Australian company Airspeeder held what it claims is the world’s first flying car circuit race over the salt flats of SA in May.
Zephatiali Walsh beat Fabio Tischler as they remotely flew their 4.1m long eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles) in a “tense and close” encounter.
Vehicle manufacturer Alauda Aeronautics has been experimenting with the aircraft, which are like large drones, for the last 18 months in the desert, with previous tests including a 100km/h drag race.
Alauda and the Airspeeder racing championship are both owned by Matt Pearson, who hopes to transition the company to provide aircraft for private use.
The business said there were three overtakes on the first lap, and the “most daring manoeuvre of all” was rewarded when Walsh overtook Tischler, who had gone wide at the first turn.
“As soon as the lights turned green, we became racers competing for a place in the history of this sport and flying cars as the coming transportation revolution,” said Walsh.
“I couldn’t be prouder to know that forever more, I’ll be the first winner of an electric flying car race, and I look forward to retaining my crown as we go racing around the world in the coming months.
“As pilots, we’ve been developing this sport behind the scenes over hundreds of hours of simulator, engineering and testing work and through this process, we have been united as a group of pilots in one common goal – to deliver this historic first race.”
The race proceeded after Alauda Aeronautics conducted 270+ test flights over the past 18 months, as well as preparation on simulators.
The circuit occurred on a 1km digital sky track and took place across two sessions interrupted by rapid battery-swap pitstops.
Airspeeder’s founder Pearson said he aims to “hasten the arrival of the electric flying cars that we have been promised in contemporary culture for generations”.
Future races will be able to take place in a variety of settings, including over water and in forests, due to little infrastructure being required.
The ‘EXA Series’ also acted as the first step towards Airspeeder’s goal of launching a Grand Prix in 2024 that will feature humans in the cockpit.
Australian Aviation reported in June 2021 how Alauda conducted a drag race, which the ‘Speeders’ in action 10m above the ground.