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What happened to the dream of flight?

Credits: Popular Mechanics, Joe Giron/New York Times

Somewhere in the past 100 years, we forgot why we invented airplanes in the first place: to soar in the the sky like an eagle. But instead of flying cars , we got flying trains.

The difference now

Back then, a personal aircraft just didn’t make sense. Planes and helicopters were too difficult to build, too heavy or too big to fit in your garage, and too difficult to fly.

Now, we now have the digital design tools to effectively engineer compact yet strong aircraft that intelligently stabilize themselves. Now, we have the power to unlock the full potential of personal flight for recreation, commerce, and beyond.

GoFly Prize

What is the GoFly Prize? GoFly is a $2 million international competition sponsored by Boeing to build a safe, quiet, and ultra compact “personal flying device”.

What makes it different from what’s already out there? Some companies are already well on their way to developing “flying cars”, but they are all too big, too loud, or too heavy for real mainstream adoption.

GoFly wants to challenge people to develop a compact device that can be easily flown out of densely populated areas without sounding like a jetliner or swarm of bees.

What’s happening now? To date, over 3,500 people from 101 countries have participated in the competition. Texas A&M Harmony was one of 10 Phase I “Early Design” winners from this crowded field to win $20,000 each, and the team has just repeated its win as one of 5 Phase II “Early Build” winners to win $50,000 each.

All teams must now build and test-flight their vehicles before a final fly-off in spring  2020. There, teams will compete to win prizes for the quietest, fastest, and most innovative design as well as the $1 million grand prize. Texas A&M Harmony

Aria

Your Solo in the Sky

Aria is the first rotorcraft designed for quiet and efficient flight from day 1. The vehicle occupies less space than a sedan and can carry 200 lb. (91 kg) of payload for 20 mi. (32 km) on a single charge of its high energy/high power battery.

Compact size

Aria’s footprint is less than 8.5 ft. (2.6 m), and you can almost halve the footprint by folding the rotorblades. This means you can easily store Aria in a garage, and you can fly it into dense urban areas and park on the streets or roof-top garage—not a runway.

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Harmonious Hum

We designed Aria around a quiet signature from the very first brainstorming design session. Therefore, our design does not produce the annoying bzzzz of “giant quadcopter” or “drone” designs pursued by other teams.

In fact, acoustic testing at the Texas A&M RELLIS campus showed that Aria produces 1/5th the noise of a multi-rotor design of the same size and takeoff weight.

Standing by the garage in the image below, you would hear less noise from an Aria taking off 80 ft. (25 m) away than a hairdryer next to your ear! That’s incredible for a vehicle that weighs more than 500 lb. (227 kg)!

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Unparalleled Range

Unlike the dozens of other personal air vehicle designs that depend on many small, unproven, and thermally-sensitive electric motors, Aria can be easily modified to run off one or two FAA-certified gasoline engines. A gasoline powertrain would increase Aria’s range beyond 150 miles (240 km), and enable fueling on existing infrastructure.

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Aria in the GoFly Prize

From a pool of more than 3,500 competitors worldwide, our design was 1 of 10 Phase I “Early Design” winners selected by Boeing in spring 2019. Other winners included teams from Georgia Tech and Delft University of the Netherlands as well as aerospace startups from the US, Europe, and Russia. Each team received $20,000 to kickstart development of some sort of prototype.

This spring, we were 1 of 5 Phase II “Early Build” winners selected by Boeing to win $50,000 towards continued development of our prototype. We were the only US university team to win this second round.

For Phase II, we built a 1/3rd scale model to validate our aerodynamic and acoustic predictions, and we were 1 of 2 teams to demonstrate controlled forward flight of our proposed design using this scale model (video below).

We are now finalizing designs and raising money to build a full-scale technology demonstrator for the Phase III “Final Fly-off” in spring 2020.

Support

Our Wingmen

Our progress through the GoFly competition has only been possible through the generous support of the following wingmen:

Hypersonic Wingmen: $10,000 and Beyond

Brad Worsham
(TAMU Aerospace, ’88)

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Supersonic Wingmen: $1,000 – $10,000

Sonic Wingmen: up to $1,000

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Becoming a Wingman

If you are interested in supporting our endeavors, consider donating to our team via the Texas A&M Foundation. On the giving page, complete the recipient form as follows and notify us of your donation at tamuharmony@gmail.com.

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Please note the “GoFly” comment for accurate filing.

For donations larger than $1000 or to provide in-kind donations, such as aluminum, steel and power cabling, please contact the team directly.

Donation Information Brochure