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Flying cars could take off from Shreveport manufacturing plant - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Flying cars could take off from Shreveport manufacturing plant

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

A new invention backed by a Shreveport native made its debut on an international stage Thursday.

SkyRunner—a flying car, if you will—was introduced at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.

"SkyRunner is part aircraft, part all-terrain vehicle," said Stewart Hamel, SkyRunner president. "It's 85 percent humbugged, 15 percent airplane."

It's like the Jetson's vehicle, but a little more rugged. This flying machine is basically a one man ATV with a propeller on the back.

"You take the chute out, lay it behind it," Hamel said, describing the process to get it ready for flight. "Get in, flip it from road mode to air mode. So it's two-wheel drive in the back, you flip it and now your transmission is running the propeller. As you give it gas, you give it thrust. As it goes down a grass strip, grass pasture, dirt road—once you hit 34-35 mph you're in the air."

Hamel worked with a group from England to create SkyRunner. He said the idea of it started off as a toy, but he now finds it could have practical uses. Hamel places the SkyRunner customer in three categories-- the average consumer, a business and the government.

"For the consumer, you're looking at wealthy adventurous, outdoor recreational enthusiast," he said. "For businesses, people who have a lot of land--ranchers, farmers, could be a pipeline company, could be EMT emergency response. For government: border security, park rangers, police agencies; people who quickly need to get into the air."

It might get you in the air fast, but SkyRunner does not fly fast. The maximum air speed is 55 miles an hour. Hamel said that is one of its safety features.

"The two most dangerous words in aviation with aircrafts is flying low and flying slow. That's its core competency. If you have an engine failure, you're just going to float down. It might be a hard landing, but you've got the shocks to absorb it."

SkyRunner is not in production yet but when its time to open a manufacturing plant, Hamel knows where he wants to build it—his hometown.

"I have a big heart for Shreveport. I love creating jobs and doing special things here. But logically it made since because of the hubs we have—rail lines. We have rail lines a lot of people don't' realize go from Mexico to Canada."

Hamel said the port is also a huge benefit. One that he hopes will keep SkyRunner flying high for a long time.

"When we started to get a response and people were willing to put down all of the money, like here's my check for all of it; that was huge validation that we had something special."

SkyRunner currently accepts down payments for those interested. Hamel said the early response will help them decide how big of a manufacturing facility they will need. And if you're interested in owning one, it will cost you $119,000.

And to fly one, it will cost you a few days of training. A sport pilot license is what you would need to fly SkyRunner. People 17 and old need a valid driver's license and be in good health.

It would take a few days with 12 hours of flight with a certified flight instructor.

And different aviation websites quote the license will cost you between $3-5,000 for that license.

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