The Aerobike was developed to explore the idea that a pilot should be able to stabilize, balance, and control a personal aircraft similar to riding a bike. If true, once a throttle was introduced, flying could be made intuitive to anyone capable of riding a motorcycle. In engineering, this concept of stability is known as “kinesthetic control”.
Although some on the team thought it would quickly roll over upon takeoff, the opposite happened: the machine flew for the first time on December 12, 2008 and the vehicle proved stable without any prior training.
Over the following four years, the Aerobike, long referred to by the team as just ‘The Machine,’ made hundreds of development flights to refine its handling and controls.
The result was the world’s first flying motorcycle, the Aerobike, which could be flown hands-off — without any computers or artificial stabilization — only a pilot at the controls.
Although not designed for performance, – it has no speedometer or altimeter, the bike reached altitudes up to 10 feet at speeds just below 50 miles an hour.
Led by Mark de Roche, its creator, and his company, Aerofex, the developer of the Aerobike, it was awarded five International patents, a published paper by the American Helicopter Society, the Hearst Media readers’ choice “Inspiration Award”, and appeared in a Super Bowl commercial celebrating innovation.
Today, advancements to the Aerobike’s technologies are being applied by Aerofex to a large agricultural drone that has the potential to help grow more food on less land, and to a high-speed manned version for Urban Air Racing. And perhaps eventually to aerial commuting.
The Aerobike is currently on display at The Motoring Club in Los Angeles through January 2022.