SAN JOSE, Calif. A small Silicon Valley company trying to develop a personal flying machine has gotten an important boost in its effort to make the sci-fi dream a reality: a $5 million grant from the military.
The SoloTrek Exo-Skeletor Flying Vehicle being developed by Millennium Jet Inc. has only been tested so far in a NASA wind tunnel. But the project is showing enough promise to attract the interest of the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, which hopes the SoloTrek will someday help soldiers get around obstacles or avoid dangerous situations. Financing from the agency, which is part of the Defense Department, will come over the next three years. The agency hopes special forces troops can begin testing it after that.
If the SoloTrek works as designed, it would take off and land like a helicopter and transport its user in a standing position. The pilot would stand on two footrests, lean on a sliding backrest and grip handles that control the tilt and speed of Hula Hoop-sized air ducts.
The 7-foot-6 aircraft would have a 10.5-gallon fuel tank and a top speed of about 80 mph. It would be able to stay airborne for three hours and travel about 120 miles.
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