Nobody wins the GoFly Prize, but personal flight is coming


This weekend I went to the finals of the GoFly prize, a Boeing sponsored contest for personal VTOL flying machines. Sadly, nobody was able to build one that could meet all the requirements in the rules, and only a few of the contestants could even fly. That was disappointing, but then so was the first Darpa Grand Challenge.

My summary of the demo day is in my new Forbes article at


"I predict that female pilots, because of their smaller average size, will dominate the world of e-VTOL flying until such time as things are automated." I agree women pilots would give an operator a distinct advantage, but the challenge is how to get women interested? According to a recent AOPA Magazine article, only 7% of current licensed pilots are women. What kind of recruiting drive would attract more women to the profession?

But sexism is slowly waning, and that will make people more accepting. But if you're making an electric e-VTOL piloted taxi, and you put the job posting out for "Pilots under 90lbs" you are going to get a more women. I am told that men of that size get paid well enough riding horses and so are harder to recruit. (I am not sure why women don't take that role, though it may require more strength to weight ratio, while flying should not.)

Don't assume that the relative lack of women pilots is due entirely to sexism.

There are all sorts of types of sexism -- including people telling the girls that pilot is a man's job, including simply looking at the field and seeing it's almost all men and the message that conveys. Anything that told a woman that a career in flying is not for her.

Money is another thing. To fly, you need to first get a private licence, which is an expensive hobby, and men have, and have had, much more money to do that. To get an ATP licence is a whole other level. How many pro pilots got that licence through their own money, and how many had an employer pay for it?

And yes, women can also decide flying is not for them on their own.

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