by Jon James|
I am a drone pilot. I LOVE to fly drones…professionally and to simply see the world from above in places that I love. It’s a perspective that’s unique and beautiful. Even better with an FPV (first person view) drone.
Now, a man from Maine who happens to be a friend of many years, John Veilleux, the founder of Land Rotor Corporation, is bringing “first person view” to a new level.
Pictured above is John with the prototype AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) Sportster. Unlike the air taxis you’ve likely read about, this is a single person aircraft which can, basically, fly overhead or hover just above the ground as it travels (at speeds up to 50mph).
So, how high can it go?
Because it’s configured for the FAA’s Part 103, it is considered an experimental/ultralight aircraft and, pretty much, the sky’s the limit (not really, but 4-5,000 feet is certainly viable).
John recently told UrbanAirMobilityNews.com:
“The AAM Sportster is a roadable aircraft that utilizes LiDAR (light distance and ranging) technology to keep it on the ground, much like a hovercraft, until the operator and flight conditions allow for safe and legal flying. When ready to fly, simply flip a switch and enter into Flight Mode.
“It’s that simple,” Veilleux says.
Along with his company’s Chief Technical Officer and inventor, Ansel Misfeldt, Veilleux has big plans for his company, founded in 2021 and headquartered in Orlando, Florida, where he spends part of his time.
Veilleux told me that his company has made a $700M deal with AeroAuto to mass produce the aircraft. That company is headquartered in Royal Palm Beach, Florida.
PERSONAL ENDORSEMENT: The best thing about John…other than the fact he’s a genius and succeeds at everything he does…is he’s just a really, really nice guy! Very warm, friendly and unassuming, he will literally give someone in need the shirt off his back!
John is not new to flight by any means. He’s been a private pilot for years as well as an FAA Safety Team Rep, educating new drone pilots early on (he was one of the first drone pilots in the state operating under the FAA’s Section 333….the pre-cursor to Part 107).
I should also mention that he’s an accomplished photographer and he did both of my children’s weddings…using a drone at my daughter’s!
On a more personal and somber note, John lost his teenage son to suicide in 2018. To help him cope with the tragedy, he began volunteering for hospice care, helping people in their time of need in the final stages of life.
Today, he throws himself into his business which is a passion for him. Just one conversation with him and you will understand that. He lights up when he talks about his plans to make flight accessible to all of us.
TAKING FPV TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Instead of wearing goggles to simulate being in the drone…he’s going to actually put you in the cockpit of a giant drone or, more specifically, an eVTOL. That stands for “electric vertical take-off and landing (vehicle)”
Sure, there are plenty of others out there working on similar projects, but Veilleux’s plan is masterful as it will include the opportunity to “fly before you buy” in a controlled environment and SAFETY is first and foremost.
INDOOR VENUES: Prior to the rollout, which is 2 to 3 years out, Land Rotor will offer “test drives” indoors….in a controlled and safe environment.
His first location, though not operational at the time of this story, will be on International Drive in Orlando, right next to iFly Indoor Skydiving. Can you imagine…flying an aircraft and skydiving within minutes of each other!
He plans to open a bunch of these locations which will allow people to take a (tethered) drone flight, safely, indoors!
Here’s Land Rotor Corporation’s mission statement:
Land Rotor Corporation is a company founded upon strong integrity, where straight forward honest business practices are a prerequisite in everything we do. Our culture is simple. We work steady. We learn. We grow. We encourage one another. We achieve extraordinary results with passion and belief in what we are doing. Nothing short of that is acceptable.
So, what is Land Rotor Corp.’s blueprint for the future?
According to an article at evtol.news, it is to:
- Bridge the gap between emerging technologies and people
- Keep safety at the fore front of their aircraft and ease of use for the consumer
- Offer the Land Rotor Drone Ride to the public, an immersive thrill ride entertainment attraction
- Train future pilots using new FAA rules for advanced air mobility (AAM)
- Mass produce Land Rotor’s multicopter aircraft to on-road and off-road consumer markets
- Perform the first transcontinental hover-journey across the USA
There is plenty of redundancy in the aircraft…for one thing, it has not four…but eight…motors and propellers. So if one or two fail, you aren’t likely to come crashing down.
Research, including flight data, is being collected with every test, so all of the bugs will be worked out before a member of the public even gets to try one, even indoors.
Does this all mean that flying to work or across town is in the foreseeable future? Likely, yes! In fact, you may even get to see this revolutionary vehicle as it spends some of its time right here in Maine.
So you already know that you will need some training to fly one of these birds…kind of a federal “air driver’s ed,” if you will.
What about price?
The guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000…but let’s not take that to the bank just yet.
The future is here! I can’t wait to try one of these things and can see myself having one in my yard at some point! Please, don’t mention this to my wife.