prone as if in a glider. When landing, the extending spring legs would support the 3.7-meter-long, 4.1-meter-wingspan craft, which is designed with carbon-fiber composites to weigh in at 135 kilograms, not including 45 kilograms of rechargeable lithium phosphate batteries.

The Puffin, in theory, can cruise at 240 kilometers per hour with a range of 80 kilometers, reach speeds of more than 480 kilometers per hour and because its electric, it has no flight ceiling.

Not a bad idea or design in theory and it looks like it could really ease someone’s commute in Los Angeles, but we must also ask: Can such an idea really “take-off”?


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