DIY Aviation

We enjoy being crammed into the middle seat between two 400-pounders about as much as we like watching video of a boil lancing. We’re not pilots, nor do we own a plane, and we’re going to assume you don’t have a one either. But if we could provide our own air travel, we might not feel the need to suck down 12 bloody marys mid-flight or be tempted to open the emergency door 35,000 feet above Denver just to get some fresh air. Luckily, there is hope. Thanks to modern technology and some seemingly legit inventors, you can buy or even build your very own flying device. While these contraptions may not be able to get you from A to B at 600 mph, they can get the job done and keep you from getting swine flu from the guy in row 34.

Ultralight

These babies look like a go-cart attached to the underside of a hang glider, but they can get you on your way in at 64 mph. Designed to fold up and reassemble in a dozen minutes, you can purchase one of these new or used for as low as $2,500 and have it shipped to you by the next day. We’d recommend splurging on the emergency parachute in case the wings you thought you locked into place decide to fall off at some point. You will need to fuel it up frequently since the tanks only hold five gallons and, of course, have some sort of a runway to take off from and land. Don’t worry about passing a test, though, because there is no license or training required. Just don’t blame us when you end up in the power lines outside your mom’s house. 
Pros: affordable, stores easily
Cons: hard to park at the grocery store

Autogyro

If you’re inspired — or maybe just bored from another weekend spent at home alone — you can build your own autogyro. I’ts basically a one or two person mini helicopter that’s been used by the Postal Service and military. Several companies sell the kits to build your own in 200-300 hours. It will set you back to the tune of at least $25,000 and up, but you’ll be rolling like the Gyro Captain from The Road Warrior. And that’s been a dream for all of us. One thiing to note, is they don’t go very fast and need a runway to take off because the rotors are actually not powered. They spin and give it lift by driving forward on the ground. We’re not reeally sure what all that means, but if you have a death wish and love flying, have at it.
Pros: helicopters are bitchin’
Cons: the rotors not being powered might be a concern

Jet Pack

We’ve wanted one of these ever since "The Fall Guy" and Lee Majors used a jet pack to get about ten feet off the ground. There have been many attempts at a safe jet pack over the years since they came onto the scene in 1950′s. Now, after numerous heads crashing through buildings, a rocket on your back has become a reality. Two companies are selling them, Jet Pack International and Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana (because Mexico is a pillar of the aviation world), but they are not cheap. The cheapest is $155k with classesa, while JPI’s version is $200k. And you will also have to buy jet fuel, which we’re assuming is not sold at your local gas station. You can build your own, too, if you are like a scientist or something.
Pros: it looks cool; can reach almost 200 mph
Cons: longest flight is only 19 minutes; likely to explode on your back

Powered Paraglider

Not to be confused with an ultralight or a jet pack, this is basically an industrial-sized fan strapped to your back with a parachute. You can get this getup for less than $5,000 and can take off in about ten feet of space without any assistance. The engine can weigh up to 80 pounds, but after takeoff you just pretty much dangle and enjoy the ride. There are very minimal regulations in the US for these and you can even get up to 18,000 feet at 45 mph if you’re feeling crazy.
Pros: costs less than a used Yugo
Cons: a strong wind and you’re screwed

Cluster Ballooning

We suppose you can just buy a hot air balloon, but what fun would that be? Lawnchair Larry made his first flight back in 1982 with 42 helium-filled weather balloons attached to his lawn chair. 105 regular helium balloons will do the trick for an averaged size dude, so start collecting balloons at Chucky Cheese. To safetly cluster balloon, ditch the chair and just strap the ballons to you and up you will go. Just make sure to cut a balloon or two loose occasionally so you won’t do what that priest did last year (hint: he’s no longer with us).
Pros: super cheap
Cons: can’t steer; rises really fast (twss)

 

 

 

 

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