Based in California, USA, Gia Keiper was inspired to design an all electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) from reading an article about the GoFly competition. Keiper is not participating in the GoFly competition because she is younger than the minimum age requirement of 18 that GoFly requires for everyone who enters the competition.
The Volpire GF is a one passenger eVTOL tail-sitter aircraft powered by four propellers, four electric motors and a set of batteries. The aircraft takes off and lands vertically and flown in the prone position. For piloting, the aircraft is completely fly-by-wire and designed to allow partially or completely autonomous flight. In addition, the aircraft has bi-plane type wings to help improve the aerodynamics and the range of the aircraft.
Keiper's tail-sitter design was inspired after she flew on a hang glider and enjoyed the feeling of flying like a bird. The Volpire GF provides this unique flying experience for the pilot with an enclosed tube-light cockpit that has a wide field of vision due to the front windows being on both the top and bottom of the front of the cockpit frame.
The cockpit has been sized for pilots with a maximum height of 6 feet, 1 inch (185 cm) tall and the minimum pilot height is 5’ 3” (160 cm). To enter the aircraft, the cockpit pulls apart allowing the pilot to enter the cockpit in the vertical position. To make this work, there are four touch down points on the tail of the aircraft. Two landing gears are wheels and the other two are a solid spike-type landing gear. The two wheels allow the fuselage to easily open and close for the pilot, while the other landing points keep the aircraft in place.
The designer has chosen five bladed propellers with bent tips (that look similar to a winglet) which lowers the tip speed, increases the efficiency of the propeller, reduces the noise and allows a lighter weight propeller to be used. The propeller winglets also have the added benefit of a safety device. When the aircraft is landed, if a pilot, ground crew or other people bump into the tip of a propeller, the chances of getting seriously hurt is greatly reduced. In addition, if a propeller would break off during flight, the bent tip will reduce the chance of fuselage penetration.
The inventor expects to make a 50% subscale prototype in the fall of 2021 to validate the aerodynamics of the aircraft. As of August 2021, no word has been made by the inventor if they have plans to put the aircraft into commercial production.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL passenger aircraft
- Piloting: 1 pilot
- Flying note: Takes off vertically then turns and flys horizontally. The pilot flys in the horizontal position.
- Cruise speed: Unknown
- Range: Unknown
- Flight Time: Unknown
- Propellers: 4 electric propellers, each propeller has five props and each propeller has bent prop tips
- Electric Motors: 4 electric motors
- Power source: Batteries
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Windows: Canopy over cockpit
- Wings: 2 bi-plane type wings
- Tail: X-tail
- Landing gear: There are four landing points on this tail-sitter aircraft. Two landing points are wheeled and the other two are a solid spike-type landing gear. The two wheels allow the fuselage to easily open and close for the pilot, while the other landing spiked points keep the aircraft in place. The aircraft takes off and lands in the vertical position.
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one propeller or motor fails, the other working propellers and motors can safely land the aircraft.