In nature, the puffin is a humble bird living in arctic conditions, usually minding its own business. We usually do not hear much from this feathered creature.
However, the future will give the name Puffin a reason to be known by everyone.
NASA has just announced designs for a personal flying suit.
Conceived by Mark D. Moore, aerospace engineer for NASA, the Puffin is designed to be twelve feet long and weigh only 300 pounds, without a pilot.
It looks like a mini-airplane, with four tail fins shaped like an X and two propellers seated on each side of the cockpit. The pilot would be lying down, belly-side down, while the craft was in flight. Additionally, the pilot could peer out of the domed front, allowing for complete vision during flight.
The Puffin allows for two unique features that distinguish itself from its predecessor, the jet pack.
First of all, the Puffin is a self-contained vehicle, which would prevent the pilot from having to wear any protective headgear with a visor, like the ones you see in early 1950s science fiction pictures. This also allows for higher altitude flight than what jet packs could potentially reach.
Secondly, the Puffin is constructed to use electric motors, which would help reduce noise, cost, and weight while allowing for a more reliable, environmentally friendly flight.
I know that this sounds almost too good to be true; however, I believe that, one day, we will be able to fly right alongside the birds and airplanes.
Could you imagine a world without cars, buses, or trains? Could you imagine what the world would be like if we could fly anywhere we wanted? It seems fantastical, but it can happen.
Despite my optimism, I do not see this happening in the near future. NASA only released the designs for Puffin days ago, so there has to be some time for careful construction and numerous tests and experiments.
Engineers strive to be absolutely sure that their creations run perfectly, so I would imagine that we will not see a personal flying vehicle for at least ten years.
Even then, one could not imagine how much that would cost. It could be anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, so to expect in twenty years that we will be immediately in the air would be foolish. It will be years after that until the price drops enough for the average man or woman to have himself or herself a Puffin.
Sometime during our lifetime, we will be able to fly in our own personal flying machines.
Imagine the feeling of lifting off the ground, moving higher and higher, right where all the clouds gather. I cannot wait for the day that I can be able to fly right by the clouds and the stars above.
When we think of Mustangs, Jaguars, and Cobras, we think of the fierce, fast cars that everyone wants to get their hands on.
I never would have thought that a humble black bird that resides in the cold regions of the Earth would reach the level that those other animals did.
I cannot wait to see the Puffin in action.
Bryan Manderscheid is a freshman engineering major. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org