Larry Neal, a Texan and inventor of the “flying motorcycle” demonstrated at Sun ‘n Fun last year, received a U.S. patent for it on Dec. 27. “And I’m flying it now!” said the ever-enthusiastic Neal, president of The Butterfly LLC company that builds gyroplane kits.
“Every flying vehicle we design and build will be based on this patent,” Neal said. “It means we’re free to develop practical flying vehicles without infringing on patent rights of other inventors.” Neal said the patent covers a “fly-drive vehicle” with a folding rotor shaft, and a transmission to power either the propeller or wheels.
Using rotor blades for the wings of a flying car makes Neal’s Super Sky Cycle a new kind of vehicle. “There’s nothing else like it, a gyroplane that can fly at freeway speeds, land in 20 feet, be driven home as a motorcycle, and fit in your garage.” It can fly as slowly as 20 mph, cruise at 50 mph at half throttle, and tops out at 65 mph. Its Rotax 582 engine swings a three-blade, 60-inch propeller.
“The problem with flying cars in the past was what to do with the wings once you were on the ground,” said Neal. “With a ‘fly-drive’ gyroplane, just fold the rotor blades and drive on down the road.” A two-place version is also being developed.
Neal is chief test pilot for CarterCopter, where he has set several rotary wing records in Jay Carter’s evolving fast gyroplane. Currently, he is flight testing Carter’s new CarterGyro, which utilizes one of Neal’s Butterfly airframes heavily modified with Carter’s patented controllable pitch propeller, “smart strut” landing gear and other innovations.