Air Hog’s Millennium Falcon: Another step closer to Moller’s Skycar

imageLately, I have had enough pressure and stress to kill a man nine times over. But I do enjoy life in the pressure cooker, so my participation was not reluctant. However, I do know how to manage that stress, and part of that is to put my mind some place fun to give it needed vacations from time to time. It was a perfect opportunity for Star Wars to have their Force Friday launch of the new toy lines Disney was unleashing for the Force Awakens film coming up this Christmas of 2015. My brother and kids did what millions of other people did and that was hit the stores at midnight on Thursday to get access to the first stuff. They began sending me pictures of merchandise at around 12:25 am through text messages and I was living the fun with them through their inputs. I chose to enjoy the rituals at home watching the live stream from Disney that took place nearly 20 straight hours from spots all across the world unboxing these new toys and demonstrating them. I wrote about the significance of this Star Wars ritual in yesterday’s article. CLICK HERE to review.

Star Wars toys are something that I have always enjoyed. I still have mine from when I was a kid and my grandson now plays with them when he comes over. I have always been impressed with the artistic detail of Star Wars toys. I still get them from time to time when I see something really cool. Typically my rule is that if the toy is a Millennium Falcon, I typically buy it. There are too many Star Wars toys to collect them all, so I stick to Millennium Falcons the famous pirate vessel from the original movies. I have a special relationship with the Millennium Falcon. CLICK HERE TO REVIEW.

So I was relaxing at home on Friday watching the live stream from Toronto, Canada. I thought the toys up to that point were cool, fun, and worth collecting at some point after I validated that the new movie justified it. But there was nothing I had to rush out to get, until the commentators in Toronto showed off the new line of Star Wars related products from Air Hogs—the miniature remote control helicopter company who is always well stocked at Target. I have been impressed with Air Hogs as a company as they have taken really expensive remote control technology and driven the prices down so that non professional RC users could enjoy them indoors. Some of the smartest engineers I know are members locally of The Greater Cincinnati Radio Control Club that actually has their own airfield across the river from my house in Trenton, Ohio. They have some really wonderful model airplanes that were recently on full display at the Butler County Regional Airport “Flying Circus.” Those planes cost several thousand dollars each and are quite sophisticated. Air Hogs has taken similar technology and advanced it to the level of indoor flight, which really requires light weight, but durable materials, powerful engines and unmatched control to keep from running into everything. I have one of the first Air Hog helicopters that pretty much went up and down, but had little control regarding pitch and yaw, and I was impressed with it—for something that only cost about $30. But I hadn’t flown some of the most recent models, which I knew had come a long way. That’s when I saw the new love of my life, the Toronto presenters brought out on the stage the new Air Hog Millennium Falcon, a quad engine drone essentially complete with flood lights and engine indicators. My next thought was to get to the store to buy it.

imageSince I wasn’t at the stores during the midnight rush, I doubted that I’d find such a wonderful device several hours after the great release. My wife was hopeful so we went to Walmart to see if we could find one. As I suspected, the shelves had been plucked through and there certainly wasn’t an Air Hog Millennium Falcon left. I even prodded the employees asking them if they had any hidden anywhere—which they said they hadn’t. The tornado of Star Wars fans had already ransacked everything until their next shipment—a week away—had left their shelves mostly empty. So we started to head for home, but before that we decided to stop by Target—just in case.

Again, what I have been saying about the cultural significance of Star Wars was beginning to be evident at Target. Stormtroopers were on the front doors of the Bridgewater location and a massive Chewbacca loomed to great guests as they came through the door. Space ship battles were on display hanging from the ceiling as even I was a bit surprised at the level of Target’s commitment to the Force Friday event. My hopes went up that they just might just have my Air Hog Millennium Falcon in stock, even though I knew it was unlikely. We made our way back to the Star Wars toy section and there it was. Target had three of them. I grabbed one. Additionally Target had the whole back corner of the store dedicated to Star Wars complete with Halloween costumes and more toys including two very vicious looking Huffy Star Wars bicycles. Customers were happy, people had smiles on their faces as they looked through the various Star Wars products and the enthusiasm was palatable. These weren’t the hard-core fans from the night before. These were just average people, and they were feeling the Force. I shuddered a bit at witnessing all this. The new movie hadn’t even hit theaters yet and already there was this much enthusiasm. I wondered if I had understated the importance of my previous article already indicated. I had written it while watching the day long podcast and as enthusiastic for the future as I was, I may have not captured the true potential of the upcoming Star Wars influence.image

Regardless, my wife and I rushed home, forgot to eat dinner and I played around with the Air Hog Millennium Falcon until the late hours of that night. The first thing I did the next day upon waking was play with it some more. The Air Hog Falcon is truly remarkable to me for several reasons. It’s pretty easy to fly; it has a wonderful gyrostabilization system controlling all four quad engines. The Falcon is a large odd-shaped vehicle not typically suited for aerodynamic flight. I had seen a very cleaver Millennium Falcon drone recently that was very expensive and very technical, as it had been hand-built. But this was a commercial craft and the Air Hog engineers had nailed a pretty difficult task—making a flat non-aerodynamic disk–fly—very well. Extremely well. I couldn’t stop flying it. It took about an hour to charge the vessel for about 7 minutes of flight. The internal Lithium Polymer battery had to be large enough to power the four quad engines, but small enough to keep the weight down. So Air Hogs elected to have a smaller battery to capture the proper performance. That is a bit frustrating because you can’t fly the ship long between charging, but the performance is worth the effort. It’s kind of like a drag racing car, fully fueled, it’s out of gas by the end of a quarter-mile. To get the performance you have to sacrifice storage capacity.

However I couldn’t help but think of how well the gyroscopic system worked on the Air Hogs Falcon. The small little toy was a perfect example of how Paul Moller’s Skycar will operate once people accept the technology as viable. The Air Hog Millennium Falcon was a perfect example of how those future flying cars will work. Each quad engine working independently controlled by computer input to add thrust or decrease it based on the needs of the vehicles gyrostablization sensors. For a toy, it was extremely sophisticated, and was certainly a hint of a mode of transportation that is coming fast. I couldn’t help but think that there were thousands of people just like me playing with some of these new Star Wars toys thinking the same thing. Once the film hits and everything escalates to a fevered pitch intellectually, the desire to have real Star Wars technology functioning in our actual lives will increase dramatically. The toys and films introduce the idea of possibly to us. Science finds ways to deliver those ideas, and Air Hogs simply nailed it with their Millennium Falcon. A remarkable device simply put.

I closed out Force Friday playing with my remote control Falcon hopeful for the world. All this fun of course is the work of unadulterated capitalism. Without capitalism the joy I witnessed across the world from Japan, China, Australia, France, England, Brazil, Canada and of course the United States would not have been possible. I wasn’t the only one excited that day to purchase a new Star Wars item. Capitalism is what put so much joy on people’s faces and introduced new technical inventions to a hungry public. The whole endeavor started with imagination and the capital investment to make them possible. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who stopped by the local convenience store on the way home to buy a twenty pack of AA batteries, and also some more Mello Yello in the process. Life is good and we have capitalism to thank for it. Because at the heart of the Star Wars universe, particularly under Disney’s direction is capitalism—which is the source of joy so many people felt as a result of Force Friday. And it gave me a wonderful, much-needed distraction when I most needed it—and a cool new Millennium Falcon to add to my collection.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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