That’s how three European engineers are feeling after learning they’ve been named among the Phase 1 winners of the GoFly Prize.
GoFly is a two year, $2 million international competition to create a personal flying device, sponsored by Boeing. Each winning GoFly design lays the foundation for a prototype that will safely carry a person 20 miles without refuelling or recharging with vertical, or near vertical take-off and landing capabilities.
Ten teams from around the globe, including three from teams based in Latvia, Netherlands and the UK, will advance to the next phase of the competition.The winning teams earned the highest marks from a panel of industry expert judges who reviewed hundreds of designs for personal flying devices that can safely be used by anyone, anywhere.
Victor Sonneveld is an aerospace engineering student who headed the Netherlands team. He and his teammates had submitted designs for student competitions in the past but said the GoFly Prize is very different from other contests.
“Winning this prize feels like GoFly experts have validated our design, which is a great honour and motivation for us,” said Sonneveld. He said having Boeing as the competition sponsor elevated it to the next level. “An industry leader becoming a grand sponsor has made it a serious competition and attracted the best engineers from around the world.”
The winning team from Latvia is from the start-up Aeroxo LV. Team leader Vladimir Spinko said they created their tiltrotor design with a specific audience in mind: bikers. “They are not afraid of anything, they are used to 150-200kmph speeds,” he explained, adding that winning a GoFly prize is validation for his team. “I always knew my team is the very best and very special one – winning the GoFly Prize means I am on the right way to tell the world about it.”
The 7-person UK team submitted a design called “Vantage,” a five-rotor air bike. When asked about his favourite features of the team’s futuristic “leap” design, team co-founder Jakob Howard said their design is created not to be “cool” but rather, safe and functional.
“Our vehicle is able to remain stable and land safely even if any of the five rotors fails,” said Howard. “We also have full redundancy in all control systems for an additional layer of safety. While these are not ‘sexy’ features, they will be central to producing a vehicle that can be commercially successful.”