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(Air National Guard/Sgt. Sean Cornegay)

An Austin-based startup is taking flying cars from sci-fi movies to reality.

Over the weekend, LIFT Aviation Company put its all-electric, single-passenger flying vehicle on display at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport in Springfield, Ohio. The electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle, called HEXA, could change the future of flying transportation and is projected to be publicly available by the end of the year.


HEXA was created by University of Texas alumnus and LIFT CEO Matt Chasen and was funded with a $226,000 grant by JobsOhio's Ohio Site Inventory Program at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

Together with two other aircraft companies, LIFT is also creating a facility designated for flying cars. The facility will include simulation stations for future pilots as well as charging stations to help make Springfield a key spot in a network for future flying vehicles that can travel longer distances.

The vehicle itself is light enough that it is not even designated as aircraft, so it doesn't require a pilot's license to operate. It is also semi-autonomous, with a remote computer taking care of takeoff and landing and maintaining stability throughout the flight. The vehicle was created so that anybody could take a few minutes to master the joystick controls and take a ride of their own right after.

HEXA is stocked up with safety features as well. The vehicle can operate with up to six of its 18 propellers not in use, and is equipped with parachute backup to boot.

There are a few drawbacks to the vehicle, however. Because it's essentially a manned drone, the craft can't be flown over populated areas or fly over a couple hundred feet. The vehicle also has a flight time of only 10 or 15 minutes, so it's unlikely that HEXA will be used to evade highway traffic anytime soon.

Since its unveiling at SXSW in Austin in 2019, HEXA has been looked at by the Air Force secretary and chief of staff as a possible soldier transportation vehicle. At $495,000, it's also marketed for thrill-seekers with a bit of change in their pocket. For commercial rides, the drone is looking at a price of $250 per ride, and LIFT is hoping to make the vehicle accessible as a touristy ride as well as used for future transportation research.

While LIFT isn't quite making "Back to the Future" a reality, it is making the future happen with a real-life flying car available for all.

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