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Humanizing Tech

How to Commute with an Airplane, Today

Fountainhead News: Feb 8, 2017

A couple weeks back I was chatting with a business associate over lunch. You may have seen the result of that show up in one of the recent Diary of a Mad Man letters. He told me how he used to commute to work in his plane. When someone tells you that the first time, you’re a bit shocked, but also quite curious how that is even possible, and why someone would do that in the first place.

So many questions. How much does it cost. Is it safe. How long did it take for your license. Are you a billionaire. Why don’t I know anything about this.

Settle down, settle down.

Turns out, the plane was a single-prop, simple model a couple decades old that only cost about $28,000. So basically, a car payment. This was maybe 7 years ago so might cost a little more today. And planes, if properly maintained, last far longer than cars because there are less moving parts (just an engine moving pistons, turning a propeller at different speeds).

It only takes 40 hours of flight time to get your pilot’s license. After 8 hours with an instructor, you can fly solo stick, which means you’re all by yourself, in the air.

You can rent planes once you have your license. When you land in a friendly, private airport the owners often give you a lender car, or their own, that you can use to go get lunch or tool around for a bit.

My friend, however, just commuted back and forth in Dallas from small private runways. It saved him about an hour each way as he went from the suburbs to the heart of the city. The only problem, he said, was that sometimes he’d forget what time it was at night and once it got dark, couldn’t fly home.

“Honey, I’m going to be late tonight.”

Remember, there are no lights on these tiny runways and it’s harder to navigate without the sun nor high-end equipment.

In your lessons, you’re taught to navigate without any equipment in case everything fails and goes wrong. Funny how that is the exact same reason Biologic Intelligence exists for autonomous wayfinding. At some point, everything goes wrong. If you don’t have some kind of back-up system, you’re toast.

In other tech industry news, Uber just announced they hired a dude from NASA to run their Elevate platform. Uber’s Chief Product Officer, along with some friends, put together a very nice 100-page white paper on Vertical Take-Off Aircraft that we’re still parsing through. Analysis forthcoming.

We wrote a month ago about self-flying startups, attempting to benchmark the products out there, to no avail, but we’ll continue to keep a close eye on this aspect of the autonomous industry.

As they say,

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.



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