NASA handed out $250,000 in prize money this weekend to aircraft designers who competed in a competition to create personal air-vehicles. But don't be fooled by the picture and think that the event was full of flying cars, experimental planes and UFO-shaped discs—all the entrants were standard-looking planes, as you will see in the videos after the jump.The event was part of the Centennial Challenges, the government-sponsored competitions that aim to have us all flying to the office in the morning and taking holidays on the moon as soon as possible. The money was given out in six categories: speed, short takeoff, efficiency, handling, noise and overall best.
The grand prize of $100,000, plus two $25,000 prizes, went to a slightly-modified Pipistrel Virus, like the one shown below. It costs $70,000 new, so the team was basically awarded a free plane and $80,000 of gas money.
Another standard looking plane, a modified Vans RV-4 as shown below, won $25,000 and $50,000 for speed and noise sections. One team were flying a Cessna 172, which has been in production since the 1940's, and even they won a prize. Next year I'm going to turn up with a remote controlled plane - it would probably win me enough to take a decent vacation. [CNet]