And drive it does. The Maverick team drove from
I-TEC headquarters in Dunnellon, Florida, to EAA
AirVenture Oshkosh 2010 without a problem—except
when they stopped. Fuel stops take longer than normal
because the Maverick draws a crowd, and the team was
even stopped by a state trooper who just wanted to get a
The Maverick is licensed in Florida as a kit-built car.
It can also be built in a three-wheel configuration if
obtaining a state road license works better by calling it a
motorcycle. It can hold up to three people—driver in
front, two passengers in back—or the wide rear seat can
be folded down to carry cargo. However, to comply with
light-sport aircraft (LSA) regulations, it may only fly
with two people.
The rear-mounted Subaru EJ22 engine delivers
power to the rear wheels through an automatic continuously variable transmission, giving it sports car-like
acceleration and a top speed in excess of 90 mph. The
Maverick will likely never weigh more than 1,500
pounds. Combine 128 hp with this lightweight car and
you get a real screamer.
Its high ground clearance makes it suitable for venturing off-road. Fuel consumption as a ground vehicle
averages about 30 miles per gallon using regular auto fuel.
In the air, it averages 5 gph, cruising at about 40 mph.
As a car, the front wheels are steered through a typical rack-and-pinion system. A simple flip of a switch
kicks in a steering computer that electronically connects
the car’s steering wheel to the steering lines of the ram-air parachute wing, and Maverick becomes a flying car.
CONVERTING TO FLIGHT
Converting the Maverick from ground configuration to
flying vehicle can be performed by one person and
accomplished in about five minutes.
With most other PPCs the wing must be laid out on
the ground behind the cart. Steve knew that a better
wing-deployment solution was needed in rough, limited
takeoff and landing terrain, so the Maverick uses a 22-foot
telescoping mast to raise the 550-square-foot parachute
A simple flip of a switch ...
and Maverick becomes
a flying car.
The mast system eliminates unfolding the parachute on the ground, as traditional PPCs do, avoiding the possibility of snagging or tearing the chute on rough terrain and reducing the area needed to unfurl the chute.
above the car. The mast only takes a few minutes to assemble and the chute is fully
collapsible into a rooftop compartment, keeping it relatively obscure in drive mode.
To keep the chute from draping down the mast, a yardarm (much like the old
square rigger sailing ships) is unfolded and extended along the leading edge. As
the mast is raised, the extended chute is pulled from its housing atop the car
with all rigging and steering lines in place.
The engine that powers the Maverick on the ground also powers the rear-mounted, five-blade Powerfin prop in flight mode. This patented dual-drive
system helps minimize weight and further simplifies maintenance and operation. Another design feature that simplifies operation is the integrated controls,
using the steering wheel and gas pedal for both driving and flying.
THE POWERED PARACHUTE
While the Maverick’s takeoff, landing, and cruise speeds are a modest 40 mph
across the board, its real achievement is its ability to hop off the ground in about
300 feet and land in the same distance—the perfect attribute for a vehicle
intended to be used in areas with small plots of level terrain.
Once in the air, the Maverick uses a method of control not found in perhaps
any other powered parachute: a fly-by-wire system that allows the pilot to control direction with a simple turn of the steering wheel. A computer runs electric
servos to control the lateral direction of flight. If needed, the fly-by-wire steering
system can be overridden by foot controls. Altitude control is managed with
power inputs, like all other PPCs.
Details are still being worked out for initiating the flare for landing. The prototype shown at AirVenture 2010 was flared by using the foot steering control
override bars or by just adding a bit of power prior to touchdown. “We have just