The i-Tec Maverick, a roadworthy dune buggy powered by a Subaru engine, has won the first certification from the Federal Aviation Administration for a flying car. Its first mission: saving the Third World.
Steve Saint runs i-Tec, which stands for "indigenous people's technology and education centre". A Christian missionary, Saint started the firm to solve technological problems for remote tribes of Central and South America and spent six years working on the Maverick.
With a 170hp, 2.4-litre Subaru four-cylinder built into a canvas-covered frame, the Maverick can run up to 100km/h in less than four seconds. But its real trick comes when it deploys a cloth wing on a 7m mast and takes flight. After years of testing, the FAA in September certified the Maverick as a "powered parachute". That's different than the Terrafugia and similar vehicles which are classified as roadworthy planes.
Saint says since the Maverick needs just 100 yards to take off, it could help missionary pilots and jungle tribes become self-sufficient without having to abandon their way of life. His current estimated price for a production Maverick is $US80,000, but hopes that sales to recreational pilots drive down the cost.
CNN interviewed Saint and took a ride in the Maverick: