The GoFly Competition Will Put Humans in the Sky

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Humans have been dreaming of flight — real, individual flight, with the wind in their hair and the Earth far below — since long before the Wright Brothers. The ancient Greeks even conceived of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun with his wings of wax (can you blame him?). Technology has come a long way since the days of Greek mythology, and now there's a modern competition to help individual humans to take to the skies, no wax wings required.

Winners Take Wing

Planes are great. Nobody is hating on planes. But they just don't give you the sense of freedom you'd expect from a machine that breaks you free from the prison of gravity. After all, there's all of the hassle of getting to the airport, waiting through security, and dragging all of your luggage wherever you go. Enter Boeing's GoFly competition. The vehicles that come out of this aeronautical engineering competition probably won't take you as far as a commercial flight (to win, they only have to fly 20 miles without refueling or recharging), but they'll offer something more: the wide-open sky.

The devices in the running for this competition must meet the following requirements: They need to be safe, quiet, and ultra-compact. They also need to be capable of VTOL — Vertical Take-Off and Landing. Perhaps most of all, they need to be user-friendly and thrilling to fly. Yup, they actually included the adrenaline factor in the competition requirements.

Now in Phase II, the competition has brought the teams to the attention of aeronautical organizations who have partnered with Boeing. They're also going to be connected with members of Boeing's Mentors and Masters program, who can bring their experience with come from more traditional flight patterns to the revolutionary new vehicles. Oh, they'll also be eligible to win cash prizes to further their high-flying dreams. That's significant, because as Thierry Marin-Martinod, Aerospace and Defense CTO with technology leader, TE Connectivity explains, the corporations that have the money to fund such a revolutionary program don't necessarily have the mobility to develop it.

"There is this extra passion, this crazy cohesion," he said of the GoFly competition. "We can't afford that, to have 500 brains working all together on one project. So, there is a kind of exceptional efficiency in the team." That's why TE is sponsoring a globe-spanning team of everyday engineers in hopes of taking home the top prize. If it does, it'll be contributing more than just a new kind of flying. For the engineers building flight control technology, remote-operated drones, and even flying taxis, the rFlight team's work may lead to new ways of designing aerospace systems.

Crowdsourced Cloud-Hopping

Meet rFlight. This is the same team behind rLoop, one of the top contenders to design the Hyperloop from San Francisco to Los Angeles. What's really exciting about this team, though, is that they all came together online. After bouncing Hyperloop ideas off of each other on Reddit, these engineers and design enthusiasts partnered with TE in 2015 to develop their ideas in full. Now, they've turned their attention from the deep underground to the high-flying skies.

So, what does their vehicle, the rWing, have to offer? They call it a "motorcycle of the sky," and it's easy to see why. Small enough to park in your garage but powerful enough to launch directly into the sky, this machine is unrivaled in its potential. One of the most exciting conceptual features is a superhero-inspired heads-up display that helps a driver plot a flight plan and spot other objects in the sky. We can't say if it will win or not — but we know which craft we're rooting for.

TE Connectivity supports the engineering vision that brings the seemingly impossible to life.

Written by Reuben Westmaas March 1, 2019
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