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NASA Puffin

Hampton, Virginia, USA

NASA’s Puffin is an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) tail-sitting personal flying device.

The Puffin stands 3.7 m tall (or long in flight mode) with a wingspan of 4.4 m. Near the wingtips are 60 hp electric motors for two 2.2 m propellers. It is a “tail-sitter” and the four point landing gear contract into a twin tail-boom in flight. The vehicle weighs 272 kg, carries 45 kg of batteries and has a pilot payload of 91 kg for a total weight of 408 kg. It would have a speed of up to 241 km/h and an 80 km range at lower, more efficient speeds.

NASA announced the design in November 2009, and the first scaled prototype took flight in February 2010. No plans exist for building a full sized Puffin. The prototype provides data and supports a proof-of-concept.

NASA researcher Mark Moore designed the personal air vehicle as part of earning his doctoral degree. He and a team made up from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National Institute of Aerospace, and M-DOT Aerospace discussed the Puffin at the American Helicopter Society conference on aeromechanics in January 2010.

The vehicle earned its name because a puffin looks very awkward with wings that appear too small to fly (the bird does fly up to 88 km/n flapping its wings up to 400 beats a minute). It is also called “the most environmentally friendly bird” because it hides its waste which parallels the NASA Puffin’s near zero emissions.

Some of NASA's other VTOL projects include the NASA LA-8 eVTOL Testbed and NASA Greased Lightning.


Height 12 ft

3.7 m

Wingspan 14.5 ft

4.4 m

Rotor Diameter 7.5 ft

2.2 m

Maximum takeoff weight 600 lb

272 kg

Empty Weight (w/o batteries) 300 lb


136 kg



Battery Weight
100 lb


45 kg

Pilot or Payload Maximum Weight 200 lb

91 kg


2x 60-horsepower electric motors
Maximum altitude 30,000 ft

Max Velocity

150 mph

241 kph

Range at max payload

50 mi

80 km


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