Woopy-Fly Inflatable Wing Aircraft
The Woopy-Fly, a sort of paraglider/trike/ultralight hybrid shown on the world stage at Aero Friedrichshafen this April, 2010, in Germany, has a wing that folds for storage like a paraglider -- because it's inflatable. An evolution of the Woopy Jump, an inflatable wing used by Woopy enthusiasts to give them a more convenient hang gliding-type experience while skiing, the Woopy-Fly adds a weight shift trike with motor to the modest wing structure. The wing, while inflatable, does have a single aluminum and carbon fiber spar that helps provide structure, but the wing itself achieves most of its structure through inflation. Initially pumped (over the course of about 12 minutes) to semi-rigidity by a battery-powered fan, two small rigid air scoops on the wing's higher-pressure underside maintain the wing's shape in flight. According to enthusiasts, those scoops provide enough pressure to maintain the wing's structure even if the material suffers a small puncture. Fully inflated, the wing spans 31 feet and weighs 35 pounds. The manufacturers, which go by the same name -- Woopy-Fly -- claim that when broken down, the vehicle is transportable in a normal automobile and launchable from your local cow pasture.
Currently, it appears the wing itself is only available from distributors in Switzerland, Russia, and Japan. Those wishing to buy the trike plus wing can expect a complete kit cost to run about 13,780 Swiss Francs, which currently is about $12,400, plus the legal disclaimer that releases the manufacturer of liability. However, the company does say the vehicle is capable of being adapted to different motors dependent on the operator's intent. It is easily prepared for flight by one person in less than 15 minutes. The wing itself seems to trace its marketing origins to Swiss inventor Larent de Kalbermatten, who began experimenting with the designs back in 1995.