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This One-Person eVTOL Lets You Do Barrel Rolls Like a Fighter Jet—and You Don’t Even Need a License

The Zapata AirRacer is an eVTOL aircraft that is so intuitive, say the designers, it does not require a pilot's license.

The Zapata AirRacer is a one-person flying eVTOL that does not require a pilot's license. Courtesy Ivy Digital

It seems to be the year of the personal flying machine minus the pilot’s license. Three firms have announced one-person eVTOL aircraft that will be sold to the public this year. The Ryse Recon, Jetson One and RotorX Dragon will be certified under the FAA’s Ultralight category, which does not require a pilot’s license, though each company is mandating training.

A fourth personal eVTOL from France, the AirRacer, will be coming to the US to show off its easy-flight abilities. The brainchild of Franky Zapata, a former Jet-Ski racer who has since invented wild flying contraptions like the Flyboard Air, the AirRacer is a very different animal.

The Zapata AirRacer is a one-person flying eVTOL that does not require a pilot's license.
The AirRacer is designed for nearly autonomous flight, with the pilot controlling direction and altitude. The control module takes care of the rest. Courtesy Ivy Digital

The craft is built on a modular carbon-fiber chassis with 10 jet engines that could potentially deliver speeds between 125 and 155 mph, according to the company’s website, with a possible altitude of 9,800 feet—though most pilots will probably be flying between 20 and 40 feet off the ground. Having so many motors offers failsafe flight in case one, or even two, stops functioning. The engines all have independent electric controls.

The Zapata video shows the AirRacer doing a barrel roll, but that won’t be part of its protocol. The software-driven control system is designed for stability—hence, no need for the pilot’s license—for flight in less-than-ideal weather conditions. It will also be designed to fly autonomously. Essentially, the pilot chooses a direction and altitude, and the control delivers on those commands. Measuring 7’2’  x 6’5”, the AirRacer should be able carry a pilot and cargo weighing up to 400 lbs.

See the Zapata AirRacer fly and barrel role at the 4:20 minute mark in the above video.

Unfortunately, the AirRacer will never be for sale. The company said it designed the AirRacer to test its flight-controller technology as well as show the public it is capable of building an aircraft that is “safe, easy and accessible for all.”

But wannabe pilots should not be discouraged. “We are currently working on a new VTOL called the AirScooter (which has similarities with the JetRacer),” said a Zapata spokesperson. “It be revealed to the public this year and commercialized in 2024.”

The Zapata AirRacer is a one-person flying eVTOL that does not require a pilot's license.
Franky Zapata, AirRacer inventor. Courtesy Ivy Digital

Besides recreational use, the AirRacer could be used for industrial transport of materials (such as to an offshore oil rig) or military applications (think recon flights).

Zapata also has other ideas, such as establishing different “flight centers” that rent the AirRacers, like an ATV or Jet Ski. The French company plans to come to the US next summer to demonstrate the AirRacer and, according to its website, is offering 25 civilians the chance to pilot the aircraft, even if they can’t buy it.

The company said the AirScooter, a larger hybrid-electric aircraft, will have a longer range.

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