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Monday, June 28, 2010

Engineer pursues dream of flying motorcycle

A couple years ago, we told you the story of a Los Angeles man who quit his job as an aerospace engineer at a big company to pursue a dream: to create a flying motorcycle.

Joe Caravella hopes this will be his flying motorcycle. Of course, he still needs to add wings.CAPTIONBy As dreams go, this was no small order. He's working pretty much alone in the garage of a surburban home in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, the official home of Caravella Aerospace. But the new news is the Joe Caravella is about to unveil the second version of what he hopes will become his flying motorcycle, just in time for the big fly-in aviation show in Oshkosh, Wis., later this summer. Like the last one, this version of the CaraVellair won't fly, but he will be able to race it up and down the street to drum up interest. That's the original with Caravella aboard in the photo at top, and at right is the latest version.

Caravella is a meticulous sort, which you pretty have to be when it comes to trying to make a motorcycle fly. He quit his aeronautical engineering job in November, 2007, to pursue his dream. His vision is a three-wheel motorcycle that can driven around city streets, then taken to the airport where its towable wings are deployed. There, it would take off like an airplane. It would have a pusher-style propeller drive, designed to be perfect for the long, rural commutes.

Caravalla says the new version is beefier than the last one, but still keeps within its weight limits. Where does that added weight come from?

The wheels, for example. They are from a Smart car this time, not just taken off an electric scooter. He's using the same 1,000 cubic centimeter motorcycle engine as before.

"It's heavy but affordable," Caravella says. He pursues his dream, he says, because "I want one of these in my garage." He swears that he will have a flying prototype next year. The 1,320-pound craft will be considered an "experimental" aircraft as a prototype, but Caravella truly hopes and believes someone will built his dream one day.

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