Your Own VTOL, Take (Insert Number Here)

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It's a dream that has eluded aircraft designers for almost a century but a California engineer and A&P mechanic says his strange-looking craft will end the quest. "Real freedom of flight is when you don't have to use an airport," said AMV Aircraft owner and designer Atilla Melkuti. A six-foot vaned fan under the belly would provide lift for vertical takeoffs. After the aircraft transitioned 26 degrees forward the fuselage and wing lifting surfaces would take over. With a turbocharged 450-horsepower Mazda rotary engine, Melkuti predicts a 5,000-fpm climb for the 900-pound aircraft (gross 1800), 280-mph maximum speed (250 mph at 60-percent power) at 10 gph. First test flight is set for August. Melkuti's friend Imre Nagy has a different dream, one that has also been tried many times but never really caught on. Nagy has always thought that airships offered the best of all worlds in aviation. He's designed a kind of personal airship that offers 1,500 square feet of living space and the go-anywhere flexibility of aircraft that don't need to use the National Airspace System. Nagy said the airship is also amphibious because all the accommodations and systems are inside the waterproof hull. "You can just land on a lake and hang a fishing line into the water," he said. Four Mazda rotaries on revolving pylons provide power and control. "Since you don't need to take off from a runway, anyone can fly it," he said. The self-financed project is on hold for now until Nagy can sell some real estate to finish the prototype.