As mentioned earlier, the core technology behind the Springtail has been subject to numerous wind-tunnel tests at the NASA AMES Research Center. The initial prototype, the SoloTrek Exo-Skeletor Flying Vehicle (XFV) completed more than 70 manned missions and made its first successful manned test flight on December 18, 2001. During initial flight-testing of the XFV, the machine was tethered to a crane, in hopes of avoiding costly damages. In November of 2003, the Springtail completed its first untethered mission - it was airborne for approximately 50 seconds and moved approximately 60 feet. Trek Aerospace reports that almost 200 tethered test flights and approximately 20 untethered tests have been completed so far.
While the company has not said when they will market the vehicle, it reports that there are applications for military and private use. Initially, it's likely to be used by paratroopers, who would use the Springtail to fly into battle. Other possible applications of the Springtail, as presented on the Trek Aerospace Web site, include but are not limited to:
- Military applications such as search and rescue missions, surveillance and reconnaissance
- Homeland security applications such as emergency response and rescue, routine police routes, firefighting and other security and safety measures
- Commercial and industrial applications such as commuter travel, tourist travel and delivery services
Although Trek Aerospace hasn't said when the Springtail might be available to the public, the price is projected to be comparable to that of a high-performance sports car.
For more information regarding the Springtail, personal air vehicles and related topics, check out the links on the following page.