Glancing at its spec sheet you'd think it
was a high-performance compact sports car: zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds, a
Subaru EJ22 engine, a CVT belt-drive transmission, and less than 1,000
pounds total weight. And while you'd be mostly correct, you'd also be
shortchanging the vehicle for what it's fully capable of achieving:
transitioning from a road vehicle to an airborne craft in just a few
minutes-and only 300 feet of terra firma.
The Maverick, developed by I-TEC
(Indigenous People's Technology and Education Center), is a road-legal
powered parachute designed to be accessible by even low-time pilots, and
for good reason. The nonprofit organization aims to teach people living
in remote areas of the world, where transportation via roadways is often
a major concern, how to take care of their own medical needs.
"The continent of Africa is losing
about 35,000 kilometers of roads every year due to deterioration and the
lack of funding to maintain them," said Steve Saint, founder of
I-TEC. "The Maverick's unique maneuverability allows missionary
pilots to access these remote areas and provide health care to the
Part of that mission includes teaching
people who have never flown a powered parachute how to operate the
flying car. Fortunately, the Maverick's straightforward operability has
proven successful. "We can transition sport pilots in the Maverick
in about 12 hours," said I-TEC engineer Jonathan Nelson. "We
designed (the Maverick) with the idea that if you can drive a car, you
can operate it (the aircraft)."
Flight preparation from its ground
configuration is quick and simple. The operator flips a switch that
shifts the power of the 140-hp Subaru EJ22 from rear-wheel drive to a
five-blade Powerfin prop. A telescoping mast, which folds down and
remains relatively obscure while driving, is deployed vertically, which
then acts as a wing spar for the chute allowing the craft to maintain an
even airspeed (40 mph) during takeoffs and landings.
Once in the air, the fly-by-wire system
allows the pilot to control direction with a simple turn of the steering
wheel. A dual-functioning Garmin Aera 500 GPS is mounted on the dash and
provides pilots with both ground and aerial navigation.
Fabric covering and a rugged chromoly
tube frame bring the Maverick to 987 pounds empty weight. That cushion,
as well as the ability to fold down the two back seats, gives the
Maverick a 330-pound useful load-an essential trait for an aircraft
designed to transport medical equipment and supplies to remote regions
around the world.
On the ground, the Maverick is capable of
speeds in excess of 90 mph, and the continuously variable transmission
coupled with its lightweight frame give it phenomenal acceleration. The
unit can also be fitted with regular and off-road tires, as well as skis
I-TEC is looking to introduce the
Maverick to the general public before selling units to missionary pilots
and foreign governments. "We need to first build the Maverick in
high enough quantities in a commercial market so we can bring the
building costs down for the people on the frontier," Saint said.
The Maverick is licensed by the DOT for ground travel, and it operates
in the experimental category for flight. I-TEC is seeking FAA
certification in the light-sport aircraft category.
The Maverick in action.