If you live and work in remote parts of the world where roads are scarce, Steve Saint's Maverick design could be just what you need. It drives off-road, it can deploy a sort-of parachute wing with less than five minutes of tinkering, you can even take off the tires and replace them with pontoons for travel on water, and it all works fairly intuitively without any need for extensive pilot training. "This is a brand-new flying machine making its debut here," said Saint, when we caught up with him working to put the vehicle together for display on Sunday afternoon at EAA AirVenture. "Do you mind if I both hammer and talk?" He developed the aircraft as a nonprofit endeavor for use in frontier regions, mainly by the people who live in those places, he said. The controls are simple. The wing is similar to that used on a powered parachute, but it is not deployed by dragging it behind the vehicle. Instead, it is held aloft with a 24-foot mast and spars. With a takeoff roll of just 50 to 75 feet, the vehicle is in the air. It can carry up to four people when flying, and more on the ground, and it's designed to accommodate a stretcher for medical evacuation missions.
The vehicle will be on display all week at the Fly4Life exhibit area just off Aeroshell Square. It recently won a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics magazine; click here for their story about the project. Click here for videos of the Maverick in flight, at the Web site of the Indigenous Technology and Education Center, which supported the development of the aircraft.