It’s easier to operate a flying ATV than you think—or, at least it was for me. That’s not a humblebrag either. It was designed so any idiot like me—who backs up into his recycling bin every time he pulls out of the driveway—can jump in and use it.
Making sure I fly without freaking out, though, was another question entirely.
“Alright, you’re doing great,” the voice of Mick Kowitz, the CEO and founder of RYSE Aero Technologies, chirped in my ear via a radio relay in my helmet. “Now just pull back on the left handle and press the button to take off.”
The machine I was sitting in—dubbed the RECON—is known as an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and it’s Kowitz’s brainchild. While not technically a flying ATV, it’s pretty damn close. As I pulled back on the handle, six battery powered propellers whirred to life around me and my seat began to rumble. Images of the new Top Gun movie flashed in my mind’s eye before a macabre intrusive thought popped into my head: If I stuck out my arm just a little bit, I’d sever my hand entirely from my arm. A shiver ran down my spine as I attempted to bury the mental image.
I pressed the takeoff button on the center console. For a moment, nothing happened. As I was about to tell Mick that something was wrong, though, the motors whirred louder as the RECON lurched sideways. Before I could react, I felt a weight on my chest and my heart jump into my throat as it lifted me off the ground and into the sky.